John Finn, one of the first Americans to take up arms against the Japanese when they bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts, died last week at age 100.
Finn was assigned to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on that fateful Sunday nearly 70 years ago when he found himself firing at Japanese planes from an exposed position for more than two hours despite being hit 21 times by bomb and bullet fragments.
Finn was credited by some with single-handedly shooting down a Japanese aircraft, but he would later say, “I can’t honestly say (for sure) I hit any, but I shot at every damn plane I could see.”
Finn stayed at his post until he received a direct order to seek medical attention. He later said that when he got to the sick bay, he saw many men worse off than he was, so he returned to the armory and spent the rest of the day and night supervising the repair of damaged weapons in preparation for whatever came next, according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I know this sounds corny, but on December 7, I was just doing my duty and what I had been trained and paid to do since I was 17 years old,” he said in a 1984 interview.
During the attack, Finn secured a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a training stand in an exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy machine-gun fire from Japanese planes, his Medal of Honor citation says.
“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 continues.
In military circles, Finn was comparable to a rock star, according to the Union-Tribune. “People clamored for a handshake or to have a picture taken with him wherever he went.”
South Carolina political debate has a reputation for being particularly venomous. One need only read the back-and-forth banter on some of the better-known blogs to realize that there is a small but vitriolic cadre of political minions there ready to squelch any and all potentially negative views related to the candidate of their choice.
Take the recent endorsement of the Lieutenant Governor’s race by FITSNews. Probably the best-known and best-read political blog in South Carolina, FITS recently endorsed Columbia lawyer Bill Connor for lite governor.
After just a handful of comments from individuals who believed other candidates were better suited than Connor for Lieutenant Governor (two supported former state insurance director Eleanor Kitzman and one supported Lowcountry attorney Larry Richter), out came the long knives.
Hence, we got the following:
- “Very nice call Fits. Bill Connor is certainly the guy to take on the status quo and several times has AFFIRMED his commitment to do so. Pay no attention to the naysayers (Ken Ard and Larry Richter staff), you made the right call.”
- “It’s really an easy choice. Bill Connor has more qualifications for leading this state that any of the gubernatorial candidates and is light years ahead of Larry Richter and Ken Ard. It looks as though Ken Ard’s staff has already started on ya Fits. Give ‘em hell.”
- “It’s a shame when a candidate such as Bill Connor stands on his platform and outperforms his opponents like Ken Ard they resort to negative attacks to try and steal an election. … When is Ken Ard going to answer to the fact that the tax raise he pushed so hard for actually benefits him personally because he owns land that will have to be purchased with this tax money? STOP with the negative attacks Ken Ard staff Katie Baham and Robert Cahaly. You’re insulting the process for electing candidates to office.”
- “alwaysknocktwice, how’s it feel to be so desperate cuz your boy Ken Ard is so far behind you have to spread lies and rumors to try to win? More lies from Ken Ard, Robert Cahaly and Katie Baham. You better start trying to elect Ken Ard back to county council in Florence. Looks like that will be tougher than you thought.”
- “You’ve taken a few rumors from people that despise Bill Connor because he supports tort reform and information generated by the Robert Cahaly sleaze machine and publicly slandering the next Lt Governor of South Carolina. Figured you for more common sense than that. … Give it a break. For over a year now Ken Ard and Robert Cahaly have been doing their best to slander Bill Connor and try to steal this election. They’ve offered no proof of anything nor has anyone come forward as an eyewitness.”
- “Your attempt to make him look bad is nothing but sour grapes over Ken Ard losing this election. You idiots have slandered and verbally assaulted Bill Connor for over a year and it’s brought you nothing but shame in the eyes of the voters. The people of South Carolina are sick and tired of those like you, Robert Cahaly and Ken Ard who try to win elections by making their opponents look bad instead of the joke of convincing the voting public that Ken Ard is the best person for the job. Judging from Ken Ard’s track record, he would be nothing more than a corrupt RINO tax and spender like several we have now. Ken Ard needs to start running as a democrat instead of trying to mislead the voters.”
Of course, as nearly all the comments about Connor - pro and con - are anonymous, it’s difficult to tell just who’s supporting him and who isn’t. But it’s telling that when an anti-Connor comment goes up on the South Carolina blogosphere, Connor and his camp are quick to point the finger at a rival rather than refute arguments, as though no one else could possible have an issue with him. (Sometimes someone on Connor’s side even throws in an anonymous threat or two, as well.)
But bring up the fact, as one individual did, that real soldiers don’t need to wear their military service on their sleeves through such actions as displaying their bronze star on their political website and using their uniform as an advertising gimmick, as Connor seems to, or that Connor drops names like a freshman coed at a sorority function, and it must be the work of a nefarious opponent, probably in league with the devil himself.
Question whether a candidate like Connor has ever met a payroll or even what his overseas military experience consisted of, and you’re all but lumped in with al-Qaeda.
So this is what passes for political discourse in South Carolina these days, at least on the Republican side: Concoct a message heavy on God, country and arch-Conservatism (much of which have nothing to do with the actual job of being Lieutenant Governor), and slam anyone who sees things differently, or, heaven forbid, calls you on your qualifications.