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Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York and U.S. Military Vicar, during his December, 1966, visit to Mannheim, Germany.

Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York and U.S. Military Vicar, during his December, 1966, visit to Mannheim, Germany. (Joe Wesley / ©S&S)

MANNHEIM, Germany, Dec. 19 (S&S) — U.S. Military Vicar Francis Cardinal Spellman bestowed his Christmas blessing on Army troops here as he celebrated Mass attended by 1,300 soldiers and their dependents at Coleman Gymnasium.

Afterward, the 77-year-old cardinal, who is also archbishop of New York, was accorded an enthusiastic reception at a troop mess hall where he was greeted by a rousing 8th Div band rendition of "The Sidewalks of New York."

In his holiday message, the church prelate said that his greatest satisfaction at this time of year comes from being with these "who serve their country."

"You have my extreme gratitude," he told the men of the 8th Inf Div and their commanding general, Maj. Gen. Patrick F. Cassidy, as well as soldiers stationed here of the U.S. Army Aviation Maintenance Center, commanded by Col. James W. Sandridge Jr.

The other host unit was the 3rd Brigade, 8th Inf Div, commanded by Col. Thomas Q. Donaldson IV.

"It should be rewarding to every one of you," the cardinal added, "to realize what your work means to all of mankind."

He also asked that everyone present remember "all of those who have sacrificed to save our country and gain peace."

"I offer my thanksgiving to God for his blessings on our country and its servicemen," he continued, adding, "the memory of this day will be forever enshrined in my heart."

As those who attended the Mass left the gymnasium they were presented with souvenir holy medals.

Assisting the cardinal in the celebration of the Mass were his secretary, Msgr. Patrick Ahern; USAREUR deputy chaplain Lt. Col. William V. O'Connor, and Capt. Brian J. Dowdell, Coleman Barracks chaplain.

Mass servers were Specs. 4 John Sevarino and Dale Koteras. The choir, from Benjamin Franklin Village, was led by Maj. Raymond P. Wassel.

Sitting at the cardinal's table in the mess hall of the 2nd Bn, 13th Inf, were Pfc. Calvin Harris, Sgt. Abraham Colon, Pfc. Francis Pandoli, Spec. 4 Lawrence F. Keane, and Spec. 4 Werner Reinhard, all of New York City; Spec. 4 Michael Spalding, from Buffalo, N.Y., and Pfc. James Ray, from Memphis, Tenn.

The meal of Southern fried chicken and trimmings was prepared under the supervision of mess steward, Staff Sgt. Herman H. Kirby, from Muskogee, Okla. Before the meal the cardinal was introduced to the kitchen crew.

The distinguished visitor also expressed his gratitude to CWO Adrian Primo, from Savannah, Ga., whose 54-piece 8th Inf Div Band provided the lunchtime music.

"It made me feel right at home," the beaming cardinal commented after hearing "The Sidewalks of New York."

He walked among the band members offering his congratulations on their musicianship.

The cardinal and his party came up with a vocal treat of their own when Monsignor Ahern sang a ballad in a highly professional Irish tenor.

Cassidy then concluded the program by naming Cardinal Spellman an honorary member of the 8th Inf Div, which has its headquarters at Bad Kreuznach.

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