As we in Canada should also be! He was born in Vancouver BC and you have read about him often in this space. And there will be more on him I trust.
His name of course is Douglas Munro, and a month shy of his 23rd birthday, he gave his life for his adopted country of the US. It was at Point Cruz Guadalcanal in WW ll that he gave his life to help save the marines. One of the battalions of the US 7th Marines had been pinned down on three fronts and were being driven back into the sea when their commander raced to the water's edge to signal a US Ship to fire support shelling to allow them to withdraw. It was then that Douglas, a first class Signalman in the US Coast Guard, came back into action. He had led several "Higgins" workboats onto the landing not long before to land the marines. Now he had to backtrack several times to rescue the 500 men.
The very commander of the Marine unit was none other than "Chesty" Puller, a Lt. Colonel at the time. Thanks to Munro and his team, the commander lived to fight another day, and eventually attained the rank of Lt General. He would become one of the highest medalled heroes of the US Marine Corp.
Munro's men got all the marines off, but at the very end he had to place his vessel between the enemy and one last boat that got hung up in a sand dune of sorts. As it finally was pulled free and escaped he took a shot and was instantly killed. Today, and for many a year every recruit in the US Marines and also the US Coast Guard have been, and I suspect will continue to be required to learn the story of this Canadian born hero.
His final actions on September 27 1942 at Guadalcanal are depicted in the above USCG commissioned painting.
That action and his date of death were 72 years ago yesterday!
Each year at his grave site in Washington state, at Cape May and elsewhere, ceremonies are conducted in honor of this hero. Yesterday at Cape May, one of the students played Taps at one such ceremony that marked the remembrance of his tragic death 72 year's ago. It is ironic that in the formal service Taps was played. In an earlier blog I had mentioned that when interviewing Douglas' late sister a few years ago she had talked about Douglas being a self taught trumpet player. And he too, often played Taps. He would go to the very cemetery that he now rests at in Cle Elum Washington State, to practice his songs... including Taps. He would say at the time that it was the least he could do for the fallen men and women buried there at the Laurel Hills Cemetery. Above at right, three wreaths are being laid at the foot of the statute.
The top man at the United States Coast Guard is Admiral Paul Zukunft and he obviously has incredible respect for Douglas Munro.
The Admiral has been quoted saying that... "Signalman First Class Douglas Munro epitomized our guiding principles of service to nation, duty to people and commitment for excellence seven decades before we put them down to paper." He would add that... "His selfless and decisive action under fire, gallantry and extraordinary heroism honoured the Coast Guard and saved many Marine Corps brothers in arms. Every Coast Guard man and woman and anyone seeking a profile in inspirational leadership and excellence should study Douglas Munro."
It is sad to say that unfortunately all too many Canadians have never heard of this Canadian.
Please share this and many other stories from this site and extend my invitation for them to visit the site as it is the only place in Canada, and probably the US as well, where they will find much of what appears in this space.
See you next week.