Medal Of Honor Recipient John Finn Dies At 100

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Retired Navy Lt. John Finn died this past week. He was 100, and the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. Host Guy Raz remembers Finn's brave action on Dec. 7, 1941 with the help of historian Stuart Lutz.

GUY RAZ, host:

Now a man who played an important role in America's national security, even if it was a small one, died this past week. His name was John Finn and he was the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration. He was an ordnance officer based to Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station, about 50 miles east of Pearl Harbor.

And as historian Stuart Lutz explains, Finn's life would change forever on the morning of December 7, 1941.

Mr. STUART LUTZ (Historian): He was slipping in and he heard shooting, which shouldn't happen when you have the keys to the gun lockers. And he ran outside and he saw the Japanese plane flying overhead and drove and set up a machine gun stand. And he stood there for two and a half hours firing at all the Japanese planes that came overhead. It's believed that he may have shut down one of the planes.

RAZ: All of this while under heavy fire from those planes.

Mr. LUTZ: It ended up he was hit 20 times by shrapnel. He refused to leave his post. He went to sick bay. He saw what he said were seriously wounded people and he refused to attend. He went back home to check on his wife.

RAZ: Finn was among the 15 men awarded the Medal of Honor that day. He died this past Thursday at the age of 100.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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