SAN DIEGO–Medal of Honor recipient and Chula Vista resident Navy Lt. John Finn (Ret.) died May 27 at the Veterans Home of California in Chula Vista. He was 100. Finn received the Medal of Honor for actions during Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and was recognized as the oldest living recipient of the nation’s highest military honor.
“This is a sad day for our nation and the San Diego community,” said Congressman Hunter. “John was humble, never considering himself much of a hero but, to everyone else, he was part of a special class of American heroes who will forever be remembered for their service and sacrifice. His story will continue inspiring generations to come while also reminding us all about the contributions and sacrifices of America’s greatest generation.”
President Obama released a statement Thursday on Finn’s passing: “Like many of those who have served our nation with such distinction, Lt. Finn often said that he never intended to be a hero. Instead, he felt that he was simply doing his duty. I had the privilege of meeting Lt. Finn last year, and I was struck by his warmth and humility. As we mark Memorial Day, and pay tribute all who have fallen in defense of this nation, the passing of Lt. Finn is a reminder of the sacrifices that generations have made to preserve the freedoms we hold dear.”
Finn was born on July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn, a chief petty officer, was stationed at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station in Hawaii when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Before heading to Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircrafts flew over the naval station, unleashing a barrage of gunfire on Finn’s fellow sailors. Despite suffering serious wounds, Finn used a .50-caliber machine gun to fire back at the Japanese aircrafts. He stayed in his position for two hours until the aircrafts left the area.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Japanese attack.
In 1956, Finn retired from the military. He spent his remaining years raising cattle, and participating in veteran-themed events in San Diego county, including Memorial Day.
Finn’s wife, Alice, died in 1998. He is survived by his son.