Cannon, George Ham, 1stLt

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 Service Details
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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Primary Unit
1941-1941, 0306, 6th Defense Bn
Service Years
1938 - 1941

First Lieutenant


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 Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cpl Elizabeth Davis to remember Marine 1stLt George Ham Cannon.

If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Webster Groves

Casualty Date
Dec 07, 1941
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Other Explosive Device
Not Specified
Location of Interment
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenMedal of Honor Recipients
  1941, World War II Fallen
  1941, Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States
  1941, Medal of Honor Recipients [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar
Rifle Sharpshooter (Pre 1959)USMC Basic Qualification Badge

 Unit Assignments
Marine BarracksMARDET USS Boise  (CL-47)2nd Defense BnUSMC (United States Marine Corps)
  1938-1939, Marine Barracks Philadelphia, PA
  1939-1940, 0306, MARDET USS Boise (CL-47)
  1940-1940, Marine Barracks Quantico, VA
  1940-1941, 0306, 2nd Defense Bn
  1941-1941, 0306, Marine Barracks Naval Station Pearl Harbor, HI
  1941-1941, 0306, 6th Defense Bn
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Attack on Pearl Harbor
 Colleges Attended
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  1934-1938, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Late on the night of December 7, Japanese warships began shelling Midway. During a twenty-three-minute engagement, Japanese ships came so close to Midway that Marines raked the decks of their destroyers with machine guns. The meager facilities on Midway were shattered by naval guns and four Marines were killed, nineteen njured. In the middle of the attack a well-aimed artillery shell blasted through the air vent of Midway Island's main communications center, to explode deep in the bowels of the reinforced concrete structure.

The center had a large staff and was commanded by twenty-six-year-old First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon. Cannon was a long way from St. Louis, Missouri, where he had grown up, but the Midwesterner was all Marine, as he could provide on this day.

Nearly deaf and wounded from the initial blast, Lieutenant Cannon refused to evacuate until the other wounded were rescued. Bleeding from a score of shrapnel wounds, he repeatedly refused medical attention while directing the recovery effort, even as the Japanese bombardment continued. Only when the danger to his men had passed did the lieutenant surrender his command. But it was too late to save the young officer's life. Cannon died from loss of blood a few minutes aafter arriving at an aid station.

First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon, who received a hero's burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II. Before the end of the bloodiest and costliest conflict in human history, eighty-one Marines would be so honored.

Medal of Honor

Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant George Hamm Cannon, United States Marine Corps, for distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own condition while serving as Commanding Officer of Battery H, SIXTH Marine Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, Naval Air Station Midway, during the bombardment of Sand Island, Midway Islands, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941.

First Lieutenant Cannon was at his command post when he was mortally wounded by enemy shellfire. He refused to be evacuated from his post until after his men who had been wounded by the same shell were evacuated, and directed the reorganization of his command post until forcibly removed. As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition he died from loss of blood. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: 7-Dec-41
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Battery H
Battalion: 6th Defense Battalion
Division: Naval Air Station, Midway
It may be of some interest to Marines traveling through northern Indiana, but Lt. Cannon's Medal of Honor and officer's sword are on display at his high school alma mater, Culver Military Academy, Culver, IN. There is a rather nice display honoring the 5 MOH recipient's of Culver (not bad for a high school). While working there as a TAC officer for 9 years, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to participate in the ceremony where the Cannon family permanently loaned the Medal to the Academies for display.

I got to carry the medal from the chapel to the hall of the display and place it for viewing. It was my pleasure to take care of the display case until I left CMA in '05. It was an honor I'll never forget.

MSgt George Cater, USMC Ret.

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