2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"A day which will live in infamy..."

70 years ago today forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a series of two waves of planes and midget submarines in a surprise attacks against US forces stationed at the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and at nearby Hickman Army Air Field.   2,402 US service personnel lost their lives.  It heralded the US involvement in World War 2 and, for the Japanese, the beginning to the end of the Empire of the Sun.  Despite the great material damage to the US fleet and loss of life the attack caused, it did not impact its most important target, the US aircraft carriers stationed there.  After a less than stellar series of battle games, the fleet was at sea at the time in additional training and escaped the attack unscathed.  This proved to be a major factor in the outcome of the war as most later battles were decided by air superiority of naval aviation over the battle space and had we lost these vital assets, our fate today may have been much different.

I do not hold any ill feelings toward the Japanese.  They were following the orders of their officers and leaders as all military members are supposed to.  If you look historically at the rise of Japan from an isolated island nation to the power that they were, and put them in the same vicinity as the US and well, the two biggest dogs in the park are going to fight eventually.  The Japanese looked different than most Americans at the time, they acted different in their approach to warfare and generally were seen as less than human to many people in this country due to this.   This view of them along with their willingness to fight to the death lead to some of the most savage and visceral fighting of the war.  We even imprisoned our own countrymen of Japanese descent out of our own fears.   Despite their fearsome actions in the war, they proved to be an easy enough country to inhabit and occupy after the war and to this very day they have done very little as far as arming themselves and have mainly kept a self defense force only.  Its been only recently that they have provided much in the way of military support to international issues with coalition forces involved.

I am going to take a moment to highlight one of the heroes of that day for the United States.  In times of great crisis and loss it seems that some men stand apart from the crowd and distinguish themselves in action and deeds that many men would be incapable of performing.  US Navy Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn was one such man.  Manning an exposed machine gun position throughout the attack he was wounded with 21 distinct wounds, including a bullet through his foot.  Undaunted, he continued to pour machine gun fire against attacking Japanese aircraft until ordered to seek medical attention.  Not one to miss a good party, after getting a band aid or two slapped on him he returned to his hangar and helped arm and fuel aircraft to prepare to repulse an expected invasion that never came.  Imagine standing exposed up on an open piece of runway with bombs and machine gun strafing all around you, knowing Japanese pilots could clearly see you, and staying even after being shot?  Wow, stones on that lad...look at his picture, if that doesn't capture the spirit of the iconic cocky sailor, I don't know what does.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John William Finn, USN
Medal of Honor Recipient
1910 - 2010

For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, he promptly secured and manned a .50 calibre machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action are considered to be in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.

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