It's hard for a 22-year-old to contemplate the life of .
As a chief aviation ordnanceman, Finn stayed at his station at Pearl Harbor, despite his wounds, defending his fellow servicemen and his country.
More than 70 years later, Joanna Ulloa-Black, an aviation ordancewoman, thought about him Monday, as San Diego Navy officials celebrated the opening of John W. Finn Hall at North Island Naval Air Station.
She didn't know him, but someone who did, Capt. David Lepard, handed Ulloa-Black a coin once owned by Finn, since she will be the first person to take up residence in the $66 million building the Navy constructed to house young sailors like her.
Relating to Finn may be hard, but understandind what he represents isn't, said Ulloa-Black, who is assigned to North Island while her ship, .
“How brave he was inspires other people,” she said.
Lepard, soon to retire, is the Navy's senior aviation ordnanceman. He joined Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Southwest, and Capt. Yancy Lindsey, commander of Naval Base Coronado, along with members of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, in honoring Finn.
Members of Finn's family, including his son Joe and grand-nephew John McAllister, were in the crowd for the ceremony.
McAllister's wife Anita said such honors didn't go to Finn's head, and she described him as “very down to earth.” John McAllister said Finn preferred the focus to be on those who were lost.
“He always considered all the guys who didn't come home as the real heroes,” said McAllister, of El Cajon.
The 264-unit housing complex fits four sailors per room, which include fully equipped kitchens and washer and dryers. Some rooms boast bay and city views and game rooms are outfitted with plasma televisions, game consoles and card and foosball tables.
“The other barracks – they didn't look like this,” said building manager Rhonda Holmes.
Ulloa-Black agreed, though she was dismayed to learn she will soon be sharing a bathroom with three other people instead of just one, as she does in her current base housing.
The Finn Hall rooms will be shared by four people until 2014, officials said, when another housing complex is slated to be built for North Island.
No similar housing has been added at on the base since 1975, leaving the base with what officials described as a 2,000-bed deficit. Finn Hall only alleviates two-thirds of the problem, according to Smith.
Funding for the housing came from 2009's national stimulus bill.
For now, Smith said, the rooms at Finn Hall will allow sailors the comfort of their own homes, where there's “a bed bigger than a rack aboard a ship.“