In defense of his country

A bust of Douglas A. Munro – created by John Tuomisto-Bell and sculpted and molded by Tyson Snow – was unveiled at the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

A bust of Douglas A. Munro – created by John Tuomisto-Bell and sculpted and molded by Tyson Snow – was unveiled at the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

“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.”

So ends the Medal of Honor citation for Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro, the only member of the nation’s oldest continuous sea-going service to be awarded America’s highest military honor.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Barney Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, thanks the crowd at the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Barney Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, thanks the crowd at the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Today the Coast Guard paid tribute to this legendary hero, designating its new headquarters the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building.

The ceremony comes just two days after Veterans Day, a day in which we honor those who have worn the uniform and defended our freedoms. This significance was not lost on U.S. Marine Corps Col. Barney Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient who attended the ceremony. For him, both Veterans Day and the ceremony served as a perfect time to rededicate “to the principles our great country stands for and what veterans have fought to protect and preserve.”

As a Medal of Honor recipient himself, Barnum shared his thoughts on why it is important to educate the public about the dignity and honor behind the Medal of Honor and recipients like Munro.

“The Medal of Honor stands for, or represents, the metal of America. It stands for who we are, what we have accomplished and what we are prepared to do to – protect our freedom,” said Barnum. “The Medal of Honor is a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans to ensure our freedoms prevail.”

Munro’s actions at Guadalcanal were critical to evacuating hundreds of Marines to safety, and Barnum drew attention to the close bond the two services share.

“The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful. The Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus – Always Ready,” said Barnum. “We bond because both services are dedicated to our fellow countrymen.”

Retired Coast Guard Reserve Cmdr. Douglas Sheehan, the nephew of Munro, also attended the ceremony. Family members who had traveled from around the country to witness the building’s dedication joined him. Sheehan spoke to the crowd emphasizing how truly remarkable Munro’s actions were in that the highest honor awarded to any Coast Guardsman in the history of the service was awarded to an enlisted man: a first class petty officer.

Retired Coast Guard Reserve Cmdr. Douglas Sheehan, the nephew of Douglas A. Munro, speaks during the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Retired Coast Guard Reserve Cmdr. Douglas Sheehan, the nephew of Douglas A. Munro, speaks during the building’s dedication ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

“His actions showed that our core values – honor, respect and devotion to duty – are more than just words,” said Sheehan. Adding that Munro’s bravery should serve as a reminder of “our mission and the people we serve” to future generations of Coast Guard members.

With the building’s dedication, the name Munro stands as a connection to Coast Guard history and a challenge to carry on the legacy of one the service’s most revered members.

“Petty Officer Munro’s selfless service and sacrifice epitomizes our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. “His enduring legacy has, and will always continue to, shape future generations of Coast Guardsmen. We are honoring that contribution to our service by dedicating this building to him.”

At the ceremony, a bust of Munro – created by John Tuomisto-Bell and sculpted and molded by Tyson Snow – was unveiled. As Munro’s likeness came into view, beams of the afternoon sun hit the bronze bust, illuminating his eyes just so. It was if there was a golden glint in his eyes; a reminder of his legacy and how it shines on.

A memorial plaque in the new Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

A memorial plaque in the new Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


  • Mary R Watson

    Douglas Munro…. A legacy of honor….an example of humanitarian compassion…a challenge to endeavor against all odds….Semper Paratus!

  • TerryW1

    Doug Munro should be better known by non Marines and Coasties, in fact the entire battle at Guadalcanal should be taught in our High Schools and Colleges. I know both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard faught that battle with WW 1 weapons. What a mess but it taught us critiocal lessons for later use. I do not think Douglas Munro should be the lone Coastie Medal of Honor winner. U.S. Coast Guard valor in combat is well documented, while combat is not their only or even primary task, they have proven to be very good at it, when needed. The U.S. Coast Guard has always functioned best when it was seen as an augment to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. There must always be a USCGC Hamilton and a USCGC Munro! God Bless the United States Coast Guard. Semper Paratus

  • Mark Sales

    While Doug Munro’s achievement should continue to inspire Coasties into the future; it would also bear reflection that the folks whose lip-service to his accomplishment have ‘named’ the former mental facility after him have also deep-sixed not only his rate, but also the successor rate to his rate.

    What this means for the future is uncertain, but clearly some soul-searching might be in order concerning the direction of the present day Coast Guard. It would have been inconceivable that the WWII USCG could do without signalmen (SM), no less so than fifty years later eliminating the venerable/traditional quartermaster (QM) rate that became responsible for the USCG signaling duties. A question for the DHS masters of the USCG could be something along the ‘what next’ lines of “can they outsource the physical water-borne activities such that the USCG no longer needs boatswain’s mates?”

  • C. MacDonald

    Douglas Monro actions embellish what the US Coast Guard is, unselfish acts, focused on protecting the lives of others, while putting one’s own life in direct danger, and if needed sacrificing that life so others may lives. Is that now what the blood of the US Coast Guard is?

  • Lotsaruck

    Technology may have invalidated the tools of the Signalman and the Quartermaster, to wit Morse Code, signaling and nautical flags, but the heart of these two venerable rates still lives on. It lives on in every chief petty officer, petty officer and non-rate that stands watch, waiting and listening for that call in the night, that sends Coasties out in to the storm. These rates aren’t gone, they didn’t dwindle and die out. They became more than just one rate could handle. They are now at the core of what the Coast Guard must do, Respond to The Call. Peragite Mandatum! Let the message get through.