SAN DIEGO — It's a reunion that two WWII veterans never thought was possible.
After 75 years of not knowing each other's whereabouts and not knowing what happened to each other after the battle, Gerome Ackerman and Jack Gutman, the two best friends who met at Camp Pendleton and got separated during the war, were finally reunited.
“I was assigned to Oceanside California and that's where I met Jack and we became instant friends. Because we're both New Yorkies and we understood each other when we spoke, and we both would do the lindy hop,” said Gerome Ackerman.
Gerome and Jack were separated when they were assigned different battleships that were en route to the invasion of Okinawa–one of the biggest naval battles of world war 2 that left thousands dead.
That invasion became the beginning marker of the planned assault on Japan. At that time Jack was sent to Okinawa, but Gerome stayed behind, never hearing from each other since then.
“We just disappeared from each other. In this line of duty, you can’t help but think about what happens to those you fought next to. In this case, Gerome was my best friend and I kept wondering what happened,” said Jack.
After decades of wondering whether they survived the war or not and if that friendship had been lost for good, Gerome's son, Peter, helped track down Jack.
Fast forward to this Saturday, the two were able to reconnect and CBS 8 was there to capture the moment decades in the making.
Jack became emotional after realizing how important their friendship was during a horrific time.
“He is my best friend, he helped me during the tough times. I am overjoyed to know that he is here with me. Bless him and his family,” said Jack.
CBS 8 was able to sit down with both veterans and witness their conversations and listen in on just some of their stories from the past.
The two said they felt grateful that the friendship still lives strong, just as they do. “I hope God will give us even more years to live this life,” said Jack.
They said that they are thankful for those who are serving and have served our country.
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