In the military, accolades are earned, not given. On Aug. 14, the Chapel of Four Chaplains will present six individuals with awards that reflect their selfless service.
The six individuals to be honored for their continued selfless service, mutual respect and cooperation include Marco Polo Smigliani, of Egg Harbor Township; Frederick Banner, of Marmora; and Stephen Jansen, of Northfield. Herbert Davis, of Egg Harbor City, Cynthia Murray, of Galloway Township, and Robert Frolow, of Egg Harbor Township, will receive the Legion of Honor Award. It has been more than a decade since The Chapel of Four Chaplains has bestowed the Legion of Honor award.
The Chapel of Four Chaplains, headquartered in Philadelphia, honors the heroic act of four chaplains: Rabbi Alexander Goode; Methodist Minister George Fox; the Rev. John Washington, a Catholic priest; and Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister. They were men of different ages, faiths and backgrounds but shared the same desire to help the soldiers they served alongside. They did not minister according to faith but rather offered words of encouragement to all and helped them acclimate on a fateful journey that would be their last. The Four Chaplains were aboard the USAT Dorchester in February 1943 and on their way into the North Atlantic when they were hit broadside by a German U-Boat torpedo just 150 miles from their destination in Greenland.
There was no choice but abandon ship and do it quickly. All four chaplains tried to keep the men calm and help them off the ship and into life boats but there were not enough life jackets so the four gave away their life jackets and even their gloves to men who were leaving the Dorchester. Eyewitness accounts of the sinking of the USAT Dorchester say Goode, Fox, Washington, and Poling stood at the railing of the ship arm-in-arm as it slipped below the surface of the water that night. They knew their fate and they accepted it in order to save others.
On May 9, 1948, the U.S. Postal System issued a stamp commemorating the four chaplains and the 1943 sinking of the USAT Dorchester.
It is their selfless service that is honored by The Chapel of Four Chaplains awards.
The recipients of the Humanitarian Awards demonstrate their dedication to veterans by their actions and not by their words alone.
Marco Polo Smigliani, a former Marine, served in Vietnam, where he was wounded five times in just 11 days and earned four Purple Hearts. After many twists and turns in his professional life that took him all over the country he settled in South Jersey and has been a tireless advocate for veterans, working to get veterans the healthcare they were promised when they entered the service as well as a voice that brings all sides to the table to address veterans' issues.
Frederick Banner, formerly of the U.S. Air Force, is the chief information officer at Shore Medical Center. He is quick to ask anyone he meets, “what do you need and how can I help?” For Banner, after work means serving as the voice of hospital at the Northfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic and seeing how Shore can best serve those veterans in need of health care. He is also a champion at Shore Medical Center honoring veterans, whether it is planting 1,200 flags on the lawn for Veterans Day or organizing employees and visitors for Independence Day. Banner is dedicated to the men and women in uniform.
Herb Davis, formerly of the U.S. Air Force and N.J. Air National Guard and a Vietnam veteran, has spent countless hours advocating on behalf of veterans on the post, county and state levels through the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Davis has served as the chairman of the Galloway Township Veterans Advisory Board, the Atlantic County Veterans Advisory Board and VA volunteer at the Northfield clinic as well as on the Stockton University Veterans Advisory Board and being a member of former U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s South Jersey Veterans Advisory Committee.
Stephen Jansen, a former Marine and decorated Vietnam veteran, has logged more than 17 years as a volunteer at Shore Medical Center. He is dedicated to helping other veterans who are suffering both physically and mentally from the after effects of combat regardless of their faith, nationality or hometown. Jansen is an active member of the SMC VA Navigator program, connecting veterans to the benefits they are entitled to receive.
The Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award recognizes outstanding selfless service to veterans without regard to faith or race.
Cynthia Murray, a former flight nurse with the Department of Justice, transferred to the VA in 2003 and has made helping veterans her life’s work. She is the nurse manager at the Northfield clinic and is an advocate for the prevention of veteran suicides and assists families in the aftermath of suicide completion. Murray has been published as well as recognized by the U.S. Congress for her effort on behalf of work combating suicide.
Robert Frolow, former U.S. Army, serves as the Atlantic County Veterans Service Officer. In his role, Frolow works continuously to ensure that every veteran with a valid claim gets a fair hearing and frequently an award and supplemental benefits. Working with the American Legion and the VFW, Frolow reaches out and assists veterans requiring services wherever and whenever he finds them.
The legacy of the four brave and selfless chaplains aboard the Dorchester lives on through the Chapel of Four Chaplains for future generations. The Chapel of Four Chaplains is located in the U.S. Navy Yard in Philadelphia. It conducts scholarship programs and encourages selfless service.
Presenting the awards in a ceremony at Shore Medical Center will be Capt. Louis Cavaliere, USN (Ret), chairman of the board of the Chapel of Four Chaplains, and Veterans advocate and military historian Paul Sutton.