|Fr. Joseph T. O'Callahan, S.J.|
Father Joseph T. O’Callahan was the first military chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor for his brave actions aboard the USS Benjamin Franklin during World War II. Jack Satterfield, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was very much intrigued with the life of this Jesuit priest, and the result was the book Saving Big Ben: The USS Franklin and Father Joseph T. O’Callahan. Satterfield will discuss and sign copies of the book on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Satterfield, who also served as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserves, said the USS Franklin sustained the heaviest damage of any of the Navy’s surviving fleet. “In March 1945, she was badly damaged in a Japanese air attack, losing more than 800 of its crew,” said the author.
“For Father O’Callahan, this was a very challenging task. The chaplain organized fire fighting crews and ministered to the injured and the dying.”
After the war, O’Callahan returned to the College of the Holy Cross, where he was a mathematics and philosophy professor. He died in 1964 at the age of 58. Satterfield said the carrier was decommissioned in 1947 and after undergoing several reclassifications, was sold for scrap in 1966. Satterfield is also the author of We Band of Brothers: the Sullivans and World War II.