• Mr. Speaker, anywhere there is someone in the military, there will be chaplains . They are men of God, doing God's work. Bringing faith in a time of misery, pain and sorrow, chaplains serve their spiritual duty on the battlefields alongside our servicemen and women. Chaplains help battle demons in every sense of the word. While their efforts are spiritual in nature, their courage deserves to be celebrated.
  • The Chaplain Corps was created in 1775 by the Continental Congress to be an essential part of the Army while ensuring American soldiers would have spiritual guidance available anytime. The corps is made up of both ordained clergy who are commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers who serve as chaplain assistants and they can be assigned anywhere they are needed.
  • One of the most famous stories about these brave faith warriors is the tale of the Four Chaplains . It was February 3, 1943. The U.S. Army Transport Dorchester made up a three ship convoy that was moving from Newfoundland to an American base in Greenland. The ship was at full capacity, carrying 902 servicemen, merchant seamen and civilian workers.
  • Only 150 miles from its destination, the Dorchester became a quick target for a German submarine. The hit was detrimental.
  • It was 12:55 a.m., when 902 lives were completely turned upside down. The Dorchester began rapidly taking on water. It was sinking. The ship's captain, Hans J. Danielsen, gave orders to abandon the ship.
  • The fate off the ship however was not much better; the icy waters gave many of the men hypothermia, even killing some of them. All alternatives were bleak.
  • The torpedo hit killed and wounded many of the men. Those who were still alive were desperately trying to get aboard lifeboats and rafts and struggling to find life preservers. As mass chaos erupted aboard, four men remained calm and brave. Aboard the ship were four Army chaplains : Lt. George Fox, a Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi; Lt. John Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest; and Lt. Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister.
  • Witnessing the situation in front of them, the chaplains took charge. They began quickly handing out lifejackets, prayers and words of encouragement. Rabbi Goode even gave his own gloves to a soldier. When there were no more lifejackets, the chaplains simply removed their own and handed them out, no questions asked.
  • In a mere 20 minutes, the ship slipped below the surface of the sea, drifting to its final resting place in the Atlantic. 672 men died. Only 230 survived. Among the casualties were the four selfless chaplains . They were an earthly liaison and a light of peace during a time of complete turmoil. It was a German death wish, but death was defeated by faith, the divine won that day at sea.
  • The Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were awarded posthumously as well as a posthumous Special Medal of Heroism; The Four Chaplains' Medal was approved by Congress and awarded by the President in 1961.
  • They were from different denominations and even religions, but bound together by a God's love and their faith in his eternal promise. The chaplains lived by a uniting example that transcends religions, countries and generations: laying down their lives for others, there is no greater love.
  • The epitome of selflessness, they fought a silent battle. While in a literal sense they lost, they gained all in the eyes of their creator.
  • And that's just the way it is.