John Finn, Medal of Honor recipient for heroism on Dec. 7, dies at 100

John Finn, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Hawaii on the day the United States was plunged into World War II, died today at his Southern California home at the age of 100.

In a 1942 Navy photo, then-Chief Ordnanceman John W. Finn is congratulated by his wife Alice after he was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism at Kaneohe Naval Air Station during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack. AP Photo/U.S. Navy

Last December, at the age of 100, John Finn attended a memorial ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Gregory Yamamoto/The Honolulu Advertiser

Finn, a retired Navy lieutenant, was stationed at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station on Dec. 7, 1941.

As Japanese planes strafed the base, Finn took up a .50-caliber machine gun in defense.

Firing from an exposed position, Finn was wounded several times during the first wave of the attack. Still, he refused to be evacuated, and his actions were credited with rallying other sailors to take up weapons.

On Sept. 15, he received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his actions.

Last December, when he was in Hawaii for a memorial event at what is now called Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, Finn told The Advertiser he would never forget the attack.

“I grew up thinking the Navy, Marines and Army were invincible,” he said, “and here we were, getting our clocks cleaned.

“We got caught so flat-footed. … They really kicked the living hell out of us.”

The event at Kaneohe honored the 18 sailors and two civilians who lost their lives in the attack.

Finn, who regularly returned to Hawaii for Dec. 7 commemorations, was born July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles.

He was the oldest of the 97 Medal of Honor recipients still living.

Read also RIP Lt. John Finn.

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