Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Leading up to World War II, Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro and Chief Signalman (later Commander) Raymond J. Evans enlisted to the Coast guard on the same day. They quickly became inseparable, only served one short assignment apart.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Douglas Albert Munro was born on October 11th, 1919 in Vancouver, Canada. His mother was English, and had moved to the country with her family when she was 15, and his father was an American who had lived in Vancouver since childhood. At the age of two, Munro and his family moved to the US and settled in Cle Elum, Washington.
Seeing war on the horizon, Munro enlisted in the Coast Guard on September 18th, 1939 at 19 years old. He soon met a fellow recruit named Raymond J. Evans, and they quickly became inseparable friends. They, along with the other recruits, were sent to Air Station Port Angeles, where the staff didn’t know what to do with them. For the first three days they received no training, and instead completed various tasks such as lawn mowing, peeling potatoes, and helping with boat maintenance. On the fourth day, Munro and Evans were both selected to join the USCGC Spencer where they began formal training.
Munro and Evans continued to stick together through multiple assignments, and were only stationed apart for a brief period of time. Eventually they were assigned to Guadalcanal, where American forces were fighting the Japanese.
On September 27th, 1942. Signalman First Class Munro led a group of boats filled with three companies of Marines along the coast of the island. They were tasked with landing at a nearby beach and engaging the Japanese in what would later be called the Second Battle of the Matanikau. Munro navigated a reef near the beach and successfully dropped off the marines before returning to the launch point. There he learned that the Marines they had just dropped off needed immediate evacuation. Munro said “Hell, yeah!”, and with Evans at his side, he led the boats back to the beach to evacuate the overwhelmed Marines.
Upon approach, they came under fire, and one sailor yelled out to Munro, saying evacuation was impossible and that they should fall back. Munro refused to abandon the Marines, and pulled up to the beach, positioning his boat parallel to the shore so that Evans was able to provide cover fire. They held their ground and braved enemy fire until they had filled their boat with Marines. As they started to move out, Munro noticed another boat was stuck on a reef nearby. Still under fire, he sped over to the stranded boat where the Marines used a rope to tug it free. The two boats began heading back, but then Evans saw a trail of Japanese machine gun fire quickly approaching, splashing the water behind them. He shouted at Munro to get down, but it was too late. Evans saw Munro get hit in the back of the head and collapse. He quickly grabbed the wheel and sped back to their launch point. When they had reached it, Munro briefly regained consciousness and asked Evans “Did they get off?” Evans nodded, and Munro smiled one last time before passing away.
On May 24th, 1945, Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for putting himself in harm's way to save the lives of his fellow servicemen, becoming the only member of the Coast Guard in history to do so. The award was received by his parents. In order to honor his legacy, Munro’s mother enlisted in the Coast Guard, just hours after the ceremony at 48 years old. She went to boot camp not long after and was commissioned to SPARS, the women’s branch of the coast guard reserve. She was discharged after the end of the war at the rank of Lieutenant.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our executive producer and mixing engineer, Declan Rohrs is our associate producer, scriptwriter, and recording engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.