A mom knows. Don’t ask me how, she just knows. During World War II every parent’s biggest fear was to see a Western Union delivery boy step on his coaster brake in front of their house and walk up to knock at their front door. The telegram was from the Secretary of War (Department of Defense) stating, “Your son was killed in action” or is “missing in action.”
On Sunday morning, Sept. 27, 1942, suddenly Edith Munro could not explain why she felt a horrible loss. Something told her to go pray at church which she did. After a long conversation with her God, she knew her son, Doug, was killed in action. She was not aware of the details.
Instantly, she was a Gold Star Mother. Gold Star Mothers met once a week in each community for lunch and support with the loss of their son or, God forbid, loss of sons. Their son’s blue star displayed in a front window was replaced with a gold star.
The military does not move rapidly. Three weeks to the day, Oct. 18, 1942, there was a USCG officer in his dress white uniform. He knocked on their front door. As soon as Edith saw his uniform through the glass, she was paralyzed. The seconds seemed like an eternity. Finally, her husband opened the door. With some mothers there is lifetime connection. Edith carried Douglas in her womb for nine months. Now she knew that her son’s life was extinguished by a Japanese bullet on Sept. 27.
Admiral Halsey submitted the paperwork for Doug to be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Two hours after Edith and her husband had received Doug’s Medal of Honor from President Roosevelt at the White House, she took the oath becoming an officer in the SPARS in May 1943. Spar is a nautical term for a pole used for rigging a sail and an acronym for Semper Paratus Always Ready, the name for female Coasties during the War. Lt. junior grade Edith Munro was in charge of the SPARS barracks at the Assembly Hotel for the 13th Coast Guard District. They performed clerical and recruiting tasks which freed Coasties to be assigned to the war zone.
The Palm Beach Post newspaper asked Edith why she joined the SPARS. She responded, “We are a Coast Guard family, through Doug (her son). He loved his service. I am happy to be eligible to serve in it.” Edith was discharged Nov. 1, 1945.
Edith’s daughter, Patricia Munro Sheehan, was responsible for the re-dedication of Munro Hall at the USCG Training Center in Cape May, NJ. “Pat” traveled our country and promoted the USCG’s significant role in World War II. Her son Doug Sheehan said, “She always made a special contribution to every ceremony she attended.”
Edith set a wonderful example for her family. Instead of wallowing in self-pity over the loss of her son, she joined the SPARS giving 2 1/2 years of service. Edith’s daughter Patricia adopted various Coastie projects. Pat’s son Douglas Sheehan was named after his deceased uncle. He continued their family’s tradition as a Coastie. Doug retired as a commander. Pat’s daughter Julie Sheehan sponsored the Munro on Nov. 14, 2015 as she broke a bottle of champagne across her bow.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mom with a special “thanks, moms” to all our Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy moms. Between you and me, Mother’s Day should not be only the second Sunday of May. Mother’s Day should be every day of the year! Why should you be nice to your mom only one day?
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.