Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Maria Gannon, left, daughter of Major Richard Gannon '95, and Maria Wood, daughter of Captain George Wood '93, stand by the war memorial in the rotunda of Anabel Taylor Hall during the war memorial dedication on Nov. 9, 2019.

November 10, 2019

Cornell Honors Two Alumni Who Died During Iraq Conflict

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Correction appended.

On Saturday, President Martha E. Pollack rededicated the War Memorial in Anabel Taylor Hall to include Maj. Richard Gannon ’95 and Capt. George Wood ’93, two alumni who died in the Iraq Conflict.

Gannon attended Cornell on a Navy Scholarship and studied government and history in the College of Arts and Sciences. He later joined the armed forces as a Marine Officer in 1995. He died on April 17, 2004, in Anbar province, Iraq. He was survived by his wife, Sally and their four children.

As a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Wood played football for Cornell and had dreams of becoming a teacher and coach at The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After Cornell, Wood earned his master’s degrees at the University at Albany and Cortland State. He died on Nov. 20, 2003, in Baqubah, Iraq, and was survived by his wife Lisa and their daughter, Maria.

At the ceremony, members of the Cornell Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the colors. Other personnel from the United States armed forces were also in attendance at the event.

Provost Michael Kotlikoff opened the event with a welcome, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Hall ’68, who is now the director of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, also spoke at the dedication, sharing stories about his time at Cornell during the Vietnam War era.

Pollack’s speech highlighted Cornell’s commitment to those in the armed services both currently and historically. Since the Spanish-American War, Cornellians have served in every U.S. conflict; during World War I, Cornell sent the largest share of commissioned officers than any other institution; Among the Ivy League, Cornell is also the only school to retain army, navy and air force ROTC programs.

“We are proud of them for their service,” Pollack said.

At the ceremony, family members of Wood and Gannon were present and shared their remarks. Gannon’s daughter and wife read his biography aloud and remembered Gannon as a committed husband and father and a generous person.

Wood’s daughter, Maria, expressed her sadness in not being able to get to know her father. However, she recalled how when she graduated from high school, she received a flood of letters from friends and family of Wood’s, giving her a glimpse into the character of her father and the impact he had on others.

The ceremony ended with the revealing of the engraved names on the memorial after a dedication from Pollack.

The rotunda in Anabel Taylor Hall also houses the World War II memorial which was dedicated in 1953. A tablet was added for Cornellians who served in Vietnam and Korea in 1993. The memorial was rededicated in 2003 to include Cornellians who died in the Persian Gulf conflict and other conflicts.

The tablet reads “We honor all Cornellians lost in service since WWII.”

Correction: A previous version of the article misstated the family members that spoke in honor of the two alumni.