To be immortal means having a value or purpose that resonates with people long after your physical body is gone. Charles W. David, Jr., a black petty officer aboard a Coast Guard cutter during WWII, earned his immortality for acts of bravery, selflessness, and heroism. The little-known story of David, Jr. and four chaplains aboard the Dorchester is now told in detail in Steven Collis’s new book The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-inspiring Rescue.
“This is the first time anyone has given a full account of the sinking of the Dorchester by telling not just the full story of the Four Chaplains but also of Charles W. David, Jr.—a Black petty officer who sacrificed himself to save nearly one hundred men who were very different from him,” states Collis. “At a time when our country seems so divided, we need histories like this of people who set differences aside to rescue one another, to remind us of what we are capable of today.”
Collis and Shadow Mountain Publishing have teamed up to present a little-known but inspiring act of heroism from WWII. The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-inspiring Rescue recounts the detailed events of the night the SS Dorchester and its crew met their fate at the hands of a Nazi U-boat. The book pays special attention to the circumstances surrounding Charles W. David, Jr., and four chaplains who gave their lives to save hundreds. It is also unique among World War II biographies, because it reads with the pace of a novel and tells the heroics of a Black crewman, something that is too often lacking in stories from that War.
Collis’s book recounts a story with a real connection to the division currently present in our country. Collis weaves an element of unity into the true story of five men with immense differences who put their beliefs and races aside to save lives. The chaplains, all from different faiths, and David, Jr., a young, black man, are revealed as true heroes who looked past the differences that could have divided them—a poignant message for our troubled times.
Shadow Mountain Publishing is well-known for sponsoring stories with a strong message of inclusion and unity. They believe inspiring stories of love and kindness from the past can serve as a model in our present times. A general trade publisher of fiction and non-fiction, Shadow Mountain Publishing is probably best known for its bestselling series and sequel series but has titles from nearly every genre. In their own words, “Shadow Mountain Publishing believes in cultivating stories worth telling, questions worth exploring, and beauty worth sharing to improve the lives of families, children, and our society.” Thus, the account of David, Jr., the chaplains, and the sinking of the SS Dorchester needed to be told.
On that fateful night, Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi; John Washington, a Catholic priest; George Fox, a Methodist minister; and Clark Poling, a Protestant minister, were all aboard the SS Dorchester, ministering to the sailors aboard. It was a time when religious differences in the United States were very real and very poignant. While their purpose was similar among the masses, each held very different beliefs. However, when a German U-boat stalked and struck the Dorchester, and it began to sink, the chaplains put their differences aside to save as many lives as possible.
Once saved from the sinking ship, the sailors found themselves in freezing, glacier-filled water; hypothermia would clearly have taken them if they were not rescued soon. Charles W. David, Jr., a petty officer aboard a Coast Guard cutter accompanying the Dorchester, didn’t think twice about risking his life to save the troubled men. Charles dove into the frigid water time after time, saving numerous men who were sure to drown or freeze to death without his help.
Often, heroes lose their lives saving others. This is the unfortunate conclusion of that tragic night. But their legacy lives on in the descendants of the men they saved and in their examples to so many today. Now, nearly eight decades later, these unsung heroes are immortalized in Steven T. Collis’s book The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-inspiring Rescue.
The Immortals, published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, is available on Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM, Walmart, Bookshop, and anywhere books are sold.
To view the book trailer for The Immortals, please visit https://youtu.be/1qP5L9oxdSM.
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