“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.”
Today the Coast Guard paid tribute to this legendary hero, designating its new headquarters the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building.
The ceremony comes just two days after Veterans Day, a day in which we honor those who have worn the uniform and defended our freedoms. This significance was not lost on U.S. Marine Corps Col. Barney Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient who attended the ceremony. For him, both Veterans Day and the ceremony served as a perfect time to rededicate “to the principles our great country stands for and what veterans have fought to protect and preserve.”
As a Medal of Honor recipient himself, Barnum shared his thoughts on why it is important to educate the public about the dignity and honor behind the Medal of Honor and recipients like Munro.
“The Medal of Honor stands for, or represents, the metal of America. It stands for who we are, what we have accomplished and what we are prepared to do to – protect our freedom,” said Barnum. “The Medal of Honor is a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans to ensure our freedoms prevail.”
Munro’s actions at Guadalcanal were critical to evacuating hundreds of Marines to safety, and Barnum drew attention to the close bond the two services share.
“The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful. The Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus – Always Ready,” said Barnum. “We bond because both services are dedicated to our fellow countrymen.”
Retired Coast Guard Reserve Cmdr. Douglas Sheehan, the nephew of Munro, also attended the ceremony. Family members who had traveled from around the country to witness the building’s dedication joined him. Sheehan spoke to the crowd emphasizing how truly remarkable Munro’s actions were in that the highest honor awarded to any Coast Guardsman in the history of the service was awarded to an enlisted man: a first class petty officer.
“His actions showed that our core values – honor, respect and devotion to duty – are more than just words,” said Sheehan. Adding that Munro’s bravery should serve as a reminder of “our mission and the people we serve” to future generations of Coast Guard members.
With the building’s dedication, the name Munro stands as a connection to Coast Guard history and a challenge to carry on the legacy of one the service’s most revered members.
“Petty Officer Munro’s selfless service and sacrifice epitomizes our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. “His enduring legacy has, and will always continue to, shape future generations of Coast Guardsmen. We are honoring that contribution to our service by dedicating this building to him.”
At the ceremony, a bust of Munro – created by John Tuomisto-Bell and sculpted and molded by Tyson Snow – was unveiled. As Munro’s likeness came into view, beams of the afternoon sun hit the bronze bust, illuminating his eyes just so. It was if there was a golden glint in his eyes; a reminder of his legacy and how it shines on.