George Mendonsa death: US sailor pictured kissing woman in iconic VJ Day photo dies, aged 95

The photo was taken on VJ Day in 1945

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Monday 18 February 2019 19:33 GMT
The sailor was pictured in the iconic kissing photo (AFP/Getty)
The sailor was pictured in the iconic kissing photo (AFP/Getty)

The US Navy sailor immortalised in the iconic kissing photograph of himself and a woman after the end of World War II was declared, has died at the age of 95.

George Mendonsa passed away on Sunday after suffering with congestive heart failure – just days before his 96th birthday, his daughter Sharon Molleur told NBC News.

He had been living in an assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, with his wife of 70 years, Rita.

Mr Mendonsa’s image became one of the most recognisable in the country when he was captured kissing a woman in Times Square, New York, on 14 August 1945 – otherwise known as VJ Day, or the day that Japan officially surrendered to the United States in World War II.

The photo, captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was later published in Life Magazine with the caption ”VJ Day in Times Square”, and came to represent the euphoria Americans and people around the world felt about the ending of the Second World War.

However, for years, the identities of those in the picture were unknown – as Mr Eisenstaedt failed to record any information about his subjects when he took the photo of Mr Mendonsa spontaneously kissing the woman, later identified as Greta Zimmer Friedman.

The photo has been turned into memorials
The photo has been turned into memorials

Despite claiming that it was him pictured in the photo, it was many years before Mr Mendonsa was confirmed as the sailor in the picture through facial recognition, according to NBC News – an honour that was important to him.

“He was very proud of his service and the picture and what it stood for,” his daughter told the news outlet.

The same was true for Ms Friedman, who was working as a dental assistant at the time and who did not know Mr Mendonsa before he swept her into a kiss amidst the celebration.

The identities of both were eventually proven by historian Lawrence Verria, who wrote in his book The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo that Ended World War II the people in the photo were Ms Friedman and Mr Mendonsa.

Ms Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in