ABC, NBC Mark Passing of World War II Hero Lieutenant John Finn

On Thursday evening, ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News both marked the passing of retired Navy Lieutenant John Finn, who was the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, which he earned defending America during the attack on Pearl Harbor. While ABC’s George Stephanopoulos read a short item on Lieutenant Finn, NBC’s Brian Williams devoted an full report to his heroism.

On the May 27 World News, substitute anchor Stephanopoulos informed viewers: "You might not know his name, but an American hero died today. Retired Navy Lieutenant John Finn was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, and the first from that war to receive it. On December 7, 1941, as kamikazes zeroed in on Pearl Harbor, Finn manned a machine gun, firing on Japanese planes even after he was gravely wounded. Lieutenant Finn was 100."

On the NBC Nightly News, Williams recounted the story of Finn’s persistence in fighting the enemy even while seriously wounded: "Chief Petty Officer John Finn ran through smoke and fire and commandeered a .50 caliber machine gun. He took aim at the planes overhead and started firing. ... Waves of Japanese planes were flying overhead, and yet he stood there and kept firing for two hours. ... John was hit by shrapnel 21 times. He was shot through one foot. His left arm was numb, and yet he stayed in the fight."

Below are complete transcripts of the reports from ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, which ran on Thursday, May 27:

#From ABC’s World News:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you might not know his name, but an American hero died today. Retired Navy Lieutenant John Finn was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, and the first from that war to receive it. On December 7, 1941, as kamikazes zeroed in on Pearl Harbor, Finn manned a machine gun, firing on Japanese planes even after he was gravely wounded. Lieutenant Finn was 100.

#From the NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We also learned today that this nation has lost a genuine hero. John Finn died today. John was 100 years old. He quit school after the seventh grade, and at age 17 he joined the Navy. That was in 1926. Well, there he was in Pearl Harbor, living in military housing with his wife on the morning of the attack. His life changed that day. The whole world changed that day. And what John did in that early confusion earned him the Medal of Honor. He was the oldest living recipient of the medal until his death today.

RETIRED LIEUTENANT JOHN FINN, U.S. NAVY: I hadn't got out of bed yet when I first heard those planes.

WILLIAMS: It was a Sunday morning, and John Finn couldn't figure out why he could hear airplanes and gunfire that morning, Sunday, December 7, 1941.

FINN: I looked up, and he made a wing over, and there was that dirty old horrible colored red Japan circle. I said, "Sully, this is the real McCoy."

WILLIAMS: Chief Petty Officer John Finn ran through smoke and fire and commandeered a .50 caliber machine gun. He took aim at the planes overhead and started firing.

FINN: And I grabbed that gun and mount and everything, right out into the open.

WILLIAMS: Waves of Japanese planes were flying overhead, and yet he stood there and kept firing for two hours.

FINN: Now, I stayed right there with that gun, and I was bleeding here, there and everywhere.

WILLIAMS: John was hit by shrapnel 21 times. He was shot through one foot. His left arm was numb, and yet he stayed in the fight. It was still so early in the fight we didn't yet know we were in World War II. Nine months later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

FINN, READING LETTER: "For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service and devotion above and beyond the call of duty."

WILLIAMS: There was just the sign out on the road to mark John's California ranch. The scrappy desert lifestyle seemed to match his personality.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Come on, John. Come on.

FINN: Inside?

WOMAN: Yes.

FINN: Okay.

WOMAN: We're trying to get you-

FINN: Are we going to go into the bedroom?

WOMAN, LAUGHING: John!

WILLIAMS: John was the last survivor in his group of friends and fellow vets. He lived long enough to visit the Oval Office last year and meet President Obama. He loved the attention in his later years, but he missed the past, especially his beloved late wife, Alice.

FINN: And I can still remember that beautiful woman. I always figured, "Who in the hell cares about me or who should know about me?" I'd just be John Finn, and I was only doing what I'd been paid to do and practiced to do all those years.

WILLIAMS: We're going to miss John Finn. And as this nation prepares for Memorial Day observances across the country, John Finn's death now leaves 90 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.