Lt. John Finn: A True Hero

The first man to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II has died

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, May 27, 2010  |  Updated 9:02 PM PDT
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Lt. John Finn: A True Hero

NBCSanDiego

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Lt. John Finn: A True Hero

The first man to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II has died Source: Lt. John Finn: A True Hero | NBC San Diego
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Longtime San Diegan Lt. John Finn, who was the first man to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II, has died.

Finn passed away before 6 a.m. Thursday in San Diego, where he'd been living for more than 50 years.

"We lost a national treasure and a national hero today," said Capt. David Lepard with the U.S. Navy. "It's really touching his death occurred on Memorial Day Weekend and he'll never be forgotten."

Finn was not only the first but also for many years the oldest Medal of Honor recipient from WWII. He lived on a ranch not far from Oak Springs.

On December 7, 1941, Finn manned a machine gun in the open, fully exposed to enemy fire. He was shooting at and hitting Japanese planes even while he was being hit.

"My chest and my belly and my arm and foot were penetrated by shrapnel," Finn told About San Diego's Ken Kramer in 2008.

His Medal of Honor was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 15, 1942.

"I don't feel like a hero," Finn once said. "I do know this. I didn't run away. I stayed there and we fought the Japs until the last one left."

Finn will be buried on the Campo Indian Reservation, where his wife is buried, with full military honors. Funeral plans will likely be released sometime next week.

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