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 John P. Washington

John P. Washington

Birth
New Jersey, USA
Death 3 Feb 1943 (aged 34)
At Sea
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID 8434 · View Source
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Army Chaplain. Born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Irish immigrants Mary and Frank Washington, he attended Seaton Hall, and was graduated in 1931 with an A.B. Degree. He then enrolled in Immaculate Conception Seminary where he excelled. He was ordained a priest on June 15, 1935. He was assigned his first parish, St. Genevieve’s in Elizabeth, New Jersey, followed by service at Saint Stephen’s in Arlington, New Jersey. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered as an Army chaplain. On May 9, 1942 he was named Chief of the Chaplain Reserve Pool at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. In June he was assigned to the 76th Infantry Division, and in November 1942 attended the chaplain training course at Harvard where he first met his classmates, Jewish chaplain, Alexander Goode; Dutch Reformed chaplain, Clark Poling; and Methodist chaplain, George Fox. In January 1943, he was reunited with his classmates as the four chaplains embarked on the converted ocean liner USAT Dorchester, which was transporting 902 soldiers to Britain via Greenland as part of convoy SG-19. On February 2, 1943, a German u-boat fired on the convoy; a torpedo struck the Dorchester some time after midnight. The Dorchester lost all power, and in the cold and dark, men scrambled for the lifeboats. The four chaplains calmly organized the men as best they could, handing out life jackets from storage, encouraged the men with prayers, and tending wounded as best as was possible. When it became apparent that there were not enough life jackets, each of the chaplains took off his own life jacket and gave each to a young soldier. When the last of the undamaged lifeboats were away, the chaplains prayed with those left behind on the sinking ship. Less than thirty minutes after being hit, the Dorchester sank with the loss of 672 men, including the Four Chaplains. The survival as many as 230 men was directly credited to the chaplains' actions. On December 19, 1944 each of the chaplains was posthumously awarded a purple heart and a distinguished service cross. A US postage stamp was issued in 1948 commemorating the Four Chaplains. A stained glass window in memory of the four chaplains was installed in the A-ring of the Pentagon on the third floor. On July 14, 1960 Congress created the Four Chaplains Medal which was presented to each of the chaplains' next of kin by the Secretary of the Army. For their courage and self-sacrifice, by Act of Congress, February 3 is designated Four Chaplains Day.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 11 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8434
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John P. Washington (18 Jul 1908–3 Feb 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8434, citing Chapel of Four Chaplains, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .