Profiles of Valor: John Finn, 1909-2010

With Memorial Day memories still fresh, and the 66th anniversary of D-Day this coming Sunday, it’s certainly worthwhile to spend a few more minutes reflecting on the courage and valor of America’s fighting forces, both past and present. Last Thursday, May 27, the man who was America’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient died at the age of 100 at the Veterans Home of California in Chula Vista. Retired Navy officer John Finn had received America’s highest medal of valor for bravery during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Awakened by the first bombs from the attack, Finn found a .50-caliber machine gun, mounted it on a platform, which gave him no protection, and began firing at the Japanese planes that were on their way to Pearl Harbor. Despite numerous wounds (a bullet wound in his left arm, shrapnel in his chest and stomach, a broken left foot and a laceration on his scalp), he kept reloading and firing for more than two hours, giving heart to his fellow sailors, dazed from being suddenly thrown into a world war. Finn didn’t leave his post for treatment until directly ordered, and even then soon returned to help rearm planes. As with most U.S. warriors, Finn was humble about his exploits, saying he just “did what I was being paid for.”

Finn’s story also shines a light on the current, and possibly scandalous, Medal of Honor situation. As The Patriot Post regularly highlights, there is no shortage of courage and valor among America’s current crop of warriors. Yet, only six Medals of Honor have been awarded for service in Iraq or Afghanistan, a rate of one MoH recipient per one million service members. The rate from WWI through Vietnam was between 23 to 26 recipients per one million. Is a top-heavy military bureaucracy stalling awards, or is the politically correct leftist view of downplaying our military heroes influencing the brass? Regardless, our valiant warriors deserve better. But still they fight.


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