On July 21, 1944, George Munro was a 20 year old corporal in the United States Marine Corps who found himself fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Islands. Mr. Munro was part of Marine infantry forces that fought during the invasion of Guam to establish an Allied stronghold for the subsequent phases of the war.
On the morning of July 27, six days after the Battle of Guam had begun, George had received the word that “…everyone was going forward” toward the capital to set up an outpost at a sugar refinery. Having been out on patrol earlier that morning to scout the front line, George was anticipating a cautious, yet uneventful, expedition.
Shortly after the company began moving out, George’s squad passed by some battlefield debris where an enemy soldier lay in wait, George recalls, “As we passed by the debris he threw the cover off the spider trap and came out firing an automatic, similar to our BAR [Browning Automatic Rifle],… he was wounded; they would leave those guys behind, let everyone pass by and typically go after officers and medics”. The gunmen hit six Marines, killing three and wounding the others.
Despite taking one of the rounds to his left thigh, George was able to crawl to a culvert and begin to try and stop the bleeding. It was not until about seven hours later that he was finally taken to safety. Initially the leg was cast in an attempt to save it; however, the combination of the wound not being properly cleaned and the heat of the cast eventually lead to infection. The amputation occurred on a Navy ship on route to Pearl Harbor.
George eventually ended up at Mare Island, off the coast of California, where he received his first prosthesis. Plastic sockets and light weight components were still a long way off at this point; heavier metals and wood sockets were the preferred materials. “A big stove bolt was used to hold on the foot and it was breaking about once a month… also, the leg had a waist belt that attached to the socket with a big joint at the hip… nothing like what I have today.” George says of the men who fabricated the legs on Mare Island, “…these guys were draftees from all different professions who were given a crash course in physical therapy and prosthetics…but they were doing the very, very, very best they could to help you- I would never say anything bad about those guys”.
George experienced almost all of the technological advances in the industry as they occurred, and claims the level of comfort that is achieved now is unbelievable compared to earlier models. Through the Department of Veteran Affairs. (Read about our affiliated clinics and facilities) George would give walking demonstrations and participate in the testing of new advancements. One of his more notable experiences was being one of the first volunteers to use a suction socket.
Now 85 years old and retired from a long career with the U.S. Postal Service and the Massachusetts Parks Service, George is enjoying life on Cape Cod. As far as United Prosthetics, “…I think they are the best, I travel over sixty miles to the Braintree office, even though there are closer places, to see Paul… and the girls in the office are always able to give me an appointment that is convenient for me in the middle of the day”.