Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday John William Finn

John William Finn, wiki commons

By Tony Vega

"Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure"~
[attributed to] Abraham Lincoln

In a society enamored with popular culture, far too often our American heroes are determined by the media that delivers such figures into our living rooms, the Michael Jackson coverage is a timely example.

The true American heroes of our time are often the unsung ones. There are indeed men and women that understand the value of a handshake and of service. There are moments when an individual will perform extraordinary feats of heroism that captures our attention and hearts.

This content is to illustrate one particular Defender of Freedom, Lieutenant John William Finn. Lt. Finn did receive accolades for his heroics during WW2 in the form of medals, but many haven't heard of this Great American. That's not their fault, for John William Finn did not win any MTV awards, nor did he earn the title “King of Pop.” No, John Finn earned the grade of Lieutenant in the United States Navy.

John William Finn was born July 23, 1909, today is his 100th birthday. Finn received the first Medal of Honor in WW2 for his action the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. On December 07, 1941, Finn was actually at Kaneohe Bay, which was hit several minutes before Pearl Harbor.

Finn is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and is also the only living Pearl-Harbor-Day Medal of Honor recipient.

During the first attack by the Japanese, John William Finn was an Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer and took control of a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on an a completely exposed section of the air station's aircraft parking ramp. He continued to fire on the attacking planes despite being hit by shrapnel 21 times.

"I got the hell shot out of me, but it didn't kill me. If you aint dead you can still manage to do something"- Lt. Finn [from video]

John William Finn lived on base and shared quarters with his lovely wife Alice. While Finn was defending his country on that fateful day, his wife, Alice was tending to life saving duties in her capacity as a nurse. In September 1942, Lieutenant John Finn was presented the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

"My deal was... is inconsequential the way I see it. Some of the guys [that made the ultimate sacrifice] you just cannot believe what they did, what they were fighting for, it was our Freedom. And our right to liberty and justice and love of God, whatever God you have that Freedom."- John William Finn, Lieutenant US Navy, retired. [Excerpted from video]

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Finn's decorations include the Purple Heart; American Defense Service Medal; Navy Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Finn is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as being the oldest living recipient. As of 2009, Finn is the only Aviation Ordnanceman Medal of Honor recipient in the history of the rate (US Navy utilizes "rates" not "rank"). In addition to all of this, Finn's Medal of Honor is the only medal of its kind with a citation on the back summarizing the events of heroism.

"Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man his 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 re-arming of returning planes."- John William Finn's MOH citation

Mr. Finn currently resides in California, his birthplace. He reportedly resides alone since his wife's death in 1998.

Folks do yourself a service and view the video of John William Finn and listen to this Great American tell his story, his manner and style of speaking gives a hint to why that WW2 generation is the greatest generation this nation has ever seen.

On behalf of my family to Lieutenant Finn, Happy Birthday Sir and May God bless John William Finn and all our Defenders of Freedom.


1 comment:

GB said...

Tony, thank you.