A Special Tribute to a Special Sailor

Filed under: , , , , , , by: PearlsofHonor

During the recent month-long series of celebrations for the 100th birthday of Medal of Honor Recipient John W. Finn, John was more-than happy to carry out a special request to administer the oath of reenlistment for a fellow Navy Aviation Ordnanceman.

This particular reenlistment ceremony was scheduled to take place during the 4th of July Parade held in Coronado, California.

And with John Finn being the Guest of Honor at the parade, a special pre-parade dinner was held at a very nice restaurant in Coronado the night before.

Among the invited guests were the sailor who was to receive the oath of reenlistment, Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class (AO3), Melissa Thorton, as well as her mother, who flew all the way from Florida to attend this special event.
Metal of honor tribute harley world war II pearl harborAs an aside, prior to the commencement of the dinner party, I brought “Metal of Honor” out the trailer and put her on display in front of the restaurant for the guests and the public to see. And as expected, much of my time during the dinner party was spent chatting with people who asked to take pictures of the bike, as well as having wonderful conversations about the project as a whole.

During the dinner party, Melissa rose to her feet and expressed her deep appreciation for the honor of being selected to have the most-revered Ordnanceman in Naval history, John Finn, administer the oath; and I think there wasn’t one person in attendance who wasn’t deeply moved by Melissa’s words... as she stated: "We're not among heroes, we're among angels."Metal of honor tribute harley AO3 Thorton John W. FinnAs the party was relaxing after a fine evening meal, Melissa took the time to step outside so as to take a few pictures of the bike to show her fellow Ordnancemen aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
Metal of honor tribute harley AO3 Thorton John W. Finn Metal of honor tribute harley AO3 Thorton John W. Finn And I have to believe by the shear number of photos Melissa took of the bike that she found it pretty special... what with the Aviation Ordnance community's favorite hero engraved on the tank.

Metal of honor tribute harley AO3 Thorton John W. Finn Melissa even got on the phone to tell her friends about the bike as well as how excited she was to be eating dinner with the hero of the Aviation Ordnance world, John Finn.
The following day, Independence Day 2009, brought with it spectacular blue skies and parade fans 12-deep on both sides of the nearly 2 mile long parade route.

And with fellow Aviation Ordnancemen marching in escort of the classic GTO convertible carrying the oldest living Medal of Honor Recipient, Melissa and her mother waited with great anticipation of the arrival of John at the reviewing stand.
With a spotless inspection-ready dress white uniform, AO3 Thorton stood at attention, and with right hand raised, took the oath of reenlistment from the Medal of Honor who her fellow Ordnancemen hold as their greatest example of Naval service.
And what a wonderful gift to remember this special event by, that of a beautifully framed picture of John Finn, along with a copy of his Medal of Honor Citation, and adorned with three separate Medal of Honor challenge coins, another of the Purple Heart, and an Ordnanceman coin; something any AO would be extremely proud to have on their wall.

All who had the chance to meet and chat with Melissa over this two day period who I subsequently spoke with mentioned that Melissa not only beamed with excitement over these events, but displayed that special spark of energy that only a true sense of the love of duty can bring forth. In short, Melissa made us all feel our own renewed sense of duty to this country.

And that wonderful feeling Melissa left us with is why we all were so incredibly shocked and saddened to hear the news that Melissa was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident only two weeks after the 4th of July.
My prayers for her mother Judi and family have been constant, and in some small way, I hope the photographs taken of this very special sailor will inspire others to find their own love of duty for this country.

Non sibi sed patriae

(Not self but country)

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