New book reveals Buffalo connection to ‘kissing sailor’
blog by S.J. Velasquez • May 02, 2012 @ 11:15am
For decades, the identities of the sailor and nurse kissing in Times Square have been hotly debated. Authors of a new book scheduled to be released this summer believe they’ve identified the mystery man and woman.
On Aug. 14, 1945, LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the now notorious photo of the kissing couple just minutes after Japan’s surrender. The photograph became one of the most recognizable images in the world, forever representative of the news that World War II had ended. Regardless of the picture’s notoriety, the two people in the image have never been identified with certainty.
Authors of “The Kissing Sailor” believe they’ve positively identified the sailor and nurse as 89-year-olds George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman.
The story goes a little something like this:
Mendosa had been assigned to the USS The Sullivans (DD-537). “In my battle station,” Mendonsa said in an America in WWII interview, “I was the helmsman, so I was up on the bridge all the time.” Kamikazes hit carrier Bunker Hill, and the whole thing went up in flames, he recalled. “There were thousands and thousands of gallons of airplane fuel burning on the flight deck.”
USS The Sullivans picked up injured sailors and brought them to a hospital ship, where Mendonsa took notice of the nurses tending to the injured sailors.
While on leave from duty Aug. 14, 1945, Mendosa was on a date at a movie theater. Upon learning of Japan’s surrender, he exited the theater, determined to kiss the first nurse he saw, 10news.com reports. He hadn’t learned the identity of the woman with whom he shared the smooch at the time.
So what’s the Buffalo connection?
USS The Sullivans, the ship on which Mendonsa had been stationed, is now docked in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.
“The Kissing Sailor,” co-authored by Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi, is slated to be available for purchase June 15.