A Coast Guardsman's Story: Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro

Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro was born on October 11, 1919, in Vancouver, British Columbia. His father was repatriated to America while he was young, and Signalman First Class Munro would grow up in South Cle Elum, Washington.

He was musically talented, playing the drums, trumpet, and harmonica, and he regularly performed with the Sons of the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. Signalman Douglas Munro was also a boy scout and wrestled for Cle Elum High School.

After graduation, he enrolled in Central Washington College of Education but withdrew in 1939 to enlist in the US Coast Guard when World War II began to look likely. At his induction ceremony, he would meet and befriend Commander Raymond Evans. The two would become known as "the Gold Dust Twins."

After his training at Port Angeles Air Station, he was assigned to the USCGC Spencer until 1941, when the US Coast Guard was transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of the Navy. The Gold Dust Twins volunteered for reassignment aboard the USS Hunter Liggett, where they were tasked with troop-carrying, search and rescue, and ship-to-shore communications. The pair would also train sailors for small boats in anticipation of the Guadalcanal campaign.

Signalman First Class Douglas Munro would transfer to the USS McCawley and be assigned to ferry troops and manage ship-to-shore radio.   Signalman First Class Munro and Commander Evans would also operate a small Naval Operating Base on Guadalcanal and assist with the search and rescue efforts.

On September 27, 1942, he earned a Congressional Medal of Honor during the attack on the Matanikau River. Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was assigned with ferrying troops, and when the Marines were overrun, Signalman First Class Munro used a 30 caliber machine gun to clear a path for the Marines to escape. When one evacuation boat beached on a sandbar, Signalman Munro moved his boat between the sandbar and enemy fire, returning fire until the boats were free. He was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His final words were, "Did they all get off?" (They did).

Signalman First  Class Douglas Albert Munro was initially interred on Guadalcanal but was repatriated in 1948 and now rests at Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum, Washington.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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