Anaheim’s Jason Finan Dies Fighting ISIS.


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We had a tradition on this blog a few years ago, happily forgotten, of each Memorial Day eulogizing all of OC’s military deaths that year.  That was the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, when this county would lose three to six young folks a year out there.  Seems like a long time ago…

But a 34-year old Anaheim native, Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, made the ultimate sacrifice on Thursday, succumbing to wounds from an IED planted by ISIS, in the northern Iraq/Kurdistan town of Bashiqa.

bashiqa map

Jason was a “combat adviser” to Iraqi forces, who’ve joined Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to fight ISIS for control of oil-rich Mosul, a city about the size of Chicago.  Jason is the fourth American to die in an overall anti-ISIS project called “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

finan 2Jason had enlisted in the navy in 2003, and has been highly decorated ever since, including:  

  • the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a Combat Valor designation, 
  • the Army Commendation Medal, 
  • two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, 
  • the Army Achievement Medal, 
  • two Combat Action Ribbons, 
  • the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, 
  • the Good Conduct Medal,
  • the National Defense Service Medal,
  • the Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon,
  • the Iraq Campaign Ribbon,
  • the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,
  • the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,
  • the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon 
  • and the NATO Medal.

Jason worked as a explosive-ordnance-disposal (EOD) expert, tasked with disarming the very devices that took his life.

From the Register:

A senior U.S. defense official said the service member was in an armored vehicle traveling with Iraqi special forces northeast of Mosul when the vehicle hit a roadside bomb, possibly rolling over. The soldier was taken by medevac to the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, but died of his wounds. The official was not aware of any others wounded in the blast.

From the Union-Tribune:

The explosive-ordnance-disposal community is renowned throughout the military both for the bravery of its teams and the diversity of its members — techs from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force train at the same schools and often serve with their fellow services in combat.

“It’s the risk-taking that attracts us to the job, but when we’re on the job we don’t get a second chance when something bad happens,” said [fellow EOD technician Melissa] Tackitt, who retired in 2009.

Far from Anaheim: the streets of Bashiqa.

Far from Anaheim: the streets of Bashiqa.

The Orange Juice Blog salutes and thanks Jason Finan for his life of service, and we invite any Anaheim friends and family to share their memories and stories of this heroic Anaheim native.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.