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Memorial Day keynote speaker to talk about military service

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 22, 2018

 Joseph Cannon

Joseph Cannon


TROY — The city of Troy will pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country in a Memorial Day ceremony on the grounds of Troy City Hall May 28. 

“It’s always an honor for the city of Troy that we can remember the men and women in the armed forces we have lost throughout the years,” said Cindy Stewart, director of community affairs for the city of Troy. “We have a lot of former and active military families in Troy and many that work for the city of Troy.”

She said that city staff members are pleased to have Maj. Joseph Cannon, an infantry officer with the Michigan Army National Guard, as the keynote speaker. 

Cannon, 37, was commissioned from the ROTC at Michigan Technological University in 2003 and was assessed to active duty as an infantry officer assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division. 

Cannon was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from January 2006 to June 2007, conducting operations in the Orgun and Helmand provinces. He left active duty in 2008 and entered service in the Michigan Army National Guard.

In 2011, he was deployed as a commander of troops, conducting security operations in Afghanistan. He currently serves as a G3 Future Plans officer supporting Exercise Northern Strike. 

Stateside, he served as chief of staff of Task Force Flint, which handed out 600,000 cases of water to Flint residents during a two-week period in January 2016. 

“We had bandwidth and the respect of the community,” he said. “We helped reassure the people of Flint. Those folks appreciated our presence, helping them out.” 

When he is not deployed or training, which he did for more than 120 days last year, he works in a civilian capacity as a deputy product manager in the Vehicle Protection Suites at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren.

“I conduct research and development for protection systems on vehicles, how to make them survive an attack,” he said. 

The infantry is very physically demanding and requires a “very robust training schedule,” Cannon said. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MTU and a master’s and a doctorate in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. 

He lives in Lenox Township with his wife, Amanda; daughter, Alexandra; and son, Quinn. 

He’s received a number of medals and awards, including the Bronze Star, the Army Valorous Unit Award, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantry Badge and his Basic Parachutist wings. Cannon was awarded the 2012 Michigan Douglas MacArthur Award and the 2003 George Catlett Marshall Award for outstanding leadership.

The Troy Times caught up with Cannon via phone as he was on his way to a meeting at the Pentagon for his “day job.” 

“I have friends who died in Mosul (Iraq),” he said of why he decided to accept the role of keynote speaker.

The sentiment he plans to convey during his Memorial Day talk, which he shared via email, is that “sacrifice is the reason we memorialize this day. The current trajectory of America is the direct result of that sacrifice. Without that, we would not have the freedoms and liberties and rights we enjoy today.” 

Cannon wants to convey the need to see actions to completion, “or else the sacrifices of those who have gone before was all for nothing. We must invest in our national military strength so that we have the means and ends to repel those who would erase what we stand for.”

“We can’t be apathetic about the investment and sacrifice,” he said. 

If things go as planned, Cannon hopes to be promoted to lieutenant colonel in the coming months. He has no plans to leave the reserves. “There are key assignments waiting,” he said. 

He is third-generation military and has traced his ancestors back to those who served in World War II, World War I and the Civil War. 

His father served as a Marine in Vietnam and retired as a two-star general with the Michigan Army National Guard. 

“I serve because if not me, then who?” he said via email. “I am capable and it is incumbent upon me to continue that service and preservation now … not only for the decisive reason of defense, but to set that example for my children and their children … that someday they will inherit that responsibility, and they should be honored at the privilege to serve this nation.”

The one-hour Memorial Day event will include music performed by the Heritage Concert Band of Troy and the laying of a memorial wreath. The ceremony will conclude with the raising of the colors and a moment of silence and benediction. 

The Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. May 28 at Veterans Memorial Plaza, in front of Troy City Hall, 500 W. Big Beaver Road.