LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An Orange County World War II veteran who was part of a historic, made-for-TV reunion has died at the age of 90.
Last January, Daniel Gillespie met with Joshua Kaufman, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Los Angeles. The two men came face to face on a Southern California beach. Kaufman first saluted Gillespie, then kissed his feet.
“I promised one day if I will come to America, any American soldier who I will see, I will fall down on my knees and I will hug him and I will kiss him,” Kaufman said at the time.
The History Channel Germany arranged the reunion for a documentary that aired last year. The image of Kaufman kissing Gillespie’s feet was seen around the world.
The reunion came 70 years after Kaufman was freed from the Dachau concentration camp April 29, 1945. He said he was only days from death when U.S. troops liberated the camp.
Gillespie was a machine gunner with the 42nd Rainbow Division. He saw Kaufman hiding in latrines with other prisoners, unsure whether the soldiers were there to kill them or save them. Gillespie helped Kaufman out into the daylight. The two men didn’t think they’d ever see each other again.
That changed in January 2015, when a German documentary team discovered the two were living within an hours’ drive. When they met on a Southern California beach, they talked about the war, and survival.
“I know what he went through in the war, and he survived and I survived,” Kaufman said of Gillespie.