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Oldest Medal of Honor recipient from WWII dies
SAN DIEGO – Retired Navy Lt. John Finn, the oldestMedal of Honor recipient from World War II, died Thursday at his Southern California ranch. He was 100.
Finn enlisted in the Navy just before his 17th birthday and went on to become the first man to receive the nation's highest military award for heroism during theJapanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, according to a Navy statement.
He was the oldest of 97Medal of Honor recipients still living.
Despite head wounds and other injuries, Finn, the chief of ordnance for an air squadron, continuously fired a .50-caliber machine gun from an exposed position as bullets and bombs pounded the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay in Oahu. He then supervised the rearming of returning American planes.
"Here they're paying you for doing your duty, and that's what I did," Finn told The Associated Press before his 100th birthday. "I never intended to be a hero. But on Dec. 7, by God, we're in a war."
Finn received theMedal of Honor on Sept. 15, 1942, from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He later served as a limited duty officer specializing in anti-aircraft guns inSan Diego, Hawaii, Washington, Panama and aboard aircraft carriers, the Navy said.
He retired in 1956 afterthree decades of service, but he continued to help young sailors and stayed active in Navy organizations, Lt. Aaron Kakiel said.
"He's been a real inspiration to a number of our aviation ordnance men and an example for the entire Navy," he said.
Born July 23, 1909, inLos Angeles, Finn lived for 50 years on his ranch near Live Oak Springs, outside San Diego.
He will be buried with full military honors. Kakiel said the Navy was still working with his family members on the details.