During some of the darkest hours of World War II, the U.S. troop ship Dorchester sailed toward England through seas infested with German Uboats. When a German torpedo hit the ship on February 3, 1943, it rapidly started to sink. The ship’s four chaplains—a Roman Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, a Methodist minister, and a Reformed minister named Clark V. Poling—calmed the 900 soldiers on board, led them to lifeboats, and gave them life jackets and gloves, including their own. Only a third of the men survived. Those who did reported the remarkable sight of the four chaplains, their arms linked, praying together to their one God as the vessel took them to a watery grave. By a vote of Congress in 1961, a Special Medal of Heroism—the only one ever issued—was awarded posthumously to the four. Poling, born in Columbus, Ohio, was the seventh generation in a family of clergymen. After graduating from Yale Divinity School, he was ordained in 1938. Poling’s cousin David Poling CC’74, GSNB’77, GSN’85 wrote the book Sea of Glory (2001), based on the events of the Dorchester.
Clark V. Poling
U.S. Army Chaplain
Rutgers College 1933
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of