75 Years after Pearl Harbor Tragedy, Survivor Learns Fate of Beloved He Failed to Meet That Day

A 97-year-old USS Arizona survivor couldn’t stop thinking about his girlfriend who went missing in the 1941 Pearl Harbor tragedy. Nearly 75 years later, a Redditor helped him track her down.

It was December 6, 1941, when Lauren Bruner, 21, saw his beloved girlfriend for the last time. For years, he lived under the assumption that she went missing. Decades later, a concerned Redditor revealed the truth to him. 

Many people who knew Lauren were also aware of a part of his long-lost love story that ended even before it started. But Redditor SassyTeacupPrincess did the unthinkable by finding his lost girlfriend and eventually brought to light the most disheartening piece of news to him.

Lauren Bruner, one of the few who survived the Pearl Harbor tragedy in 1941 | Photo: Shutterstock & Twitter

The Original Poster (OP) emphasized a few memorable bits of Lauren’s love story on Reddit, starting with how he met his ladylove. 

A 21-year-old fire controlman (FC) aboard the battleship USS Arizona, Lauren met Michiko Takahashi, a local bartender, nearly 75 years ago. She told him to call her “Nikki.” He was delighted and eventually fell for her.

The two then went to Nuuanu Pali Lookout and watched the stars together. Moments later, they realized this was it and immediately fell in love. They planned to go on a romantic date the next day, but fate had other plans. 

Lauren and Michiko dreamed of a future together | Photo: Pexels

The couple wanted to swim together on the sun-kissed Waikiki beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lauren barely slept the entire night as he was swept in love with Michiko.

He woke up the following day, still lost in love and deep thought about the lovely things that happened the previous night. He soon realized he wanted to marry Michiko and start a family with her.

That morning, a surprise attack was unleashed, sinking the 33-ton battleship in the oily waters of Pearl Harbor. Lauren was aboard the ship with over 1,177 sailors and marines. Luckily, he was one of the few who survived.

Lauren wanted to marry Michiko and start a family with her | Photo: Pexels

Lauren was emotionally frustrated as he no longer heard from Michiko. He spent several months in the hospital. The tragedy toppled his future, and he somehow wanted to track down his girlfriend. 

He asked a nurse to find her but soon learned that Broadway Inn on Fort St., the restaurant Michiko worked in, was closed. He thought she had returned to Maui to live with her family. He never heard from her again and felt deserted. 

Years later, OP intervened and decided to help a 97-year-old Lauren find his lost love again. The Redditor launched the first step by digging through Michiko’s immigration documents.

Lauren never heard from Michiko again | Photo: Pexels

OP successfully found the records, but the lack of information barricaded all the efforts. Several similar documents of people in the same name born in Hawaii after 1917 complicated things further. 

To verify the records, OP even tried cold calling the concerned Takahashi families listed on the documents, but to no avail.

OP then turned to the Reddit Bureau of Investigation (RBI) to solve the mystery of Michiko’s disappearance. The forum proved helpful, and soon, Michiko Takahashi was successfully tracked.

OP cold called all the Takahashi families on the records | Photo: Unsplash

It was the first time anyone concerned about Lauren knew Michiko so closely. OP found out that Michiko was married and even had grandchildren in Hawaii. 

Lauren was disheartened after learning his beloved had passed away. 

OP left several voicemails, emails, and messages on social media for Michiko’s family, but nobody responded. Eventually, OP decided not to bother the family again and wanted to share whatever they’d found about Michiko with Lauren.

Michiko was married and had grandchildren | Photo: Pexels

Around 75 years had elapsed since their separation, Lauren still waited to see if his girlfriend was doing fine. He was distraught to realize she had already died almost a decade ago, aged 86. 

The sad part was that Michiko passed away without even knowing that Lauren had survived the Pearl Harbor tragedy. OP’s post amassed an overwhelming response from the online community. User anclth wrote:

“What a cool story. I’m going to check out Lauren’s book. I grew up in Hawaii and like reading accounts from important parts in local history.”

Lauren Bruner attends a memorial service held to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack | Photo: Getty Images

Lauren was disheartened after learning his beloved had passed away. But he and OP were thankful to the Reddit community for helping them solve the mystery of Michiko’s whereabouts.

OP believed the couple united again after Lauren passed away in 2019, aged 98. “Perhaps their spirits are flirting again right now in a better place!” OP predicted

Lauren Bruner passed away in 2019, aged 98 | Photo: Unsplash

Could Lauren Bruner have located Michiko had he initiated a search mission years ago?

The outreach of technology 75 years ago was minimal, so it’s anybody’s guess if Lauren and Michiko’s path would’ve crossed sooner had he attempted to search for her decades earlier. Still, it’s uncertain if he would’ve yielded the same results compared to the modern tracking facilities available today. However, it would be lovely to imagine a love story like theirs have a happy ending. 

What would have happened if OP hadn’t stepped forward to help Lauren find Michiko?

Maybe the world would’ve only known one side of Lauren’s love story—their painful separation following the tragedy. Also, their relationship could’ve had a fresh start had Michiko been aware that he survived the tragedy years ago.  

If you loved reading this story, then you’d like this one about how a mom of two who got a surprise call from her first love after nearly three decades.

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