Douglas A. Munro

Image of SM1 Douglas MunroSignalman First Class Douglas A. Munro, United States Coast Guard, died heroically on Guadalcanal on 27 September 1942, in the Pacific Theater of World War II. After volunteering to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation by an unanticipatedly large enemy force, he succeeded in safely extricating them and, in doing so, was mortally wounded. Read more about Munro’s life below.

Guardian of Guadalcanal Book

Guardian of Guadalcanal: The World War II Story of Douglas A. Munro, United States Coast Guard tells the story of Douglas Munro in its entirety. From the author of SEAL of Honor, Gary Williams, the book vividly recounts the courage and selflessness of Douglas Munro, the United States Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient.

Guardian of Guadalcanal has been named to the Coast Guard Commandant’s Professional Reading List. You can purchase the book from the “Buy Now” link to the right. Mr. Williams, the author, will make a donation to the Coast Guard Auxiliary Association for every copy of Guardian of Guadalcanal purchased through this link.

The Story of SM1 Douglas Munro

Douglas Albert Munro was born in Vancouver, Canada, of American parents, on 11 October 1919. He spent his entire life previous to his enlistment in South Cle Elum, Washington. Douglas Munro was educated at the South Cle Elum Grade School and graduated from the Cle Elum High School in 1937.

He attended the Central Washington College of Education for a year and left to enlist in the United States Coast Guard in 1939. He had an outstanding record as an enlisted man and was promoted rapidly to signalman, first class.

His Actions on Guadalcanal

In the engagement which he gave his life, Munro already played an important part, beeing in charge of the original ten boats that landed the Marines on the beach. After successfully landing 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 the beach for the evacuation.

Commanding the rescue expedition, he brought the boats to shore under heavy enemy fire and began evacuating the Marines still on the beach. Though the majority were loaded into the boats, the last remaining Marines had difficulty embarking.

Assessing the situation, Munro maneuvered himself and his boats into a position to cover the last groups Marines men as they headed to the boats. By doing so, he exposed himself to greater enemy fire and suffered his fatal wound.

At the time it is reported he remained conscious long enough to utter his final words: “Did they get off?”

For his heroic and selfless actions in the conduct of the 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.

Honoring Munro’s Legacy

In 1944, the U.S. Navy escort destroyer USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422) became the first ship named in Douglas Munro’s honor. Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters, the USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) and the USCGC Munro (WMSL-755), commissioned in 1971 and 2017 respectively, bear his name. Munro Hall also lies both on the grounds of U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

On 13 November 2013, the headquarters of the United States Coast Guard in Washington, DC was dedicated as the “Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Building” by an act of Congress.