In 1984, crew members from the USS Coontz were invited to attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Vatican.  The crew boarded a bus in Gaeta for Rome and Vatican City, and stopped for dinner and wine along the way.  Once at the Vatican, those attending the mass had to go through a security check and metal detectors, as there had been an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul just a few years before.  Pictured above is the ticket the crew was given for entry to the Vatican.  If you have any photos from your time aboard the USS Coontz you would like to share, please email them to