CAPE MAY, NJ (September 27,2018)(CNBNewsnet)--Today marks the 76th anniversary of Coast Guard Signalman First Class Douglas Munro’s selfless act of heroism. His sacrifice earned him a place in our service’s history. Not as our only Medal of Honor recipient, but as a reminder that the endeavor to protect our nation comes with a price. It is in those ubiquitous moments, when life and death decisions are made, the devotion to duty to which every Coast Guardsman subscribes to is called upon, and it is in those moments that our core values define us and define our service.
The Spencer mast, the pictures and letters that chronicle Munro’s life in Munro Hall and the monument which we stand before today are reminders to our recruits, a type of daily affirmation, of our willingness to put nation over self, and to maintain a level of respect for the job at hand. Make no mistake, the job of a Coast Guardsman is dangerous at times and it is this understanding, this respect, which guides clear thought and sound judgment.
There is no doubt that on Sept. 27, 1942, Petty Officer Munro was acting with devotion to duty and respect for the mission when he executed a decision that resulted in saving more than 500 Marines off the beaches of Guadalcanal. Knowing the dangers, but acting selflessly, he positioned his boat between the evacuating Marines and heavy gunfire from the enemy. He was ultimately killed in that conflict, but not before asking if all the Marines had gotten off the beach. It was this action that earned him a Medal of Honor, which I would like to read the citation accompanying that award to you now…
“On Sept. 27, 1942, Munro was the Officer-in-Charge of a group of Higgins Boats, engaged in the evacuation of a Battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant risk of his life, daringly led five 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 two small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two 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 up his life in defense of his country.”
Munro died a hero and in doing so forever etched himself into Coast Guard history. Not just as our only Medal of Honor recipient, but the personification of our Service’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
These values are what we strive to instill in our recruits as they pass through these gates. They are the future of our beloved service and carry Munro’s legacy with them as they leave here and go to the fleet. They have chosen a life dedicated to protecting their nation and helping their fellow man. The Coast Guard is a life-saving service and it is our job to save lives, but sometimes in order to accomplish our mission, we must give lives as well. This is a truth that every Coastguardsmen understands, just as Munro did that fateful day.
So now, so many years later, we take this moment to remember the importance of this day and how it serves to reaffirm our dedication to one another, our commitment to the mission and to recognize our members who regularly place service above self everyday in service to this great nation.