Mantua – The story of the Four Chaplains will be presented by the American Legion Post #193 of Mantua, on Sunday June 8, 2014 at the First Congregational Church of Freedom at 10:30a.m.

On February 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER, torpedoed by an enemy submarine, tragically sank. Of the 902 young men on board, only 230 survived.  672 young men paid the supreme sacrifice. Included in the 672 were Four Men of God — a rabbi, a Roman Catholic priest, a Methodist minister, and a Dutch Reformed minister – – all Army Chaplains.

These Four Chaplains gave their lifejackets to save four soldiers and, in so doing, gave up their only means of survival. They were last seen on the deck of the ship with their arms linked together and their heads bowed in prayer as they went to their watery graves in the North Atlantic off the coast of Greenland. Each chaplain received the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

The four Army Chaplains were: George Fox, Alexander Goode, Clark Poling, and John Alexander. They calmly guided men to their boat stations, opened a storage locker and distributed lifejackets. Then they coaxed men, frozen with fear, over the side. Soon the supply of lifejackets was exhausted. Several survivors report watching in awe as the Four Chaplains gave away their own lifejackets.

These four men of God had given away their only means of saving themselves in order to save others. The chaplains gathered together, and led the men around them in a prayer and a hymn. They linked their arms together as the slant of the deck became severe. And just that way, with their arms linked in brotherhood and their heads bowed in prayer, they sank beneath the waves.

This service is a tribute to those courageous chaplains and the 672 brave young men who lost their lives on that fateful night. Further, this service honors all those who have served, and whose courage and faith have sustained our country.

Pastors Jim and Janie Melick invite you to come and join us for this special service of remembrance and faith of the Four Chaplains who served God and country with their lives.

The First Congregational Church of Freedom is located at the intersections of State Route 88 and State Route 303 in Freedom Township.