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Tributes given to Army chaplains who gave their lives in World War II

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    Chaplains Alexander Goode, George Fox, Clark Poling and John Washington.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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    City officials, religious leaders, veterans and community members gathered at the Medina United Methodist Church to pray, sing hymns and to learn about four chaplains who died during World War II.

    ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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    Stephen Grundfast, rabbi emeritus of Beth El Congregation in Akron, spoke about Chaplain Alexander D. Goode who was a chaplain during World War II.

    ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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    Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell spoke about the community and how people of different faiths were able to come together to celebrate the four chaplains.

    ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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MEDINA –– The American Legion hosted a remembrance service in honor of four Army chaplains who gave their lives in World War II.

Four local religious leaders of their respective faiths spoke about the chaplains at Medina United Methodist Church on Thursday night.

The chaplains were aboard the USAT Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943, when it sank. The chaplains were ministering on the ship during their time in the service.

“It caused me to reflect, to say ‘would I have that kind of courage,’ ” said Don Poest, senior pastor of the Brunswick Reformed Church.

On Feb. 2, a submarine was detected. Just after midnight, the submarine fired a torpedo was fired hitting the boiler room.

“It’s an honor and it’s also a responsibility to talk about someone who did something that I don’t know if I’d be able to do,” said Rabbi Stephen Grundfast, rabbi emeritus of Beth El Congregation in Akron.

“It’s a responsibility to do that, to give a lesson in their memory and their honor.”

Survivors of this incident said that, among the chaos, the four chaplains remained calm guiding men to their lifeboat stations and distributing lifejackets and even gave up their own to other men.

Chaplain George L. Fox

“‘I’ve got to go.’ No hesitation, no hint of doubt. Only ‘I’ve got to go,’” said Dave Tennant, pastor at the Medina United Methodist Church

“We often hear this phrase in relation to such endeavors as ‘I’ve got to go to the game’ or ‘I’ve got to go to work.’”

Fox left behind the congregation he was leading and his family to serve the country during World War II.

“By faith he knew, ‘I’ve got to go,’” Tennant said.

Chaplain Alexander D. Goode

“Alexander D. Goode was both an outstanding athlete and scholar,” Grundfast said. “The return of the body of the Unknown Soldier had a very profound effect upon him.”

While continuing his studies, Goode joined the Coast Guard. When World War II broke out, he was serving as a rabbi in Pennsylvania.

“Tonight we honor and remember the lives of four men of peace, of tolerance, who heroically sacrificed their lives so others could live,” Grundfast said.

Chaplain Clark V. Poling

“I’m not going to hide behind the church in some safe office.”

This is what Poling told his father after he enlisted, according to Pastor Poest.

“His father told him ‘Don’t you know chaplains have the highest mortality rate of all?’”

Poling knew what he was going to do was dangerous but he knew it was the right thing to do.

“Poling didn’t ask for prayers of safety but for prayers of courage,” Poest said.

Chaplain John P. Washington

“John P. Washington grew up poor, scrappy and determined,” said the Rev. Joseph Loutzenhiser from St. Francis Xavier Church.

Washington was one of nine children and he had a love of music and sunny disposition, according to Loutzenhiser

“He was the leader of the South 12th Street Gang until he was called to the priesthood,” said Loutzenhiser. “When the war came, he went with his boys into the Army.”

“I think that (my tribute) was very personal to me because he was a Methodist and then his sacrifice was just a personal aspect of it,” said Tennant after the presentation.

“I couldn’t be more happy to have a community where faith is the forefront,” said Mayor Dennis Hanwell.

“People put themselves at risk in public safety … day in and day out,” said Hanwell, who was a police officer for several decades.

“The choice that these four made is much different than what we make day in and day out. They made a conscious decision to give their lives.”

Contact reporter Alyssa Alfano at aalfano@medina-gazette.com.
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