First World War II casualty from Crook County
The Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, led to the first casualty from Crook County in the beginnings of World War II for the United States.
Dexter W. Fincher was born in Prineville on Feb. 23, 1917 and grew up in the community. His parents were John and Grace Fincher. Prior to 1941, he had enlisted in the Marines and had received six promotions and risen to the rank of sergeant. He had been in the service for 18 months at the time of the Pearl Harbor raid. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Battleship Arizona that was anchored in Pearl Harbor.
Hawaii was a paradise setting for military personnel in the waning days of 1941. Dexter was on board the Arizona that fateful morning. The surprise attack on military targets would go down as a "Day of Infamy." Many of his shipmates were still sleeping when the attack began. The Arizona was sent to the bottom of the harbor by massive explosions.
The chaos that followed left many men listed as missing. Dexter had been listed as missing for over two months when his parents finally received word in February 1942 that he had died in the attack. The attack led to the United States entering World War II and Dexter was among the first casualties of the war.
A post for the Veterans of Foreign Wars was mustered in on Aug. 1, 1942, and the new post was named the Dexter Fincher Post No. 1412 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The post was named in honor of the first Crook County man to give his life in the defense of his country in World War II. Members of VFW posts throughout Oregon attended the mustering ceremony. The first meetings of the VFW were held in the old Odd Fellows Hall in Prineville.
Dexter Fincher was awarded posthumous medals by the military in 1944. His parents were given a medal of the Order of the Purple Heart and after the war he was awarded the American Service Medal with fleet clasp and the Asiatic-Pacific campaign medal. A memorial plaque was erected at Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville to honor Dexter as his body was among those entombed on the Battleship Arizona as a memorial to those that died at Pearl Harbor.
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