Dominican Chaplains in World War II

Over fifty Dominican priests of the Province of St. Joseph served as military chaplains in Word War II, and their story is told, in part, in the recent book by Fr. John Vidmar, O.P. on the history of the Province of St. Joseph: Fr. Fenwick’s “Little American Province”: 200 Years of the Dominican Friars in the United States, pp. 92-99 (available from Paulist Press, 800-218-1903). The image above is from the 1945 edition of the Providence College yearbook showing five Dominican priests who left their teaching at Providence College in Rhode Island to serve as chaplains. (Click on the picture to view larger format)

Fr. Redmond, O.P. with the Marine Raiders, New Georgia Island, Solomon Islands.

Fr. Paul Redmond, O.P., was a veteran of World War I (an enlisted man, Naval Reserve), earned a doctorate from Columbia in 1931, and then served as chaplain with the 1st and 4th Marine Raiders in World War II. He buried more than 3,000 Marines during his term as chaplain, and eared the Bronze Star (Guam 1944) and the Legion of Merit (New Georgia 1943).

Entrance to the Sixth Marine Division Cemetery on Okinawa. In his eulogy at the cemetery’s dedication, Navy Chaplain Fr. Paul Redmond, O.P., said, “This is not a bivouac of the dead. It is a colony of heaven. And some part of us all is buried here.” (USMC Photo, Fr. Redmond as quoted in History of the Sixth Marine Division, ed. Bevin Cass, pg 178, Infantry Journal Press, 1948),

He is memorialized at the Marine Raider Museum in Richmond, VA. The video below describes the origin of the Marine Raiders:

A story about Fr. Redmond from Nicholas Zobenica, a Marine Raider injured on Guam:
“My face was bleeding. I could kind of see the blood squirting out of my gut…Then all that machine gun fire. There was a Catholic priest by the name of Father Paul Redmond. He crawled up to me and he said a prayer. Every day I think, “How did he ever survive getting up to me?” You should have seen the way the guys were dropping. And he came right to me and he was saying that prayer to me and he says, “You’re a brave Marine. God will take care of you. Your wounds will be healed.” And then he took off. And that’s when this one guy pulled me by the ankles and down that hill that Dunbar carried me back.”

Nicholas Zobenica, a Coleraine, MN native, served in the Pacific theater of Operations during World War II, and was wounded in action on the Island of Guam. Story from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Fr. Redmond, O.P. blesses Marines, New Georgia Island, Solomon Islands