Celebrations, Tributes Honor National Hero


Story Number: NNS090703-20Release Date: 7/3/2009 11:52:00 AM
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By Elaine H. Allen and Jennifer Franco, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The oldest living Medal of Honor recipient will be honored in Coronado's Independence Day parade along Orange Avenue July 4.

John Finn was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, for gunning down enemy aircraft in Hawaii Dec 7, 1941.

Then-Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Finn suffered more than 20 wounds from enemy gunfire while shooting down attacking aircraft flying over Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Sixty-eight years ago, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, for whom the aircraft carrier is named, presented the Medal of Honor to Finn on behalf of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Finn is the only aviation ordnanceman ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Finn is currently the oldest of the 96 living Medal of Honor recipients and the last surviving award recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mayor Casey Tanaka will present a Coronado proclamation and a flag of the city to Finn in a small ceremony on the eve of the parade.

"The Fourth of July is the most important time of the year for Coronado," said Tanaka. "This is a Navy town, and the opportunity to recognize Medal of Honor recipient John Finn is something we'd never pass up. We are honored to spend the day with him."

At the parade reviewing stand at Orange Avenue and Churchill Place, Finn will reenlist Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Melissa Jane Thornton from USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

"It is so exciting and humbling...such an honor and privilege to be in the company of such a distinguished serviceman as John Finn," said Thornton. "I'm so excited about it because people aboard the Nimitz and those who have transferred out are going to be at the parade with their families...to meet them and to be in the midst of the those people [the Pearl Harbor survivors]...you can't do that every day. It is so cool."

Finn will soon be 100 years old. Honors and tributes for his birthday have come from as close as the local Coronado community and as far away as the Middle East.

Aviation ordnancemen stationed in Bahrain have flown a U.S. flag in honor of Finn's birthday. Just as Finn traveled with the U.S. Navy to fight for our country, this flag is making its way around the world, having been flown aboard the USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS John C. Stennis (CVN 72) and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). It will then be flown from all carriers in port at Naval Station Norfolk before its presentation to Finn July 23. Representative Duncan Hunter has also ordered a flag flown above the nation's Capitol for Finn.

Celebrations for Finn's 100th birthday began Memorial Day, when Finn travelled to upstate Altamont, New York, to visit with two Medal of Honor colleagues.

For more news from Navy Region Southwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrsw.

 
RELATED PHOTOS
Retired Navy Lt. John William Finn arrives at La Posta Inn during his 100th birthday celebration. Finn was presented the Medal of Honor by Adm. Chester Nimitz in September 1942 for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
090628-N-1590R-122 LA POSTA, Calif. (JUNE 28, 2009) Retired Navy Lt. John William Finn arrives at La Posta Inn during his 100th birthday celebration. Finn was presented the Medal of Honor by Adm. Chester Nimitz in September 1942 for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Finn manned a .50-caliber machine gun during the first attacks by Japanese aircraft as they flew over Kaneohe Bay. Finn continued to attack enemy plains despite being hit five times by strafing fire. He is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. (U.S. Navy photo by Antonio D. Ramos/Released)
July 2, 2009
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