AMERICA REMEMBERS – The ecstatic US Navy sailor whose kiss with a woman in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II was immortalized in one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century has died aged 95.
George Mendonsa fell and suffered a seizure on Sunday 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. He died two days before his 96th birthday.
Mendonsa was shown kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on August 14, 1945. Known as V-J Day, it was the day Japan surrendered to the United States.
It wasn’t until decades later that Mendonsa and Friedman were identified as the couple locking lips what became one of the most widely-recognized images of the World War II era, taken by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92.
The sailor spent 74 years insisting that he was the man in the photograph, along with dozens of others who were sure it was them.
It wasn’t until recently that his claim was verified when facial recognition technology and experts in photography and forensic anthropology ruled out all the other sailors.
‘The evidence is so overwhelming,’ Lawrence Verria, coauthor of The Kissing Sailor, told the Providence Journal in the hours after Mendonsa’s passing.
‘There really is no doubt…. This man deserves the credit during his lifetime.’
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