Mendonsa describes sailors breaking showcase windows in Times Square, reaching in and taking fur coats for their dates. He was in New York City on his first date with his future wife and scheduled to fly back to his ship in San Francisco that night. They were watching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall when it was announced that the Japanese had surrendered. The couple headed to the streets and eventually to Childs Bar.
Stepping back from the celebration, Mendosa describes a Japanese airstrike five months earlier in which hundreds of sailors aboard a ship in his fleet, the USS Bunker Hill, were injured or killed. “They jumped off by the hundreds and we loaded our ship up with men that we pulled out of the water. Later in the day we met with the hospital ship the Solace and we transferred the wounded. I always remember that. I saw (what) those nurses did that day… and I saw that nurse in Times Square so I grabbed her and I kissed her. I honestly believe that if that girl did not have a nurses’ uniform on that day I never would have done that.”
I am continually reminded of the incredible people I encounter with my camera. A Cornell graduate and Pratt & Whitney economist, Javier Soto likes to hit the batting cages this time of year with his Little Brother, Alex. “One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is going out for batting practice with Alex. Something very simple, right?” While his Ivy education and job title speak for themselves, they don’t paint a full picture of Javier. Exceptional mentor. Yankees fan. Maybe a Red Sox fan? Car show aficionado. “It’s about spending quality time together,” Javier tells me in our interview. “And that’s how things change, right?”