Thomas Scecina was born in Vicksburg, Greene County, Indiana on September 16, 1910. Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 11, 1935 in the Abbey Church of St. Meinrad, Father Scecina received a Baccalaureate in Cannon Law two years later from Catholic University. He was assigned associate pastor of St. John’s parish in Indianapolis where he remained until his military duty began October 5, 1939.
At that time, Fr. Thomas Scecina enlisted in the Chaplains’ Reserve Corps and was later assigned to the 57th Infantry division at Fort McKinley on Luzon in the Philippine Islands. The army chaplain was one of many souls subjected to the infamous “Death March” of Bataan.
After suffering two years of imprisonment, chaplain Scecina willingly accompanied the other prisoners while the Japanese transported them from Manila to Formosa October 1, 1944.
Chaplain Scecina was among those who comprised the first convoy, mistakenly torpedoed by a U.S. Naval submarine, October 24, 1944. While the Arisan Maru was sinking, Father imparted general absolution to all and continued to hear confessions over a three-hour period until such time the ship was completely submerged.
Chaplain Scecina was 34. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star with one Oak-Leaf-Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart. --Team Capodanno
Joseph Timothy O'Callahan was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 14 May 1905. He joined the Jesuit Order of the Roman Catholic Church in 1922, after graduation from preparatory school, and subsequently received degrees from several institutions of higher learning. He was ordained in 1934, and was a Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics at Boston College in 1929-37, Professor of Philosophy at the Jesuit Seminary of Weston College in 1937-38 and Director of the Mathematics Department at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1938-40.
James O'Brien was educated at St. Joseph's Parochial School in Alameda, CA, and at St. Joseph's College in Mountain View. Beginning in 1932, he studied for six years at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. He was tonsured in 1934 and on April 2, 1938, he was ordained at St. Mary's Cathedral by the Most Reverend John J. Mitty for the San Francisco Diocese.
The priest who baptized space shuttle pilot Willie McCool, and who granted him absolution shortly before his ship Columbia lifted off into space, said the astronaut died as he lived – as a hero.
Interviewed Monday, two days after the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated Feb. 1 after re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, Father John Barry said of the seven astronauts aboard, "They’re heroes, whether they died doing it, or lived doing it."
Rev. John B. DeValles was a man of peace in a time of war. A chaplain with the Yankee Division, he was known as the "Angel of the Trenches" for his valiant deeds in caring for the wounded and dying on the battlefields of France during World War I.
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Although he never wore his religion on his sleeve, Tom Moorer was a man of faith. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs he had been at the forefront in the legal fight to preserve mandatory chapel at the Naval Academy against the suit brought by the ACLU where he won at first but then lost on appeal. But in recent actions akin to mandatory chapel at the Naval Academy, such as the suit to deny mealtime prayer to VMI Cadets – recognizing that the ACLU’s ultimate target is the U.S. Naval Academy and even our capital ships at sea – he authorized the use of Naval Aviation Foundation funds to support a Friend-of- the-Court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the ACLU position. In Tom Moorer’s view it was foolish to deny prayer to an institution and services formed to train and deploy men for combat in defense of the nation. Prayer and especially unit led prayer can be a great morale booster for the troops going into battle as General George Patton proved in the Bulge with his Christmas Day prayer before Bastogne.
--RADM Clarence A. (Mark) Hill, Jr.,USN (Ret)
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