CHULA VISTA, Calif.—The oldest surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II died Thursday at a Chula Vista retirement home.
Retired Navy Lt. John Finn was 100.
Finn, died early Thursday at the Chula Vista Veterans Home.
"There has to be a reason why John lived to be 100 years old. It''s probably because he had a different way of looking at life," said Finn's neighbor Ed Simmons.
Finn earned the nation's highest military valor award for his heroism during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He received the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15, 1942, from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
During the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, Finn manned a machine gun and began firing from an exposed location on Japanese aircraft, suffering serious wounds in the process.
In a statement, President Barack Obama, who met Finn at the White House last year, said he was "deeply saddened'' to learn of his passing.
"Like many of those who have served our nation with such distinction, Lt. Finn often said that he never intended to be a hero,'' the president said. "Instead, he felt that he was simply doing his duty. But his modestly does not diminish his extraordinary conduct -- or the incredible example he has set for our men and women in uniform and for all Americans.''
Born July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles, Finn was the oldest of the 97 Medal of Honor recipients still living. He enlisted in the Navy just before his 17th birthday. He served as an aviation ordnanceman and later as a limited duty officer specializing in anti-aircraft guns in San Diego,
Hawaii, Washington, Panama and aboard aircraft carriers, according to the Navy.
Finn retired from the Navy in 1956 after 30 years of service, but remained active with organizations supporting naval aviation.
He lived 50 years on a ranch in Live Oak Springs, near Pine Valley.
"He was the pride of our community, because of the service for his country," said Tony Neff, Finn's longtime friend.