Coast Guard to honor hero with mast dedication

CAPE MAY, N.J. – Coast Guard Training Center Cape May will honor Signalman First Class Douglas Munro and dedicate the Coast Guard Cutter Spencers mast in a ceremony here on the training centers parade field Sept. 27, 2008 at 10 a.m.

Munro, the only Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient, served aboard the Spencer. He was killed in action while protecting U.S. Marines at Guadalcanal during World War II and Sept. 27, 2008 will mark the 66th anniversary of his heroic actions.

The Coast Guard Cutter Spencer W-36 was commissioned in 1937, and was used as a search and rescue platform primarily patrolling Alaskan waters. In WWII under the U.S. Navy, the Spencer saw significant combat action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. In the Battle of the Atlantic, the cutter acted as a convey escort and hunted German submarines, sinking the U-225 and the U-175. In late 1944, Spencer reported to the Navys Seventh Pacific Fleet as a Communications Command Ship. There Spencer participated in numerous amphibious invasions including Luzon and Palawan in the Philippines. After the war, Spencer returned to Coast Guard operations serving as an Atlantic Ocean Station.

In January 1969, Spencer returned to combat duty off the coast of Vietnam. In November 1969, Spencer returned to the United States to continue peacetime missions. Spencer served the nation for more than 37 years and when decommissioned in 1974, the Spencer was the most decorated cutter in the Coast Guards fleet.

After the Spencer was decommissioned the Spencer mast was displayed at the entrance of the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Years later, the Coast Guard regained ownership of the mast and transferred it to Coast Guard Facilities Bayonne. The Spencer mast will be permanently displayed on the Coast Guard Training Center Cape Mays parade grounds Sept. 10, 2008.

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