A month after their landing at Guadalcanal, with the outcome of that campaign far from decided, the Marines decided to push beyond their defensive perimeter and advance west across the Matanikau River to prevent the consolidation of Japanese forces then threatening to strike U.S. positions in overwhelming numbers. Several times the Marines tried to cross the river, and each time met great resistance.
On 27 September 1942, three companies of the 7th Marines were assigned to make a flanking attack by landing in a small cove west of Point Cruz. Ten personnel and tank landing craft (LCP, LCT) were dispatched from a base at Lunga Point with Coast Guard Signalman First Class Douglas Munro—just two weeks short of his 23rd birthday—in charge.
With the destroyer Monssen (DD-436) assigned to provide fire support, the Marines landed unopposed. Once the landing party was safely on the beach, the small craft returned to Lunga Point, leaving one LCP behind to evacuate the wounded, should that become necessary.