The Four Chaplains' Medal was established by Act of Congress (Public Law 86-656, 86th Congress) on July 14, 1960.
This medal commemorates the extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty displayed by four American chaplains during the Second World War. It was awarded posthumously to Chaplains George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, and John P. Washington for giving their life vests to others during the sinking of the troop transport ship Dorchester in the North Atlantic just after midnight on February 2, 1943. The four Chaplains were also posthumously awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Cross for their extraordinary heroism in action.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
Since the Four Chaplains' Medal was posthumously awarded to only four recipients, it does not have a place in the Army's order of precedence.
No devices were authorized for this medal.
The Four Chaplains' Medal was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones (1892-1969) of the Army's Institute of Heraldry..
The four chaplains who received this medal were:
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the center of a gold oval, the general shape of an eagle with elevated wings with an overall width of two and one-sixteenths inches and height of two and five-eighths inches. The eagle is shown grasping olive branches in both talons; the branches extend upward and terminate at the eagle's wings, forming a wreath. The soaring eagle is representative of the majesty of the spirit of the government in whose service the Four Chaplains gave the last full measure of devotion. The olive branches symbolize spiritual peace and renascence.
In the center of a gold oval two inches in width, an open book containing the names of the Four Chaplains. Above the left side of the book is a cross, and above the right side are the Tablets of Moses with a Star of David. An olive wreath extends upward from the base of the medal. The Christian Cross and the Tablets of Moses with the Star of David represent the faiths of the Four Chaplains whose names are inscribed forever in the annals of heroism.
The central stripe of blue is the same shade as the ribbon of the Medal of Honor and symbolizes courage above and beyond the call of duty. The black edge stripes symbolize the "last full measure of devotion" rendered by the Four Chaplains.