Coon Rapids Legion remembers the four chaplains

The Four Chaplains memorial service was hosted by the Coon Rapids American Legion Post Feb. 10.

The service honored the memory of four Army chaplains of different denominations who gave their life jackets to four sailors on the sinking U.S. troop transport ship Dorchester Feb. 3, 1943.

The ship, carrying 900 men, was torpedoed in the icy seas of Greenland.

The chaplains who gave up their life vests were 1st Lts. Clark V. Poling (Reformed Church of America), Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), John P. Washington (Catholic) and George L. Fox (Methodist).

Six hundred men were lost, but the four chaplains were able to help 200 men get off the sinking ship before linking arms with each other as they went down with the ship.

Remembering the four chaplains were Rev. Mark Miller, Coon Rapids United Methodist Church; Paul R. Bird, Coon Rapids American Legion member; Rev. Thomas Dufner, Epiphany Catholic Church, Coon Rapids; and Retired Gen. George Steiner.

The story of the four chaplains was read by Laura Blue, past 10th District Auxiliary president.

Betty Orton sang two hymns accompanied by Ruth Berg at the piano, while Tom Bohlman played “Taps.”

Miller gave the benediction and William Hammes, Coon Rapids American Legion member, delivered the invocation.

Bad weather the afternoon of Feb. 10 impacted attendance, according to Diane Bohlman, Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary public relations chairperson. “We thank all clergy who attended and all who participated in this moving historical event,” Bohlman said.

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