Every year, the Estacada chapter of the American Legion calls on me to participate in the memorial of four United State Army chaplains who died during WW2 in 1943.
These four military chaplains came from different faiths. One was a Dutch Reformed, another a Methodist, the other a Catholic while another was a Jewish Rabbi. The nine hundred soldiers on board knew these chaplains to be friends not only among the chaplain themselves, but also to the soldiers. They had earned the respect and honor of the soldiers.
On a fateful night, the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. As panic grew on board, the soldiers grabbed their life vests and gloves and the 4 chaplains helped direct the evacuation to lifeboats. When there were no more life vests available, the chaplains took off their own and gave them to the desperate soldiers.
Some of the survivors later recounted the story. All they could remember was the four chaplains locking arms on the stern of the sinking ship singing and praising. Quite a sight!
It took 18 minutes for this converted cruise ship to sink. The number 18 is dear to me. As is done when using Roman numerals, Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, also uses letters to make numbers. Using that system, the number 18 spells the word “life”. In these fatal 18 minutes, some of these soldiers owed their lives to the sacrifice of these chaplains. In any case, it is an exemplary story.
A chapel has been erected in their honor and Amazon movies even has a documentary about the story.
Wikipedia on the 4 Chaplains:
The Chapel of the Four Chaplains:
The Four Chaplains: Sacrifice at Sea
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"