Laurel Hill Memorial Park
Laurel Hill Memorial Park is a City owned cemetery and all cemetery records are kept at City Hall. Please call the Cle Elum City Hall if you have any questions regarding persons buried in the cemetery. If you would like to make arrangements for purchasing a grave space and/or burial, contact City Hall.
The Douglas A. Munro Memorial is located in the Veteran’s Section. This Memorial and gravesite is dedicated to Signalman First Class, Douglas A. Munro, U.S. Coast Guard, a Cle Elum native. The United States Coast Guard performed a wide variety of duties during World War II. One of the more important tasks was manning amphibious craft for the U.S. Navy. It was in this line of duty that Douglas Munro was killed and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
On August 7, 1942, in order to counter Japanese advances in the Solomon Islands, the Marines landed at Guadalcanal and began a six month fight for the island. Toward the end of September, in an attempt to secure more of the island, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines advanced toward enemy positions. Approximately 200 men of the battalion landed west of the Matanikau River to establish a patrol base. On September 27th, these Marines, isolated from the battalion and exposed to all the Japanese forces west of the river, were attacked by an overwhelming enemy force and forced to withdraw to the beach.
More than a dozen landing craft were assembled, and Munro took charge of directing the surrounded Marines. Munro was the coxswain of a thirty-six foot Higgins’ boat, and he also manned one of the two .30 caliber Lewis machine guns. As the craft headed inshore, the Japanese attempted to foil the rescue by firing on the exposed boats, hitting some and causing casualties. The lightly armed Higgins’ boats, followed by the remaining craft, reached the shore in waves. Directed by Munro, the boats came to the beach two or three at a time while Munro and Petty Officer Raymond Evans provided covering fire. After most of the men had re-embarked into the waiting boats, the few remaining Marines quickly became overwhelmed by the Japanese. Munro realized that these men were in great danger. He maneuvered his boat to provide cover for the remaining Marines. All of the Marines, including twenty-three wounded, managed to escape. Only minutes after placing the last man on board, Munro was fatally wounded while providing covering fire from his exposed position. Munro’s last thoughts concerned the men he had just rescued. He remained conscious long enough to ask, “Did they get off?”
Due to his extraordinary bravery, Munro posthumously received the Medal of Honor. The U. S. Navy later named one of its destroyer escorts after the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, and more recently the Coast Guard name a high endurance cutter for Munro.
Douglas A. Munro graduated Cle Elum High School in 1937. He then attended Central Washington College of Education (now Central Washington University) for a year before enlisting in the Coast Guard in 1939.
A Wall was erected in the Douglas A. Munro Memorial and dedicated to all of the servicemen from Cle Elum. Each war is represented on the wall with the names of those men and women who served in the military.