John Glennon Finneran was born in New York City, on July 23, 1924. He attended the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in 1943. Graduated with the Class of 1947 on June 5, 1946 (accelerated course due to World War II), he was commissioned Ensign on that date and subsequently advanced in rank of that Vice Admiral, to date from January 31, 1973.
Following graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946, he joined the USS Walke and in September 1947 reported as an Instructor at the Naval Academy Preparatory School, Bainbridge, Maryland. He remained there until October 1948, the reported as Engineer on board the USS Kleinsmith. From November 1950 to January 1952 he had similar duty in the USS Douglas H. Fox, after which he continued service afloat as Executive Officer and from October 1952 Commanding Officer of the USS Pima Country.
He was Assistant Officer in Charge of Promotion Plans in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC, from May 1954 to May 1956 and after training at the Naval Guided Missile School, Pomona, California, he reported in October 1956 as Missile Officer on board USS Boston. Detached from that missile heavy cruiser in December 1958, he next attended the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia and in July 1959 joined the Staff of Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force as Missile Systems Project Officer. He was Commanding Officer of USS Meredith during her Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization period at the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Naval Shipyard and in April 1961 became Executive Officer. In September 1962 he assumed command of USS Sampson.
Assigned in December 1963 to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC, he served as Navy Member of the Department of Defense Military Compensation Study Group and Navy Member of the Joint Military-Federal Civil Service Comparability Study Group until May 1964, then as Head of the Field Activity Section, Overseas Placement Officer and Navy Member of the Department of Defense Military Compensation Study Group. Between January and July 1965 he was a Member of the Secretary of the Navy’s Retention Task Force in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, after which he had instruction at the National War College, Washington, DC. In June 1966 he assumed command of Destroyer Division Seventy-Two. As such, he directed his unit in missions against various North Vietnamese targets, including coastal defense sites and waterborne logistics craft. “For meritorious service in connection with operations against the enemy… from October 5, 1967 to March 6, 1968…” he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”.
In May 1968 he returned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, where he was Head of the Distribution Branch, Enlisted Personnel Division until June 1971 and then Assistant Chief for Plans and Programs. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and cited in part as follows: “… Rear Admiral Finneran promoted personnel management programs on a board scale throughout the Navy…” In August 1972 he assumed command of Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Twelve and in January 1973 became Commander Second Fleet with additional duty as Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic and further additional duty from February as Commander Ocean Sub Area.
In addition to the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, Vice Admiral Finneran has the American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon); and the Vietnam Service Medal. He also has the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device and the Vietnamese Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Second Class.