George Ham Cannon: A WWII Medal of Honor Marine With the Best Name
Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller. Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler. Legendary Marines in their own right, but we’d implore you to add one more devil dog to the list of decorated Marines with particularly noteworthy appellations: Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. George Ham Cannon.
The name may be both amusing and an impressive epithet, but Cannon’s accomplishments during his short time in the U.S. Marine Corps vastly exceeded his swine-artillery surname.
As the Japanese bombed Sand Island in the Midway Atoll on Dec. 7, 1941, Cannon was injured by enemy shellfire, according to his citation. Serving as Battery Commander of Battery H, 6th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, Cannon declined medical treatment until his wounded men were moved to safety.
“As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition he died from loss of blood,” the citation notes.
For actions, Cannon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Cannon originally commissioned as an officer in the Army in 1938 after graduating from ROTC at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He resigned shortly thereafter and was appointed instead to the Marine Corps. The Missouri native was just 26 years old when he died.
In 1943, the USS Cannon (DE-99) was named after him. It served the U.S. Navy for a little over a year before being decommissioned and given to the Brazilian Navy, which she served until 1960.
Semper Ham Cannon.
Originally published by Military Times, our sister publication.