Eyewitness to Dorchester sinking part of presentation at WWII Museum

Barry Sax, a retired Department of Defense administrative judge, will speak at the National WWII Museum’s Stage Door Canteen on Feb. 28 on the sacrifice made by four chaplains aboard the Dorchester, a US Army Transport that was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1943.

The chaplains gave their life preservers to other soldiers and died when the ship went down in the North Atlantic.

Richard “Dick’’ Swanson, an eyewitness who was aboard the USS Comanche, a Coast Guard cutter that was in the Dorchester’s convoy and rescued some survivors, will share his memories of the event.

“This is a rare opportunity to hear from a witness to an event seared into the memories of all those living at the time,’’ said Gordon H. “Nick’’ Mueller, museum president and CEO said in a news release. “The Four Chaplains, all from different faiths, gave their lives to assist and comfort those aboard the doomed ship.’ ”

The chaplains were the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Rabbi Alexander D. Good; the Rev. John P. Washington, a Catholic priest; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed Church in America minister.

After helping as many men as possible into life boats, the four men were seen linking arms, singing and praying. They went down with the ship and were among the 700 whose lives were lost.

The Comanche rescued nearly 100 of them, and Swanson was later awarded the Navy and marine Corps Medals for Heroism.

The museum plans to highlight the story of the chaplains as part of a faith in wartime exhibition in the planned Liberation Pavilion, scheduled for completion in 2016.

The presentation, entitled “Brotherhood and Sacrifice at Sea: The True Story of the Immortal Four Chaplains of WWII,’’ will be held in the museum’s Stage Door Canteen and includes a reception an audience question-and-answer. Admission is free, but the museum strongly suggests registering by calling (504) 528-1944.