Marine Corps

December 13, 2012

Cannon celebrates 20 years of air defense excellence

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff

On Dec. 7, 1991, the Cannon Air Defense Complex was named after the Medal of Honor recipient, for his actions at Midway Island on the first day of World War II. Twenty years from the dedication date and 71 years from the day that will live in infamy, Marines paused to remember the heroic officer.

The CADC originally gave the Hawk Missile batteries from 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battery a place to work and train. Although it is still a part of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, it gave them a place to practice their craft a short distance away from the busiest air station in the Corps.

Today, the LAAD batteries has been decommissioned, but Cannon Air Defense Complex still serves as home to two very busy and important squadrons. Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 and Marine Air Control Squadron 1 now occupy the small, but vital, portion of MCAS Yuma.

“We have gathered to rededicate this complex in the name of 1st Lt. George H. Cannon, who lost his life in service to this great country and in the hope of saving the lives of other wounded Marines,” said Navy Lt. James Johnson, MWSS-371 chaplain. “Let us be mindful that this level of selfless sacrifice stands as an example for all of us to follow.”

The site was named for 1st Lt. George H. Cannon, a platoon leader in Battery H, 2nd Defense Battalion, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the surprise attack on Midway Island on Dec. 7, 1941, a lesser known attack that occurred on the same day as the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor and drew the U.S. into World War II.

Cannon 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 he was 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.

He became the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII, and was also awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal posthumously.

“If we don’t pause to remember our past, shame on us,” said Lt. Col. John Fleming, MWSS-371 commanding officer. “We were honored to have members of the Yuma Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans with us, including Mr. Arnie Bulick, who is a WWII Navy veteran. These men do so much for our families today, and we appreciate them greatly. We must take time to show we honor their service as well.”

In the true fighting spirit of the Corps, MWSS-371 and MACS-1 provide vital support to station operations.

MWSS-371 provides everything needed to run an airfield in an expeditionary environment, from crews to build runways to cooks to man the mess halls. Locally, they provide much needed logistical support to ongoing training exercises, giving the Sand Sharks the training they need to conduct operations during deployments.

MACS-1 provides tactical air control and air traffic control to the station and in deployed environments, giving both Marines in the air and on the ground support by guiding everything from planes to artillery and rocket fire.

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