Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

The 500 Marines pushed inland. As they reached a ridge about 500 yards from the beach, they were attacked by a large Japanese force. At the same moment, the Monssen was driven off by enemy bombers. The Marines began taking heavy casualties, and the single landing craft, manned by Navy Coxswain Samuel B. Roberts and Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans, valiantly moved in under heavy fire to evacuate the wounded. While embarking the casualties, a machine gun burst parted the rudder cable and damaged the boat's controls. Roberts was able to jury-rig the rudder before he was mortally wounded; Evans then jammed the controls to full ahead and sped back to Lunga Point Base with the wounded Marines, running the damaged craft onto the beach at 20 knots on his arrival.

When he heard that the Marines back at the cove were in grave danger, Munro, who had led the boats in the original landing, assisted by Evans, who had just returned from the cove with the wounded Marines, volunteered to lead the boats back to rescue the others.

As the young Coast Guardsmen returned to the cove, the Japanese fired on them from three strong interlocking positions, causing a number of casualties. Despite the danger, Munro and Evans provided covering fire from an exposed position while the Marines made their way to the beach.

Despite murderous fire from the ridges, Munro then maneuvered his boat between the enemy and the Marines, shielding them as they made their escape.

With the Marines safely on board, the boats withdrew. But as they passed Point Cruz, they saw an LCT full of Marines grounded on the beach. Munro steered his craft in to assist, and soon had the stranded LCT free and heading to sea. Before they could get far from shore, however, a Japanese machine gun fired at the boats and hit Munro in the base of the skull. He died before reaching the operating base.

It was a day of extraordinary heroism in which a Navy Sailor and two Coast Guardsmen ensured that many Marines would live to ultimately prevail at Guadalcanal. Coast Guard Petty Officer Douglas Munro was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first ever awarded to a member of that service. Navy Petty Officer Samuel B. Roberts and Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans each received the Navy Cross.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy and Brown Water, Black Berets .
 

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More

 
 

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