Hudson 7 Honors Local Hero As Patron

At their March 2014 meeting, the Brothers of Hudson County Division 7 voted to name as their Division Patron a local priest and military hero.

Father John P. Washington was one of four Army Chaplains who went down with the USAT Dorchester on February 3, 1943, giving his life so that others could survive. Born to Irish immigrant parents in Newark, Father Washington studied at Seton Hall and Immaculate Conception Seminary. He was assigned to St. Stephen Parish in Kearny in 1938.Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was appointed as a Chaplain in the United States Army.

Also aboard the Dorchester were Methodist minister George L Fox, Reform-Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, and Reformed Church in America minister Clark V. Poling. At 12:55 AM on February 3, 1943, the Dorchester was torpedoed by German U-boat U-223. Severely damaged, and listing to port, the call was made to abandon ship off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. When the supply of life jackets was exhausted, Washington and the other Chaplains gave up their own life jackets and gave them to other members of the crew. They helped other men into lifeboats, and then linked arms. Saying prayers and singing hymns, the Four Chaplains went down with the ship.

Grady Clark, a survivor of the sinking, described the scene as follows:

“As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”

Division 7 , Hudson County, of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is proud to honor Father John P. Washington as their patron.