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VA interfaith service to honor 4 heroic chaplains

VA Western New York Healthcare System will hold its annual interfaith service at 2 p.m. Sunday in memory of four chaplains who died after performing an extraordinary act of compassion during World War II.

Rabbi Allen H. Podet will deliver the keynote address at the service in Freedom Hall of the hospital at 3495 Bailey Ave. The program, which is open to the public, also will include presentation of the Legion of Honor award.

When their Army transport ship was hit by a German torpedo off Greenland in February 1943, the chaplains – a Methodist minister, a rabbi, a Dutch reformed clergyman and a Catholic priest – gave their life jackets, which were in short supply, to young soldiers on board. Then they locked arms together, prayed and went down with the ship. Of 902 personnel on board, only 227 survived.