The Cutterman website and coastguardchannel.com are sharing a link to a story with many elements of Douglas Munro‘s rescue of Marines from a beach on Guadalcanal.
Troops were trapped, having been ambushed and surrounded, their backs to the sea. Unless rescued by boat, death seemed certain.
This time the troops were nine South Vietnamese soldiers; the enemy, an estimated two Viet Cong platoons (about 60 men); the boat that came to their rescue, the Point Banks’ small boat, a 13’4″ Boston Whaler armed with a single M-60 machine gun. The Coast Guardsmen were Gunner’s Mate First Class Willis J. Goff and Engineman Second Class Larry D. Villarreal. They made the trip twice, overloading the boat each time. Both were awarded the Silver Star for their actions. GMCM Bill Wells tells the story:
Sounds like two more potential Fast Response Cutter names.
Very cool how the different branches work together. Small boat, huge heart!
I tried for years to get the Coast Guard to reconsider the awards. The Navy Cross would have been appropriate. However, the officers at the time were surprised the Silver Star was awarded. They asked for it thinking it would get chopped down the Bronze Star by the Navy Awards Board in Saigon. I may add that the Coast Guard had no sitting representative on this board and I have serious doubts that the Navy had the authority to issue awards beyond those expedient ones authorized by the Coast Guard.
This stems from the 1966 Navy re-organization into Naval Forces, Vietnam (NAVFORV) that excluded the Coast Guard and provided for awards to be a function of administration only. The Coast Guard had full ADCON of all its people and did not give this up.
There is some question also if the Point Banks was under CTF 115 control. It appears not. She had already chopped to the OPCON of the Coast Guard as was SOP for coming off Market Time patrol.
This is one of those areas where the Coast Guard did not want to step on Navy toes. The question is these forty years later, will the Coast Guard make Jerry Goff and Larry Villarreal the first recipients of the Coast Guard Cross?
I understand there is a statute of limitations on these awards, but there was administrative error all along the line. It is time to correct it.
That’s a great idea.
There is definitely past precedent for this type of upgrade.
I believe the Silver Star would have been appropriate for the one trip. However, the second with knowledge of what laid ahead pushed the acts into the extraordinary realm–even for Coast Guard rescues.
Thanks for linking to this, Chuck. I love finding these stories, makes me even prouder to be a Coastie. We just do a terrible job remembering things like this, I bet most Coast Guardsmen are not aware this even happened. I know I wasn’t!
Here’s the sad part about this story – I spent 20 years in the Coast Guard, and never heard about these two heroes, until now. Our service does a terrible job of teaching our history within the Coast Guard.
Don’t believe anything MC Wells says-he’s a pathological liar.
Are you suggesting the story is not true? Based on what? If you have some facts, share them. Don’t indulge in character assignation and name calling.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with RDML Baffer, who is the Procurement Executive Officer for the Coast Guard in the Acquisition Directorate. During the meeting we were discussing the fleet dedication ceremony for the Sentinel Class cutters and the remarkable stories goes with each of them.
RDML Baffer stated that the Commandant is intituting a semester course at the Coast Guard Academy on Coast Guard history. This is a fantastic idea and one that is long over due. When Chuck and I attended “Bouy Tender Tech” there was VERY little ever discussed of our past. It is my understanding that the boot camps did a much better job than the Academy.
BZ to the Commandant
I was an invited panelist at the discussion of this course. The course, as directed by the Commandant, will be for credit. There may be follow on elective courses. This training will also be included at Cape May, the CPO Academy, LDC and OCS. The plan is to reach all Coast Guardsmen. The CGA portion is to begin in the Fall 2012.
There will be other meetings in the future to chart the course of Coast Guard history. One of the problems in creating a Coast Guard history course, is the lack of strong academically produced material.
I do not know who, or what, the anonymous Rob Tiffer is, but he may contact me at anytime. I would welcome his comments.