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WWII veteran proposes to long-lost love 70 years later: 'It's a real love story'

Roy Vickerman, a World War II veteran who lost touch with his teenage sweetheart after 1946, has reconnected with his old love.
/ Source: TODAY

A World War II veteran who lost touch with his teenage sweetheart has reconnected with his old love, popping the question for the second time — 70 years later.

For decades, Roy Vickerman, 90, wondered what had happened to the young woman he met in school in the 1940s and later proposed to when he was only 18 years old. But shortly after their engagement, he went off to war, where he was shot by a Nazi sniper. When he returned home to England, he was a different man, he said, and the couple broke up.

Roy Vickerman
Roy Vickerman and Nora Jackson when they were together the first time around.Vickerman Family

"I had what they now call post-traumatic stress," Vickerman, from Hartshill, Staffordshire, in the U.K., told TODAY. "I had been abroad and I was wounded. I just went to pieces. So I called the engagement off, which I regret deeply."

That was in 1946, and the pair went their separate ways, each eventually marrying someone else and starting a family. All the while, Vickerman held onto a photo of his first love, Nora Jackson, and the engagement ring that he had given her.

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"Occasionally I wondered how she was, but I never did anything about it," he said.

That all changed when he called into a local radio station last year to share his story. The producers at DJ Graham Torrington's Late Night Love show, a BBC program, quickly set out to find Jackson, and reconnect the long-separated couple. With a little push from producer Andy Swift, Vickerman went to Jackson's address.

His plan was to drop off flowers and apologize for their breakup, and then return home.

"I came down in a taxi, and knocked on the door, and Nora came to the door," Vickerman said. "And she said, 'I thought I'd never see you again, what a beautiful surprise.' And she put her arms around me and gave me a lovely kiss and she said, 'Hold me.' And it was very touching. I really didn't think I was going to get that treatment. I thought I was going to get a black eye!"

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The couple talked for hours — Vickerman eventually realized he should go outside and tell the taxi to leave — and learned that while both of them had gone on to have happy marriages, their spouses had since passed away. Jackson had been a widow for 12 years, and Vickerman's wife had died in 2012.

They made plans to see each other again in a few days.

"Four days later, I came down again," Vickerman said. "Four days became three days, three days became two days, two days became one day, and now I see her every day. We have dinner together every night. We still love one another just like we did before."

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Jackson told TODAY she immediately recognized Vickerman when he knocked on the door.

"It was just lovely. It was wonderful," she said. "We were so delighted to see each other. It's a real love story."

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Vickerman celebrated his 90th birthday last month, and on that day he proposed once again to Jackson, with the same engagement ring he had presented her with so many years ago. The couple hasn't set a date yet; they said they're in no rush.

"We're going to see what happens," Jackson said. "We want to enjoy life."