Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb was joined by Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival Executive Director Mike Smith and Coast Guard Festival President Scott Klaassen at the commissioning of the Munro (WMSL-755), the sixth Legend-class cutter in service, on April 1.
“It’s just a big honor for us to be a part of that ceremony,” McCaleb said. “It was a thrill for me to do it, and everything worked out great.”
Smith said that Grand Haven was invited to attend due to connections made at a Coast Guard Festival two years ago.
“I was thrilled because the family of Douglas Munro was our guest at the 2015 festival,” Smith said. “They extended an invitation for us to attend (the dedication).”
Smith said the commissioning was “just a beautiful (event).”
McCaleb said she also found the experience to be fascinating.
“It is interesting to see the traditions that are built into all this,” she said. “It’s very cool to see that, to participate in that and carry on those traditions.”
The 418-foot cutter is the second named for Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro (1919-1942), the only Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor. His other namesake is the 378-foot Douglas Munro (WHEC-724) stationed in Kodiak, Alaska.
Munro died on Guadalcanal on Sept. 27, 1942. According to the Coast Guard, he volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation by an unanticipated large enemy force. Munro succeeded in safely extricating them, and in doing so he was mortally wounded.
For his actions, Munro was posthumously given the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart Medal. Other decorations included the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
“I thought that was really interesting,” McCaleb said of Munro’s actions.
McCaleb and Smith both noted that the community’s presence at the ship’s commissioning represents Grand Haven well, and shows the Coast Guard that the Tri-Cities community cares about and appreciates its work.
“Our goal is to maintain a healthy, positive relationship with the Coast Guard leadership,” Smith said. “Grand Haven, known as Coast Guard City USA, will continue to be the most significant of the new Coast Guard cities by virtue of its enduring history.”