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First Name: Douglas

Last Name: Munro

Birthplace: Vancouver, BC, CAN

Gender: Male

Branch: Coast Guard (1790 - present)

Rating: Signalman Petty Officer 1st Class

Middle Name: Albert

Date of Birth: 11 October 1919

Date of Death: 27 September 1942

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer First Class

Years Served:
Douglas Albert Munro

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Douglas Albert Munro

Signalman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro is the only member of the U.S. Coast Guard to have received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor. Munro received the award posthumously for his actions as officer-in-charge of a group of landing craft on 27 September 1942, during the September Matanikau action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II.

Douglas Albert Munro was born on 11 October 1919, in Vancouver, Canada, to James Munro, originally from California, and Edith Thrower Fairey from Liverpool, England. The family moved to Vancouver, WA, where his father worked as an electrician for Warren Construction Company. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1922 along with his sister and mother and grew up in South Cle Elum, WA. He was educated at South Cle Elum Grade School and graduated from Cle Elum High School in 1937. He attended Central Washington College of Education (now known as Central Washington University) for a year before leaving to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. He had an outstanding record as an enlisted man and was promoted rapidly through the ratings to a Signalman First Class.

In the Second Battle of the Matanikau, part of the Guadalcanal Campaign, Munro was in charge of a detachment of ten boats which landed U.S. Marines at the scene. After successfully taking them ashore, he returned his boats to their previously assigned position and almost immediately learned that conditions ashore were different than had been anticipated and that it was necessary to evacuate the Marines immediately. Munro volunteered for the job and brought the boats to shore under heavy enemy fire, then proceeded to evacuate the men on the beach. When most of them were in the boats, complications arose in evacuating the last men, whom Munro realized would be in the greatest danger. He accordingly placed himself and his boats such that they would serve as cover for the last men to leave. It was thus that he was fatally wounded-protecting the men after he had evacuated them. He remained conscious sufficiently long only to say four words: "Did they get off?" For his heroic self-sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Signalman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as Petty Officer in Charge of a group of 24 Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a battalion of marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz Guadalcanal, on 27 September 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered marines, Munro, under constant strafing by enemy machineguns on the island, and at great risk of his life, daringly led 5 of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land, and then in order to draw the enemy's fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft with its 2 small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was instantly killed by enemy fire, but his crew, 2 of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal


Two ships, the Coast Guard's USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) and the Navy's USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422), were named in his honor.

A barracks building located at USCG Training Center Cape May (Munro Hall), and an administrative and guest quarters building at the US Coast Guard Academy, were named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro was killed in action on 27 September 1942. He is buried at Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum, WA.

Honoree ID: 22   Created by: MHOH




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