General Robert H. Barrow (USMC), Commandant of the Marine Corps

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Robert Hilliard Barrow

Birthdate: (86)
Death: 2008 (86)
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Ellason Barrow and Maud Mary Haralson

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About General Robert H. Barrow (USMC), Commandant of the Marine Corps

Robert Hilliard Barrow (February 5, 1922 – October 30, 2008) was an American general, who was the 27th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) from 1979 to 1983. Barrow served for 41 years, including overseas command duty in three wars. He was awarded the Navy Cross for actions during the Korean War and the Distinguished Service Cross for actions during the Vietnam War.

Early life

Barrow was born on February 5, 1922, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and grew up on his family’s Rosale Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. The family’s circumstances were difficult. They had no electricity, so Barrow satisfied an early passion for reading by using a kerosene lamp.

Because it offered free tuition and low boarding costs, Barrow attended Louisiana State University from 1939 to 1942, working as a waiter and a janitor and served in the university's Corps of Cadets.

World War II

In 1942, Barrow left the university early to join the Marine Corps. He attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and was retained as a Drill Instructor after his graduation. While serving on the drill field, he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School in February 1943. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on May 19, 1943.

During World War II, Barrow served with the Sino-American Cooperative Organization which was a U.S. trained and equipped Chinese guerilla team in Japanese-occupied Central China. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V.

Korean War

During the Korean War, Barrow commanded Company A, 1st Battalion 1st Marines in the Inchon-Seoul campaign and in the Chosin Reservoir campaign. For his heroism in holding a pass near Koto-ri on December 9–10, 1950, he was awarded the Navy Cross.

Interwar years

In February 1956, Barrow began an 18-month tour with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From the summer of 1957 to the summer of 1960, he served as the Marine Officer Instructor, at the Tulane University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps.In September 1959, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Colonel Barrow graduated from the National War College in June 1968.

Vietnam War

After graduating from the National War College, Barrow served in Vietnam, as Commanding Officer, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division (Rein) and as Deputy G-3, III Marine Amphibious Force. While in command of the 9th Marines, the regiment saw combat near the DMZ, Khe Sanh, Da Krong Valley, and A Shau Valley. He received the Army Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism in Operation Dewey Canyon.

Distinguished Cross citation

Barrow's Distinguished Service Cross citation reads:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Robert H. Barrow (0-23471), Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters, Ninth Marine Regiment, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced). Colonel Barrow distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions during the period from 22 January to 18 March 1969 while commanding a regiment in Operation DEWEY CANYON in Quang Tri Province. Throughout the eight-week campaign in the Da Krong and A Shau Valleys, Colonel Barrow remained with the forward elements of his command, directing their insertion into enemy-held territory. Despite adverse flying conditions, he made numerous low-level reconnaissance flights in his command helicopter. Under his supervision, his troops swept the determined North Vietnamese forces back to the Laotian border, decimating countless fortifications and base camps and confiscating prodigious quantities of communist weapons and munitions. Despite the continuous hostile artillery and rocket bombardment of his command post, he persisted in retaining his position in close proximity to the enemy activity. During one concentrated attack on his post, he repeatedly exposed himself to the withering hostile fusillade in order to direct the repulsion of the enemy. After the two-month operation, his regiment confirmed over one thousand three hundred dead and accounted for tremendous amounts of captured North Vietnamese equipment. Colonel Barrow's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Marine Corps.

General officer; Commandant

In August 1969, he was promoted to brigadier general, then deployed to Japan to serve as Commanding General at Camp Butler in Okinawa, Japan. He received a Legion of Merit for his three years of service as CG and left Okinawa as a major general select. On promotion to major general, he became Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island.

He was promoted to lieutenant general in 1975 and assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower. In 1976, he was named Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, at Norfolk, Virginia. In July 1978, Barrow became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps serving until July 1979, when he became the Commandant of the Marine Corps. From 1978 to 1979, Barrow served as President of the Marine Corps Association.

General Barrow was the first Commandant to serve, by law, a regular four-year tour as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Commandant, "he was instrumental in acquiring approval of production for the Marine Corps of the American-modified Harrier aircraft, in awakening interest in new and improved naval gunfire support, in getting amphibious ships included in the Navy's new construction programs, and in returning hospital ships to the fleet, especially on station with Marine Corps amphibious task forces."

General Barrow retired from the Marine Corps on 30 June 1983, and was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal on retirement.

Post-military career

After General Barrow's retirement from the Marine Corps, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and to the president's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management.

In 1983, a letter from Barrow to Caspar W. Weinberger was released by the Pentagon. In the letter, Barrow criticized Israeli soldiers in Lebanon, saying that the Israelis were firing on U.S. troops, among other things. Israel denied the charges.

Barrow’s wife of 53 years, Patty, died in 2005.

Death and funeral

General Barrow died on October 30, 2008 at the age of 86. He was survived by his sons Charles C. Pulliam, of Greenville, South Carolina and Robert H. Barrow, a retired lieutenant colonel of Marines, of Tampa, Florida; his daughters Cathleen P. Harmon, of Killeen, Texas, Barbara B. Kanegaye, of Houston, Texas and Mary B. Hannigan, of Oakton, Virginia, eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. General Barrow was buried with full military honors on November 3, 2008. The service was held at Grace Episcopal Church and Cemetery in St. Francisville, the seat of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. The current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway delivered the eulogy, recognizing Barrow for his many initiatives ranging from recruiting to training; while former Commandant General Carl Mundy presenting the burial colors to Barrow’s next of kin.


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General Robert H. Barrow (USMC), Commandant of the Marine Corps's Timeline

Age 86