Robert Hilliard Barrow
Engagements: • World War II (1941 - 1945)• Korean War (1950 - 1953)• Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
Robert Hilliard Barrow
Robert Hilliard Barrow was born on 5 February 1922, in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up on his family's Rosale Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, LA. 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 1939-42, working as a waiter and a janitor. He also served in the University's Corps of Cadets.
World War II
In 1942, Barrow left LSU 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 19 May 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.
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.
In February 1956, Barrow began an 18-month tour with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC. 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.
After graduating from the National War College, Barrow served in Vietnam, as Commanding Officer, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division (Reinforced) 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.
Navy Cross Citation
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain Robert H. Barrow (MCSN: 0-23471), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Koto-ri, Korea, on 9 and 10 December 1950. Ordered to seize and occupy the high ground on Hill 1081 dominating the pass below and held by a heavily-fortified, deeply-entrenched enemy of approximately battalion strength controlling all approaches to his company's objective, Captain Barrow boldly led his company up the ice covered, windswept, razor backed ridge in a blinding snowstorm and, employing artillery, mortars and close air support, launched a well-coordinated attack. With his forward assault platoon suddenly brought under withering automatic weapons, small-arms and mortar fire from commanding ground as they moved along the narrow snow-covered ridge toward a bare mountain top studded with hostile bunkers and foxholes, he fearlessly advanced to the front under blistering shellfire, directing and deploying his men and shouting words of encouragement as they followed him to close with the enemy in furious hand-to-hand combat. Reorganizing his depleted units following the bitter conflict, he spearheaded a daring and skillful enveloping maneuver, striking the enemy by surprise on the right flank and destroying many emplacements as he continued the final drive up the steep slope in the face of heavy automatic weapons and grenade fire to secure the objective with a total loss to the enemy of more than 300 dead and wounded. By his gallant and forceful leadership, great personal valor and fortitude maintained in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Barrow aided immeasurably in insuring the safe passage of the FIRST Marine Division through this hazardous pass, and his inspiring devotion to duty throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Authority: Board of Awards: Serial 30 (January 24, 1952) Action Date: December 9 & 10, 1950
Distinguished Service Cross
Citation: 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.
Silver Star Medal Citation
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Captain Robert H. Barrow (MCSN: 0-23471), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Yongdungp'o, Korea, on 21 September 1950. Realizing the impossibility of immediate reorganization at the outskirts of the city, when a strong hostile counterattack threatened his company's flank, Captain Barrow unhesitatingly moved to an exposed position from which he could best direct the fire of his units after their successful 3,000 yard advance toward their objective. Under his able direction, the fire proved sufficiently effective to repel the counterattack and to cause the enemy to withdraw. While the company was preparing defensive positions and was forced to take cover from hostile sniper fire, he again exposed himself to place his men in advantageous firing positions and to further the development of their defense. Later, during an enemy attack, he supervised the firing of bazookas, thereby contributing to the destruction of one hostile tank, the damaging of another and the repulse of the assault. By his daring initiative, outstanding leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal risk, Captain Barrow upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
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 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, VA. Barrow became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps serving from July 1978 to July 1979, when he became the 27th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. From 1978-79, 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.
Medals and Awards
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.
Death and Burial
General Robert Hilliard Barrow died on 30 October 2008 at the age of 86. He is buried at Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery in Saint Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, LA.
Barrow's wife of 53 years, Patty, died in 2005.
He was survived by his sons Charles C. Pulliam, of Greenville, SC, and Robert H. Barrow, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel of Tampa, FL; his daughters Cathleen P. Harmon, of Killeen, TX; Barbara B. Kanegaye, of Houston, TX; and Mary B. Hannigan, of Oakton, VA; eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
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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