American Legion, Holley church will remember 4 chaplains who died in WWII

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photos – Joe Willis (center), pastor of the First Baptist Church, is presented a certificate of appreciation last February by Larry Montello (left), commander of the American Legion in Orleans County, and Steve Goodrich, a past county commander.

HOLLEY – Veterans and church members will gather at the First Baptist Church in Holley on Sunday to remember four chaplains who gave up their lives to save civilian and military personnel as the SS Dorchester sank on Feb. 3, 1943.

The four chaplains gave up their life jackets when they were none left for others on the ship. The chaplains sang hymns and prayed together as the ship sank.

Larry Montello, the commander of the American Legion in Orleans County, wants to keep the story alive and remind the community – 73 years later – of the sacrifice by Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D.), Roman Catholic priest the Reverend John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling. All of the chaplains attained the rank of first lieutenant.

“This is history we shouldn’t forget,” Montello said. “They laid down their life for others.”

The service will include reading the biographies of each of the chaplain, lighting candles, placing wreaths, and playing taps.

The memorial service for the four chaplains will be part of the regular 9:30 a.m. service at church on Geddes Street. The Honor Guard will be there at 9 a.m. The service is open to the community and will include refreshments after the service.

The Legion has been doing the memorial service for the chaplains for about seven years, and tries to have it in a different church in the county every year. However, the Legion is back at First Baptist in Holley because Montello said the church was so welcoming last year with a big turnout.