Monday, November 08, 2010

Veterans Day, John Finn, USN- Updated. (original date of Post:12/01/05)

I was in the San Diego airport on Veterans Day. My mom and I were waiting to fly back up to Sacramento. I happened to notice a very old gentleman, sitting in a wheelchair. This really isn't a big deal, but I noticed he wasn't in the preboard area. I was wondering if he knew this or if he needed assistance. Anywho, while I was scoping him out, I noticed that he was wearing the Congressional Medal of Honor around his neck.
Now being a former military gal myself, I found this to be nothing short of amazing. I decided to talk to him. I walked up to the gentleman and introduced myself. I told him "Thank You" for his service to our country. (Lets face it folks, you normally get this medal after you are dead. In fact, i had heard it referred to as: Coffin Metal Handles, instead of Congressional Medal of Honor). Surprisingly the old guy was very sharp. He was 97 years old! He told me that there had been a Veterans Day ceremony in La Jolla that day and that he was on his way home. His name was John Finn.  Just in case you don't want to click the link, I will give you the rundown on the gentleman. He received the first medal of honor of WWII. He earned this medal by manning a .50 cal machine gun,In the attack on Pearl Harbor, and going buck wild with it during a 15 minute attack, sustaining heavy injury to himself before he could be persuaded to leave his post and seek medical attention.
I really feel honored to have met this man. It certainly isn't an every day occurrence to meet a Medal of Honor winner. When I was in the Navy, I would always look on the ribbon racks of the particularly "chesty" servicemen to see if there was one (always displayed at the top of all the others) but never actually saw one outside of textbooks.. After I actually saw this and read the citation I felt really touched and thankful that that old dude was so brave and made that sacrifice.... I may be a raging liberal now, but I know something to appreciate when I see it.

Update: John Finn celebrated his 100th Birthday this past July. He is the oldest living MOH recipient. Also check this out, MOH winners have benefits and stuff.. I didn't know that. (November 8, 2009)
Update 2: John Finn passed away on May 27, 2010, two months shy of his 101st birthday. You can see his New York Times obituary/story here.  Fair winds and following seas, Lt. Finn. (September 15, 2011)
More about John Finn: NBC Nightly News