Reader's Comments

John Sutherland     Tupelo MS
Thanks for telling this story, plus all the other ones from your daily paper.  It is MEN like this and all the other men and women (as  I the writer) served with out any thought for our safety, but for the safety of our family, friends and our country.  Keep up the good work and let us readers know about these People.   thanks agAIN, john

Dianne Powell     Saltillo, MS
This story made my hair stand on end!  We should get down on our knees every day and thank our God in Heaven for men like Mr. Cannon.

Merrill Scott      Tupelo MS
We enjoy so many freedoms thanks to gentlemen like Mr. Cannon.


LEWIS  Davis     Ripley Mississippi
A hero a great american giving service to his country thanks


UNEXPECTED HERO
James Cannon of Cairo, MS
World War II Army Veteran








Thank you to Mr. Donald Hild of Glen, MS for sending in the name of James Cannon.  Submit your stories to 40 Days of Honor using the "Submit a story" link on the home page.


Donald Hild saw many customers each day when he owned a food mart off Highway 72 in Glen, MS. One day, an older gentleman named James Cannon came into his store. Mr. Cannon’s face wasn’t familiar to Donald Hild, so he struck up a conversation with his new customer. It turned out Mr. Cannon was from Cairo, MS and he was on his way to Corinth to visit his wife in a nursing home. He made the trip everyday and soon became a regular at Donald Hild’s store.

Donald Hild developed a good friendship with Mr. Cannon, learning more and more about his life with each visit. He was impressed by Mr. Cannon’s steady devotion to his wife. Then one day Mr. Cannon revealed that he had served in the Army during World War II. Donald Hild wondered what stories his friend might be hiding. He soon discovered that the man who had been walking into his store going about everyday life was actually a walking hero.

Mr. Cannon didn’t see himself that way, but Donald Hild was convinced. The stories Mr. Cannon shared fascinated Donald Hild. Many of them broke his heart like the time Mr. Cannon recounted losing his brother, Jack, who was killed in combat with the Germans. Jack Cannon died just a mile and a half away from his brother James Cannon, two boys from the South on the other side of the world. He saw brutal and intense action in the Battle of the Bulge where his company gained a reputation for toughness. There were also uplifting stories, like the time his platoon was able to capture a large number of Germans or when we was decorated for bravery by the general of the Russian Army, Marshall Zucoff.

He was raised on a farm in Henry County, TN, where several  German immigrants had settled. Mr. Cannon had learned to speak German from them and it came in use when he arrived in Europe years later. He did decoding and translating work with the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. His upbringing also helped him once to hitch up a horse to a carriage, allowing his men the luxury of riding for awhile as opposed to walking. He was extremely popular among his own men, and the men of his company.

There were medals and letters that backed up the stories as well, including a personal Presidential Citation for his service from President Harry Truman. Mr. Cannon’s platoon was selected to guard President Truman on his visit to Germany following the death of Roosevelt. One of Donald Hild’s favorite stories, though, was the time Mr. Cannon’s company freed a prisoner of war camp in Hanover, Germany, only to find out that one of his neighbors, Paul Perry from Henry County, was inside.

James Cannon started as a new customer and ended up as one of the most intriguing people Donald Hild would ever meet in his life. The man who made it his daily duty to visit his ailing wife had been living a life of service and honor long before. Mr. Cannon died a few years ago, not too long after his wife had passed away. They had three children who are now spread between Memphis, TN and Cairo, MS.

This story was written from accounty by Mr. Donald Hild as well as a story run in the Daily Journal on July 4, 1998.

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This photo is from a story run in the Daily Journal on Mr. James Cannon in 1998. Thank you to Donald Hild for resharing his story and bringing it to our attention.

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James Cannon takes the driver seat and treats his men to a ride after hitching up the horse and carriage. James Cannon's Company K captured 60 German soldiers in this photo. James Cannon is on the far right, with no weapon in his hand.