Each year on the first Sunday in February, St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church here rings with the remembrance of a selfless act of valor now 75 years old.
On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, a military transport ship carrying 902 American servicemen and civilian workers, was torpedoed by a German submarine about 100 miles off the cost of Greenland. In 18 minutes, the ship would be lost under the frigid sea.
Panic ensued. The sailors who were not killed in the explosion or trapped below rushed to the decks, where some of the lifeboats had frozen to the ship, survivors recounted. But four chaplains standing on the decks remained calm, distributing life jackets. When the supply ran out, the chaplains gave the sailors their own.