Our 27th Commandant left us on 30 October.
Semper Fi and Rip General.
Robert Barrow, a Marine Corps Reformer Who Became Commandant, Dies at 86
By Douglas Martin, The New York Times
Gen. Robert H. Barrow, the 27th commandant of the Marine Corps who served heroically in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, then went on to reform Marine recruiting and training, died on Thursday in St. Francisville, La. He was 86.
The Marine Corps announced his death.
General Barrow combined Southern courtliness, fierce devotion to Marine tradition and courage reflected in dozens of awards. He was awarded the Navy Cross in Korea and the Army Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam, both of which are second only to the Medal of Honor.
As the Marine manpower chief in 1976, General Barrow was instrumental in drafting reforms designed to end physical abuse and harassment of recruit trainees by drill instructors. The New York Times, quoting military officials, reported in 1979 that the training reforms, which included closer supervision by officers, had worked well.
At the time, the general said the corps would not ease the tough physical conditioning that was a hallmark of Marine boot camps. But he demanded that there be no more ""excess stress"" on recruits, including ""nose-to-nose yelling"" by drill sergeants.
General Barrow also succeeded in raising the quality of recruits, in part by seeking out high school graduates. In 1975, less than half had high school diplomas; by 1982, 82 percent did.
Robert Hilliard Barrow was born on Feb. 5, 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, however. They had no electricity, so Robert satisfied his early passion for reading by using a kerosene lamp.
He went to Louisiana State University, because it offered free tuition at the time and modest boarding costs. He worked as a waiter and janitor and served in the university's Corps of Cadets, as all physically fit students — only men were admitted then — were required to do.
After Pearl Harbor, General Barrow, inspired by the Marines' heroic but ultimately unsuccessful defense of Wake Island in December 1941, was attracted by a double-page Marine Corps recruiting ad in The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.
He joined the Marines in March 1942. He could have stayed to graduate because of his membership in the university's corps but instead asked for active duty in November 1942, Allan R. Millett and Jack Shulimson wrote in ""Commandants of the Marine Corps"" (2004).
General Barrow was disappointed in his preparation during the six-week boot camp in San Diego, undoubtedly setting the stage for his later training reforms. The book quoted him as saying that the experience ""was not one that prepared someone to go off and be a fighting member of a fighting organization.""
He stayed on as a drill instructor, then went on to officer candidate school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1943. He ended up being deployed to China, where he led an American team fighting with a Chinese guerrilla force behind Japanese lines. He was awarded a Bronze Star with Combat ""V.""
During the Korean War, he fulfilled diverse assignments, including the Inchon-Seoul operation, a daring amphibious strike led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and the Chosin Reservoir campaign, in which American troops fought valiantly to hold off invading Chinese before being forced to withdraw. Lynn Montross the corps' chief historian at the time, called him ""the most outstanding company commander of the war.""
In 1952, General Barrow was lent by the Marine Corps to a top-secret mission on a string of islands north of Taiwan, the Marine Corps said in its announcement of his death.
During Vietnam, General Barrow commanded the Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division. In Operation Dewey Canyon in early 1969, his troops killed 1,617 enemy soldiers and captured 1,461 weapons and hundreds of tons of ammunition. Gen. Richard G. Stillwell, chief of staff to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the American commander in Vietnam, called General Barrow the war's ""finest regimental commander.""
General Barrow rose through the ranks, becoming assistant commandant in 1978 and commandant in 1979, succeeding Gen. Louis H. Wilson, who had already started big reforms in the Marines, including discharging more than 5,000 undesirables.
Besides recruitment and training, General Barrow expanded the Marines' role in the military's new rapid response strategy. He also came up with ways the Marines could fight without storming beaches. These included putting equipment on preloaded ships that would meet Marines at a safe port.
In 1983, General Barrow made news after a letter he wrote to the secretary of defense, Caspar W. Weinberger, criticizing Israeli soldiers in Lebanon, was released by the Pentagon. General Barrow said Israeli soldiers were firing guns at American troops, among other things. Israel denied the charges.
General Barrow's wife of 53 years, Patty, died in 2005. He is survived by his sons Charles C. Pulliam, of Greenville, S.C., and Robert H. Barrow, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marines, of Tampa; his daughters Cathleen P. Harmon, of Killeen, Texas, Barbara B. Kanegaye, of Houston, and Mary B. Hannigan, of Oakton, Va., 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
At his retirement in 1983, General Barrow recalled asking graduates of Parris Island boot camp what they had gotten out of their training. He approvingly quoted one response: ""Sir,"" a young Marine said, ""the private will always do what needs to be done.""
Marine Corps honors 27th commandant
11/4/2008 By Cpl. Frans E. Labranche, Marine Forces Reserve
ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. — Hundreds of people huddled beneath massive oak trees next to Grace Episcopal Church Nov. 3 to pay their last respects to Gen. Robert H. Barrow, 27th commandant of the Marine Corps.
“Gen. Barrow really focused on people, he believed that it wasn’t so important how many people became Marines, but their quality,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman, commander of Marine Forces Reserve. “He knew that the quality of his Marines would help over come the challenges facing the Corps.”
Another Marine at the ceremony said Barrow’s belief and dedication to the Corps may only have been rivaled by the Marines’ determination to honor him one last time.
“He deserves everything we can do for him,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Dixon, Marine Corps funeral director. “It’s nothing for us to dedicate this time and work to a man that worked for more than forty years for the Marine Corps.”
Barrow’s family, who has been a part of the St. Francisville community even before the Civil War, is well known throughout the town. Many residents also consider him somewhat of a legend.
“I think that it’s really inspiring to know that an American hero lives in your town,” said Dorothy Hammond, a neighbor and local shop owner. “Even in his death, Gen. Barrow has brought something beautiful (the ceremony) to this sleepy town.”
Gen. James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Gen. Carl Mundy, former commandant of the Marine Corps from 1991-1995, participated in the ceremony by delivering the eulogy and presenting the burial colors to Barrow’s next of kin.
According to an article published in the Advocate (La.) newspaper, Conway praised Barrow for his many initiatives ranging from recruiting to training.
“He did a lot to enhance our war-fighting capability, and on a strategic level, moved the Corps into the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was a powerful kind of statesman,” Conway was quoted as saying.
Conway added “Our country is a safer place and the U.S. Marine Corps a better institution because of Gen. Robert H. Barrow.”
Barrow, who died in his sleep Oct. 30, joined the Marine Corps in 1942 and was commissioned in 1943, after which he deployed to the Far East with the 51st Replacement Battalion out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Shortly thereafter, Barrow received the Bronze Star for serving in Japanese-occupied central China. In June 1949, he assumed command of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
Barrow led Marines ashore at Inchon in September 1950. He received the Silver Star after fighting in Seoul, Korea, and the Navy Cross for actions during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign in December 1950.
In the early 1950’s, Barrow was assigned to a then-classified position in the Far East on an island chain north of Taiwan. Then, in 1968 after serving in several overseas billets, Barrow took command of 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, in South Vietnam. In 1969, he received the Army Distinguished Service Cross for his valor during Operation Dewey Canyon. Later that year, he was promoted to brigadier general and took command of Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan.
During his tenure as commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Barrow began a crusade to improve the quality of Marines being recruited into the Corps. He was selected as the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps in 1978.
In 1979, Congress confirmed Barrow as the commandant of the Marine Corps. He was the first Marine to serve a regular four-year tour as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He continued his leadership in personnel reform, believing that a better quality of recruit led to an increase in performance and retention in an all-volunteer service.
Barrow retired in the summer of 1983 and served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Packard Commission from his home in St. Francisville, La.
Barrow’s personal decorations include the Navy Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star Medal, three Legions of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Combat V and gold star in lieu of a second award, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
(photos at link)
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