Dauntless devotion[hhmc]

In the 228-year history of the U.S. Coast Guard, only one sailor received the Medal of Honor. Today we remember that 22-year-old who gave his life for his country.

Todays Coast Guard routinely rescues people, but in 1942 its role of transporting Marines in heavy gunfire was instrumental in the World War II effort. The spirit and sacrifice of one Coast Guard signalman in charge of landing craft was so appreciated by the Marine Corps that for a while, Marines who greeted Coast Guard officers would say, “Douglas Munro.”

Douglas Munro grew up in the state of Washington and after a year of college, signed up for the Coast Guard in 1939, before the U.S. entered World War II. He rose quickly through the enlisted ranks and volunteered for combat duty in the Pacific while stationed on a cutter in New York City.

In August 1942, Munro played a heroic role in the first major beach landing battle for U.S. troops in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Munro was in charge of 10-24 landing craft that chugged through enemy mortar and gunfire, taking Marines to the beaches and bringing wounded back to the ships.

On Sept. 27, a battalion of Marines (from the 7th Division, now stationed at Twentynine Palms) was trapped and overpowered by enemy forces. Heres part of what Munros Medal of Honor citation says: “After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly five hundred 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 enemys 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.”

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After Munro was wounded trying to cover a boat stuck on a reef, it was reported that his final words were, “Did they get off?” When told yes, he smiled and died.


The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first major offensive and victory for the Allies in the Pacific theater. The U.S. launched a surprise attack in August 1942 and took control of an air base under construction. The Japanese suffered heavy casualties and withdrew from the island by February 1943.

Munros MOH citation[hhmc]

Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller is believed to have been very influential in writing Munros Medal of Honor citation. Puller was a lieutenant colonel commanding Marines in the invasion of Guadalcanal and witnessed Munros sacrifice for the men under his command.

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