Oldest Medal of Honor Recipient Celebrates 100th Birthday
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Mike Leporati,
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
July 30, 2009

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, celebrated his 100th birthday at Naval Air Station North Island, July 25.

Retired Navy Lt. John Finn received his medal from Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz for heroism and distinguished service during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Finn is now the sole survivor of 15 Sailors who received the Medal of Honor for their actions Dec. 7, 1941.

During Finn's 100th birthday barbecue, astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station (ISS) called Finn to wish him a happy birthday. The multinational crew from the ISS includes people from the United States, Europe, Russia, Canada and Japan.

Each crew member of the ISS individually wished Finn a happy birthday and praised him for his accomplishment. Birthday party attendees gathered around Finn during the phone call. They whispered, cheered and laughed but the guests all remained silent during the conversation with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. He noted the United States and Japan's progress since World War II and pointed out their "strong friendship up at the International Space Station."

Nearly 300 family members and friends came to pay homage to Finn on his birthday, from close relatives to distinguished guest Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"There are very few people like him. Obviously, there are few Medal of Honor recipients, especially living, but people like that [Finn] really make you appreciate what we have and it's worth celebrating," said Elijah Finn, great nephew of John Finn.

Finn received recognition from many government officials including senators, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, and letters from the governor's of all 50 states. In addition, the city of Chula Vista proclaimed July 25 John Finn Day. Many other gifts, cards and plaques were given to Finn, a former aviation ordnanceman, but the final gift was provided by the ordnance community. A shadow box was presented to Finn containing an ensign which was flow aboard every aircraft carrier in the fleet.

Finn currently resides in San Diego where he is still remains active in the World War II and veteran community.

July 25, 2009 San Diego, California: Retired Navy Lt. John Finn, sitting at bottom right, celebrates his 100th birthday with other Medal of Honor recipients at Naval Air Station North Island. Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mike Leporati/Released)