Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro – Medal of Honor

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the death of Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro – the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient. Douglas Albert Munro (October 11, 1919 – September 27, 1942) is the only member of the United States Coast Guard to have received the Medal of Honor, the United States’s highest military award. Munro received the decoration posthumously for his actions as officer-in-charge of a group of landing craft on September 27, 1942, during the September Matanikau action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II.

Douglas A. Munro, a signalman first class of the United States Coast Guard, died heroically on Guadalcanal on 27 September 1942. Having volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation by an unanticipated large enemy force, he succeeded in safely extricating them and in doing so was mortally wounded.

Douglas Albert Munro was born in Vancouver, Canada, of American parents, on 11 October 1919, but spent his entire life previous to his enlistment in South Cle Elum, Washington.  His parents were Mr. and Mrs. James Munro of South Cle Elum. Douglas Munro was educated at the South Cle Elum Grade School and graduated from the Cle Elum High School in 1937. He attended the Central Washington College of Education for a year and left to enlist in the United States Coast Guard in 1939. He had an outstanding record as an enlisted man and was promoted rapidly through the various ratings to a signalman, first class.

In the engagement in which he gave his life, Munro had already played an important part, having been in charge of the original detachment of ten boats that had landed the Marines at the scene. Having successfully landed them, Munro led his small boat force to a previously assigned rally position. Almost immediately upon his return, he was advised by the officer-in-charge that conditions at the insertion point were not as expected. The Marines were under attack from a larger Japanese force and needed to be extracted immediately. Munro volunteered to lead the boats back to beach for the evacuation. Commanding the rescue expedition, he brought the boats in-shore under heavy enemy fire and proceeded to evacuate the Marines still on the beach. Though the majority of the Marines had been loaded into the boats, the last remaining elements of the rear guard were having difficulty embarking. Assessing the situation, Munro maneuvered himself and his boats into a position to cover the last groups of men as they headed to the boats. In doing so, he exposed himself to greater enemy fire and suffered his fatal wound. At the time it was reported that he had remained conscious long enough to utter his final words: “Did they get off”?

For his heroic and selfless actions in the completion of this rescue mission Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. His other decorations included the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Medal of Honor Citation:

MOH

Medal of Honor at The United States Coast Guard Museum – United States Coast Guard Academy New London, CT – Photo Credit Gaspare J. Marturano, BA-AKMS USCG Auxiliary

“For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as Officer-in-Charge of a group of Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a Battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant risk of his life, daringly led five of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land, and then in order to draw the enemy’s fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft with its two small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave up his life in defense of his country.”

 

Comments


  1. larry pierce says:

    Douglas Munro is the only non-Marine on the Medal of Honor memorial wall at the National Museum of the United States Marine museum at Quantico, Va.

  2. G. Allin says:

    Remembering this son of Canada who gave his last, full measure of service to the USA.

  3. Jessica F. says:

    He lived out the meaning of Semper Paratus, he was always ready for the unexpected and put others before himself. He was a good man.


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