Throughout our nation’s history, men of extraordinary courage have risen to protect our freedom and values; the most conspicuous such displays are awarded with the Medal of Honor. Yet, in the Coast Guard’s 231-years history only one Coast Guardsman has received our nation’s highest award for valor. This is the story of Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro and his heroism in the Battle of Guadalcanal.


The Gold Dust Twins

Munro was born on October 11, 1919, in Vancouver, British Columbia. His family moved to the United States in 1922, settling in South Cle Elum, Washington. 

Douglas Munro Coast Guard MOH
Douglas Munro in a photo taken around 1940. (U.S. Coast Guard)

In high school, Douglas was actively involved in the Boy Scouts, the high school’s Drum and Bugle Corps, and was a member of the wrestling team. After graduating from high school he enrolled in the Central Washington College of Education. 

However, in 1939, with the war in Europe appearing imminent, Munro dropped out of school to join the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). He told his sister that he chose the USCG because he wanted to save people.

At the entrance processing center in Seattle, Munro would meet and become fast friends with Ray Evans. The pair would serve together from that day forward becoming known as “The Gold Dust Twins.” The pair was assigned to the USCG cutter Spencer before transferring to the transport ship, USS Hunter Liggett. 

In mid-1942, with the Guadalcanal campaign approaching, the Navy began training Coast Guardsmen as coxswains since they would be needed as small boat handlers. Both Munro and Evans volunteered with Munro cross-training as a signalman.

During Guadalcanal, Munro and Evans’s orders were to ferry the Marines to shore, then beach the craft, attach themselves to the ground troops, and conduct ship-to-shore communication.