The two had both married, had children, and seen their spouses pass away—but had never forgotten each other.
KT Robbins, now 97, fell in love with an 18-year-old French girl, Jeannine Pierson, when he was stationed with his regiment in Briey, eastern France.
Two months later, he was sent to the front-line, and their paths never crossed again—until a French documentary maker set up a surprise reunion as Robbins returned to France to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
“I always loved you,” Robbins told Pierson, as he saw her for the first time in over seven decades at her retirement home. “You never got out of my heart.”
Despite the two speaking different languages, the touching reunion, filmed by France 2, required little translation, and the connection between the two appeared to have withered little over the years.
Speaking to one of the filmmakers in French, Pierson replied: “He said he loves me. I understood that much”.
Robbins then took out a photo of Pierson from his jacket that he had kept all along.
“Wow,” she said.
Robbins had shown that same photograph to French reporters back home in the United States, where they were making a documentary about U.S. D-Day veterans. Robbins said that he would like to meet her again, but said he thought she was no longer alive.
The documentary makers quietly traced Pierson to a French retirement home, and arranged for her to meet with Robbins, breaking the news to him as they were en route in France.
“Can you believe it?!” he said, kissing the journalist.
🔴 Document – Ils se sont rencontrés en 1944 puis la guerre les a séparés.
75 ans après, ce vétéran américain franchit à nouveau l’Atlantique pour retrouver son amour de jeunesse en France. Leur tendresse et émotion sont intactes. pic.twitter.com/CMdch3NPoM
— Le 20Heures France2 (@20hFrance2) June 10, 2019
Robbins had enlisted in the 26th Infantry, First Division in 1940, later volunteering to serve in a bakery battalion, according to The Irish Post.
He returned to Mississippi after the war, where he met his wife of 70 years, who passed away four years ago.
Pierson too had married in 1949, becoming a mother to five children.
She said that she still remembered the day that Robbins left.
“When he left in the truck I cried, of course, I was very sad. I wish, after the war, he hadn’t returned to America.”
As the war ended, she even learned some basic English phrases in the hope that Robbins would return.
“It’s a little story in the big story,” said one of Pierson’s children, reported Franceinfo.
The affection between the pair is clear in the documentary as they repeatedly embrace tenderly.
As they said their goodbyes, the two said that they hope to see each other again.
The touching documentary moved one Belgian news anchor to tears, forcing her to pause for a second to compose herself before she introduced the next item.
During their emotional reunion, Pierson asked Robbins why he had never returned, and never gotten in touch.
“Well… you know, when you get married, after, you can not do it any more,” he said.