Among the 13 Jewish chaplains to be memorialized at Arlington National Cemetery is Alexander Goode, a rabbi and a lieutenant in the United States Army who was among four chaplains who gave their lives to save other soldiers during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester during World War II. Three of the chaplains are memorialized at Arlington; Goode, however, is not.
In Jan. 1943, the chaplains embarked on board the USAT Dorchester, which was transporting over 900 soldiers to the United Kingdom via Greenland. On Feb. 2, 1943 the German submarine U-223 spotted the convoy on the move and closed with the ships, firing a torpedo which struck the Dorchester shortly after midnight. Hundreds of men packed the decks of the rapidly sinking ship and scrambled for the lifeboats. Several of the lifeboats had been damaged and the four chaplains began to organize frightened soldiers. They distributed life jackets from a locker; when the supply of life jackets ran out, each of the chaplains gave theirs to other soldiers. When the last lifeboats were away, the chaplains prayed with those unable to escape the sinking ship. 27 minutes after the torpedo struck, the Dorchester disappeared below the waves with 672 men still aboard. The last anyone saw of the four chaplains, they were standing on the deck, arms linked and praying together.
The four were all awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart and received national acclaim for their courage and self-sacrifice. A chapel in their honor was dedicated on Feb. 3, 1951 by President Harry S. Truman at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia. The Four Chaplains’ Medal was established by an act of Congress on July 14, 1960, and was presented posthumously to their next of kin by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer, Vir. on Jan. 18, 1961.
In addition to Chaplain Alexander Goode, the other 12 Jewish chaplains who will be memorialized at Arlington are:
Nachman S. Arnoff
Samuel D. Hurwitz
Herman L. Rosen
Morton H. Singer