You may not know his name, but you’ve seen him in one of the most famous and recognizable photographs ever taken.
His name was George Mendonsa. He was the sailor who grabbed a nurse and kissed her in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II.
Mendonsa died of a seizure in Middletown, Rhode Island Sunday, two days before his 96th birthday.
Mendonsa was a U.S. sailor on leave who would likely have been sent to the Pacific to continue the war against Japan.
But when word of the Japanese surrender was announced on August 14, 1945, Mendonsa and thousands of others poured into the streets of New York to celebrate.
He spontaneously grabbed a nurse, bent her back, and kissed her. Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the scene, making it an iconic image of World War II and a picture instantly recognized around the world.
Many men claimed to be the sailor throughout the years. But image technology and Mendonsa’s date and future wife — who is seen in the background of the picture — proved it was him.
The nurse, an Austrian refugee who fled the Nazis, was Greta Zimmer. She died in 2016.