Local man lights candle for one of ‘Four Chaplains’
GRAND RAPIDS — The story of the Four Chaplains is one of self-sacrifice and putting aside differences for the betterment of others.
Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed were all chaplains on the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, which during World War II was headed toward an American base in Greenland carrying more than 900 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers. Then, in the early morning of Feb. 3, 1943, a German submarine attacked, hitting it with several torpedoes.
The vessel sank in 20 minutes, but meanwhile the four chaplains moved about the boat, offering encouragement and prayers, helping with life jackets and even giving up their own. As the boat sank, survivors in nearby rafts saw them still on the boat, arms linked and braced against the slanting deck, and heard their voices offering prayers.
American Legion Northeastern Post 459 in Grand Rapids holds an annual Four Chaplains Service to honor them; this year’s was held Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. But this weekend’s ceremony had a local connection, as on the ship that terrible night was a man who had lived in Jones and Marcellus: Pvt. Willis Austin Clute, a member of the Army Medical Corps.
Please see Monday's Commercial News or e-edition for full article.