US Navy and Marine Corps aviation
ordnancemen stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain honored a
Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient who was awarded the medal for his
extraordinary bravery during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in
1941. Sailors raised an American flag to honor John Finn and will
present the flag to him on his 100th birthday July 23.
Finn, a chief aviation ordnanceman Dec. 7, 1941, was the first
service member awarded the MOH during World War II and is the
oldest living MOH recipient. He is also the only aviation
ordnanceman to be awarded the MOH.
"I recall some twenty-one years ago as a young Sailor on the
deck plate hearing stories about the heroism of John Finn and heard
his story a couple hundred times as a kid," said Lt. Marcus
Creighton, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) Force
weapons officer, a aviation ordnanceman limited duty officer.
"We are a proud profession and Lt. Finn is a great source of
that pride. Everybody needs their hero and Lt. Finn is the hero of
the aviation ordnance community." The flag was previously flown at
sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS John C. Stennis (CVN
74) and will be transferred to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69),
which is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet. It will then be sent to
Naval Station Norfolk to be flown aboard all aircraft carriers in
Chief Aviation Ordnance Charles Mifsud referred to Finn as the
unofficial grandfather of the aviation ordnanceman rate.
"He demonstrates the valor of what an aviation ordnanceman can
do when faced with adversity," said Mifsud. "He's the inspiration
that we have to continue our job and ensuring that we get our job
done." Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Yarbrough, a Marine aviation
ordnance chief and a Marine liaison officer assigned to NAVCENT,
said it was an honor for him to participate in the ceremony.
"It's very special for me that I get
to celebrate this day with the blue side," said Yarbrough. "Lt.
Finn means just as much to Marines as to Sailors. He was an
aviation ordnanceman." Finn's official MOH citation states: "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, Dec. 7, 1941, 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, Finn 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."
Adm. Chester Nimitz awarded the MOH to Finn Sept. 15, 1942,
aboard USS Enterprise. Finn enlisted in the Navy in 1926 and
retired in 1956 at the rank of lieutenant. [ANN Salutes Mass
Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer]