Cutter Munro Receives Bust of Medal of Honor Namesake

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KODIAK, Alaska – Retired Army Maj. Drew Dix, left, retired Marine Master Sgt. Richard Pittman, center, and retired Marine Col. Jay Vargas, right, stand with a bust of Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Douglas A. Munro on the cutter Munro Jan. 5, 2011, honoring the memory of his heroic actions during World War II. Dix, Pittman and Vargas were part of a ceremony on the cutter presenting to the crew a bust of Munro and a replica of his Medal of Honor. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

Jacob Resneck/KMXT

A 22-year-old Coast Guard signalman died more than 68 years ago helping defend a beachhead being overrun by Japanese forces at Guadalcanal. On Wednesday he was honored on the Kodiak-based high endurance cutter that bears his name.

— (munro medal pkg 3:39 "There was pomp and … museum. I’m Jacob Resneck.")

amb – marching band music

There was pomp and circumstance as fellow Medal of Honor recipients, top Coast Guard officers and crewmembers from the Cutter Munro and Kodiak Air Station gathered aboard the 378-foot vessel to pay tribute to the man whose likeness has been molded into a bronze bust.

Douglas Munro is still the only Coast Guardsman ever to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor awarded by the U.S. government.

For Douglas Munro is credited for selflessly positioning his small craft between advancing Japanese forces and troop ships evacuating U.S. Marines from the beach during the important 1942 battle at Guadalcanal.

Cmdr. Nathan Podoll recounted the events of that September day.

— podoll1

But it was the Coast Guard’s highest ranking officer in Alaska, Rear Admiral Christopher Colvin who brought Munro’s actions home to Kodiak. He singled out a petty officer, assigned to the Kodiak Air Station, who is a direct descendant of one of the 500 Marines saved by Munro.

— colvin1

The admiral then offered the back-story of why Munro was being honored on this particular day. January 5th isn’t the anniversary of the ship, the date of the battle or even Munro’s birthday.

Rather it was during last September’s performance by actor Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band that a Medal of Honor recipient, Retired Army Major Drew Dix, visited the cutter and remarked that the small framed photograph of Munro seemed inadequate as tribute for an important figure in Coast Guard lore.

— colvin2

The Dave McIntyre he mentions is the CEO of TriWest Health Care Alliance, a private company contracted to provide coverage for Coast Guard personnel and their families. TriWest paid for the bronze bust just as it helped pay to bring Sinise’s band to Kodiak. McIntyre said during last September’s visit, he and Sinise agreed Douglas Munro deserved to be honored.

— micintyre1

Dix said a common thread among Medal of Honor recipients is that any sense of accomplishment is tempered with a healthy dose of humility.

— dix1

–amb munro departing

The bronze will be permanently placed on display on the cutter’s mess deck. Around its neck hangs a reproduction of the Medal of Honor. The original remains in the Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut.

I’m Jacob Resneck

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