United States Coast Guard - 200th Anniversary
During World War lithe United States Coast Guard performed a wide variety of duties. One of the more important tasks was manning amphibious craft for the U.S. Navy. It was in this line of duty that Douglas Munro was killed and posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On August 7, 1942, in order to counter Japanese advances in the Solomon Islands, the Marines landed at Guadalcanal and began a six month fight for the island. Towards the end of September, in an attempt to secure more of the island, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines advanced towards enemy positions. Approximately 200 men of the battalion landed west of the Matanikau River to establish a patrol base. On September 27 these Marines, isolated from the battalion and exposed to all the Japanese forces west of the river, were attacked by an overwhelming enemy force and forced to withdraw to the beach.
More than a dozen landing craft were assembled, and Munro took charge of directing the surrounded Marines. Munro was the coxswain of a thirty-six foot Higgins' boat, and he also manned one of the two .30 caliber Lewis machine guns. As the craft headed inshore, the Japanese attempted to foil the rescue by firing on the exposed boats, hitting some and causing casualties. The lightly armed Higgins' boats, followed by the remaining craft, reached the shore in waves. Directed by Munro, the boats came to the beach two or three at a time while Munro and Petty Officer Raymond Evans provided covering fire. After most of the men had re-embarked into the waiting boats, the few remaining Marines quickly became overwhelmed by the Japanese. Munro realized that these men where in great danger. He maneuvered his boat to provide cover for the remaining Marines. All of the Marines, including twenty-three wounded, managed to escape. Only minutes after placing the last man on board, Munro was fatally wounded while providing covering fire from his exposed position. Munro's last thoughts concerned the men he had just rescued. He remained conscious long enough to ask, "Did they get off?".
Due to his extraordinary bravery, Munro posthumously received the Congressional Medal of HOnOL The U.S. Navy later named one of its new destroyer escorts after the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient, and more recently the Coast Guard named a high endurance cutter for Munro.
Artist: Bernard D'Andrea