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First Name: George

Last Name: Cannon

Birthplace: Webster Groves, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Ann Arbor, MI
Middle Name: Ham

Date of Birth: 05 November 1915

Date of Death: 07 December 1941

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1938-1941
George Ham Cannon

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


George Ham Cannon
First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon (5 November 1915 - 7 December 1941) was a U.S. Marine officer who was posthumously awarded his Nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor. He was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II.

George Ham Cannon was born on 5 November 1915 in Webster Groves, MO. He later moved to Detroit, MI, where he graduated from Southeastern High School. He also attended the Culver Military Academy in Culver, IN, 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. While at the University of Michigan he became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He resigned his commission in the Army upon graduation, in order to accept a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. 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 on board the USSĀ Boise, following the completion of his schooling 20 May 1939. He was assigned to the Post Service Battalion at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, VA, 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, CA, 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 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 same day the Japanese drew the U.S. into World War II, 7 December 1941, during the sneak attack by Japanese forces.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: Sand Island, Midway Islands, 7 December 1941.

Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own condition during the bombardment of Sand Island, Midway Islands, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. 1st Lt. Cannon, Battery Commander of Battery H, 6th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, U.S. Marine Corps, 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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal


The first school on Midway Island, which was established after World War II, is named the George Cannon School "in honor of Midway's war hero."

A destroyer was named in honor of 1stLt Cannon, sponsored by his mother, and launched at the Drave Corporation, Wilmington, DE, on 25 May 1943.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon was killed in action on 7 December 1941. He is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Honolulu County, HI, in Plot: C, 1644.

Honoree ID: 1320   Created by: MHOH




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