PASCAGOULA -- The military legacy of Douglas Munro will continue Saturday when Ingalls Shipbuilding christens its sixth Naval Security Cutter bearing his name.
Munro, of Washington, is the only Coast Guardsman to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor after his brave actions in 1942 saved hundreds of Marines.
With a large group of Marines under attack from a larger Japanese force Sept. 27, 1942, Munro volunteered to lead a rescue mission.
Munro maneuvered his boats into a position to cover the retreating men, leaving him exposed to heavy gunfire. His last words are immortalized in Coast Guard lore. After suffering fatal wounds, Munro remained conscious long enough to ask his rescuers if the Marines made it to safety.
"Everyone that has ever joined the Coast Guard knows the name of Douglas Munro," Capt. Thomas King said. "That name alone sets a standard we have to carry on."
King's next assignment is to begin putting together his crew for the ship.
"We have to build a culture," he said. "It's important to develop that sense of pride, honor and duty."
The ship will be christened by Munro's great-niece Julie Sheehan.
"I am extremely honored to be able to be the sponsor for this event," Sheehan said. "To be able to carry on the family history and honor my great-uncle is a privilege."
Sheehan said throughout her childhood she shared a strong bond with Munro's mother, Lt. Edith Munro.
"I feel like I'm here for her," she said. "This ceremony is as much for her as anyone."
Edith Munro joined the Coast Guard Women's Reserve Unit as a coping mechanism after the death of her son, Sheehan said.
"This is something she would be so proud of," Sheehan said. "I'm doing this with both of them in my heart."
Ingalls president Brian Cuccias said he applauds those who helped build this ship.
"To lead a yard with this many talented workers makes coming to work very special," he said. "You need two things to create ships like this: talent and facilities. Ingalls leads the nation in both."
Cuccias said the workers are learning from project to project on ways to reinvent themselves and better the ships that are used to protect this country.
"It's a sense of pride working on ships like this," electrical foreman Gary Acuna said. "Years from now, I can look back and say I was part of this."
Acuna said seeing the ship finally in the water is a surreal moment for him.
"I've always wanted to belong to something larger than life," he said. "This is it."