Family Stories: William Andrew Cannon

 Bill, his wife Lucy and two of his three granddaughters, Crystel and Lauren.

Bill, his wife Lucy and two of his three granddaughters, Crystel and Lauren.

We are excited to share  a new series on the blog called Family Stories. We hope that by telling these stories, we'll help keep these precious memories alive for generations to come. The second story is about my paternal grandfather, William Andrew Cannon.

William Andrew Cannon was born on August 25, 1920 (he would have been 93 this Sunday!) in Sweeny, Texas, but he was longtime resident of Mississippi. He passed away on February 28, 2002 after a brief illness.

Bill, as he was known to family and friends,  was the devoted husband of Lucy de Forcade de Biaix, a member of the Italian aristocracy, whom he married on the Isle of Capri in 1945; the loving father of a son, Fred, and a daughter, Tina Jennie, and the proud grandfather of Carlo, Crystel, Francesco, Elena, Lauren and Guglielimo.

Bill graduated from Corinth High School in Corinth, Mississippi in 1938 and attended the Western Kentucky University School of Business in Bowling Green from 1938 to 1941. He became a managing partner of the Van Bibber Lumber Plant in Fulton, Mississippi, after college and later joined the United States Air Force to serve in World War II.

 Billy and his children, Fred and Tina.

Billy and his children, Fred and Tina.

He served his country with pride and distinction during World War II as a pilot, stationed in Foggia, Italy, from 1943 to 1946. He held the rank of 1st Lieutenant with the 463rd Bombardment Group of the United States 15th Air Force, and during this perilous time, he and other members of the 463rd Bombardment Group exhibited commendable skill, devotion, courage and determination, flying gallantly through in wing formation to reach designated targets while facing intense enemy opposition over the skies of Germany and Eastern Europe.

After receiving an honorable discharge in May 1946, Bill was the recipient of the Second Presidential Unit Citation for his extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in military operation against the enemy at Ploesti on May 18, 1944, and at the Daimler Benz Tank Works in Berlin on March 24, 1945. Upon his discharge from the United States Air Force in 1946, he returned to the Van Bibber Lumber Plant in Fulton, Mississippi, serving as a partner until 1954. On June 11, 1949, he and his wife, Lucy, welcomed their son, Fred.

He joined the United States Department of Defense in 1955 in Naples, Italy, where he worked as Maintenance Control Engineer for Public Works at the Naval Support Facility where he received many honors for his outstanding service. On October 31, 1955 in Naples, he and Lucy welcomed their daughter, Tina Jennie.

 Bill with Fred and Lucy. 

Bill with Fred and Lucy. 

In 1983, he joined the Naval Communications Mediterranean as Facility Manager, retiring from that position on March 31, 1990. Having received numerous awards for active service, Bill was also the recipient of the Department of the Navy's Meritorious Award for Civilian Service at the time of his retirement, and he also received a commendation certificate for 38 years of devoted service to the United States government. Shortly after, he and Lucy returned to Mississippi, where they lived happily together for the remainder of Bill's life. 

Bill's courageous patriotic leadership, ethics and integrity, congenial nature, constructive attitude, dedication to his country and forthright manner made a positive impact on those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

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