Remembering the SS Dorchester & Recognizing Women Marines

Submitted by
Huhugam Heritage Center


There were four chaplains stationed on the U. S. American Transport (USAT) SS Dorchester in February 1943 (WWII). Although they were of different faiths (Catholic, Jewish and 2 Protestant), they all agreed that they should promote unity on the USAT USS Dorchester. When religious ceremonies were held aboard ship, they encouraged everyone available to attend, not just those of the faith for which the service was being held. During their free time, the Four Chaplains would play cards and games with the troops. The ship also carried some civilians and contractors.


The captain of the USAT USS Dorchester warned his troops and passengers that they may come under attack. They were told to sleep in their clothes and life preservers but not all heeded this warning.


On February 3, 1943 in the early hours of the morning, in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, the USAT SS Dorchester was hit by a German torpedo that slammed into the engine room, causing the ship to sink. Some of the life boats were frozen in place and could not be released, while others were damaged from the blast.


The USAT SS Dorchester was being accompanied by 2 Coast Guard Boats which began rescuing survivors within minutes after the blast from the frigid water. With 904 aboard, 229 people were saved and 675 lives were lost that morning.


The four chaplains remained calm while doing everything they could to save the lives of those on board. This included giving away their gloves and even their own life preservers.  Eyewitnesses reported seeing the four chaplains linked arm-in-arm praying as the ship sank below the frigid waters. All four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.


There are annual ceremonies to remember the heroic four chaplains and other passengers aboard the USAT SS Dorchester. Many monuments have been erected across the country to ensure that they are remembered and not forgotten.


United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve

February 13, 2024 marks the 81st birthday of women marines continuous service.

During WWI, women enlisted in the Marine Corps (mostly clerical billets) so that men could go to the field. They were called Marinettes.  After the war, they were all discharged. “Free a Man to Fight” called women to serve in the Women Marine Reserves during WWII. This time, they were allowed to remain in the Marines and have had continuous service since. They are no longer called Marinettes. They are Marines! Happy Birthday Women Marines! The Fewer, The Prouder! Semper Fidelis!


Veteran and Family Services Office:

Peer Support Specialist - Wesley Rhodes 520-562-5147

Peer Support Specialist – Darrell Whitman 520-610-2037

Veteran Service Officer – Kim Skelton 520-610-7644