The Blog

Lt. John William Finn: Pearl Harbor's Last Hero, 68 Years Later

11:30 AM, Dec 7, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Finn was presented with an American flag that had flown over all of the 11 aircraft carriers in the Navy's fleet. It was on the Abraham Lincoln in Seattle, then sent to San Diego for a day aboard the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz, whose namesake the legendary Adm. Chester Nimitz put the Medal of Honor around John Finn's neck in 1942.

From there it went to Yokosuka, Japan, for the George Washington. Next stop was Pearl Harbor, where it was put aboard a cargo helicopter and taken to the John C. Stennis, at sea on assignment.

Then it was on to Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, to be flown on the Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The final leg was Norfolk, Va., where the flag was carried from ship to ship to be hoisted up the masts of the Carl Vinson, the Enterprise, the Theodore Roosevelt, the Harry S. Truman and the George H.W. Bush.

Here are a few pictures of the flag's journey , which was coordinated, appropriately, by each aircraft carrier's aviation ordnanceman.

Finn still gets around well, and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony with President Barack Obama at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on National Medal of Honor Day, with the help of walking sticks. He also regularly attends events for the dwindling number of Medal of Honor recipients still alive. In this video interview, filmed at a 2009 gathering in Texas, you'll see he hasn't lost his grit or his sense of humor, either.

"I'm 99 years old, and I might be wrong, but I think that the United States-our Republican form of government-will prevail," he said before adding with a chuckle: "I won't be around when it happens, unless it happens next month."

We were blessed to have had him with us on Dec. 7, 1941 and we're blessed to have him with us still today, 68 years later. Thank you, Lt. Finn.

This video is from an independent film called "A Hero's Welcome," which I'm now going to see.

Below the fold is another picture of Finn being awarded the Medal of Honor by Nimitz. Beside him is his wife Alice, with whom he lived until her death in 1998.2_finn_presentation.jpg