Book Cover

You can order a soft cover or Kindle copy of Al's book from Amazon.



History | Al Munn's Dream

Back in the early '50s, Al Munn, a Columbia, S.C. native just out of college, came to WBTV as an intern. He quickly evolved into an entertainer—a ventriloquist and puppeteer—and a full-time staffer. (See photos). After a few years, Al, seeking greener pastures, moved over to WSOC. A few more years passed and—always the entrepreneur—Al became the owner of WIST Radio. Later he formed Al Munn Associates, which involved production, satellite transmission services and many other things.

Dalton Munn

Now we rewind back to the Summer of 1941. Al was a senior in high school. His older brother, Dalton, then a student at USC in Columbia, hearing the war drums growing louder, decided to join the Navy. Dal, as he was called, was underage and had to gain his mother's permission to enlist.

Dal was quickly trained as a Gunner's Mate and assigned to special unit called the U. S. Armed Guard, whose job it was to protect merchant ships from German U-boats in convoys to Russia and ports in Africa, carrying arms and materiel to our allies.

So, just days before war was declared, Dal—and eight other Navy gunners— were ordered about the SS Larranga, an old rust bucket of a ship, manned by the motliest of mariners of all nations. They sailed out of New York on December 7, 1941, (not the most propitious of days) to join a fleet of some 60 ships in Iceland.

This voyage, to Murmansk, Russia, and return, took nearly four months, during which time Dal and his small crew of gunners actually sunk a German sub, and on Christmas Eve, no less!

In April, after the Murmansk Run, Dal came home on a short leave. He surprised his family with a diary he had kept, a complete and detailed account of that dangerous, hellish voyage. It was page after page, in longhand, of Dal's incredible adventure. More surprising, it showed the skills one expects in an older and more accomplished writer.

Fortunately, when Dal left home for his next assignment aboard another merchant ship, he left the diary behind. What happened next is all the more astonishing.

In the decades since, Al Munn, the younger brother, who himself served in the Navy near the end of the war, carefully preserved Dal's pages, rightly considering them an important historical account of a little-noted but vital wartime operation. All along Al had thoughts of "someday" publishing the diary.

Al Munn

Fast forward to present day. Al, now in his eighties, sensing that advanced technology might now make publishing the document affordable, reached out to two old friends, Jim Scancarelli and Reno Bailey, also alumni of the BT stations, to lend their artistic and publishing expertise.

The result is the book, Diary of Squandered Valor: First Convoy to Murmansk, now available on Amazon in soft cover and Kindle.

An so that 70-year-old dream has been fulfilled.

Editor's note: Al passed away at his home in Charlotte on Saturday, March 22, 2014. He will be missed.

WBT's ventriloquist Al Munn and irascible partner Rodney perform on WBT Radio's long-running daily morning live audience remote broadcast show in Andrews Music Store's studio downtown in 1954.

The show was hosted by WBT's popular stars Jeanne Alexander, Jim Patterson and Bob Bean.

Behind the scenes shot of childrens' idol Fred Kirby and WBTV puppeteer Al Munn doing a live Bosco Chocolate TV commercial on Fred's "Cartoon Carnival - Little Rascals Club" in 1955.