Author Archives: Daryl Densford

Remembering Chaplain William Taggart

You have probably heard of Chaplain Taggart’s book, “My Fighting Congregation” but do you know his story?

On This Day in Chaplain Corps History, 27 February 1942, Chaplain William C. Taggart performed his duties -and more- so gallantly during fighting on the island of Java, that later that year he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on this day in 1942.

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Remembering the 1st Chaplain Captured by the Germans in WW2

On this day in Chaplain Corps history, 16 February 1943, Chaplain Eugene Daniel was the first US chaplain to be captured by the Germans. Caring for wounded American -and German- soldiers, Chaplain Daniel was taken prisoner when the Afrika Korps overtook their position.

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You may find interesting the extended version of this video which includes video clips of Chaplain Daniel telling his story from a presentation he made to a high school class in the ’90s:

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Remembering the Five Chaplains of the Mallory

Just four days after The Four Chaplains were lost with the sinking of the Dorchester, five more chaplains died when a German sub sunk the Mallory, on this day in Chaplain Corps History, 7 February 1943.

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If you’d like more information on the Mallory’s last voyage, the five chaplains who perished as well as the two chaplains who survived, and other details not included in the shorter version above, this 15-minute video is for you!

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Remember the Four Chaplains

3 February 1943: On This Day in Chaplain Corps History, Chaplains Goode, Fox, Poling and Washington were on the U.S.A.T. Dorchester in the North Atlantic when a German submarine torpedoed and sent it to the bottom of a watery grave. These four chaplains exemplified nurturing the living, caring for the wounded and honoring the dead as they sacrificed their own safety and lives to minister to the needs of others as they served God and country.

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Chaplains in Chapels Drinking Coffee

Excited to share the next episode of Chaplains in Chapels Drinking Coffee! In this episode, we went to Fort Benning, Georgia and visited with Chaplain Estella Karr at the Interfaith Chapel she helped to establish.

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Remembering the Attack on Pearl Harbor

There were many Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants who not only did their jobs but went far above and beyond to serve during and immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and surrounding bases. In this 10-minute video, I explore the stories of some of them.

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Beyond Belief-True Stories of Military Chaplains

Just released on Veteran’s Day 2021! “In Beyond Belief-True Stories of Military Chaplains that Defy Comprehension … you will find stories of heroism by U.S. Military Chaplains from the American Revolution through the more recent wars against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Some of these chaplains were heroic Prisoners of War, some were ordinary men of God who went above and beyond to encourage and comfort the fearful and the wounded, and to pray with and stay with the dying on the battlefield. Their stories not only inspire, but teach important lessons in brotherhood. Despite their differences in faith and denomination, each served and ministered inclusively, focusing not on their differences, but on what they all had in common: service to the same Heavenly Father, dedication to others, and uncommon courage in trying times” (From the back cover).

277 pages, 27 chapters including an appendix of highly decorated chaplains.

Click here to visit The Chaplain Kit Quartermaster page for ordering information.

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Centennial of the Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

One hundred years ago on 11 November 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated when the remains of an unknown Soldier from World War One was interred while four chaplains participated in the ceremony.

Three years after the end of World War 1, an unidentified Soldier who had been killed in fighting in France during the war was brought to Washington D.C. and lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda until 11 November 1921. On this Armistice day, the body of the unknown Soldier was committed and interred outside the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, along with the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Chaplain (COL) John T. Axton commitments the body of an unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, 21 November 1921 (author’s collection).

Continuing reading this story and see more pictures here.

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I Walked to the Gallows with the Nazi Chiefs

On this day in 1945 (18 Oct 45) the Nuremberg Trials began. Five years after he was a chaplain there, Henry Gerecke told his story to the readers of the Saturday Evening Post. It was a story of hope, redemption and evil.

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I Walked to the Gallows With the Nazi Chiefs

By Chaplain Henry F. Gerecke

As told to Merle Sinclair
[as it appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, September 1, 1951]

It was the duty of the Chaplain of Nuremberg Prison to offer Christian comfort to Hitler’s gang. Now, after five years under a bond of silence, he tells how they repented before the hangman’s trap fell.

Gerecke-SEPost-1951-7 (2)

“Chaplain Gerecke. The Nazi prisoners wrote to his wife, asking her to urge him to stay in Nuremberg” (photo by Ralph Boyle).

It is five years since I served my stretch in Nuremberg prison–as chief chaplain during the trials of the Nazi leaders by the International Military Tribunal and spiritual adviser to the fifteen Protestant defendants. My assistant, Catholic Chaplain Sixtus O’Conner, and I spent eleven months with the perpetrators of World War II. We were the last to counsel with these men, and made ten trips to the execution chamber. The world has never heard our story.

When, some years ago, I asked the United States Army for the necessary permission to share this experience with my fellow Americans, I was asked to wait. I believe the public’s reaction to the trials was responsible. Consequently, my reminiscences have been confined to two reports, both written previously and read only by fellow chaplains and certain young fold of my Lutheran faith.

However, I believe that the story, told now, will help to stress the lessons we should have learned from the careers and downfall of Hitler’s elect, at a time when we need such lessons worse than ever.

Continue reading this article here (5568 more words)…

On This Day in Chaplain Corps History

On 24 June 1917, after devoting thirty years to the development of a professional Army chaplaincy, Orville J. Nave died of injuries he received when he was hit by a trolley. His amazing career began in the Civil War and continued until this day in Chaplain Corps history, 24 June 1917.

His story is too long to tell in a short video but here are some of the highlights of his influential career:

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