Ask any Coast Guard man or woman and any Marine about Douglas Munro and you will instantly be taken back to the fateful day in 1942 when a Coast Guardsman gave his life so a detachment of Marines might live. To a woman or man, each will recite Munro’s last words to his best friend, Ray Evans, “Did they get off?” In many ways, Munro’s sacrifice is at the very core of the close relationship between the two services. And, all who hear Munro’s story instantly understand the bond between American brothers and sisters in arms and the true meaning of service to nation.
“The heroism of Signalman First Class Douglas Munro has inspired generations of Americans who have joined the ranks of the United States Coast Guard. He put service above self, sacrificing his own life to save a Marine detachment under heavy enemy fire at Guadalcanal on this date in 1942,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. “Author James Michener wrote of such courage in his war novel The Bridges at Toko-Ri, asking: “Where do we find such men?” We find such men – and women – all over America. And they share with Signalman Munro a firm belief in the greatness of this country and a love for it greater than for life itself. For such Americans, we are eternally grateful.”
As Munro has become an inspiration for so many who have served in the Coast Guard for his sacrifice, one of the men he saved, Lt. Col. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller would go on to become one of the most decorated members of the Marine Corps. and inspire generations of service himself.
“I’ve personally walked the beaches of Guadalcanal, studied the fight at Tulagi, and am intimately familiar with the heroism of Signalman First Class Douglas Munro. The story of his life and untimely death evacuating Marines from a hotly contested beachhead represents the deep and abiding bond between our Marines and their brothers and sisters in the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos. “Our future together as members of a strong, relevant and ready Naval service is bright.”
For his sacrifice, Douglas Munro posthumously received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award; an award Puller himself nominated Munro for. The Coast Guard has honored Munro’s legacy throughout the past 72 years including naming a barracks at Training Center Cape May, a 378-foot high endurance cutter and the brand new Coast Guard headquarters building for Munro. These enduring symbols are a constant reminder to all who are, wish to be and someday will be a member of the Coast Guard of what it means to live by the Service’s core values.
“Signalman First Class Douglas Munro epitomized our guiding principles of Service to Nation, Duty to People and Commitment to Excellence seven decades before we put them to paper,” said Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft. “His selfless and decisive action under fire, gallantry and extraordinary heroism honored the Coast Guard and saved many Marine Corps brothers in arms. Every Coast Guard man and woman and anyone seeking a profile in inspirational leadership and excellence should study Douglas Munro.”