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Palm Beach Gardens veteran shares memories from World War II

95-year-old man awarded Purple Heart for service
Gerard Halpern
Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 18:00:58-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — On Sept. 2, 1945, seventy-five years ago on Wednesday, Japan formally surrendered to Allied forces aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.

Gerard Halpern, 95, of Palm Beach Gardens joined the Army during World War II when he was 18 years old and sent to France.

"I was very lucky to be able to survive," he said.

Halpern said some memories he will never forget.

"I was assigned to a light machine gun unit, so I was a light machine gunner," he said.

He was wounded during the fighting and shared how it happened.

Gerard Halpern
Gerard Halpern of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, shows off photos of his days serving in the Army during World War II.

"Artillery activity had increased a good bit, so we knew something was going to happen. As I passed a house, the only thing sticking out was my right arm, and it was hit by shrapnel. And I said I would like to continue, but the colonel said, 'No, we have to send you to the evacuation hospital,'" said Halpern.

He has a Purple Heart he received for injuries he received in the fighting.

"There were a lot of men lost in World War II," he said.

Halpern continues to be thanked for his service. A few years ago Southeast Florida Honor Flight flew Halpern and other World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials.

Gerard Halpern
Gerard Halpern of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, displays the Purple Heart he was awarded for injuries he suffered fighting in World War II.

In his La Posada senior living community in Palm Beach Gardens, he often shares stories with others.

Paulina Jacobs is the assistant executive director at the community.

"They love to share their stories. Sometimes they feel forgotten, so if you know of somebody, your neighbor a family member, that you know is a veteran, tell them just tell me a story," Jacobs said.