VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- After more than 70 years apart, a Virginia Beach man and World War II veteran boarded a flight at Norfolk International Airport to Australia to reunite with his wartime girlfriend.
On Sunday, Norwood Thomas and his son Steve began the 20-hour trip to the other side of the world to reconnect with his former sweetheart, Joyce Durrant.
"I am looking forward to it and maybe I am just a bit excited and don't realize it yet," Norwood told CBS 6 sister station WTKR.
The two met while Thomas was stationed in England, as a member of the 101st Airborne Division. They planned to get married, but the war and their lives afterward kept them apart.
In November, Thomas and Durrant reunited through Skype after Durrant’s son searched Thomas on the internet.
Thomas and Durrant's love story touched the hearts of people all over the world and eventually led to Air New Zealand setting up round-trip flights for Thomas and Steve to visit Durrant in Australia.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity and I think it’s wonderful that it has happened," said Thomas.
While the trip is considered a vacation, Norwood said he plans to address some serious business when he reconnects with Durrant.
He said he would like to find out why she wouldn't come back to the United States with him after WWII.
"I think it will be good to find out," he said. "I really don't know how I will feel or how she will feel. We have lived in two different worlds."
With all the time that has past, Thomas said he is also looking to make up for lost time. He is planning on spending Valentine’s Day with Durrant.
"I have a little a card and I have sent her a gift. When I get there I will of course buy some flowers," Thomas said.
He said the first thing he will do is give her a long awaited big squeeze at the airport.