SEATTLE — More than 200 Coast Guardsmen, Marines, Coast Guard retirees, family members and City of Cle Elum residents recognized the 73rd anniversary of the death of Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro – the Coast Guard’s lone Medal of Honor recipient, during a memorial ceremony, Friday, at Laurel Hill Memorial Cemetery in Cle Elum.
Rear Adm. Richard Gromlich, commander of the 13th Coast Guard District, addressed the crowd, which included Cmdr. Doug Sheehan, U.S. Coast Guard, retired, and nephew of Munro; Chris Sheehan, nephew of Munro; Master Chief Phillip Smith, retired, 2nd Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard; Master Chief Michael Leavitt, retired, 11th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard; and Master Chief Lani Cale-Jones, Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.
“Where do people like Douglas Munro come from?” said Gromlich. “They come from Cle Elum. They come from small towns and big cities across this great country. We have a long history of men and women willing to navigate unsafe and stormy seas that drive others to safe harbor. Douglas Munro defines us.”
Munro, a Cle Elum native, received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as officer-in-charge of a group of Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a battalion of nearly 500 Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942.
When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire. His crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach.
Munro’s final words were “Did they get off?”
Additional distinguished guests included Charles Glondo, mayor of the city of Cle Elum; James Devere, mayor of the city of South Cle Elum; Geoffe Scherer, mayor of the city of Roslyn; and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Douglas Munro Post 1373.