George Mendonsa, the sailor caught kissing a nurse in the iconic World War Two V-J Day photo, has passed away at 95.
On August 14, 1945, the United States celebrated Victory Over Japan (V-J Day) and hence the end of World War Two. On that day, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was in New York’s Times Square and snapped the one photo that perfectly summed up the celebratory day.
The photo caught U.S. Sailor George Mendonsa giving a smooch to Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform.
Neither had met the other, but that moment in time, entitled simply “The Kiss,” became an iconic photo for the end of the great war.
As Stars and Stripes reports:
Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple, and it was years before Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.
Mendonsa served on a destroyer during the war and was on leave when the end of the war was announced.
When he was honored at the Rhode Island State House in 2015, Mendonsa spoke about the kiss. He said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.
“I saw what those nurses did that day and now back in Times Square the war ends, a few drinks, so I grabbed the nurse,” Mendonsa said, WPRI-TV reported.
Still, to show that it really was another time, Friedman said in 2005 that it was definitely NOT her choice to be kissed by a stranger. Such a photo today would be denounced as a sexual assault.
The iconic photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt was first published in Life magazine and is called "V-J Day in Times Square," but is known to most as "The Kiss." https://t.co/JtrPdS2iNm
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) February 19, 2019
Friedman died in 2016 and now, Mendonsa has followed her in leaving this mortal coil:
Mendonsa fell and had a seizure at the assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he lived with his wife of 70 years, his daughter, Sharon Molleur, told The Providence Journal.
The Greatest Generation is nearly gone, now.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.