Kissing Sailor in WWII Times Square Photo Dies at 95 Years Old


Kianna Montano, Beat Investagator-ELL/Foreign

George Mendonsa, the sailor in the famous Time Square Photo “The Kiss”, that symbolized the end of World War II, has died at the age of 95.

The Veteran died on Sunday February 17, 2019 in Newport, Rhode Island two days before his 96th birthday.

The picture was taken August 14, 1945, after the news of Japan’s surrender (aka: Victory Over Japan Day or V-Day) was spread around the New York streets. His daughter said, “When I look at that photograph, I just think of my dad’s service, and how happy he was that it was all over.”

Mendonsa told CNN that he was on a first date with Rita Petry,(who he would go on to marry and live with for over seventy years) who was related to his younger sister’s new husband. While he was on his date with Petry, he heard a crowd of people outside of Radio City Music Hall pounding on the theater doors shouting “The war is over!”

Mendonsa and Petry walked outside the building and saw a crowd of people on the streets. They soon stopped at a bar. “The booze was flying, and I popped quite a few,” Mendonsa said. “We’re all drinking and raising hell.”

After they have left the bar they found themselves out in Times Square.

“So we get into Times Square and the war ends and I see the nurse,” he recalls “I had a few drinks, and it was just plain instinct, I guess. I just grabbed her.” And of course that’s were the famous kiss happened. Outside the streets in Times Square.

The lady in fact wasn’t a nurse, she was actually a dental assistant.

“The Kiss” wasn’t that much of a kiss said Mendonsa. He was just overwhelmed with the fact that he heard the news about the War being over.

Friedman also was interviewed about the famous photo. “Suddenly, I was grabbed by a sailor,” she had said. “It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t have to go back.” She also told the Veterans History Project that the sailor was “very strong”.

Friedman passed away in 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. She was 92 years old. Also Eisenstaedt the photographer who took the photo passed away in 1995 at the age of 96 years old.

Eisenstaedt had once said, “People tell me that when I’m in heaven, they will remember this picture.”  Mendonsa will be buried at St. Columba Cemetery in his hometown, Middletown, Rhode Island.