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7
Oct

2nd Lt Efrem Zimbalist, Jr US Army (Served 1941-1946)

View the service history of Actor:

efram2nd Lt Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

US Army

(Served 1941-1946)

View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com at http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/340580

Short Bio: The gentleman actor best remembered for his numerous TV roles, Zimbalist served in the Battle of the Bulge on the Siegfried Line where he was severely wounded in the thigh.

5
Oct

LT David Potter U.S. Coast Guard (Served 1968-1973)

Read the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardsman

profile1LT David Potter

U.S. Coast Guard

(1968-1973)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/David.Potter
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

Spring 1968, the Vietnam war was very hot and heavy. Politicians were screaming about men hiding in colleges. I finished my college degree (B.S., wildlife biology, Washington State University) and had received a research assistant full scholarship to Penn State for a masters degree studying wood ducks. Drove 90 miles,
including changing a flat tire on a snowy road shoulder, to hear my draft board take minimal time to decide I would be drafted if I didn’t get into an Officer program.

My father and I (B-52 Command & Instructor Pilot, retired full Colonel) judged this war a politically controlled, tragic lost cause. Left the draft board building trying to remember where I had parked in downtown Spokane, WA and very much wondering what was next? Both the Air Force and Navy Officer Candidate programs had informed me they were full. I knew things were getting very serious!

After the draft board’s “influence” I have to credit God’s provision – although I didn’t recognize it at the time. Looking for my car on a side street I notice a Coast Guard recruiting office sign up ahead. Months before my dad had suggested the Coast Guard but, typical young person, I had forgot about it. Inside I found one man, a Chief Petty Officer still at work. Friendly, he called Seattle for the results of my Navy Officer candidate test. Obtained them by phone and then informed me he could work with me. I was relieved!

After several months of waiting on “pins and needles” I was told to report for induction as a US Coast Guard Officer Candidate, Yorktown, Virginia. O.C.S. is another story but I soon realized I was “second string” in the toughest course work ever. Studied hard for only average grades. (Even had to repeat the Navigation final test having failed first time. Yet ended up the ship’s navigator on my last, third, polar icebreaker patrol on the USCGC State Island, WAGB-278.)

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

Surviving O.C.S., my choice of preferred duty station was decided by a women, not so unusual for young guys. She soon became my wife (45 years so far.) I requested anything out of Seattle and, good duty as I reflect on it, got the Seattle based icebreaker Staten Island, WAGB-268, as a deck officer.

I was the only junior officer on the bridge not a Coast Guard Academy grad and with an Boatswain’s Mate Mustang, O-6, Commanding Officer , E.F. Walsh, that made no bones about “eating Ensigns and J.G.’s for breakfast.” Joined the ship in Kodiak, AK standing at the brow as a crew member’s body was carried off. The story of his loss, later told me by the Academy Officer, John Vitt, involved who saved another crew member, reflected badly on the C.O.

I finished my qualification book quickly while standing open ocean bridge watches then in the ice as Trainee under a qualified Officer of the Deck. Many, many times I endured a chewing out by the Old Man, sometimes in front of the enlisted men. Even though I was no baby, raised in a military family and worked as a farm laborer summers starting at 15, I found his tirades very hard to take.

He was not liked. It was said he wouldn’t go out on the weather decks at night underway. This was a time of drugs on military ships. Bad officers were being fragged in Vietnam. In the arctic for one 3 month and one 5 month patrol (no liberty in arctic Alaska) with this C.O. on a worn, WW II era ship was hell.

This Captain plus the few dumb and somewhat sadistic ‘lifer” Petty Officers – among the many good Petty Officers – I encountered confirmed no way was I making this a career. I must say that the three O-6 C.O.’s after that (Capt. Putzke, Capt. McCormick, Capt. Gershowitz) were all very good bosses. But the die was cast.

My last patrol was with Capt. Putzke who took the time to teach me ship handling. He even coached me coning the ship through the outer approaches to Kodiak harbor. Boy was I a nervous wreck before he finally had the XO take her to the dock. It was a good trip if being stuck on a ship for 3 months can be termed “good.”

As a Ltjg, I next went to the Seattle Captain of the Port office, Pier 91 as an Admin Officer, Search and Rescue duty officer [all of Puget Sound] and Oil Spill Response Officer. Worked in the same room as the XO, Lt. Commander Purdy, great guy.

Capt. McCormick and Capt. Gershowitz treated me well. Surprise, Capt. Gershowitz even asked me if I’d stay in.

Having been a college student trainee, I had a job waiting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in wildlife refuge management. So I requested and received a 6 month early out.

My wife and I happily departed Seattle for rural Oregon, September 1971.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I remember several more significant events. One was as we nearly completed my second arctic patrol we diverted to Nome, AK to receive spare parts and food supplies flown in so we could relieve our sister ship, USCGC Northwind, which had engine troubles. We were extended for two more months,five months total, escorting the experimental ice breaker oil tanker, SS Manhatten, from Pt. Barrow across the top eastward through the Northwest Passage and south to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Manhatten was an experiment to see if Prudoe Bay oil could be moved by oil tanker rather than building the oil pipeline across Alaska.

We joined one more modern and one nearly new Canadian icebreakers, the John A. McDonald and the Louis Saint Luran. They broke ice much better than we. One time Capt. Walsh authorized me to radio the St. Luran to free us from being stuck. A beautiful ship, she promptly drove through the solid ice to cut ahead of us making a path for us to follow.

We made New York in mid November having learned the ice breaker tanker idea was a failure. Liberty there, San Juan Puerto Rico and Acapulo made up for short rations and many long months at sea. Ran the Panama Canal at night so not much to see. Learned our fresh water evaporators didn’t function well with warm seawater so we were stuck with sea water showers, bad news in that hot climate.

We were told the Staten Island was the seventh surface ship to circumnavigate North America. As photography officer I received, and still have, a copy of nearly all pictures our photographer, Petty Officer Meeks took. He was a great guy.

At Captain of the Port I was ordered to travel to one of our 82 foot patrol boats, CGC Pt. Doran as I remember, to investigate it hitting and releasing too many crabs from a commercial holding cage. Pt. Doran’s C.O., a Chief, was nervous explaining the situation to me, a young JG. Having served as a Deck Officer, I understood his worries and the operational particulars. I subsequently wrote a report absolving him of any negligence. XO Purdy told me Capt. McCormick was very strict on written reports. He and I were relieved when the C.O. signed off on my findings without ordering any changes. I was happy to have done all I could to protect the Chief’s career.

Also at Captain of the Port, I was ordered west to Port Angeles, WA to board the 82 footer there to shadow a Communist Block ship’s passage to Seattle. Run by a Chief Petty Officer, I became the Senior Officer aboard for the trip. It was made necessary by a recent very high level political flap on the Atlantic Coast. A Seamen on a Communist ship had jumped over the side to the deck of a Coast Guard boat to get asylum. The Communists demanded him back. The Junior Officer commanding the boat radioed for direction but, as I was told about it, received none before finally deciding to force the man back. I was given clear orders that we would not do that without clear direction should a Seamen try it in Puget Sound. The run went smoothly; Chief ran his boat and no one tried to defect.

On the military side, in the arctic we gathered information across the top including north of Russia. I was in the wardroom one morning when word came down that a radar contact was coming in very fast. I ran outside in time to see a Mig blast straight in and over us low and very fast. We had seen a few Russian ice patrol prop planes drone over but that Mig zooming overhead really made an impression on me in those Cold War times.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My favorite assignment was serving as the Captain of the Port X.O.’s (Lt. Cdr. Purdy) Administrative Officer. My desk was immediately behind the X.O.’s desk. Formal in front of others, he and I talked informally most days. He often leaned back in his chair to hand me paperwork, like the Federal Register, to read and discuss. He assigned many unusual jobs such as leading our safety supervision of dynamite loading at Dupont, WA, serving on a court marshal board at District 13 headquarters, the previously mentioned accident investigation and defector run as well as several others.

My least favorite was the first arctic patrol, three months, just trying to survive at sea learning many things my peers, academy junior officers, already knew before coming aboard – while being seasick upon entering open water from the ice or land. This under the often haranguing of a miserable, mean, bully of a Captain, as above. It was hell.

Also “least favorite” was going to sea the first time rolling along in the Gulf of Alaska out of Kodiak, AK being both sea sick and hung over. Not good!

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

I have already described lots of this. Capt. Walsh sure impacted me greatly. He was the first evil boss I had to work for at close quarters. He forced me to endure.

Another thing that impacted me was having to do things I did not fully know how to do. In college I did things after being taught how to do them. The Coast Guard represented the real world where you often must begin doing things before you really know all about how to do them.

Couple of examples: I was assigned as a Search and Rescue Duty Officer involving 24 hour watches for all of Puget Sound, WA. It involved commanding, outside normal working hours, several 40 foot patrol boats at Pier 91 and three 82 foot patrol boats stationed around Puget Sound. First time I assumed the watch after hours I was somewhat flustered about the responsibilities. But it all worked out as the men running the radio watch and the patrol boats knew what they were doing.

Another vivid example occurred in the arctic when I was assigned to be the Boat Officer in charge of a landing craft to do something I forget what. I had never been in one of these boats let alone driving it in the ocean. Before departing, the Operations Officer, Lt. Haines, took me aside to warn that Capt. Walsh would be watching and whatever I did do not ram the side of the ship as I came alongside. I said I sure would be careful. I am sure many others were seeing what I could do. Since I had run a family water ski boat for many years, I had some idea what to do. Ended up carefully approaching the ship and laying alongside with only the slightest, gentle bump. Since it was a smooth job no one had any comments.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

Last of the 60’s and early 70’s was not a good time to be a young person in the military. Off the ship in Seattle we shed uniforms as fast as we could.

I endured too much bad treatment in O.C.S., from my first C.O. and bullying academy Junior Officers.Off duty drinking at a party I once faced one of them down who was very angry and in my face holding my shirt front. I dared him to take the first punch before I knocked the stuffing out of him. He looked at me and then walked away. All of this abuse added to being forced to give up civilian life and my masters degree.

I walked away with nothing: no recognition, no award and no party. Only one small positive event was my C.O. earlier asking me to re-up. I refrained from laughing at him; he was a good guy.

I am most proud of surviving! A wildlife biologist prone to sea sickness on the bridge conning the ship in the open ocean and in the ice.

Guess I am proud of qualifying without delay as a Ice OOD – Office of the Deck. And being made Ship’s Navigator for my third arctic patrol – even as my Quartermaster Chief Petty Officer took care of things for me; good guy.

After all these years, I am proud – since I had to serve – to have made the grade in the U.S. Coast Guard. Best outfit going.

It confirmed to me years later that I had “made the grade” when I was promoted to an 0-3, Lt., billet in the Inactive Reserve even without having a unit in which to drill. More and more I can remember the good guys rather than the bad.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I guess I covered this pretty well previously. No badges or other recognition.

What I will highlight are the good guys. And I sure mean the Enlisted men as well as the Officers. Lots of good guys!

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

I remember a number of good guys. But I don’t remember anyone who made a significant positive impact on me. I suppose that was because I’d already graduated college and begun a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when the draft board forced me into the military. Do my time and get back to my life’s work was my attitude.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

A good guy I haven’t yet mentioned was Yeoman First Class J. J. Begert. Very capable, friendly guy always joshing, starting false rumors and running around. Very important after months cooped up looking out at snow and ice.

One night about 2 a.m., I was the Junior OOD in mixed open water and ice conning the ship zig zagging around big chunks of ice at slow speed trying to stay close to the intended course. The OOD was inside the bridge. I drove from outside at an exposed bridge wing. I rounded a turn intending to hit and break off a small neck of ice extending from a large chunk. Hit it fine but it did not break off! Even at slow speed the ship slid up on the ice coming to a shuddering stop healing sharply to starboard. As we slide off backwards the OOD came running out to see what I had done. He, and I, were worried that I had awakened the C.O. and we’d get a fanny chewing. Lucked out, must have been sound asleep. Rest of the watch was uneventful.

Next night Yeoman Begert requested permission to come on the Bridge. I approved and turned to see him coming up the ladder wearing a life jacket and a big grin. Laughingly I asked him just what he was doing? He said he’d come up to see because the crew wanted to know if I was driving again? Did they need life jackets? Or to hook up their “seat belts” in their bunks? Begert happily informed me that I had rolled more than a few of them out of their bunks last night. Ha, ha, ha. I told him to get off the Bridge as I, and others, laughed.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

While in the Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required by law to hold my job and award me the salary step increases I would have earned when I returned. I was happy they met that commitment.

From Seattle my wife and I U-Hauled to the “paradise” of rural south central Oregon on the dry [east] side of the Cascade Mountains to Klamath Falls, Oregon. I joined the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges as a Junior Assistant Manager, GS-7, Sept. 1971.

Back then transfers were required for promotions. I served on wildlife refuges in Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Illinois and, finally, settled into 21 years as a refuge and wetlands manager in North Dakota. We raised our three kids there.

After many years managing fee owned and conservation easement lands in North Dakota, I started asking for details to other jobs. I served details in our Denver Regional Office, in Main Interior in downtown Washington D.C. and the US Bureau of Reclamation in Loveland, Colorado.

1993 I was sent to Guam as the first on island refuge representative during the process of establishing the Guam National Wildlife Refuge on former secret Navy land at Ratidian Point within Anderson Air Force Base. I enjoyed three more assignments to the Guam Refuge as acting refuge manager in the 1990s. Made some life friends on Guam to this day.

2001 I enjoyed another interesting detail as acting refuge manager to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. I can report the “Gooney Birds” (Laysan albatross) and many other bird species are doing very well. Exterminating rats was a big help and removing lead paint [chips poisoning birds] has and will help a great deal.

2001 I was to be reassigned to a staff job in the Denver Regional Office. With 3 years Coast Guard and 32 1/2 with Fish and Wildlife, I bailed out at age 54 1/2 as a refuge and wetland management district complex manager, GS-14.

Retirement has been great. I have enjoyed two volunteer trips back to the Guam Refuge and one back to Midway Atoll Refuge. Lots of backpacking and rafting trips, including down the Grand Canyon, and beach camping on the Big Island, Hawaii.

To fill time, I gave substitute school teaching a shot and found I love it. [Oregon allows folks with any college degree to get a special, limited teaching license if sponsored by a school district.] I’m in my 15 year as a Klamath Falls Public Schools substitute teacher. I’ve done everything from high school honors chemistry [only once!] to early childhood education, 3-5 year old kids. I’ve come to be often used in special education elementary classes – enjoy that the most. But I do all other elementary level class. Decided to not endure the stress of trying to help older students.

I am busy with my church and various local and national conservation efforts. National Audubon Society flew me to D.C. twice to join others lobbying Congress folks.

Life is good.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

Together We Serve is the only Coast Guard group I’ve encountered. I enjoy reading folks’ reflections and scanning the other military stories. TWS has, so far, facilitated one contact with a shipmate – which I much appreciate.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Well O.C.S. and shipboard survival surely toughened me up! It was a very fast and steep maturing curve even as I had four summer’s experienced as a farm laborer, ages 15-18 and worked through high school

My dad was a career bomber pilot (flew in the Berlin Airlift and piloted loaded B-52s during the Cold War, retired full Colonel) so I grew up understanding the military approach. Dad sure taught me the value of good Sergeants (our Petty Officers) to an Officer’s success.

My Coast Guard time solidified me on an approach of letting the good ones alone to do their job and keep me out of trouble. I well understood the O.C.S. teaching that Petty Officers could let you “run on the rocks” literally or figuratively if you failed to treat them with respect. And I sure served with many good ones that helped me along.

Civilian world they call this “delegating.” Many civilian delegators take time to learn you can not delegate the final responsibility. Whether conning the ship through dangerous ice, running a large wildlife refuge or being the teacher with several paraprofessional aides assisting, the approach is the same.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

These days nobody is forced to join the military. Therefore it is a person’s choice. She or he should avail themselves of the excellent opportunities (and benefits and retirement) that military service offers.

I have told more than one young person who doesn’t know where they are going in life that military service is a great option. Especially true if you are young and have only a high school education. I go on to say that if you want the satisfaction of saving lives and otherwise helping people, the U.S. Coast Guard is the best outfit. If I get the chance I tell them that the Guard is highly selective so if you can make it in you will most likely will serve with a large majority of good, hard working people.

If the youngster is interested I point out that course work, including higher education is available right at you unit in the Coast Guard. (And I sometimes mention the Navy.) Promotions are based on good work on deck as well as on correspondence courses. Enlisted promotions can happen based on your hard work in the Coast Guard in my experience. And I sure hope it still is that way!

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

It has caused me to think about things I have not in many decades. I have grown to be proud of the U.S. Coast Guard and to dwell on the three out of four great C.O.s I had and the other great people and experiences.

The Hurricane Katrina response sure made me proud. After 9/11 I offered to come back to help after reading there was a need. To the Coast Guard’s credit I received a call from a respectful Petty Offices saying “thanks but no thanks.” Much better than the normal “no response.”

3
Oct

Profile in Courage: Heroes of the Coast Guard

Within days of their Dec. 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Navy occupied scores of islands throughout the western Pacific Ocean. Japan’s goal was to create a defensive buffer against attack from the United States and its Allies – one that would ensuretheir mastery over East Asia and the Pacific. It wasn’t until the United States’ strategic victories at the Battles of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) and Midway (June 4-7, 1942) finally halted the Japanese Empire’s expansion that the Allies were free to unleash an offensive.

The strategically-located Solomon Island chain, lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and critical to protecting the supply lines between the U.S. and Australia, was selected as the place to begin the island-hopping offensive campaign to take the Pacific back from the Japanese. The Solomon Island operation, America’s first amphibious operation since 1898, lasted six months and consisted of a number of major battles – on land, at sea and in the air.

American forces first landed on the Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida on the morning of August 7, 1942. It took some very fierce fighting, but the Marines cleared Tulagi and Florida in two days. The main American forces on Guadalcanal met little resistance on their way inland to secure the airfield at Lunga Point (later renamed Henderson Field). Almost immediately, Japanese naval aircraft attacked transport and escort ships, and Japanese reinforcements were sent to the area. The fight for control of Guadalcanal and the surrounding seas continued for months with no clear winner, while both sides continued to lose men, ships and aircraft.

It seemed that every time the U.S. achieved a hard-fought victory, the Japanese would resupply Guadalcanal by night via the infamous “Tokyo Express” fast destroyer resupply chain and be ready for more fighting the next day. But eventually, U.S. forces gained the upper hand, and by February 1943, after six months of deadly and costly combat, the Japanese withdrew the last of their men and conceded the island to the Allies.

Guadalcanal was also the Coast Guard’s first major participation in the Pacific Campaign. These men were assigned a vital role in the landings – the operation of amphibious-type assault craft. Many of the Coast Guard Coxswains (who are in charge of the navigation and steering of a boat) came from Life-Saving Stations, and their training and experience with small boats in treacherous waters close to shore made them the most-qualified small-boat handlers for the crucial task of landing fighting men on the beaches. One such boat handler was Douglas Munro.

Douglas Albert Munro was born on October 11, 1919, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His father, James Munro, who originally hailed from California, and his mother, Edith Thrower Fairey from Liverpool, England, settled their small family of four in South Cle Elum, Washington, just outside of Seattle, where they raised young Douglas and his elder sister Pat. Douglas remained in South Cle Elum, from grade school through high school graduation in 1937, and then attended the Central Washington College of Education in nearby Ellensburg, Washington.

Munro and his friend from Seattle, Raymond Evans, eventually enlisted in the Coast Guard in Sept. 1939, the same month that Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. They served together on a Higgins boat landing craft off Guadalcanal during the Second Battle of the Matanikau, where both gained national acclaim for their heroic rescue operation that saved a Marine Corps unit trapped behind enemy lines.

Munro initially volunteered for duty on board the USCG Cutter Spencer, where he served until 1941 and earned his Signalman 3rd Class rating. In June 1941, President Roosevelt directed the Coast Guard to man four large transports and serve in mixed crews on board twenty-two naval ships. When word arrived that these ships needed Signalmen, Munro repeatedly requested and was finally granted permission to transfer to the USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14).

The “Lucky” Liggett was a 535 foot, 13,712 ton ship and was one of the largest attack transports in the Pacific. She carried nearly 700 Officers and men and thirty-five landing boats, including thirty-three LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel, or Higgin’s boats) and two LCMs (Landing Craft Mechanized). In April 1942, the Liggett sailed to Wellington, New Zealand, to prepare for a major campaign in the south Pacific.

As the task force gathered, Munro, now a Signalman First Class, was assigned to temporary duty on the staff of Commander, Transport Division Seventeen. During the preparations for the invasion, he was transferred from ship to ship, as his talents were needed. The task force rendezvoused at sea near the end of July, and on August 7, the Liggett led the other transports to their anchorage off Guadalcanal, serving as the amphibious task force command post until the Marines secured the beaches.

At the time of the invasion, Munro was attached to the staff of Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner on board the smaller 9,600-ton attack transport USS McCawley (APA-4). He made the landing on Tulagi Island where fierce fighting lasted for several days. About two weeks later, Munro was sent twenty miles across the channel to Guadalcanal where the Marines had landed and had driven inland. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ensued, and the Americans quickly seized the island’s airfield.

After the initial landings at Guadalcanal, Munro and twenty-four other Coast Guard and Navy personnel were assigned to the newly-established base at Lunga Point. The base was commanded by CDR Dwight H. Dexter, USCG, who was in charge of all the small boat operations on Guadalcanal. Situated on the Lever Brothers coconut plantation, the base consisted of a small house with a newly constructed coconut tree signal tower, and Munro was assigned there because of his Signalman rating. The base served as the staging area for troop movements along the coast. To facilitate this movement, a pool of landing craft from the numerous transports lay there to expedite the transportation of supplies and men.

A month into the campaign, the Marines on the island were reinforced and decided to push beyond their defensive perimeter. They planned to advance west across the Matanikau River to prevent smaller Japanese units from combining and striking American positions in overwhelming numbers. For several days near the end of September, the Marines tried to cross the Matanikau River from the east and each time met tremendous resistance. On Sunday, Sept. 27, Marine LtCol Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, embarked three companies of his 7th Marines in landing craft to land west of the river, drive out the Japanese and establish a patrol base on the west side of the Matanikau.

Just two weeks short of his twenty-third birthday, Munro took charge of ten LCPs (Landing Craft Personnel) and LCTs (Landing Craft Tank, or tank lighters) from the landing craft contingent at the Lunga Point base that were dispatched to transport Puller’s men to a small cove west of Point Cruz. The destroyer USS Monssen initiated the assault shortly after noon with a covering barrage from her five-inch guns. 500 Marines, led by Maj. Ortho L. Rodgers, landed unopposed in two waves at 1 PM, then pushed inland and reorganized on a ridge about 500 yards from the beach.

Unbeknownst to Maj. Rodgers’ Marines, a high level Japanese air raid of 17 bombers struck Henderson Field as they were disembarking on the beach, interrupting the Marine’s communication net and preventing word of unexpectedly strong Japanese forces from being relayed to Puller from a party of Marine Raiders probing further up the west side of the Matanikau River. The air raid also forced the support ships, including the Monssen and its supporting firepower, to temporarily get under way and withdraw from the vicinity of the island, denying the crucial fire support the Marines would immediately need.

At approximately 1:50 PM, as they reached the ridge, an overwhelming Japanese force struck Puller’s Marines from west of the river. This catastrophic situation deteriorated even further when Maj. Rodgers was killed and one of the Company Commanders was wounded. The Marines were stranded with no fire support or communications, facing superior enemy numbers, and in imminent danger of being surrounded and annihilated.

After landing the Marines, Munro returned to Lunga Point with his landing craft. A single LCP manned by Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans and Navy Coxswain Samuel B. Roberts remained behind to take off the immediate wounded, staying extremely close to the beach to expedite the process. Meanwhile, Japanese forces that had worked their way behind the Marine landing party suddenly fired a machine gun burst that hit the LCP, severing the rudder cable and disabling the boat’s steering controls. After jury-rigging the rudder, Roberts was struck by enemy fire and Evans managed to jam the controls to full ahead and sped back to Lunga Point Base. Unable to stop, the LCP ran onto the beach at 20 mph. Roberts later died but was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

As the shot-up boat piloted by Evans arrived back at the Lunga Point base, the plight of the Marines was not known, since they had failed to take a radio and were unable to communicate their predicament, and the bombing raid had driven the destroyer Monssen out of visual range with the Marines. However, the enterprising Marines used their under-shirts to spell out the word “HELP” on a ridge not far from the beach, and “Cactus Air Force” pilot Second Lieutenant Dale Leslie, flying out of Henderson Field in a Douglas SBD “Dauntless” naval scout plane/dive bomber, spotted the message and passed it by radio to another Marine unit. Word quickly arrived that the Marines were in trouble and were being driven back toward the beach.

At 4 P.M., Lt. Col. Puller, realizing that his men were isolated and endangered, embarked on Monssen to personally direct the covering fire for the Marines who were desperately trying to reach the beach for extraction. Puller re-established communications with his surrounded Marines via visual signals and directed the Monssen to blast a path through the Japanese to provide a route for his surrounded Marines to return back to the beach.

The landing crafts had meanwhile been readied at Lunga Point. Again, virtually the same boats that had put the Marines on the beach were assembled to extract them. Douglas Munro, who had taken charge of the original landing, volunteered to lead the boats back to the beach. None of these boats were heavily armed or well protected. For example, Munro’s Higgins boat had a plywood hull, it was slow, vulnerable to small arms fire, and was armed only with two air-cooled .30 caliber Lewis machine guns.

As Munro led the boats ashore, the Japanese fired on the small craft from Point Cruz, the ridges abandoned by the Marines, and from positions east of the beach. This intense fire from three strong interlocking positions disrupted the landing and caused a number of casualties among the virtually defenseless crews in the boats. Despite the intense fire, Munro led the boats ashore in waves of two or three at a time to pick up the Marines. Munro and Evans provided covering fire from their exposed position on the beach as the Japanese pressed ever closer to the beach, making the withdrawal increasingly dangerous with each passing second.

The returning Monssen, along with Leslie’s “Dauntless” dive bomber, provided additional cover fire for the withdrawing Marines. As the Marines arrived on the beach to embark on the landing craft, the Japanese maintained a murderous and withering fire from the ridges abandoned by the Marines, just 500 yards away, and the last group with their twenty-five wounded were in danger of being cut down. Munro quickly identified the deadly situation and unhesitatingly maneuvered his boat between the enemy and the final group of withdrawing Marines to protect the remnants of the battalion. With no regard to his own personal safety and exposed to the enemy’s deadly fire, Munro successfully provided cover and enabled the last remaining Marines to escape the deadly trap.

With all the Marines safely in the dangerously-overloaded small craft, Munro and Evans steered their LCP off shore. As they passed towards Point Cruz they noticed an LCT full of Marines grounded on the beach. Munro steered his landing craft to assist the disabled LCT and directed another tank lighter to pull it off. Twenty minutes later, the craft was free and heading out to sea. Before they could get very far from shore, the Japanese had set up a machine gun and began firing at the boats. Evans saw the incoming fire and shouted a warning to Munro, but the roar of the boat’s engine prevented Munro from hearing him, and a single bullet hit him in the base of the skull. Munro remained conscious long enough to say only four words, “Did they get off?” before dying.

Due to his extraordinary heroism, outstanding leadership and gallantry, Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the only coast guardsman to receive such an honor. The U.S. Coast Guard has named two of their cutters in his honor, the high-endurance cutter USCGC Munro (WHEC-724), and the National Security Legend-class cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL-755), while the Navy has named a destroyer escort in his honor, the USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422). The Douglas A. Munro Inspirational Leadership Award is annually awarded to the Coast Guard enlisted member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and professional competence to the extent of their rank and rate.

Raymond Evans, who remained in the Coast Guard, retired as a Commander. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Guadalcanal. He died on June 7, 2013 at the age of 92. The USCGC Raymond Evans (WPC-1110) is named in his honor. The CDR Ray Evans Outstanding Coxswain Trophy is a prestigious annual award that recognizes a Coast Guard coxswain who demonstrates exceptional boat handling skills and leadership.

In honor of Samuel B. Roberts, the US Navy named three ships after him. The destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), commissioned in April 1944, fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944 and was sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944. The USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823), a Gearing-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Samuel B. Roberts. In August 1970, the ship was ruled unfit for further service and was sunk as a target in the Atlantic Ocean 195 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico on November 14, 1971. The third USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, commissioned in 1986 and decommissioned on May 22, 2015. When it struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf in 1988 and was in danger of sinking, its crewmen who were engaged in damage control passed around and touched a plaque commemorating the first ship.

The Solomon Islands Campaign cost the Allies approximately 7,100 men, 29 ships and 615 aircraft. The Japanese lost 31,000 men, 38 ships and 683 aircraft. Over the next two and a half years, U.S. forces captured the Gilbert Islands (Tarawa and Makin), the Marshall Islands (Kwajalein and Eniwetok), the Mariana Islands (Saipan, Guam, and Tinian), Iwo Jima and Okinawa. With each island reclaimed from the Japanese, the U.S. moved closer to Japan. Growing superiority at sea and in the air, as well as in the number of fighting men, gave the U.S. increasing advantages. Nonetheless, wherever U.S. forces met Japanese defenders, the enemy fought long and hard before being defeated.

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