02 June 2010

RIP: John W. Finn

John William Finn
23 Jul 1909 - 27 May 2010

ZUI this article from the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune:
John Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, whose modest demeanor and lifestyle belied his legendary status as an American hero, died Thursday at age 100 at a Chula Vista veterans home.

He was assigned to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on Dec. 7, 1941, when he found himself firing at Japanese planes from an exposed position for more than two hours despite being hit 21 times by bomb and bullet fragments.


Finn was the oldest of 91 living recipients of the nation’s highest award for bravery in combat. The number of living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II is now 19; the oldest of those is Barney Hajiro, 93, of Hawaii.


John William Finn was born July 27, 1909, in Los Angeles and enlisted in the Navy in 1926. Finn and his wife, who died in 1998, raised a son and several nephews and took in several children from the Campo Indian Reservation during their years in East County.

“He helped our people survive when our world was in turmoil and going through a changing process,” said Monique LaChappa, Campo tribal chairwoman. One of her uncles was among those helped by the Finns. “Some of the older elders would tell about how (the Finns) would feed our people. He was part of our survival. He understood us — not that he felt sorry for us, but he understood us.”

Finn is survived by a son, Joseph, of Lakeside; and several nieces and nephews.

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Lieutenant (then Chief Aviation Ordnanceman), US Navy; NAS Kaneohe Bay (Territory of Hawaii)

Born: 23 July 1909, Los Angeles, California
Died: 27 May 2010, Chula Vista, California

Citation: For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Edit 0935 17 Feb 12: On 15 February 2012, the Navy announced that the next Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, DDG 113, will be named USS John Finn. The ship is currently under construction by Ingalls Shipbuilding, in Pascagoula MS, and delivery is scheduled for late 2015.

1 comment:

TetVet68 said...

Remember Pearl Harbor -- Keep America Alert!

(Now deceased) America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

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San Diego, California