Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Navy To Commission Ship Honoring WWII's First Medal Of Honor Recipient
Just over 75 years ago, John Finn manned a machine gun for two hours firing at Japanese planes strafing him and attacking Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on Oahu.
On the other side of the island, a fleet of aircraft laid waste to Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. On the windward side the island, planes ravaged Finn’s body with almost two dozen wounds.
A Marine Corps chief aviation ordnanceman, Finn was awarded the first Medal of Honor of World War II. He survived the attack and his wounds, living to the ripe age of 100 when he died in 2010.
On Saturday, the Navy will commission the USS John Finn, its latest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
“It’s incredibly humbling to be here and be in charge of this great ship,” Cmdr. Micheal Wagner told reporters Thursday while standing on the dock beside the ship. “I mean, the namesake, John Finn, was such a great American. Anybody who’s ever met him – he was very humble. He didn’t think he was a hero, just thought that he was in the right place at the right time to do that.
“I think that fighting spirit is going to live in this ship,” Wagner said.
The ship will be homeported in San Diego, but given Finn’s immortal connection with Hawaii, officials decided it was fitting to commission it here.
The ship’s sponsor will be Laura Stavridis, the wife of retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.
Its name was chosen by former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
Weighing just over 9,100 tons, the Finn was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss. Carrying a crew of roughly 300, it is just over 500 feet long and driven by four turbines and two propellers for a top speed of about 35 mph.
“Handles like a dream,” Wagner said.
This is the first missile destroyer to be built from the keel up with the Aegis Weapons System that combines air and missile defenses, he said.
“It can do integrated air and missile defense, meaning you can do air defense and ballistic missile defense at the same time,” he said. “That takes a lot of computing power, and this ship is built with that.”
Several other ships have been retrofitted with that capability, he said.
After the commissioning, the Finn will head for southern California for qualification trials during which its combat systems will be tested with live fire.
On the morning of the 1941 surprise attack, Finn was at his home about a mile from the Marine Corps aircraft hangars. He raced to the scene of the attack, taking over a 50-caliber machine gun manned by painter, telling him that he had more training in firing it.
Adm. Chester Nimitz personally presented him the Medal of Honor in September 1942 aboard the USS Enterprise while at Pearl Harbor.
Finn retired from the Navy in 1956 as a lieutenant.
He was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Pearl Harbor attack.
One wall in the enlisted dining area of the Finn is devoted to a mural depicting Finn’s wife, Alice, inspecting the Medal of Honor adorning the then-young sailor’s chest. Behind them are the mountains that stand in the center of Oahu.
A painting portrays Finn manning his machine gun as black smoke billows from damaged planes at the Marine Corps air station.
Mrs. Finn, who died in 1998, holds another place of honor on the ship’s bow. The 5-inch cannon there is called the Alice Gun, and her oversized signature is scrawled across the turret.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A former Marine arrested as he tried to enter the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May with a modified AK-47 rifle, handgun, body armor and ammunition faces federal weapons charges, officials said Friday.
There are 'thousands' of decisions to make about the new Space Force, but the military's 2nd-highest-ranking officer already knows the 'perfect partner'
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The US military's newest service, the Space Force, is only about a month old, having been signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20.
Military veterans from throughout Northeast Florida came together Saturday morning to honor comrades in arms who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and remember their sacrifice.
After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.
A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.
Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.
The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.