Compiled by Pat Perrella and Anne McCarthy
First Class Signalman Douglas A. Munro made three
rescue landings for Marines caught in enemy fire at Guadalcanal where he was killed. He is
the only Coast Guard member to have received the Medal of Honor and is given
special recognition in the museum display. DE 422 was named in Munro's
honor. Entitled "Bodyguards," the display includes WWII photographs, pennants,
equipment and other artifacts. Of special interest is an item called "misery
iron," which every DE man should recognize - a paint scraper similar to a small
crowbar. When not otherwise engaged, the ship's crew scraped off paint ravaged by salt
water, preparing the surface for repainting and an eventual repetition of the entire
Fourteen DE commanders were US Coast Guard
Source: The United States Coast Guard Museum, located on the grounds of the US Coast Guard
Academy at Groton, CT. In November 1992, the museum opened a display honoring destroyer escorts.
The Coast Guard ultimately manned 30
destroyer escorts during WW II. Although the vessels
were officially US Navy, these were formed into five
escort divisions consisting of six destroyer escorts
each. Each destroyer escort was fully manned by Coast Guard crews, and the five divisions were under the command of a senior Coast
Guard officer. Since each division had six ships
with about 200 men aboard each, roughly 6,000 Coast Guard men served at one
Following shakedown cruises and
antisubmarine-warfare training, all were assigned to transatlantic escort duty,
taking convoys from the American East Coast to ports in the UK and to the Mediterranean. Most of these DEs continued to and from Europe or Africa
until the end of WW II, May 1945. Then, after overhaul and further training, 23
of the ships were ordered to the Pacific. Only the six sent to Adak in the
Aleutians has any opportunity for active service before Japan's surrender.
However, they escorted convoys in the North Pacific and served with the 9th
Fleet in its campaign against the Kurile Islands.
The Coast Guard's contribution to Allied
victory over the U-boats went far beyond estimation. Although the majority of the Coast Guard units could not claim a U-boat
"kill," this was not the only measure of success. Each escort helped to keep the U-boats at bay, ultimately ensuring the timely and
safe arrival of personnel, food and military cargoes.
Coast Guard units also rescued nearly 1,000 Allied and Axis survivors along the
North Atlantic convoy routes, 1,600 along the American
coast, and 200 in the Mediterranean, thereby carrying on one of the most historic of the Coast Guard's missions.
1information courtesy of the USCG web site
USS Leopold DE-319 was the first
destroyer escort sunk by enemy action. U-255 torpedoed the DE south of Iceland on 9 March
1944. 171 crewmembers were killed. Only 28 crewmembers survived.
March 18, 1945 - The German submarine U-866 was
sunk by the destroyer escorts USS Menges DE-320, USS Mosley
DE-321, USS Pride DE-323 and USS Lowe DE-325 in
the northwest Atlantic. Credit was shared between the four Coast Guard-manned ships. Location of event: 43.18N x 61.08W. Enemy casualties: 55 killed in action; all hands lost. USCG casualties: None
The USCG DEs were the 306 foot-long, Fairbanks Morse-diesel
type with reduction gears.