Four Chaplains Memorial dedicated in Sebastian

Lost their lives to save others in WW II

SEBASTIAN, Fla. - On February 3, 1943 Ernie Heaton was an Army private on board the USAT Dorchester as it was buffeted by a North Atlantic storm. "50 foot waves going clear over the boat," Heaton remembered.

That night, Heaton and the other 900 personnel on board would be scrambling for their lives after the Dorchester was hit by a torpedo.

Heaton scrambled to a lifeboat but noticed that the four chaplains on board were staying on the ship, even offering up their own life vests.

"There was a real bright light that shined on your face and went on up," recalled Heaton of the life vests.  "Everyone of them had given up their life jackets because there was no light."

At Riverview Park in Sebastian Tuesday, a permanent memorial was unveiled in honor of the four chaplains.   They are father John Washington, the reverend Clark Poling, rabbi Alexander Goode, and the reverend George Fox.  

Ernie Heaton, who lives in Vero Beach, is one of two remaining survivors from the Dorchester.  He worked for six years to make this memorial happen and called it a dream come true.

Among those who came to the dedication were relatives of those who didn't survive the attack on the Dorchester.  

98 year-old Frances Dascoli still lives in the house in Brooklyn she and her brother shared. "I think about him every day, we were very close," said Dascoli.

Tuesday was extra special for Heaton.  He had the memorial dedicated on his 89th birthday and also received birthday wishes from President Barack Obama.

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