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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

Medal of honor: John W. Finn

MohbookEvery weekday for 110 straight days we will feature a different living recipient of the Medal of Honor. These are the men who have received their nation's highest military honor. Brian is a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The words and photos are courtesy of Artisan Books, publishers of "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty by Peter Collier with photographs by Nick Del Calzo.

JOHN W. FINN
Aviation Ordnance Chief, U.S. Navy
Finn_82John Finn dropped out of school after the seventh grade and worked at various jobs until a few days before his seventeenth birthday, when he joined the Navy. It was 1926, and the world seemed permanently at peace, without even a rumor of war. What Finn wanted was to travel. Over the next few years, he got his wish, serving on a variety of ships that took him up through the Panama Canal and six hundred miles up the Yangtze River.

In December 1941, he was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii. He had moved rapidly through the ranks during his years in the Navy and was now a chief petty officer in charge of a twenty-man ordnance crew whose primary duty was maintaining the weapons of a squadron of PBY naval patrol planes. On the morning of December 7, he and his wife were in their quarters about a mile from the aircraft hangars when he was awakened by a popping noise. His first irritated thought was that some fool had decided to do gunnery practice on a Sunday morning. Then he heard planes passing overhead and shouting in the street, followed by a loud knock on his door. It was the wife
of one of his men. When he asked her what was wrong, she just pointed up in the air and ran off.
Still not aware of what was causing all the confusion, Finn jumped in his car and headed for the hangars. He was observing the base’s strictly enforced speed limit of twenty miles an hour until a fighter plane came roaring down out of the sky above him. He watched it with curiosity for a moment until he saw the “red meatball” of the Japanese insignia, then rammed the car into second gear and stomped on the accelerator.
He came to a skidding stop at the launching ramps where the amphibious patrol planes were towed back and forth between the water and their hangars and found total chaos. Most of the thirty-six PBYs were already on fire. (Only three would be left at the end of the day because they happened to be on antisubmarine patrol when the Japanese attacked.) Some of his men were inside the burning planes trying to fire at the enemy from the PBYs’ machine guns. Others were struggling to get the guns out of the damaged planes; there were no stationary gun mounts to hold them, and the sailors were trying to improvise using pipe from the machine shop and other materials.
Finn found a mobile instruction stand on which guns were sometimes mounted to teach gunnery. Although enemy planes continued to strafe the position, he moved the stand into a parking area where he would have clear visibility. Then he set a .50-caliber machine gun on it and began to shoot. He held his position for the next two hours. The Japanese fighters went by too quickly to track with the gun. He did hit some of the slower-moving bombers, although they quickly disappeared over the tree line so he couldn’t know if any crashed. He didn’t stop firing until all the enemy planes had gone and it was quiet again.
Finn had been hit by shrapnel in twenty-one places; several were serious wounds. His left arm was numb, and a bullet had passed through one foot. Following medical treatment, he returned to the squadron area and supervised the rearming of the remaining American planes.
Nine months later, Finn was awaiting sea duty when he was informed that he was to receive the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him on Sept. 14, 1942, on board the USS Enterprise in Pearl Harbor by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

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COMMENTS

John Finn, it should also be noted, is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient! John turns 98 this month. He is the epitome of the term, American Hero. Though I had learned of John many years ago, I first met him at the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen's Convention in 1988. To hear John tell the story of December 7, 1941 in his own words is a treat, and nothing short of awe inspiring. John, you are truly a Great American and I am proud to know you, my "Brother in Arms!"

John, you are the man, a true American Hero, I've had the Honor of hearing some of the things that you've done throughout your naval career and enjoyed hearing every bit of it along with having the priveledge of spending time chating with you and even having a cold one, thanks for giving your time IYOYAS

As a retired Marine, you can not imagine how honored I am to know and associate with LT John W. Finn, USN (Ret). He is truly a 110% Patriot and never fails to tell others how honored he is to wear the MOH.
He lives on the "Finn Ranch" in San Diego County and accepts limited speaking engagements.
John will attend the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen Convention at the Silver Legacy Hotel in Reno, Nevada, this month where the Association will help him celebrate his 98th Birthday.

You John W. Finn are one of the TRUE Heros of America. Not the over priced athlete nor the over idolized celebrity. Because of men like you who sacrificed everything they knew, to answer the call to duty from thier Commander In Chief, to risk arm, limb and the very body of their soul, to protect the United States of America from foreign enemies, because of that, we live in a free America today. From one Nave Veteran to another, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR WHAT YOU DID FOR ME AND FOR THE UNITED STATES.

GOD BLESS YOU AND THE MANY MILLINS OF SERVICEMEN WHO DID NOT RETURN FROM DUTY.

Aviation Ordinance Chief John W. Finn another soldier of the Greatest Generation. I cannot imagine what is must have been like to see one of those Japanese planes right above the car. He certainly held his own for two hours firing at the enemy planes. He was resilient to survive all those serious wounds. He was a true brave soldier and very deserving of the Medal of Honor. We salute him!

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