The Cannon Survey Center takes its name from Howard W. Cannon, Democratic senator from Nevada from January 1959 to January 1983. Cannon, who fought in World War II and survived 42 days behind enemy lines after being shot down over the Netherlands, was nicknamed “Mr. Aviation” by members of Congress for having “authored and guided through Congress more legislation to reduce regulation by the Federal Government than any member of Congress in recent memory,” according to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Resolution of Commendation.
Senator Harry Reid, who spoke at Cannon’s 2002 burial at Arlington Cemetery, has said Cannon was “so personally committed to maintaining American military superiority that he test flew all new aircraft before voting for money to develop them.”
Cannon became the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and was the second-ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also chaired the Rules and Administration Committee and the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and was a member of the Democratic Steering Committee, the Joint Committee on Printing and Library, and the Review Commission on National Policy Toward Gaming.
For his political career, among other awards, he received the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and Presidential Citation. For his political career, he received and gave name to the first ever Howard W. Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nevada State Democratic Party, and he gave name to the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum at McCarran International Airport. He also received the NASA Distinguished Service Award in 1982, and many other honors.
Cannon was born in St. George, Utah, on January 26, 1912. After 20 months in the European Theater of World War II, he served as Las Vegas City Attorney from 1949 to 1958, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He married Dorothy Pace Cannon, with whom he had two children and three grandchildren. After his final Senate term, he served as a consultant in Washington, D.C. and Nevada in aviation, defense and politics. He died March 6, 2002.