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September 28, 1999

Coast Guard shines spotlight on a WWII hero

by Seattle Times staff

CLE ELUM, Kittitas County - For 30 years, twice a day, Douglas Munro's childhood friend came faithfully to the cemetery where he lay to raise and lower the flag that flew over his grave.

But when Mike Cooley died last month and there was no one to raise the flag, the U.S. Coast Guard stepped in to honor one of its heroes.

Yesterday, in a ceremony at the Cle Elum Cemetery, it placed a light on Munro's grave so the flag can fly day and night, honoring the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor.

The ceremony, on the 57th anniversary of Munro's death, honors a man who is legendary in Coast Guard history.

He died in 1942, at age 22, killed by the Japanese at Guadalcanal when he put his boat between rescue vessels and enemy gunfire. That action saved 500 Marines, say Coast Guard officials. Today, a Coast Guard cutter bears his name.

In a letter to his family in Cle Elum, informing them of his death, Munro's commander wrote, "His successful maneuvers brought back a far greater number of men than had been even hoped for. He died with a smile on his face and the full knowledge that he had successfully accomplished a dangerous mission."

According to flag etiquette, in general the flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset only. However, it can be left flying 24 hours a day if it is lighted.

 

1999, by The Seattle Times Company
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