Many of us do not know how we will react when suddenly called upon to perform the extraordinary in desperate and lethal conditions. We train and plan, but until the bullet flies or the fire burns close at hand, all we can do is speculate.

On the morning of December 7th, 1941 there was no question in VP-14’s Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Finn’s mind:

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, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun 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 were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

(Note: In June 1942, Finn was temporarily commissioned as an Ensign, rising in rank to Lieutenant two years later. During his service as an officer, he served with Bombing Squadron 102, at several stateside training facilities and on board the aircraft carrier Hancock (CV-19). Following transfer to the Fleet Reserve in March 1947, he reverted to the enlisted rate of Chief Aviation Ordnanceman. In September 1956, he was placed on the Retired List in the rank of Lieutenant. John W. Finn died on 27 May 2010. Navy History & Heritage Command).

Recently passed, LT Finn never played up the hero aspect when asked — he just said “I do know this. I didn’t run away. I stayed there and we fought the Japs until the last one left.”

We as a service — as a nation; have lost our way in naming our ships — deferring to the politically expedient instead of the enduring values and traditions of the Naval services. Perhaps now it is time to turn this ship around and set her on a proper course. One way to that end, I think, would be to name the next Arleigh Burke-class DDG after LT Finn. These modern greyhounds of the sea are among the finest warships in their class and would be a fitting honor. Regardless, however of the eventual ship-type, if you agree that one should be so-named, go sign the petition, and write your Congressman and Senators to underscore the effort.

(cross-posted at:

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  • Lt Finn’s name on the transom will be seen by people all around the world. What a great tribute to a true American hero!

  • Spade

    Pfft, one act of heroism and that’s it?

    Now, if he’d taken that MoH, gotten elected to the house, and used that MoH as a ‘moral authority’ cudgel to get the Navy lots and lots of money, well, now that would’ve been something worth celebrating in this day and age.

  • Fouled Anchor

    Naming a ship after John Finn is a long, long overdue honor. Not only did he earn the Medal of Honor, but he earned the first Medal of Honor of World War II, and was at the time of his death the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, approaching his 101st birthday.

    John Finn was a great, humble man who is extremely deserving of the special recognition provided by the naming of a ship in his honor. His selfless acts of heroism, courage, and determination would truly inspire all who serve onboard.

  • Wayne Jenevein

    There is no other name more befitting the name of a Unitied States Ship. It will be interesting to see her live up to it.

  • JW – MCPO, USN, Ret.

    I can think of no better way to honor this American hero. I had the incredible opportunity and distinct pleasure to meet and spend some quality time with John Finn when I was stationed at NSA Mid-South in Millington, TN. I wouldn’t take anything for that experience — I’m indeed a better person for having met him.

    Let’s call upon every khaki-blooded Chief around the world to write their Congressman and Senators. Perhaps what we need is a non-profit foundation in the good Chief’s name, with the efforts of all members focusing on having a U.S. Navy Warship named in his honor and memory?

  • Edward J. Palumbo

    We owe it to those whose conduct and service merit an example to others who serve, and John Finn fully deserves to be remembered. I hope his name lives on in the service of a proud warship that fights as tenaciously as he did.

  • Agree, and this should have been done while he was still alive, so he could have enjoyed the honor and (commissioned? and) visited his ship.

  • Long over due for one of our WW II heroes!

  • Jason Mooney

    Agreed. Long overdue.

  • Fouled Anchor

    @Lou, you are so right. This should have been done long ago, with John Finn on hand for the ceremonies. Sad that it didn’t happen, but naming a ship is his honor now is a small step toward righting that wrong.

  • Walter Barber

    Jack Finn fought airplanes. How ironic would it be to name our next big aircraft carrier after him? Since when does the Navy name carriers only after presidents? Give Finn his due, with his MOH I rank him on the same level as any of our Presidents!!

  • Jerry P

    Yes! I can’t think of a more fitting namesake for a Navy ship.

  • Jennings Heilig

    ABSOLUTELY! It’s well and truly about time we started naming ships after people who deserve to have ships names for them, not just because they happen to belong to the political party that got the Navy more ships. Finn’s service is a model for us all, and naming a capital ship for him would be the highest tribute the USN could pay this man. Full speed ahead!

  • Lee Fogel

    Let’s do the right thing and honor a true hero for ALL time.He deserves this recognition.

  • CDR Joe Lyons USN (Retired)

    Every MOH awardee should be honored by a ship with the name on the stern.

  • Carol Burris

    Why isn’t this done already? The man deserves a ship named after him!

  • ,Mike Morrison

    Not only should Chief Finn have a ship named after him, it should be at least a cruiser sized vessel, if not an aircraft carrier.

  • Merrill Anderson

    Chief Finn more than earned the right to have a ship named after him, and his toughness (he lived to be 100, despite being wounded several times) make him a wonderful namesake for a warship.

  • Michael McMurtrey

    I’m appalled that there is not already a ship named for him.

  • So many true heroes don’t get recognized! Yes, they should name a ship after him. They have already named US Navy ships for questionable politicians WHY NOT A MAN WHO HAS SERVED TO KEEP HIS

  • vinfizzle

    What, name a ship after a naval hero? Why would we do that when we have all these unsung politicians to honor? Maybe if he had done something significant like been a powerful chairman of a committee or a mediocre president then we could find room for him. But a combat hero? Please.

  • Nel Laxa

    We should have honored the good Lt when he was still alive. My who was a Bataan veteran died without getting his benefits, so I feel the pain and the pride that veterans like us feel when a person who has done so great was not honored even a little. Let us not forget that our freedom was a result of his actions and the collective actions of those who gallantly fought before.

  • No question,it’s long overdue. Chief Finn deserves it more than most. Since he was an aviation Chief, maybe a carrier.

  • Jerry Wesolowski

    Chief Finn was without a doubt, acting above and beyond the call of duty. He most assuredly deserves a ship named after him. A carrier would be most appropriate.

  • Don Mitchell, AFMC, USNR (Ret)

    Let’s give Lt. Finn the honors that he justly deserves and name a ship for him.

  • Hi, Keep up the good work its nice to see a blog that stands out from the rest, this was a very informative read and as now been added to my favourites!!

  • j.f.lindsay mcpo ret

    naming a ship after Finn is just and warranted…BUT NOT A CARRIER. A DDG-51 class ship is appropriate. Destroyers are named for decease members of the Navy and Marine Corps. Therefore naming a ship after Finn while he was living would have been wrong. If we want to return to tradition, the next carrier should be named U.S.S. Enterprise. Carriers are named for battles and historic naval vessels. The name Enterprise would continue a long linage dating back to the early days of the nation and honor CV-6 that carried the war across the Pacific.

  • David Young

    Thank you for your service….