World War II veteran finds lost lady friend 65 years later
November 12, 2009
CAMP DARBY, Italy- This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, people are honoring our brother and sisters in arms around the world. One World War II veteran traveled around the world to come back to areas that he helped liberate in Italy and France.
Pfc. Noel Yuzuro Okamoto, a Japanese American who was born in 1922 in Hawaii, joined the Army in March 1943 and was eventually assigned to the 442nd RCT, 232 Combat Engineer Company. He recently took part in a liberation ceremony in Bruyeres, France with the color guard from 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT.
"They (color guard) brought the original flag that we brought here 65 years ago," said Okamoto. "It was very touching to see it fly at the ceremony."
After the ceremony he met an older French man who had a book naming everyone who was in the 442nd and their rank. He had been collecting autographs over the years and having the veterans date his book whenever they came back to the area.
Okamoto pulled out a yellowing photograph of a young French girl he was friends when serving in the area. On the back was written her name Raymonde\'. The man with the book immediately decided that he was going to be the local town guide and help Okamoto find his lost beauty. Raymonde' was still alive and living in the town.
"When we called her on the phone, she at first thought it was a joke," said Okamoto. "Once we were at her home and asked her if she was the woman in the photo, she had a large smile and pulled out a matching copy of the photo from a drawer."
"It was absolutely amazing to me that we found her and that she had the same photos," said Vicki Youngblood, Okamoto's daughter. "It was like something out of the movies."
After leaving France, Okamoto and his daughter went to visit Pvt. "Curley" Nakae square at Camp Darby, Italy. Okamoto wanted to leave a "Go for Broke" 442nd lanyard on the monument that celebrated the Medal of Honor recipient Pvt. Nakae.
"It's important to remember our veterans from today and yesterday," simply stated Okamoto.