Skip to comments.Oldest Medal of Honor recipient, 100, downplays 'hero' talk
Posted on 09/16/2009 3:18:32 AM PDT by BulletBobCo
PINE VALLEY, California (CNN) -- Dozens of America's greatest military heroes are gathered in Chicago, Illinois, possibly the last large gathering of living Medal of Honor recipients.
Among the men with light blue ribbons holding a star around their necks signifying uncommon bravery, will be John Finn.
Finn, who received the nation's highest medal for valor for his actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, turned 100 this summer, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
Finn was a lieutenant stationed at Kanoehe Bay Naval Air Station, where the Japanese struck five minutes before attacking Pearl Harbor, across southeast Oahu Island from Kanoehe Bay.
Finn recalled how a neighbor was the first to alert him, when she knocked on his door saying, "They want you down at the squadron right away!"
Finn saw the first Japanese plane before his car even reached his hangar.
"I put that old car of mine in second gear and wound it up getting down to the hangar where I could be where my guns and ammunition were," Finn said.
One of the first things he did was take control of a machine gun from his squadron's painter.
"I said, 'Alex, let me take that gun,' " Finn explained. "I knew that I had more experience firing a machine gun than a painter."
"I got that gun and I started shooting at Jap planes," Finn said in the salty language not uncommon among veterans of that long-ago war.
But Finn's machine gun was right out in the open, nothing protecting him from the attacking pilots.
"I was out there shooting the Jap planes and just every so often I was a target for some," Finn said. "They were Japanese fighter plane pilots. I can remember seeing, in some cases, I could see their faces."
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...
Finn talked to CNN at his ranch in the desert east of San Diego, California. He surrounds himself with reminders of his life -- his entire life, not just that one infamous day out of 100 years. There are pictures of his wife, Alice, who married him before Pearl Harbor and was by his side until 1998.
The hillside outside his home is covered with old cars, old trucks and even an old military ambulance. But the first thing one notices when visiting Finn's ranch is the sign at the road, with a painting of his medal next to his name.
The citation for his Medal of Honor tells that part of his story:
"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," the citation stated.
They usually do. Thank you for your service Sir.
God bless our troops.
“That damned hero stuff is a bunch crap, I guess. Well, it is one thing that I think any man that is in that, you gotta be in that position,” Finn said. “You gotta understand that there’s all kinds of heroes, but they never get a chance to be in a hero’s position.”
I just love this quote.
Not detecting any salty language here.
I agree. That pretty much sounds like what I used to hear as a young kid when I went to the VFW with my Grandfather for a soda and a bag of chips.
What a shame these brave men are dying off in droves.
It’ll certainly be hard to replace these decisive, hard-chargin, ass-kickin men in today’s society, what with the pansies the PC schools are churning out.
My gratitude and admiration go with you, gentleMEN.
Looks pretty good for 100, IMHO.
When I asked him what he thought of Sen. Kerry's three purple hearts to get out of Viet Nam (Where Davis was a General) his reaction was classic. I swear he looked at me out of the side of his eyes, shook his head and said: "Pathetic." Nothing else needed to be said.
To the liberal media, "Jap" is a four letter word.
I don't agree. The men and women of our Armed Forces are equal to our greatest hero's of WW11 and Korea. I have personally known MOH recipients, and I think they would agree. I'm not making lite of what these men did, but we do have hero's of this generation, men I'm in awe of. Semper Fi
John Finn’s MoH 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, Kanoehe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Finn promptly secured and manned a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine-gun 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 United States Navy.”
Even if they weren't the Greatest Generation, they still make plenty of others look like pantywaists. Bravo, Mister Finn!
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
I feel personally humbled by the sacrifices of such men as these. I think all we can do to honor them is to somehow be worthy, some day, of that sacrifice. I know I’m not yet worthy of it. But I will keep trying.
Bear in mind that nearly every person who fought on 12/7/41 were in their first ever real combat. Somehow they rose to the occasion when the time came and gave their all.
People like John Finn come to mind when I hear someone besmirch our country or threaten it. For the sake of them, I shall not suffer to keep silent or stand idly by.
It’s the least any of us can do.
The way I’ve heard it put is a hero is an ordinary person doing his duty in extraordinary circumstances. These guys were heroes all right. I’ve never read an MOH citation without tearing up and marveling at what they did.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.