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Submitted by Don Sanborn
The Wall of Honor at the Guadalcanal Museum displays those who were awarded the Medal of Honor for service during the Guadalcanal campaign. Included are honorees from several U. S. military services and various ranks. Unique is U. S. Coast Guardsman Douglas A. Munro in that he is, to date, the only member of the U. S. Coast Guard to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
Douglas Albert Munro was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on October 11, 1919. His father James, was American and his mother, Edith, British. He was the youngest of two children. The family moved to America while Douglas was a child. He grew up in Cle Elum, Washington, and attended Central Washington College of Education.
Douglas Munro enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard in 1939, two years before the America entered World War II. He volunteered for duty on the cutter USCG “Spencer” and earned the reputation of being “first to volunteer for hazardous situations.” He was assigned as a signalman aboard the transport USS Hunter Liggett which sailed to New Zealand in preparation for South Pacific combat. On August 7, 1942, U. S. Marines invaded Guadalcanal. Munro was by then a small boat operator and transported troops in the invasion of Tulagi and was next assigned to Lunga Point Base on Guadalcanal.
On September 27, Munro was in charge of 10 LCVP landing craft landing 600 Marines ashore to establish a patrol base. Japanese fire forced the Marines to evacuate and He was asked if he could get them off the beach. Douglas was struck by machine gun fire during the evacuation and died in the landing craft. His last reported words were, “Did we get them off.”
The U. S. Marine Corps recommended Monro for the Medal of Honor. The citation can be read on the Wall of Honor.
During World War II, the military services established women’s auxiliaries as follows:
U. S. Army: “Women’s Army Corps” WAC’s
U. S. Navy: “Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service” WAVES
U. S. Coast Guard: “semper paratus: always ready” SPARS
Douglas Munro’s mother Edith who was 48 when Douglas was killed attempted to enlist in the Spars. The Coast Guard was uncomfortable about a gold-star mother as an enlisted SPAR and offered her a commission as a lieutenant junior grade. She accepted the commission on condition that she be permitted to complete basic training with other recruits. She did so and was the first female officer assigned to the staff of a District Commander.
Edith Munro was on hand in 1944 when a Navy destroyer escort was commissioned as the USS Douglas A. Munro, and in her 70’s in 1971 when the high-endurance cutter USCGC Douglas Munro was commissioned.
In November, 2013, Congress named U. S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D. C. the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Building.