Florence Finch

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Florence Finch
Born (1915-10-11)October 11, 1915
Santiago, Luzon, Philippines
Died December 8, 2016(2016-12-08) (aged 101)
Ithaca, New York
Place of burial Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Cayuga Heights, New York
Allegiance Commonwealth of the Philippines,
United States of America
Service/branch Philippine resistance,
United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1942–1945 (Philippine resistance)
1945–1946 (USCG)
Rank Seaman second class (USCG)

World War II

Awards Medal of Freedom
Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Ribbon

Florence Ebersole Finch (October 11, 1915 – December 8, 2016) was a Filipino-American member of the World War II resistance against the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.


Finch was born Loring May Ebersole October 11, 1915 in Santiago, the Philippines. Her father was American and her mother was Filipino.[1][2][3]

Prior to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, Finch was working at the G-2 (Intelligence) Headquarters of the U. S. Army in Manila.[4] There she met her husband, an American soldier named Charles Smith, who would be killed in action in the Philippines in 1942.[1][5]

At the start of the occupation, she managed to suppress her American heritage and to secure a job at the Philippine Liquid Fuel Distributing Union, which was controlled by the occupying Japanese forces.[4] There, between June 1942 and October 1944, she assisted the resistance movement by diverting fuel destined for Japanese use, falsifying documents for resistance members to obtain supplies, and using her position to facilitate acts of sabotage.[2][6][7]

In 1944, she was discovered as having worked in the resistance and was arrested, tortured, tried and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.[6] She remained in captivity until February 10 1945, when, weighing just 80 pounds, she was rescued by the American troops liberating the Philippines.[1]

Following the war, she moved to Buffalo, New York, where she joined the U.S. Coast Guard.[4][8]

She died December 8, 2016, in Ithaca, New York. Finch was given a military funeral with full honors in April 2017.[5]


Finch was awarded the American Medal of Freedom in 1947. She was also awarded the Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Ribbon, the first woman to be so decorated.[1][4]

In 1995, the Coast Guard named a building on Sand Island in Hawaii in her honor.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Sam (28 April 2017). "Florence Finch, Unsung War Hero Who Took On Japanese, Dies at 101". NYTimes.com. 
  2. ^ a b c Lisa Tendrich Frank (17 January 2013). An Encyclopedia of American Women at War: From the Home Front to the Battlefields [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 548–. ISBN 978-1-59884-444-3. 
  3. ^ "Life well-lived includes service to country". Ithacajournal.com. 2015-10-19. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  4. ^ a b c d "U.S. Coast Guard Aviation History". Uscg.mil. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Full honors for Filipino-American WWII vet who died at 101". Troyrecord.com. 1941-12-07. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  6. ^ a b Eveline Buchheim; Ralf Futselaar (2014). Under Fire: Women and World War II: Yearbook of Women’s History/Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis 34. Uitgeverij Verloren. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-90-8704-475-6. 
  7. ^ Brenda Lee Moore (20 June 2003). Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military During World War II. Rutgers University Press. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-0-8135-7110-2. 
  8. ^ Slattery, Denis. "WWII heroine who was tortured by Japanese to be buried upstate". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2017-04-29.