Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Four Chaplains

The third-worst naval disaster of World War II occurred on February 3, 1943, off the coast of Greenland; it was remembered this past weekend with a monument near the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
More than 600 of the carrier's 904 men would die in a calamity that became legendary for the heroism of four chaplains on board -- heroism commemorated in Albany on Sunday by a monument dedicated in their honor.

The chaplains, one of them pastor of a Schenectady church, remained calm as they guided men to boat stations. They distributed life jackets from a storage locker to soldiers who had forgotten theirs below deck. When the jackets ran out, they removed their own and gave them to four soldiers.

"When I looked, the only thing that was showing was the keel," said [James] Eardley, a private who had reached the safety of a raft. "And there were the four chaplains on top of the keel, arm in arm with each other."

He turned back, and the boat was gone.

Eardley, now 85 and living in Westerlo, told his tale of survival Sunday from a podium on Madison Avenue. He spoke to about 40 people, most of them veterans, many of World War II, all gathered to dedicate a monument to the chaplains who sacrificed their lives to save others.

The entire article by Marc Parry is available here.