'Kissing sailor' in celebrated World War II-era image dies

Print
Email
|

by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 7:45 PM

BENBROOK -- America has lost the World War II veteran known as “The Kissing Sailor.”

Glenn McDuffie is believed to have delivered perhaps the most iconic - and mysterious - smooch of the era.

His daughter, Glenda, said her father died last Sunday at the age of 86. He had been living with her in Benbrook.

Gunner’s Mate McDuffie stepped off a subway and into Times Square on August 14th, 1945. President Truman had just announced Japan’s surrender.

McDuffie took a nurse into his arms, tilted her back and kissed her. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the shot for Life Magazine.

For decades, several sailors claimed to be the one in the photo. But in 2007, Houston police forensic artist Lois Gibson said the evidence shows it was McDuffie.

Gibson said she took about 100 pictures of McDuffie using a pillow to pose as he did in the picture taken Aug. 14, 1945, by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

“And I mean every strand of muscle, every bone, the ears – the most complicated thing on your head - the ear was exact,” Gibson said. “Everything. It’s him. I’m positive.”

McDuffie had just turned 18. He was heading to Brooklyn to see a girl.

But he said he stopped thinking about the girl when he heard the war was over. He bolted out of the subway.

“I ran up the stairs thinking about my oldest brother,” McDuffie said. “He was captured in the Philippines when Bataan fell. We didn’t know if he was alive or dead.

“I ran out into the street jumping and hollering That nurse had her back turned to me," he continued. "When she heard me hollering, she turned around and held her arms out.”

That's the way McDuffie told it to News 8 a couple years ago at a parade in Granbury.

He and Glenda frequently attended events in the area, and McDuffie would sign copies of the photo. He said he still remembered the photographer.

“I didn’t know if it was a jealous husband, boyfriend or something. I opened my eyes to see who it was," he said. "That photographer had a camera right in my face.”

After the war, Glenn McDuffie played minor league baseball, delivered mail, worked construction, and settled in Houston. A few years ago, his daughter moved him to North Texas, where she could care for him.

Glenn McDuffie lied about his age to get into the war, but passed five lie detector tests about the day it ended.

His greatest joy, he told us, is that his brother came home from the war, too.

He will be laid to rest at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

Print
Email
|