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Date of Death
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More About Captain Cannon
Captain Robert William Cannon enlisted into the US Army on March 1, 1941. He was selected for officer training and commissioned as a lieutenant. In August of 1942, while stationed at Fort Devens, he married Miss Helen Margaret Jones of Waukesha.
Lieutenant Cannon was assigned to the Anti-Tank Company of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division "Thunderbirds" and sent to France where he participated in Operation Nordwind. In January 1945, the 157th found itself encircled by the 6th SS Division at Reipertswiller in France. After desperate fighting, the 157th requested to evacuate but were denied. Instead of giving up, the 157th continued fighting in the face of insurmountable odds. Cannon, now a captain, was sent to clear the area behind the 2nd and 3rd Battalions who were desperately in need of a resupply. As they moved towards the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, they were ambushed by SS soldiers. Captain Cannon was killed in the firefight.
The 157th did eventually manage to escape from Reipertswiller, but it cost them dearly. One of the commanders of the 157th declared it was one of his worst memories of the war.
Captain Robert Cannon was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Reipertswiller. The DSC is the Army's second-highest award for valor in combat, just behind the Medal of Honor. His commendation reads:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Infantry) Robert W. Cannon (ASN: 0-1284655), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the Anti-Tank Company, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 17 January 1945. Captain Cannon's outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 45th Infantry Division, and the United States Army."
Captain Robert William Cannon is buried at Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin.