John Kenneth Cannon was born in Salt Lake City on March 2, 1892. His military career began when
he joined the US Army Infantry Reserve in 1917. Cannon rose from the rank of second lieutenant to four star general by the
end of his career, and commanded the Twelfth Air Force, Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force, Northwest African Training
Command, and 94th Pursuit Squadron during his years of service. General Cannon served his country for 37 years, and contributed
to the Allied victory in Europe during WWII.
General Cannon began his pilot
training at Kelly Field, Texas in 1921. After earning his wings he would go on to become director of flying at Kelly in 1922.
In 1925 he was assigned to the 6th pursuit squadron at Luke Field in Hawaii. After two years in Hawaii, Cannon became commanding
officer of the "Ring in the Hat" 94th Pursuit Squadron, based at Selfridge Field, Michigan.
Ironically, the 94th Aero Squadron (Later designated 'pursuit'), was officially activated at Kelly Field in 1917, where
Cannon got his pilot training. 'Pursuit' was the pre-WWII name for fighter squadrons, which consisted of fast and maneuverable
aircraft whose purpose were to intercept, escort, and dogfight. The 94th is still active today, and is the United States'
second oldest fighter squadron. When Cannon arrived, the 94th was flying the P-1 Hawk and its variants (P-2,P-3, and P-5).
The P-1 was an open cockpit biplane produced by Curtiss in the 1920's.
Cannon returned to Kelly
Field in 1929 as director of pursuit training, and was promoted to Captain. After serving as director of training at Randolph
Field, Texas, Cannon completed his courses at the Air Corps Tactical School and Command and General Staff School. He was promoted
to major in 1935.
Cannon travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina in June 1938 as chief of the US
Military Mission. He was promoted to Colonel in January 1941 while still in Argentina. In October of the same year he returned
to the US as Chief of Staff of the 1st Air Force, and commander of the 1st Interceptor Command. In February of 1942 Cannon
was promoted to Brigadier General and travelled overseas as Commanding General of the 12th Air Support Command. Cannon's first
action in the European theater was the invasion of French Morocco, a part of Operation Torch. Cannon took
command of the 12th bomber group in Algeria after the invasion of French Morocco. In May of 1943 he was promoted to Deputy
Commanding General of the Allied Tactical Air Force, for the Allied invasion of Italy. After another promotion in June of
the same year, Cannon was made responsible for all air operations for the 1944 invasion of Southern France as Commanding General
of the 12th Air Force. Cannon was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in March of 1945 and in May of the same year
became Commanding General of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
In 1950, having returned to Europe
in 1948, Cannon was made Commander in Chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. When he retired, Cannon held serial number 3A, and
had risen to the rank of four-star general.
Cannon received four
Distinguished Service Medals, Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, and an Air Medal. He also received decorations from 6 other
nations for his service in WWII.
General Cannon died of a heart attack on January 12, 1955.
Army Air Base, Clovis, established in 1942 was renamed Cannon Air Force Base in June,1957 in honor of General John Kenneth
Cannon, an American General who’s leadership contributed to the Allied Victory in Europe in WWII.