Norwood Thomas' reunion with his wartime girlfriend was incredible, but it came with one major drawback: "I can't take you in my arms and give you a squeeze," the 93-year-old World War II vet told Joyce Morris, 88, during a Skype call in November. "Well, we've got to get on that then," she replied, per the Virginian-Pilot. A lot had changed since the pair last set eyes on each other in England, a few months before Thomas took part in the D-Day landings. When the war ended, he returned home and wrote to Morris, asking her to marry him. She thought he was already married and refused. Both then married other people, with Morris settling in Adelaide, Australia, and Thomas in Virginia Beach, Va. Morris, since divorced, tracked Thomas down after finding an article about him going skydiving for his 88th birthday, but a reunion seemed like a pipe dream. Some 300 generous donors changed that.
After becoming engrossed in the couple's story, Barbara McDonald started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a trip. "Normally you read about this stuff in fictional books, you don't ever see this in real life," she told WTKR. Readers pooled $7,500, but the donations weren't enough to get Thomas—who is battling prostate cancer and living on a fixed income—and his caretaker son to Adelaide. Then Air New Zealand stepped in. The airline is offering first-class airfare for Thomas and his son to visit Australia next month so the pair can finally be together again—and on Valentine's Day, no less. "I'm numb," Thomas tells the Virginian-Pilot. "I have no idea what my emotions are going to be once we meet face to face." "What would you do if I could give you a little squeeze?" Thomas asked Morris in November. "We could always do with a hug, can't we?" she answered. "Whatever age we are."