Four chaplains – a Roman Catholic, a Jewish rabbi and two Protestant ministers, were aboard the troopship SS Dorchester when it was hit by German Torpedoes on Feb. 3 1944. While the ship was sinking, the four chaplains went to the top deck and handed out life jackets (from lockers on the top deck) to the soldiers jumping over board. When they ran out of jackets, each of the four chaplains took their own off and gave them to the next four soldiers coming to jump into the ice-cold waters. The ship sank quickly and the four chaplains went down with the ship. They embraced in a circle, praying to God, each in their own faith. The lives lost in this tragic sinking were the third largest loss of life in a single incident in World War II.

Boy Scout Troop 23 will be presenting a memorial service in memory of “The Four Chaplains” at 6:15 p.m. today, Feb. 8 at the North Orange Baptist Church.

“The American Legion has presented this memorial service in their honor and memory since 1944 and will continue to do so. However, our veterans organizations are becoming smaller and smaller each year with the passing on of so many of our veterans,” said Legion Chaplain Marv Howland.

“Events like this are not taught in the schools, although they should be. It is heartwarming and reassuring, that Troop 23 of Orange, is taking the initiative to keep this legend alive, and our hope is that it will continue to grow throughout the nations scouting programs.”

“God gave us life, our military men and women gave us freedom!”

Howland urges everyone to attend if possible and to bring their family and friends. “This is the Scouts first attempt at this spiritually enlightening memorial service, and we should all encourage them as much as possible,” he said.

“ The legend of the four chaplains is about heroic chaplains that literally gave their lives that others might live and is one of the stories of World War II that should live on from generation to generation.”

Howland asks attendees to please arrive by 6 p.m. For more information, Howland can be reached at 409-745-3427.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.