The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains," were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other soldiers during the sinking of the troop ship USAT Dorchester during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
The chaplains, who all held the rank of lieutenant, were the George L. Fox,Alexander D. Goode, John P. Washington and Clark V. Poling.
The chaplains were also honored with a commemorative stamp that was issued in 1948. This stamp is highly unusual, in that U.S. stamps were not normally issued in someone's honor until at least 10 years after their death.
Brief History :
On February 3, 1943, a converted luxury ocean liner called the United States Army Transport – Dorchester was crossing the North Atlantic. More than 900 American troops were aboard the ship which was based in Greenland. At around 1:00 a.m., the transport ship was delivered a devastating blow when it was struck but a deadly torpedo that was fired by a German U-boat.
As soldiers rushed to lifeboats, the four chaplains that were assigned to the ship spread out to help direct people to safety and help the wounded. The chaplains could be heard praying with the injured and preaching courage and strength to the soldiers. The chaplains also handed out life jackets to everyone that needed them. At some point, when the life jackets ran out, each of the four chaplains removed the one that they were wearing and selflessly gave it to a young soldier so that their life could be spared.
As the Dorchester sank, reports are that the four chaplains were last seen with their arms linked together, praying.