GEORGE HAM CANNON, USMC
First Lieutenant George H. Cannon earned the nation's highest military award for "distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own condition" during the bombardment of Midway Island by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. He remained at his Command Post despite being mortally wounded by enemy shell fire. He refused to be evacuated until his men who had been wounded by the same shell were evacuated, and he continued to directed the reorganization of his Command Post until forcibly removed. As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition, he later died from loss of blood.
George Ham Cannon was born 5 November 1915 in Webster Groves, Missouri. He later moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he graduated from Southeastern High School. He also attended the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, prior to entering the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in attendance at that university he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in June 1938.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Engineer Reserve, U.S. Army during his last year in the University of Michigan. He resigned, however, upon graduation, to accept a commission as second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Commissioned on 25 June 1938, he was ordered to duty on 5 July 1938, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to await assignment to the next class of Basic School. He began studies on 18 July that year.
His first tour of duty as a U.S. Marine was as a "sea soldier" aboard the USS Boise, following the completion of his schooling 20 May 1939. He was assigned to the Post Service Battalion at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, on 10 July 1940, and two weeks later entered the Base Defense Weapons Course at the Marine Corps Schools.
Ordered to the Marine Corps Base in San Diego, California, in December 1940, he joined Battery H, 2d Defense Battalion on 16 February 1941. In March 1941, the battery joined the 6th Defense Battalion and in July the unit sailed for Pearl Harbor. In August 1941, he was promoted to first lieutenant with the rank dating back to from 25 June 1941.
On 7 September 1941, 1stLt Cannon reported to Midway Island as a platoon leader and member of the Battalion Coding Board. He was killed in action on the first day of World War II, 7 December 1941, during the sneak attack by Japanese forces.
A destroyer was named in honor of 1stLt Cannon, sponsored by his mother, and launched at the Drave Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, on 25 May 1943.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, 1stLt Cannon was awarded the Purple Heart Medal; American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal posthumously.
First Lieutenant Cannon was initially buried in Halawa Cemetery, Honolulu, Hawaii and was later reinterred at his mother's request to the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in 1947.