First Medal of Honor Awarded for WW II


John Finn was born in Los Angeles, California and spent his early years in Compton. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 on July 29, 1926. Finn was assigned to Hawaii in 1940 and served there until 1943. He was commissioned an ensign on October 6, 1942. He was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1943. In 1943 he was transferred to the mainland and in 1946 he transferred to the fleet reserve. In 1947 at the U.S. Navy Training Center, he retired from active duty.

Medal of Honor Citation for
John W. Finn, USN

Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States of America

For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, he promptly secured and manned a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action are considered to be in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.