Warrior's Weekend kicks off with muster
April 1, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
Glenn McDuffie sat conspicuously topped with a slightly discolored white sailor hat and decked in a black U.S. Navy uniform.
Around him, table upon table bore a black and white photo of a young, debonair man, in the same outfit as McDuffie, dipping and kissing a woman in the middle of Times Square.
All McDuffie could do was smile at the photo - the now famous "kissing sailor" photograph of his 18-year-old self.
"I wouldn't have traded this for nothing," said the 83-year-old who was one of the main guests at the Warrior's Weekend second muster at the Victoria Community Center on Friday.
An invitation was extended to him for last year's muster but he was unable to attend, he said.
Seeing people show up to honor all veterans, and those still serving, warmed his heart, he said.
"I'm at a loss for words," he said.
Today, McDuffie lives in Arlington.
Proving he was the man in the photo was fairly difficult, he said.
Several men have claimed to be the man in the picture ever since the photo became a photographic staple.
McDuffie passed polygraph tests and forensic verification and feels like he finally received justice, he said.
"It made me mad," he said remembering how many other men came forward claiming they were that man in the photo.
McDuffie says he had not seen the photo, which was shot by Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, until 20 years later.
McDuffie just remembers coming down the stairs of a subway and hearing a woman tell him that World War II was over and then he kissed her.
That was August 1945.
On Friday, people lined up and took photos with McDuffie as Crossroads businesses and organizations flooded the center donating money, eating and putting their name in auctions to raise money for the Warrior's Weekend fishing trip in Port O'Connor in May.
Barbara Falcon, the mother of Army Spc. Richard Arriaga, who was killed in September 2003 in Tikrit, Iraq, sat at one of the tables with the rest of her family eating a steak dinner.
The family was honored last year with other families who had lost a loved one in Iraq.
"I think it's a wonderful thing what people are doing for our veterans," Falcon said.
Ron Kocian, the president of Warrior's Weekend, was more than proud of Friday night's turn out.
Kocian expects to raise enough money to bring wounded soldiers from all over the country fishing in Texas, he said.
"It's like a snowball going downhill," he said. "It has taken on a life of its own."