James W. Cannon, Staff Sergeant, Air Corps, 70th Bomb Squadron, 38th Bomb Group, United States Army. For extraordinary heroism in action, on 21 March 1943, over the Bismark Sea. Staff Sergeant Cannon while serving as a crew member on a B-17 Bomber demonstrated extraordinary heroism while on a mission to bomb Japanese shipping using a new bombing technique called “skip bombing.” Enroute to the target area the bombardier was killed before the bombs could be released and Staff Sergeant Cannon was seriously wounded.
In spite of his wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Staff Sergeant Cannon made his way to the bombardier’s position and acquired a target in the form of a Japanese cruiser. Despite his unfamiliarity with the technique, Staff Sergeant Cannon successfully dropped five bombs at precisely the right time and three of them skipped across the ocean and struck the cruiser. The deadly accurate bombing caused the cruiser to sink almost immediately. Staff Sergeant Cannon’s personal bravery, his inspiring leadership and willingness to assume responsibility at a critical time made it possible for the new technique to become battle proven and directly resulted in the loss of a valuable Japanese cruiser. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and bring great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.