Colonel Sammy Joe Cannon

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Col. Sammy Joe Cannon passed away on August 18 in Douglasville, GA at the age of 87. He was born on June 30, 1932 in Campbell, Texas, where he grew up and attended Campbell High School. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1952 with a degree in Accounting and became a career officer in the US Army Signal Corps. Initially assigned to an observation post in remote western Alaska where he monitored Soviet activity in the Bering Strait, he went on to become a Foreign Affairs officer and became an expert on the Middle East fluent in both Turkish and Farsi. He and his family spent much of his early career in Turkey where he travelled extensively in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. He served an 18-month combat tour in Vietnam where he commanded a Signal Battalion. He was subsequently assigned to Fort Hood, Texas where he held a critical position developing and testing advanced night vision equipment, the navigation system that was the precursor to our current global positioning systems, and a chemically activated lighting now known as the Glow Stick. Upon promotion to colonel he was selected to command a Signal Brigade in Thailand where he was responsible for dismantling the extensive communications network that had supported the Vietnam War. He retired from the Army after 28 years in March 1980. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Col. Cannon had both a pilot's license and sailboat captain's certification and although he loved to fly his passion was sailing. He sailed the Caribbean and the eastern coast of Florida with frequent forays to the Bahamas on his beloved 30 foot Hunter sailboat, Shasta, Jr. When his body could no longer manage the rigors of sailing he turned his attention to other adventures including a safari to Tanzania, a river cruise on the Amazon River, and skydiving on his 85th birthday because President Bush had done it. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Charlene Cannon, a brother and sister, two daughters and a son, a grandson and 4 granddaughters, a great grandson and great granddaughter. His family is grateful for his generous and adventurous spirit, which led them on many exciting trips around the world.
There will be a viewing on Sunday, 25 August 2019 at 12:30-1:30 pm at Coker-Mathews Funeral Home, 5100 IH 30, Greenville, TX. Internment with military honors will follow at 2 pm at the Brigham Cemetery in Campbell, TX.
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Published on August 23, 2019
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