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Minnesota World War II vet and wife recreate iconic sailor kiss in New York City

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OAKDALE, Minn. -- When Raymond “Bud” Temme stepped off a train at Union Depot in St. Paul just after Christmas in 1945, his wife, Trudy, didn’t even know he was coming back.

The war had ended months before, and soldiers like Bud were slowly making their way back home.

"It wasn't like the communication the kids have today," Trudy said. "You just waited."

When the pair reunited, there wasn’t a long, bending kiss like the iconic photo of the sailor kissing a nurse. Instead, Trudy handed a 9-month-old baby to her husband.

Life kind of went on from there, she said.

Now Bud and Trudy, who are both 92-year-old retirees living in Oakdale, are going to recreate the moment they reunited after the war.

On Aug. 14, the couple will travel to New York City to recreate the iconic kiss photo in Times Square.

The event is a part of National Spirit of ‘45 Day, which coincides with President Harry Truman’s announcement on Aug. 14, 1945, that World War II was over, and the country could begin rebuilding the postwar world.

The day commemorates ordinary heroes who lived and served during World War II and their courage and self-sacrifice during the war.

“World War II vets are kind of disappearing," Bud said. "We feel very proud and very privileged."

The grandson of a Woodbury, Minn., farmer, the Army drafted Bud in 1943 when he was 19. He served as a technical sergeant in Europe and the Pacific.

He and his wife were high-school sweethearts at Harding Senior High School in St. Paul. The two married while Bud was on a furlough leave.

While her husband was away, Trudy worked at St. Paul Fire and Marine, an insurance company in downtown St. Paul.

In Europe, Bud received the Bronze Star Medal––a U.S. military merit for bravery––for his role in a reconnaissance mission in Cologne, Germany, which helped U.S. forces gather vital information about the German army.

At 4:30 a.m., he and a handful of soldiers took a rowboat across the Rhine River to capture German soldiers for questioning, he said. "We had to be quiet because we didn't want them to know we were coming."

Allied troops had pushed the Germans to the other side of the river, where they fortified their position near the Kölner Dom, the city's cathedral.

While Bud served in Germany, Trudy sent a telegram letting him know that she had given birth to their daughter, Barbara.

Though he knew he was now a father, Bud said the news did not weigh on him.

“As soon as you got into combat, your whole life changed. You either got shot or you went on," he said.

After Germany surrendered two months later, Bud shipped out to the Philippines.

"We just hung in there until he could come home another furlough,” Trudy said, adding that the she wrote letters to her husband every day and would receive a fat stack of letters from him weeks later.

While deployed in the Pacific, Bud had a close call when an enemy bullet grazed the size of his face near his temple.

"I was lucky," he said as he showed where the bullet passed by.

He received the Purple Heart for his injury.

Following the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, Bud was among the first troops to return to the U.S. The Army honorably discharged him on Christmas 1945.

The long journey back brought him to Camp McCoy, Wis., where returning soldiers camped out on Christmas as they waited to board trains back home.

While in Wisconsin, Bud said someone stole his duffel bag, which contained his uniform and other wartime souvenirs.

Three days after returning home, he picked up where he left off at his job manufacturing sandpaper at 3M Co.

“I had to,” he said. “I had a wife, a child now, and I needed money."

In postwar times, he said, companies often held positions for returning servicemen.

The Temmes have been married for 72 years.

The Spirit of '45 Committee is seeking donations to help fund the couple’s trip to New York City.

Donations can be mailed to Spirit of ‘45 Committee with the Temmes’ name included in the memo: 14617 Carlson St., Poway, CA 92064.