Sunday, June 21, 2009

US Sailors and Marines in Bahrain Salute Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor Recipient for 100th Birthday

MANAMA, Bahrain (June 21, 2009) U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Ordnanceman stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain fold the U.S. flag which was raised in tribute to Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient Lt. John Finn. Lt. Finn, an Aviation Ordnance Chief at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is the only Aviation Ordnanceman to win the MOH, the first servicemember to win the MOH during WWII and the oldest living MOH recipient. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons.)

News in Balance:

MANAMA, Bahrain, June 21, 2009 -- U.S. 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 port.

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.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer.)

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