One for the Coast Guard

One for the Coast GuardNot much recognition has been given to the Coxswains of the LCI landing crafts, one of the most important war related jobs performed in the South Pacific by armed forces in WW II, .  Piloting the Landing craft for our invading attack forces, landing invasions and evacuating strike forces would have been almost impossible without these men. Pilots, called coxswains, manning the LCI’s  were one of the most important positions assigned to the United States Coast Guard.  As a Coast Guardsman myself, I was trained for the same job of landing infantry invasion forces on the beaches.  Fortunately for me, I was not assigned to the South Pacific as was Coast Guardsman Douglas Munro from Cle Elum, Washington.  He was just an ordinary sailor assigned to a coxswain’s position to pilot a landing craft, loaded with Marines for the invasion of Guadalcanal at Point Cruz. On September 27th 1942, when the first battalion, of Marines invaded Guadalcanal, the platoon was ambushed and had to be evacuated from the beaches. A landing craft, piloted by Coast Guard Signalman 1st class, Douglas Monro was assigned to the task. This was the second landing and evacuation trip of the day for Munro.  He had landed a company of Marines earlier that day.  Munro returned with another invading force after which he evacuated the wounded.  During these trips, Japanese enemy fire was extremely heavy strafing the craft unceasingly as Munro fearlessly interposed his boat shielding  the disembarking and evacuating wounded Marines. The enemy was frantically trying to defend the beaches. Coast-guardsman Munro absorbed the full fire on the starboard broadside of the boat.  The coxswain’s position at the rear of these crafts offered little or no protection from open fire.  Their upper bodies were almost completely exposed to gunfire from all directions, an easy target for rifle fire from the beach.  On his final run, his mission was to evacuate the wounded Marines.  Maneuvering  the LCI broadside to the beach, at his own risk was the only way to save about 40 Marines, some seriously  wounded. He safely loaded the wounded Marines returning from the beach When he saw the last man climbed aboard his craft, Munro pulled away from the beach full speed.  When almost clear from the beach in deep water, it happened.  Japanese gunfire struck Munro in the torso and fatally wounded  him at the helm. His last words were, ”Did they all get off?” An unknown Marine jumped into the coxswain’s position and piloted the boat to safety. Munro’s parents were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt . This action was befitting of the Coast Guard’s life saving tradition which they still do every day.  Munro was not only involved in this rescue but also several other amphibious invasions  earlier in the same operation at Guadalcanal.  Signalman Munro had given the ultimate sacrifice for his country.  He saved the lives of over 40 US Marines,  Audie Murphy didn’t do that. Munro became a real hero when I was still in High School.  No one knew of this hero and what he did, but saving over 40 Marines, certainly deserves some attention.  No movies were made about Munro and his heroic efforts in helping to win the war like Sergeant Alvin York in WW I.  Just envision the situation.  40 Marines, some able, others wounded, being sheltered on one side of the boat by Munro’s maneuvering of the craft while the enemy on the other side, had guns blazing, was intent on blowing up the boat.  There is no question that Signalman first class, Douglas Monro died an American Hero, unsung hero, yet earned the one and only Congressional Medal of Honor award for Valor and bravery to a United States Coast-guardsman, the hard way, posthumously, beyond the call of duty for a Coast Guard sailor. I have never heard of this story before, have you? Where were the movie makers?