In the annals of Coast Guard history, the Coast Guardsman most known for heroism is Douglas Munro who died rescuing Marines at Guadalcanal. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and has a cutter and building named after him.
Another Guadalcanal hero was Munro's friend, Ray Evans. Commander Evans was awarded the Navy Cross He died this year and was laid to rest yesterday.
He was interviewed about that day at Guadalcanal and I've included the text of that day below:
I recall a major came down and a battalion major came down and I don't remember his name [Major Ortho L. Rodgers, USMC] I don't think I ever knew his name really. He, he talked to Dexter and the next thing I know, the commander is telling us that Doug and I -- that they were going to send this battalion, I guess it was a battalion of Marines, to land umm at Point Cruz. As I understood the situation, they had tried to cross the Matanikau River. And the Japanese were well entrenched on the other side of the river and they [the Marines] couldn't get across. So they sent a contingent up into the mountain, across the back of 'em to get behind them. And the, and the plan was to send these by water four miles across and land them at Point Cruz behind the Matanikau River, beyond it, and, and get them in a pincer movement.
Ahh, and so they came; we loaded up a, I don't know, ah ten or twelve infantry boats, and five or six tank lighters and under covering fire from the destroyer [U.S.S.] Ballard [AVD-10] made an amphibious landing. Umm, unfortunately, we were supposed to land at the head of the cove and we found the coral would not allow us to do that so we had to make an abrupt right turn and land on the beach. At the side. And we warned the major that immediately after they left the boat he should have his men make an immediate left and go to the head of the, to to follow their plan. But unfortunately he caught a mortar immediately after he got off the boat and he never gave that order. So they went up the wrong hill and the wrong place right into the Japanese and eventually they ran past the Japanese lines and then had to fight their way back through it to get to the beach.
In the meantime, all our boats had gone back to the base except the major had requested we leave one boat behind, for immediate casualties. And so I stayed, I elected to stay behind and I had a coxswain named Sam Roberts from Portland, and the two of us were laying to in this LCP. Unfortunately, we laid too close to the beach and the Japanese fired an automatic weapon at us and hit Roberts, hit all the controls, the vacuum controls on the boat. I slammed it into "full-ahead" and we tore out of there and I tore back to the, to the base, four miles, and when I got to the base, I pulled it out of gear, but it wouldn't come out of gear, so we ran up on the beach, which is a long sloping sand beach. Ran up on the beach the full length of the boat before it stopped.
Umm, and Roberts unfortunately, they got him in an evacuation plane to New Hebrides, and he died on the way, very sad. Then, no sooner had that happened then word came down that they [the Marine landing force] had to be evacuated. And so back we go. And this time, Doug said, we had two air-cooled Louis machine guns between us, with rotary drums if you remember, you've seen that kind, so we elected to stay on one boat with the two guns and act as kind of a covering fire, while we sent the rest of the boats in to load these people. And they had lost a, I think they had twenty-five casualties and then they had about twenty-five that were wounded, and we got all the wounded and all the all the rest of them off and, the last tank lighter load started out to sea and we followed him and found one tank lighter around the point was stuck on the beach and couldn't get off. So we sent that tank lighter with us in to tow him off and we acted as covering again. And we were having no fire from beach whatsoever. It was relatively easy. And he got him off and both the tank lighters headed off to sea and we headed out to sea behind him. And I saw that, and Doug was facing forward, and I was standing up by the coxswain looking back, I saw this line of waterspouts coming across the water, and I yelled at Doug to get down, he couldn't hear me over the engine noise, and it hit him. It was one burst of fire. And that's how he died. And that's how it happened.