Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient honored in Cle Elum, Washington

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Cle Elum, WA – More than 50 Coast Guardsmen, along with representatives from Seattle-area chapters of the Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officers Association, the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association and the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association gathered today to honor the memory of Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro. Munro died heroically on Guadalcanal on September 27, 1942. Having volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation by an unanticipated large enemy force, he succeeded in safely extricating them and in doing so was mortally wounded.

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, salutes as a color guard comprised of Seattle-area Coast Guardsmen presents the colors during a memorial ceremony for Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro at his gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. Munro was killed by enemy fire while evacuating a group of Marines from the beaches of Guadalcanal during World War II. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer)

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, salutes as a color guard comprised of Seattle-area Coast Guardsmen presents the colors during a memorial ceremony for Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro at his gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer)

In the engagement in which he gave his life, Munro had already played an important part, having been in charge of the original detachment of ten boats that had landed the Marines at the scene. Having successfully landed them, Munro led his small boat force to a previously assigned rally position. Almost immediately upon his return, he was advised by the officer-in-charge that conditions at the insertion point were not as expected. The Marines were under attack from a larger Japanese force and needed to be extracted immediately. Munro volunteered to lead the boats back to beach for the evacuation.

Coast Guard WWII hero honored in Cle Elum

Representatives from Seattle-area chapters of the Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officers Association, the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association and the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association present wreaths in honor of Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro during a memorial ceremony held at his gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer)

Commanding the rescue expedition, he brought the boats in-shore under heavy enemy fire and proceeded to evacuate the Marines still on the beach. Though the majority of the Marines had been loaded into the boats, the last remaining elements of the rear guard were having difficulty embarking. Assessing the situation, Munro maneuvered himself and his boats into a position to cover the last groups of men as they headed to the boats. In doing so, he exposed himself to greater enemy fire and suffered his fatal wound. At the time it was reported that he had remained conscious long enough to utter his final words: “Did they get off”?

A bugler performs Taps during a memorial ceremony for Coast Guard Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro held at his gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. Each year, a ceremony is held to honor Munro on the anniversary of his death. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer)

A bugler performs Taps during a memorial ceremony for Coast Guard Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro held at his gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. Each year, a ceremony is held to honor Munro on the anniversary of his death. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer)

For his heroic and selfless actions in the completion of this rescue mission Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. His other decorations included the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

A group of Marines assigned to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., render a three-volley salute in honor of Coast Guard Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro during a memorial ceremony at Munro’s gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. Munro is the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katleyn Shearer)

Marines assigned to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., render a three-volley salute in honor of Coast Guard Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro during a memorial ceremony at Munro’s gravesite in Cle Elum, Wash., Sept. 26, 2014. Munro is the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katleyn Shearer)

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