Background Information on the Coast Guard Pacific Veterans Memorial

HONOLULU — Since 1790, Coast Guard men and women have performed heroically in war and peace. Many stories of their sacrifices are well known and form the foundation of our Coast Guard culture and core values. From their actions, we have come to embrace Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty as our inherent values.

Yet, in one of the most revered settings honoring America’s military service in the Pacific, the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu has no single memorial to recognize the Coast Guard Veterans. Memorials have been placed at the Punchbowl commemorating every other branch of the military and many individual units; we are actively working to correct this historical oversight.

In August 2007, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the Solomon Islands, the Coast Guard cutter Walnut traveled to Guadalcanal. The battle for Guadalcanal looms large in Coast Guard history, as it was the site where Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro was mortally wounded in 1942, while rescuing a battalion of stranded Marines. Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and is the epitome of the Coast Guard’s devotion to duty.

In a fitting tribute, the Coast Guard cutter Walnut dedicated a memorial to Munro and the Coast Guard heroes of Guadalcanal at the site where Munro was killed at Point Cruz. The Walnut returned to Honolulu with a stone from the beaches of Guadalcanal and the stone will serve as the foundation for the Coast Guard Pacific Veterans Memorial at the Punchbowl. The design on the memorial will be a symbol of the service of all Coast Guard veterans in the Pacific Theater and will reflect our national defense and humanitarian missions.

COAST GUARD VETERANS ATTENDING

DANIEL BISHOP: Enlisted in the Navy in Jan 1939 and during World War II, served in a Navy patrol squadron in North Africa. He worked in aviation with sea planes, and then joined the Coast Guard in 1946. He was stationed at Air Station San Diego, Guam, Kaneohe, Hawaii, Barbers Point, Hawaii, and then went to Officer’s Candidate School in New London, Conn. He was then stationed on a patrol boat in Florida, worked at a rescue control center in Miami and on several buoy tenders. He also worked at Coast Guard Headquarters in communications and at Governor’s Island, New York as an inspector general. He was then stationed in Honolulu and retired from the cutter Winnebago in 1970. Bishop sill lives in Honolulu.  

FRANCIS FITCH: The widow of a Coast Guard World War II veteran. Her husband enlisted when he was 16 (after lying about his age in order to join), and he was very proud of his service.  He served from 1942-46 on the USS Arthur Middleton as a Seaman 1st Class. Fitch then served in Guadalcanal, the Philippines, Northern Marianas Islands, Kwajalein, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Eniwetok (in the Marshall Islands) and Assault on Perry Island. Fitch ran a Higgins boat, which was a landing craft, and he landed Army soldiers and Marines on the beach. He also boxed for the Coast Guard against other services’ fighters during World War II. Francis still attends all of the WWII veterans’ events on behalf of her husband. A sea story: During World War II, 93 men on the USS Arthur Middleton became sick from dysentery and had to be removed from the ship when it was in port in Honolulu. They were all in the hospital, and a senior officer there thought they were all wounded and put paperwork in for them all to get Purple Hearts. The Purple Hearts were cancelled once it was realized they were really sick from dysentery and not war wounds.

GEORGE LARSEN: He joined the Coast Guard on Oct 29, 1939, and as a Seaman 2nd Class, he served onboard Arriadne, a 165-foot cutter, and was then transferred to the Roger B. Taney in Honolulu in April, 1940. He began training for radio operator on the Taney and was then transferred to the Kukui, where he made Radioman 3rd Class. He was transferred to the shore station here and operated all the emergency frequencies for merchant ships, Pan Am China Clippers, sport fishing boats, private yachts and Coast Guard vessels. He had to take a second oath because he was stationed at a Naval Station, where he had started training for intercepting “Orange Code (Japanese military messages).”  That was where he was stationed on Dec 7, 1941, and from then on, performed various duties such as sonar operator, signalman, radio operator, and running a remote radio truck for the admiral of the 12th Naval District. He was assigned to a troop transport, the AP141, and went around the world in 36 days. He also wrote an auto-biography on his experiences called “On the Edge of War,” which has been published.  

DOUGLAS SHEEHAN: The nephew of Douglas Munro, and retired Coast Guard Cmdr., he is the president of Investment Conversions & Consulting Inc.

WALLACE SHIPP: A Pharmacist’s Mate and Coast Guard World War II veteran, he served onboard the USS Callaway. He was awarded a Bronze Star for treating an army soldier while under fire on Sept 17, 1944. The ship was attacked by a kamikaze Zero, and 31 shipmates were killed and 15 wounded. He is the longstanding editor of the newsletter of the Callaway Association (a group of veterans of service aboard the CALLAWAY during World War II), and organizes and participates in annual reunions of her crew. The 43rd Callaway reunion is scheduled to occur in San Antonio, Texas, later in 2008.

WILLIAM TAYLOR: A retired Coast Guard Capt., he served 24 years in the Coast Guard and has been retired for 25. He was in the Army for two years before joining the Coast Guard. He worked primarily in the 1st Coast Guard District in a reserve administration unit, and trained Coast Guard men and women who were going overseas. He attended the Navy War College twice and received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for serving as the Coast Guard’s representative at the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission of the Tall Ships in 1976. He also served as Assistant for Coast Guard Public Affairs.

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One Comment

  1. james cloyd says:

    I am inquiring about the dates of the 2008 USS Callaway reuion in San Antonio, Texas.
    Thanks,
    j cloyd