Friday, December 7, 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Chief Petty Office John W. Finn with his wife Alice, after being awarded the Medal of Honor

Seventy two years ago today, on December 7, 1941, the United States of America was, in FDR's words, "suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." 2,402 Americans were killed in the attack, and 1,282 were wounded.  Fifteen sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery that day.  The final surviving member of this group, John W. Finn, died in 2010 at the age of 100.  This anniversary of the attack seems a fitting occasion for recalling the heroism of these men, and that of Finn in particular.  On that Sunday morning, upon hearing explosions and seeing the Japanese planes, Finn immediately drove from his apartment to nearby Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station.  There Finn set up a .30 caliber machine gun on a runway and began firing at Japanese planes.  Though exposed to enemy machine guns and bombs, and despite many wounds, Finn kept up his fire for the next two and a half hours.

The following is taken from John Finn's own account of that day:

“I got shot in the left arm and shot in the left foot, broke the bone. I had shrapnel blows in my chest and belly and right elbow and right thumb. Some were just scratches. My scalp got cut, and everybody thought I was dying: Oh, Christ, the old chief had the top of his head knocked off! I had 28, 29 holes in me that were bleeding. I was walking around on one heel. I was barefooted on that coral dust. My left arm didn’t work. It was just a big ball hanging down.”

Thank you, John W. Finn, and may you and all of your brave comrades rest in peace.

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