Aug 22, 2022

Community Update

An American soldier, a candy bar and an unbreakable bond

A medical convoy of American soldiers led by Colonel John R. Hall, Jr. made its way into the town where the Lipetz family was living. The convoy stopped by their house, and Mr. and Mrs. Lipetz shared their story. This is where the lifelong friendship with Colonel Hall, and the Lipetz family began.

The family ate well after the soldiers’ arrival. A candy bar may have even helped Lipetz learn English. “One of the Americans asked me if I would like a Baby Ruth, and I thought he was offering me a child,” he recalled, chuckling. “To this day, I smile whenever I see one.”

Colonel Hall was instrumental in helping the Lipetz family attain visas to come to the United States after the war. Hall’s family was unaware of his role in assisting the Lipetz family and others in the Philippines until speaking with Pankoke. 

“I promised Eric that I would help him locate the family of Colonel Hall,” said Pankoke. “This man went above and beyond his duties as an American serviceman, writing letters to Lipetz family members, and arranged for visas to the U.S., allowing them to get on an American ship bringing troops back home. Finding his family and making them aware of the Colonel’s actions is a shining example of the legacy of another man’s family that now has three generations. It also completes Eric’s story.”

March of the Living makes history come alive

Once in America, Lipetz started school at age 10, went to college, served in the U.S. Army, and worked on Wall Street. He became a citizen, married, had three children, and is the grandfather of five. 

“Eric is actively involved in the March of the Living Southern Region, a proud program of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, where he shares his testimony with students,” said Roneet Edrich, director of the program. “First-hand testimony makes history come alive. We are so grateful to Eric and the other survivors in our community for generously sharing their testimony.”