Rees Lloyd: February 3rd: Four Chaplains to be honored at Mt. Soledad Cross

January 30, 2014


four chaplainsAmerican Legionnaires, and other veterans and patriots, will commemorate the service and selfless sacrifice of the Four Chaplains by establishing a plaque in their honor at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial on “Four ChaplainsDay,” February 3, 2014, at 1 p.m.

February 3 is national Four Chaplains Day by Act of Congress in 1988. However, it is generally ignored by news media, not taught in schools, and not observed by government entities. Consequently, most Americans do not know who the Four Chaplains are, why they are honored, or even that there is a national Four Chaplains Day.

Therefore, in part to rectify that, wartime veterans of the California American Legion, other veterans and patriots, have unified to create a permanent and enduring reminder of the lives and heroism of the Four Chaplains by dedicating a granite plaque in their honor at Mt. Soledad.

The ceremonies will be held on the 70th anniversary of Feb. 3, 1943, when the troop ship Dorchester was torpedoed in WWII on its way to Greenland. As the doomed Dorchester began swiftly sinking in the frigid sea with 900 troops aboard, the Four Chaplains put their life jackets on troops without them, and went to their certain deaths, arms linked, praying together, “so that others may live.”

four chaplains2The awe-inspiring selfless heroism of the Four Chaplains — Rev. George Fox (Methodist), Rabbi Alexander Goode, Father John Washington (Roman Catholic), and Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed)-–led Congress to award each a Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross in 1944, and an unprecedented Congressional Medal of Valor in 1961. The American Legion continues to advocate that the Four Chaplains should be awarded the Medal of Honor in an exception to the rule that it can only be awarded to combatants.

The Four Chaplains will now be honored in an enduring way by a plaque at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial beneath the cross honoring veterans there. (A replica of the plaque is attached as a file.)


  • San Diego Attorney Charles S. LiMandri will be the keynote speaker. He, as Western Region Director of the Thomas More Law Center and currently as Director of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), is credited with doing more to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial “as it is, where it is,” than any other single person. 
  • Congressman Duncan Hunter will speak in honor of the Four Chaplains unless required for a vote in the U.S. House, in which case a representative will speak for him.
  • Capt. Joseph R. John (USN, ret.), combat veteran and founder of Combat Veterans For Congress (CVFC) 
  • Larry Wilske, Special Operations Master Chief [SEAL] (USN, ret.).
  • Kirk Jorgensen (USMC 10-year combat veteran; presently serving U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.)
  • Myke (“NY Myke”) Shelby, a Vietnam veteran (Air Force), owner of San Diego Harley, and longtime activist in the San Diego citizens movement to preserve Mt. Soledad “as it is, where it is.”
  • Dr. John Steel, former Navy fighter pilot, renown physician and surgeon in San Diego, and one of the first supporters of the Mt. Soledad Memorial.
  • Victoria Taft, patriotic broadcast journalist and radio talk show host, who for years annually broadcast a Four Chaplains Day tribute on Feb. 3.
  • Harry M. Woods, Commander, and Anthony Stewart, Vice Commander, will speak for host American Legion District 22 (which covers all Posts in San Diego County).
  • Ray Trosper will represent Riverside Post 79 which initiated the Four Chaplains tribute at Mt. Soledad. He is Post 79 Sgt.-At-Arms; Chaplain of Post 79’s American Legion Riders (ALR); a Patriot Guard Rider (PGR).

A measure of how the Four Chaplains are honored and revered by veterans of today is expressed in statements issued by two of America’s greatest living military heroes. Their statements will to be delivered on their behalf at the Four Chaplains ceremonies:

Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (USA, ret.) Medal of Honor (Vietnam), considered America’s most decorated living veteran, an American Legionnaire who has described the generally unknown or ignored humanitarian acts of American troops while in war in Vietnam in his book, “Dead Men Flying: America’s Battlefield Angels” (WND Books), sent this tribute to the Four Chaplains:

“As one who has been honored by many great men up to and including the president of the United States, no honor has been more satisfying than my Humanitarian Award from the chapel of the Four Chaplains. Their legacy of courage and sacrifice is vital for our nation’s survival. Our youth need to know that courage is the key to success in life and God will give us all we ask for. You can’t use it up and their faith is the foundation of their courage. Sacrifice is love in action, the source of happiness and our eternal inheritance from the Four Chaplains.”

Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton (USN, ret.), seven years/seven months a prisoner of war in Vietnam, later U.S. Senator (Alabama), also an American Legionnaire and author of the classic book on the tortures inflicted on American P.O.W.’s by their communist captors, “When Hell Was In Session” (WND Books), sent this tribute statement on the Four Chaplains:

“The Four Chaplains proved their faith with ultimate sacrifice – not in a flash of combatant action – but with peaceful discernment, humble devotion and extraordinary valor. They lived this life knowing God’s real presence and eternal promise. Blessed with men of this caliber, our nation must do the same.”

Others whose tribute statements will be included in the ceremonies include:

–Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (5th District), a veteran (Army) and American Legionnaire, long a supporter of Mt. Soledad “as it is, where it is,” and leader of the effort to restore the cross on the Mission Church on the L.A. County Seal, which is now depicted without its cross as the result of lawsuit threats by the ACLU.

–Col. Antonio Monaco (USA, ret.), founder and CEO of Patriot Outreach (

–Chaplain (Ret., LTC) Phillip L. Pringle

–Dan Smith (USMC, ret.), Chairman of the Board of Military Honor Details at Riverside National Cemetery.


(Rees Lloyd is a longtime civil rights lawyer, veterans activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)