171: A Reunion... 75 Years in the Making! with Jack Gutman and Jerry Ackerman on Change It Up Radio with Paula Shaw


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In this episode of Change It Up Radio, we're talking about the reunion of two Navy Veterans who were best friends in World War II and had lost connection with one another for 75 years.

Today, we live in a world with social media, cell phones, and the internet, where it's very easy to reconnect with an old friend or check in with someone we may have lost contact with over the years. But, it wasn't always so easy, especially 75 years ago, for two Navy buddies that got separated and were left wondering what happened to their dear friend over the years.

My dad, Jack Gutman, and his best friend, Jerry Ackerman, met at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California during World War II, and were instant buddies who were both from New York and had a lot of things in common. They formed a club called "the 3 jays" with another friend, Joe Gagliardi, who had also become a part of their group. Unfortunately, they were all eventually reassigned. Jack and Jerry were assigned to the USS Cullman, a troop transport, and they lost contact with Joe. Jack ended up being transferred to another ship, and that was the end of a very beautiful friendship.

For 75 years, they wondered where the other was, how the other was, and if the other was even still alive. They both went about life, going to school, falling in love, and raising their families. Fast forward to 2022, Jack and Jerry, who are now both 96 years old, have finally been reunited, all thanks to Jerry's son, Peter, and a search on Google!

In this episode, they reminisce about fond old memories and their fast-growing friendship during World War II, share their individual stories about meeting their wives and building their families, and talk about their plans to meet again in person for the first time in over 7 decades!

Jack also shares how his friends Jerry and Joe were both incredibly helpful in his healing journey, even though he never said this to them back then, and he shares that being reunited with Jerry again has served as a form of closure to his post-traumatic stress that he had gone through for 66 years. This is a truly beautiful conversation that you do not want to miss!

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173 episodes