NORFOLD, VIRGINIA – A 93-year-old World War II veteran is embarking on a journey from the United States to Australia to visit his wartime girlfriend after more than 70 years apart.
Norwood Thomas will be reunited with Joyce Morris, The Virginian-Pilot reported on a quest that has gone viral online.
“I’d rather die traveling to Australia than live sitting around at home wondering, ‘What if?'” Thomas said.
The two met in London shortly before D-Day. Morris was a 17-year-old British girl, and Thomas was a 21-year-old paratrooper.
“Joyce was special. The one that got away,” Thomas said. “But after the war, my orders to go home came so quick there was no real chance to even say goodbye.”
After the war, the pair wrote letters to each other, and Thomas even asked Morris to come to America and be his wife. But somehow Morris misunderstood and thought he’d found someone else. She stopped writing.
As time passed, they both married other people and had careers and children. Thomas’ wife died in 2001. Morris divorced her husband after 30 years.
Last year, Morris asked one of her sons to look for Thomas on the Internet, where she found his name featured in The Virginian-Pilot’s D-Day series called “The Lucky Few.”
Thomas and Morris, who is now 88, recently reconnected via Skype. After their story went public, hundreds of people made donations to help fund Thomas’ trip to Australia, and Air New Zealand arranged the flight.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing her smile,” Thomas said. “I have no idea if there’ll still be romantic feelings. But at the very least, I’ll get to spend time with an old friend. Just sitting and reminiscing will be wonderful.”