Wednesday, November 21, 2012

George H. Cannon, USMC

First Medal of Honor of World War II

First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon, USMC, (November 5, 1915 - December 7, 1941) 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.


George Ham Cannon was born on November 5, 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. 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 June 25, 1938, he was ordered to duty on July 5, 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 May 20, 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 February 16, 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.

On September 7, 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 United States into World War II, December 7, 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 May 25, 1943.


In addition to the Medal of Honor, 1stLt Cannon was awarded the Purple Heart; American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal posthumously.

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United
States takes pleasure in presenting the Congressional MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
for service during an attack on the United States Fleet in Midway Islands as set forth in the following 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 December 7, 1941. Lieutenant Cannon, Battery Commander of Battery "H", Sixth Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, U. S. Marine Corps, was at his Command Post when he was mortally wounded by enemy shell fire. 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, and as a result of his utter disregard of his own condition he died from loss of blood.
The first school on Midway Island, which was established after World War, is named the George Cannon school, "in honor of Midway's war hero".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Isaac Hull

U.S. Navy

Isaac Hull (March 9, 1773 - February 13, 1843) was a Commodore in the United States Navy. He commanded several famous US naval ships including the USS Constitution and saw service in the Quasi War, the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. In the latter part of his career he was commander of the Washington Navy Yard, and later the Mediterranean Squadron.

Early Life

Isaac Hull was born in Derby, Connecticut (some sources say Huntington, now Shelton, Connecticute, on March 9, 1773. Early in life he joined his mariner father, Joseph, on local voyages and longer trips to the West Indies. After his father died while still young, Isaac was adopted by his uncle William Hull, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War.

During the mid-1790s, the young Hull commanded several merchant vessels, losing some to French privateers.

Naval Service

He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the newly-formed United States Navy in March 1798 and distinguished himself during the next two years while serving on board the frigate Constitution in the Quasi-War with France.

First Barbary War

When troubles with the Barbary states heated up in 1802, he went to the Mediterranean as First Lieutenant of the frigate Adams. Hull later commanded the schooner Enterprise and the brig Argus, receiving promotion to the rank of Master Commandant in 1804 and to Captain in 1806. During the next few years, he supervised the construction of gunboats and, in 1809 and 1810, was successively given command of the frigates, Chesapeake, President and Constitution.

Command of Chesapeake

In 1809 Hull briefly commanded the USS Chesapeake.

Command of Constitution

Isaac Hull assumed command of the USS Constitution in June of 1810 Captain Hull's time on the Constitution was eventful. He took the ship on a European cruise in 1811-1812, returning home before the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain. An enemy squadron closely pursued his ship off the East Coast in July, but Hull skillfully evaded them. On August 19, 1812, Constitution encountered the British frigate HMS Guerriere at sea and pounded her to a wreck in an action that electrified the Nation and demonstrated that the small U.S. Navy was a worthy and dangerous opponent for Britain's otherwise overwhelming maritime might. During the climax of the war, Hull and the USS Constitution were sent to a string of islands. He there caught two British ships in a chase, and both those ships were taken to Boston and put into U.S. service.

Hull commanded the Portsmouth Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine, for the rest of the War of 1812, then briefly served on the Board of Navy Commissioners in Washington, D.C. before taking over leadership of the Boston Navy Yard. During 1823-1827, he commanded the Pacific Squadron operating out of South America. Commodore Hull's next assignment, as Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard, ran from 1829 until 1835. Between 1839 and 1841, he commanded the Mediterranean Squadron.

Rendered unfit for further service by age and ill health, he spent the next two years on leave. Commodore Isaac Hull died at the age of 69 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is buried there in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Namesakes and honors

The U.S. Navy has named five ships in honor of Isaac Hull, including: USS Commodore Hull (1862-1865); USS Hull (Destroyer #7); USS Hull (DD-330); USS Hull (DD-350); and USS Hull (DD-945).

The Commodore Isaac Hull Memorial Bridge spanning the Housatonic River between Derby and Shelton is named after him.