The veteran died early Sunday in Newport, Rhode Island, just two days before his 96th birthday, daughter Sharon Molleur told CNN. He will be buried at St. Columba Cemetery in his hometown of Middletown, Rhode Island, she said.
"When I look at that photograph, I just think of my dad's service, and how happy he was that it was all over," Molleur said.
"And when I get through showing you the photos … if you do not admit that, I would say you are a phony bastard," he told a reporter who visited his Middletown home.
'We're all drinking and raising hell'
It was taken on August 14, 1945, shortly after the news of Japan's surrender – aka Victory Over Japan Day or V-J Day – spreading through New York's streets, and overturning the World War II's imminent end. Even the caption Life placed under the photo, known alternately as "V-J Day in Times Square," speaks to sexism tolerated in newsrooms during the era.
Mendons was on leave after stinting in the Pacific, he told CNN in 2015, and was on a first date with Rita Petry, who was related to his younger sister's new husband.
While taking a matinee, crowd outside Radio City Music Hall began pounding on the theater doors, shouting, "The war is over!" – to cry that resonated through the building.
Mendons and Petry walked outside to find thousands of revelers in the streets. They stopped at a bar.
"The booze was flying, and I popped quite a few," he recalled. "We're all drinking and raising hell."
After leaving the bar, they found themselves in Times Square.
"So we get into Times Square and the war ends and I see the nurse," he remembers. "
It was actually a dental assistant. As Petry, with whom he would spend more than 70 years in marriage, looked on, Mendonsa planted one on the woman in white.
"I was in the background, grinning like a mutt," Petry told CNN in a 2005 interview.
'It was not that much of a kiss'
It's a sentiment his daughter recalls hearing from her father.
"They ran out of the theater and began celebrating. Everyone was kissing everyone," Molleur said Monday. "
The smooch was not romantic, she said. It was more that the war was over, she said, and people were so thankful.
"It was just holding me tight. I'm not sure about the kiss," she said. "It was just someone celebrating."
Friedman passed away in 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. She was 92. Gone, too, is Eisenstaedt, the photographer, who died in 1995 at age 96.
CNN's Ray Sanchez, Aaron Cooper and Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.