by Thomas L Snyder
Captain, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret)
Commander, San Francisco Commandery
Only a few years ago, the General Council of the Naval Order of the United States determined to honor Navy Chiefs by creating a suitable Memorial. The ideas advanced when an actual person -- Chief John Finn, the first Medal of Honor awardee of World War II -- was decided upon. Companions and friends of the Naval Order then raised the funds to create a bust to be installed in the mess deck of the USS John Finn (DDG-113), soon to be commissioned in Hawai'i. Recently Companions RADM Doug Moore, Commander General Michele Lockwood, and Captains Al Serafini and Sandy Lockwood attended the bust unveiling in San Diego.
Here is RADM Moore's report, with images, dated 1 July 2017:
"We unveiled the bust of John Finn Thursday, June 29, 2017. This was a two year project paid for by individual donations. It is a wonderful tribute to John Finn who was the first Medal of Honor awardee in World War II for his actions on December 7, 1941. There were eight Medals of Honor for the Pearl Harbor attack -- seven were for rescue operations after the attack and John Finn's medal was the only Medal for combat operations."
The bust, designed by bronze sculptor Rip Caswell out of Troutdale, Oregon, is located on a built-in cabinet in the ship's mess deck.
From Commander General Lockwood's address:
Dear Officers and Crew of the USS John Finn (DDG 113),
The Naval Order of the United States is the oldest naval historical society of its kind in the United States. Since its founding on 4 July 1890, its mission has been the preservation, promotion, and celebration of the Nation’s sea service history and its heroes.
In keeping with its mission, the Naval Order is proud to gift to the USS John Finn (DDG 113) a bust of Chief John William Finn who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Japanese attack on the Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on 7 December 1941. Despite being repeatedly wounded, Chief Finn stood on the tarmac of the airfield and continued firing a .50 caliber machine gun from a movable tripod platform at the enemy Zeroes swarming the Naval Station. After receiving medical attention for his wounds, he returned to the Naval Station to be ready for any subsequent attacks.
We are proud that Chief John Finn, who was later promoted to Lieutenant, was a member and Companion of the Naval Order.
Composed for the unveiling:
"May the bust of Chief Finn remind all who serve on this great ship that ordinary men and women are often called upon by the clash of history to do extraordinary things in the service of their country.
May the officers and crew of the USS John Finn be worthy of the trust and confidence that our great Nation places on them to protect and serve our Nation's interest and respond with valor when in harm's way.
May the spirit and courage of Chief John Finn guide you, protect you, and inspire your during the long life of this ship."