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George Anthony Mendonsa was born in Newport on Feb. 19, 1923, and raised on a nearby island without water or electricity. Both parents emigrated from Portugal; his father fished for squid, scup, bass and tuna, and from an early age enlisted George and his three brothers in his fishing expeditions.
Mr. Mendonsa enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and within a year he was cruising the Pacific on The Sullivans, participating in battles such as the invasion of Iwo Jima. In July 1945 he received one month's leave and traveled home to Newport, where his youngest sister had just been married. When the new in-laws arrived in town with a niece, Rita Petry, Mr. Mendonsa planned a trip to visit her in New York; when he ran out of the Rockettes performance to celebrate the end of World War II, she ran with him.
His kiss with the "nurse," Petry said, never bothered her. They married one year later, and Rita Mendonsa later identified the top of her head in the Eisenstaedt photo, partly visible above Mr. Mendonsa's right shoulder.
In addition to his wife of 72 years, survivors include two children, Sharon Molleur and Ron Mendonsa; a sister; three grandsons; and four great-grandchildren.
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When Japan's surrender was announced on Aug. 14, 1945, George Mendonsa grabbed his date, ran out of a Rockettes performance at Radio City Music Hall and headed for a nearby bar in Times Square.
He was a Navy quartermaster on leave, dressed in uniform, and after downing a few drinks began walking the streets, where he spotted a young woman in a white nurse's outfit. Buzzing with joy, now jolted by a memory of the nurses who cared for his wounded comrades at sea, he put his arms around the woman, tipped her back and kissed her.
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Quartermaster First Class George Mendonsa was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theater Medal, The Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal 9 battle stars, the Victory Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal 2 battle stars, the Philippine Independence Medal, the Philippine Presidential Union Citation and the Combat Action Ribbon.