John Kenneth Cannon – General, United States Air Force

Courtesy of the United State Air Force

Retired March 31, 1954  – Died January 12, 1955


General John Kenneth Cannon was a World War II Mediterranean combat commander and former chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe for whom Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, New Mexico is named: He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1892, and died in Arcadia, California, January 12, 1955.

General Cannon graduated from Utah Agricultural College in 1914 and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve on November 27, 1917. He served the Infantry at Camp Fremont, California; Camp Mills, New York, the Presidio at San Francisco; and Camp Furlong, New Mexico, until taking pilot training at Kelly Field, Texas in 1921-22. In the Air Corps he became director of flying at Kelly in the fall of 1922.

General Cannon went to Hawaii in January 1925 with the 6th Pursuit Squadron at Luke Field where he became operations officer of the 5th Composite Group. Two years later he was commanding officer of the 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan. He returned to Kelly in 1929 as director of pursuit training, with promotion to captain, and became director of training at Randolph Field, Texas, in August 1931. He completed the courses at the Air Corps Tactical School and the Command and General Staff School, with promotion to major in March 1935 and assignment to March Field, California.

In June 1938 General Cannon went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for three years as chief of the U.S. Military Mission. While there he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in March 1940 and to Colonel in January 1941. That October he went to Mitchel Field, New York, as Chief of Staff of the 1st Air Force, taking command of the 1st Interceptor Command. He was promoted to Brigadier General in February 1942 and in World War II went overseas as Commanding General of the 12th Air Support Command for the Western Task Force during the invasion of French Morocco.

He moved to Algeria as Commanding General of the 12th Bomber Command. Through March and April 1943 General Cannon organized an air training command for the Mediterranean Theater and in May became Deputy Commanding General of the Allied Tactical Air Force for the Sicilian campaign and the invasion of Italy. He was promoted to Major General in June and by December became Commanding General of the 12th Air Force and the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force, being responsible for all air operations for the invasion of southern France in August 1944. The following March he was promoted to Lieutenant General and named Air Commander in Chief of all Allied Air Forces in the Mediterranean Theater and in May became Commanding General of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

He earned four Distinguished Service Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal and decorations from Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Yugoslavia and Morocco. General Cannon returned to the U.S. in April 1946 as Commanding General of Air Training Command at Barksdale Field, Louisiana.

In March 1948 he went back to Europe as Commanding General of U. S. Air Forces in Europe and in March 1950 was designated Commander in Chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. In October 1951, he was promoted to General and appointed Commanding General of Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

General Cannon retired from the service March 31, 1954. At the time of his retirement, he was senior air officer in point-of-service, holding serial number 3A.

He died of a heart attack on January 12, 1955, at his home in Arcadia, California. In June 1957 the air base at Clovis, New Mexico, was named for him.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/02/1892
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/12/1955


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