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Baker: remember the chaplains

November 12, 2010
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer

Rev. Warren Baker, veteran and chaplain, asked Estherville on Veterans Day Thursday at the World War I monument in Library Square to honor those chaplains who have given their lives for their country - while not even carrying a rifle.

Baker told of a number of chaplains who had given their lives for others. None were more memorable, though, than those aboard the U.S.S. Dorchester. They included George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Alexander D. Goode, a Jewish rabbi; Clark V. Poling, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, and John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest.

On Jan. 23, 1943, the Dorchester, a transport ship, set out from New York harbor with 902 officers, enlisted man and civilian workers. They were escorted by three Coast Guard cutters.

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On Feb. 2, one of the cutters detected a German submarine. The captain of the Dorchester told everyone to wear their life jackets. During the long, interminable night off the Greenland coast, the chaplains comforted everyone aboard ship.

At 1 a.m. Feb. 3 a German torpedo hit the engine room, putting the ship into total darkness. The chaplains directed the men to the life rafts, located a supply locker and handed out more life jackets. And then, incredibly, the four chaplains passed out their own life jackets. Then they linked their arms together and prayed as the Dorchester sank into the sea.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," Baker quoted John 15:13.

Article Photos

Rev. Warren Baker of Redeemer Lutheran told a story of four chaplains who gave up their life jackets — and their lives — in the sinking of the U.S.S. Dorchester in World War II.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

"We look forward to a day when wars would cease," said Baker, concluding with a passage from Isaiah 2:4:

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.



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