Talk Will Tell of Sacrifice by Four
Chaplains in World War
Posted April 11, 2002
HOLLAND -- Two addresses will tell of
the story of four military chaplains, including former Hope
student Clark V. Poling '33, who sacrificed their lives when
their troop ship was torpedoed during World War Two.
Television and film producer Ken Wales will appear
at two local venues on Sunday, April 21, to tell the story
of the four chaplains--one Dutch Reformed, one Jewish, one
Roman Catholic and one Methodist--who gave their lives to
save others when the "U.S.A.T. Dorchester" was sunk by a
German U-Boat on Feb. 3, 1943. Wales is the author of "Sea
of Glory" (Broadman & Holman Publishers), which retells the
Wales will speak at Church of the Servant, 3835
Burton, S.E., in Grand Rapids, at 3 p.m.; and at Community
Reformed Church, 10376 Felch Street (corner of 104th and
Felch) in Zeeland at 6 p.m. The public is invited to both
events, and admission is free.
More than 900 American servicemen were on the
"Dorchester" when the torpedo struck and exploded in the
boiler room. Chaos ensued on deck as many of the ship's
lifeboats overturned or failed to employ in the icy
The four Army chaplains, Poling, George L. Fox,
Alexander D. Goode and John E. Washington, calmly organized
the evacuation efforts in hope of saving as many men as
possible. When it was clear that there were not enough
accessible life jackets, the four chaplains gave their own
to young soldiers, and then held hands, prayed and began
singing a hymn together as they went down with the sinking
vessel. One survivor later observed, "It was the finest
thing I have seen, or hope to see, this side of heaven."
Nearly 700 servicemen lost their lives with the chaplains.
Poling had enrolled at Hope in the fall of 1929,
and attended the college for two years. He played football
as a freshman, and was a member of the Knickerbocker
Fraternity. He completed his undergraduate education at
Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1933, and earned his
B.D. in 1936 at Yale University's Divinity School, and was
ordained in the Reformed Church in America. Prior to the
war, he first served the First Church of Christ in New
London, Conn., as associate minister, and subsequently
became pastor of the First Reformed Church in Schenectady,
His name is on the plaque near the northeast
entrance of Nykerk Hall that identifies the former Hope
students who died in the service of their country during
World War II. The story of the four chaplains was shared in
the April, 1993, issue of "news from Hope College" in
commemoration of the event's 50th anniversary.
Wales's co-author on "Sea of Glory" is David
Poling, first cousin of Chaplain Clark V. Poling. David
Poling is a columnist whose weekly features have appeared in
more than 600 newspapers during the last 10 years.
Wales is currently working on a major feature film
based on the story of the four chaplains and the
"Dorchester." His productions have included "The Tamarind
Seed," "Wild Rovers," "Islands in the Stream" with George C.
Scott and the CBS series "Christy," based on the novel by
Catherine Marshall. He has acted in more than 35 films and
numerous television programs. He teaches periodically at
his alma mater, the University of Southern California, and
lives in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The presentations on April 21 are sponsored by the
Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Calvin