Sailor who kissed a nurse in famous WWII photograph dies aged 86

A snapshot of 'VJ Day a Times Square, New York, NY, 1945' by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Photo / Getty Images
A snapshot of 'VJ Day a Times Square, New York, NY, 1945' by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Photo / Getty Images

Glenn McDuffie, the US Navy veteran who kissed a nurse in an iconic photo taken in New York on V-Day in 1945, has passed away aged 86.

His daughter Glenda McDuffie Bell confirmed that he died of natural causes on Sunday in Dallas, Texas.

Mr McDuffie found fame when he identified himself as the sailor pictured in Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo taken on 14 August, 1945, in Time Square, that has become an international symbol for the joy felt in the US at the end of WWII.

His claim was confirmed in 2007 by Lois Gibson, Houston Police Department's forensic artist, who said after a detailed investigation that Mr McDuffie's facial bone structure matched that of the man in the photo.

"He ate it up!" his daughter told NBC News, adding: "he loved the attention."

Mr McDuffie, who was a US Navy gunner, said he was changing trains in New York on that summer day, when he learned the war was over and that his brother would be coming home from a Japanese prison camp.

"I was so happy. I ran out in the street," McDuffie told the Associated Press years later.

"And then I saw that nurse," he said. "She saw me hollering and with a big smile on my face."

"I just went right to her and kissed her," he said.

"We never spoke a word," he said. "Afterward, I just went on the subway across the street and went to Brooklyn."

Born in 1927 in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Mr McDuffie played semi-professional baseball after his naval career, and later worked at the Postal Service. He married three times, and settled in Houston Texas, before moving to Dallas in 2009, the New York Daily News reported.

"It certainly got him the recognition that he deserved, and he was able to out to all kinds of events and speak about it and tell how it happened," his daughter told the US TV network.

"When he realized how many people were touched by the photo, it humbled him."

Despite McDuffie's claim, the editorial director of Life magazine, which published the photo, said the subjects of the photo will remain a mystery because Mr Eisenstaedt died in 1995 without giving confirmation.

"The recent (claims) are 'CSI' types of inquiries. We think that's great but we just can't know for sure on our end. We can't be in a position of anointing one or the other without hard proof," he said.

A number of other men and women have purported to be the strangers in the photo.

In 2012, George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman met and both claimed to be the sailor and nurse, respectively.

While, according to CBS News, Mr Mendonsa said he was too drunk to remember the kiss but insisted he was the sailor, Greta clearly recalled being grabbed.

"That man was very strong. I wasn't kissing him. He was kissing me," she told the New York Post.

- Independent

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