Cannon, George Ham, born on 05-11-1915 in Webster Groves, Missouri . 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 . 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 second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps . Commissioned on 25-06-1938, he was ordered to duty on 05-07-1938, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to await assignment to the next class of Basic School . He began studies on July 18, that year.
His first tour of duty as a U.S. Marine was on board the USS Boise , following the completion of his schooling 20-05-1939. He was assigned to the Post Service Battalion at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, on July 10, 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 16-02-1941. 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 June 25, 1941.
Death and burial ground of Cannon, George Ham.
On 07-09-1941, 1st Lieutenant 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 United States into World War II, 07-12-1941, during the sneak attack by Japanese forces.
Cannon was the first U.S Marine in World War II to receive the nation’s highest military award — the Medal of Honor. He posthumously received the medal 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 December 7, 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 direct the reorganization of his Command Post until forcibly removed. He refused medical attention until he was assured communications were restored to his Command Post. As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition, he later died from loss of blood.
Estelle H. Cannon presents a picture of her son, Marine Lieutenant George Ham Cannon, at ROTC ceremony in Michigan Stadium, April 1942
After his burial on Midway, his remains were then removed to Halawa Cemetery in Hawaii, and from there to the Honolulu Memorial Cemetery (“Punchbowl”), where he is permanently interred.