Lt. Father John P. Washington was the son of Irish immigrants and grew up in Newark, New Jersey, across from New York City. He was an altar boy, joined a street gang, got straightened out in high school at a minor seminary and graduated from the School of Theology at Seton Hall University; he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1935. He enlisted in the Army immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. His next of kin received his Four Chaplains Medal established by Congress, along with the other families, from the Secretary of the Army in 1961.

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