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USCG/USCGAux History

United States Coast Guard
Medal of Honor Recipient
Douglas Albert Munro

Douglas Munro

Service to the United States Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is made better if the is “Esprit d’ Corps”. I trying to accomplish that goal in our Flotilla, Division and District, we honor a man whose is the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor. Signalman Douglas A. Munro did not plan to receive it, he just did his job to the best of his ability and strived to go further. What did he do?

The Guadalcanal campaign is one of the most well-known engagements to occur in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The battle for this island spanned six months. It was the first major ground offensive between the Imperial Japanese and the Allied Forces. The campaign featured a lot of heroics and bravery. Among those to put their countrymen before themselves was US Coast Guardsmen Douglas Munro who worked to ensure those under the command of Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller were able to get to safety. On September 27, 1942, LtCol. Puller tasked the pair (Munro and Evans) with ferrying US Marines (over 400 men) to points from which they could attack Japanese positions along the Matanikau River. The Lt.Col. Puller had wanted to attempt an amphibious assault that would allow his Marines to get onto the beachhead behind the river. While the initial landings went well, the Marines were soon ambushed, resulting in mass casualties. The Coast Guardsmen were sent to pull out the injured, and Evans and Munro volunteered to stay back and use suppressive fire to allow the Marines to evacuate. Doug Munro was shot in the back of the head and as he lay dying in Ray Evans' arms, his final words were “Did they get off?”

For the complete story, go to one of the links below or purchase the book. It will be well worth your time to read about this man. He is also the only non-Marine to be featured on the Marine Corps’ Wall of Heroes at the National Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, Virginia.

The CITATION for the MOH reads as follows:

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as petty officer in charge of a group of 24 Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal on 27 September 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant strafing by enemy machine guns on the island, and at great 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 instantly 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 his life for his country.

The following are links to various sources that will provide interesting reading about Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro.

BOOKS / PDF Files:

  • "Guardian of Guadalcanal: The World War II Story of Douglas a. Munro, United States Coast Guard" by Gary L. Williams.

  • “The United States Coast Guard in World War II: A History of Domestic and Overseas Actions” by Thomas P. Ostrom

  • A PDF file download of the "Life and Times of Douglas A. Munro", courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.  Click here for the PDF download!

  • A PDF file download of "DOUGLAS MUNRO AT GUADALCANAL" by Dr. Robert M. Browning Jr., courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office.  Click here for the PDF download!