Poling, Clark Vandersall, 1LT

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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
Last MOS Group
Chaplain (Officer)
Primary Unit
1943-1943, USAT Dorchester
Service Years
1941 - 1943


First Lieutenant

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MSG Donald H Patrick, Jr. to remember Poling, Clark Vandersall, 1LT.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Poughkeepsie, New York
Schenectady, New York

Casualty Date
Feb 03, 1943
Hostile, Died while Missing
Drowned, Suffocated
North Atlantic Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
East Coast Memorial (Tablets of the missing) - Manhattan, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Battery Park

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenMilitary Chaplains AssociationU.S. Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association
  1943, World War II Fallen [Verified]
  2014, Military Chaplains Association - Assoc. Page
  2014, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Transportation UnitsChaplain Center and School (Staff) Fort Jackson, SC
  1942-1942, 5310, 131st Transportation Battalion
  1942-1942, 5310, Chaplain Center and School (Staff) Fort Jackson, SC
  1943-1943, USAT Dorchester
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1943 World War II1
 Colleges Attended 
Hope CollegeRutgers UniversityYale University
  1929-1930, Hope College1
  1930-1933, Rutgers University
  1933-1936, Yale University1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Lt. Reverend Clark Poling, an Army Lt chaplain,  was a military passenger aboard the USAT Dorchester that was part of a convoy heading for the ETO. It departed New York on 23 January 1943. During the early morning hours of 3 Febraury 1943 the ship was torpoeded by the German U-223 at Lat. 59° 23' N Long. 48° 42' W in the North Atlantic between St. John's, Newfoundland and Nararssuak, Iceland.  There was no warning of the attack. There were 921 men aboard the ship, 227 were saved. (also listed as 902 aboard with the loss of 72, 230 surviving.)

The events of that dark night became legend.  He and three other chaplains were known to have given their life jackets to other men, enusring that they would not survive the sinking  They were last seen holding hands and praying on deck as the ship went down. These chaplains included Methodist minister, George L. Fox;  Reformed Church in America minister, Clark V. Poling; Catholic Church priest, John P. Washington; and Rabbi Alexander B. Goode.

John 15:13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Rev Poling was awarded The Chaplain's Medal for Heroism in 1960 for his heroism in 1943. It is ranked just under the Medal of Honor. This decoration has only been awarded to four individuals since it was created by Congress as a commedorative award.

You will not find it listed on this website or listed by the Department of the Army. Because of it's limited number of awards, the latter deems it to be only a commemorative medal. So much - for taking care of soldiers.

The Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation as established in their name


Distinguished Service Cross

Awarded for actions during the World War II T

he President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Chaplain) Clark V. Poling, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States.

On the night of 3 February 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, a loaded troop transport, was torpedoed without warning by an enemy submarine in the North Atlantic and began to sink rapidly. In the resulting confusion and darkness some men found themselves without life jackets and others became helpless through fear and the dread of plunging into the freezing water.

Chaplain Poling with three fellow Chaplains, moved about the deck, heroically and calmly, encouraging the men and assisting them to abandon ship. After the available supply of life jackets was exhausted they gave up their own and remained aboard ship and went down with it, offering words of encouragement and prayers to the last.

Chaplain Poling's great self-sacrifice, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplifies the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the Chaplains Corps, and the United States Army.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 93 (December 28, 1944)
Action Date: 3-Feb-43
Service: Army
Rank: First Lieutenant

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