The statue, which commemorated the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War II, was vandalized Monday in the popular Bayfront area of Sarasota.
Mendonsa later said that he kissed Friedman because her outfit reminded him of the nurses on a hospital ship who had been caring for wounded sailors during World War II.
Police searched the area but found no spray paint bottles nor any other items vandalized. Damage is estimated to be more than $1,000.
Officers believe vandals sprayed the phrase on the statue Monday between mid-afternoon and evening.
Mendonsa also once said that he mistook Friedman for a nurse, and that he would "never had grabbed her" if she wasn't wearing a uniform.
The statue's defacing occurred just a day after the nation learned Mendonsa had passed away at the age of 95 on Sunday at an assisted-living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island. The photo was taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, but the identities of the people in the photo remained anonymous for several years.
A longtime friend of Curran told the paper that Curran's late wife, Margaret L. Curran, loved the famous kiss photograph, formally known as "V-J Day in Times Square", and more commonly known as "The Kiss". During an interview for the Veterans History Project, she said that the kiss was not romantic, it was just celebratory.
"Unconditional Surrender" was created by Seward Johnson, inspired by a lesser-known photograph by Navy photojournalist Victor Jorgensen, of the same scene captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt, whose famous photo of the kissing couple became one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.
"I felt that he was very strong". But it wasn't a romantic event.
Friedman, who died in 2016, echoed his sentiments. He was just holding me tight.
Some view the smooch as a celebration, but others consider the act a sexual assault by modern standards.