December 07, 2011
Rank and organization:
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.
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, on 7 December 1941, Lt. 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 U.S. Naval Service.
When called a hero during a 2009 interview Finn responded:
"That damned hero stuff is a bunch crap, I guess. You gotta understand that there's all kinds of heroes, but they never get a chance to be in a hero's position."
Of the 16 Medal of Honor winners that day, 11 were awarded posthumously.
Finn died on the morning of May 27, 2010, at the age of 100.
He was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
One of the lucky ones.
And we were lucky to have him on that fateful morning in December 70 years ago on this date.