When the U.S. entered WWII, its Army had 137 chaplains. By the war's end, 9,000 chaplains had served. Of these, 117--including Chaplain Pat Fowlkes--had died as a result of combat. Chaplains of varied faiths and denominations, sometimes working together, played a vital role in the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of their troops.
In July 1942, Pat, an Episcopal minister, left his wife, young son, and his two northern Virginia churches to enter the Army's Chaplain Training School. With the 314th Troop Carrier Group, he served in North Africa, Sicily and England where he trained as a paratrooper. Reassigned to the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, he served in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity, a massive airborne assault across the Rhine River, during which he was killed after landing on German soil in March 1945.
Pat's intimate letters portray a young man of notable promise, who gave his life to build a more just world. They reveal his questions about the war, reflections on the fight against evil, distress on the battlefields, and his interest in the places and people he meets. A poignant thread, throughout the letters, is Pat's devotedness and love for his wife and family.
Click here for Chaplain review: reviewed Chaplain in the Washington Times on May 22, 2019
Praise for Chaplain, The World War II Letters for Army Air Corps Chaplain Paschal Dupuy Fowlkes
The editor has done a remarkable thing. She has taken a private citizen, her father, and introduced us — a world of strangers — to this thoughtful, loving, idealistic, utterly loveable man in all his courage and gallantry and his touching devotion to his family. She has beautifully honored her father and given the gift of him to the larger world and made us care about him so damn much that I kept thinking, hoping, praying as I moved closer and closer to March 1945 that maybe this story would please have a different ending. What an accomplishment! Judith Viorst, writer, author of Necessary Losses and The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
I have been overwhelmed by Chaplain. It moved me almost to tears, partly by Pat’s expression of deep affection for his wife and children and partly by his vivid, selfless (but human) portrayal of his experiences, his surroundings, his comrades and his ordinary day-to-day life. The book, by its very concentration on the ordinary business of existing through those days, gave me a greater understanding of the war (and war in general) than almost anything I have read. Thomas Cookson, former Headmaster of Winchester College, Winchester, England
What an extraordinary person Pat was. It’s hard to imagine he could be doing as he was doing, and in later times enduring all he was enduring, and still write such complete and loving letters home. They are surely a treasure for his family, and now for those who will gain insight here on the work of an exceptional chaplain and human being in wartime. Kathryn Schneider Smith, historian, author of Washington at Home
I haven't been able to put the book down. I started with the Afterword…… told beautifully and movingly…… sometimes it was hard to read through the tears. I was touched by the gratefulness, still, of the Dutch, and the idea that these men, whose deaths left children without fathers, were the fathers of a united Europe. William A. Christian, historian, author of The Stranger, the Tears, the Photograph, and the Touch.
In editing her Chaplain father’s war letters, Rives Carroll has crafted an absorbing and intimate account of his reflection on his responsibilities and role. His gentle and questioning voice comes through as he thinks about inequality in America, economic insecurity, and fear of “the other”. As I read, I couldn’t help but think how foresighted he was in considering the very same issues we face today. Toni Bickart, educator and former vice-president of Teaching Strategies