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Gen. Robert H. Barrow


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A true hero of the Corps, whom I was priviledged to serve under passed away yesterday... Godspeed, may you rest in peace, General. salute.gif





Advocate staff writer

Published: Nov 1, 2008 - UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.


Gen. Robert H. Barrow, the 27th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a Louisiana native, died Thursday in his sleep at his St. Francisville home. He was 86 years old.


The decorated veteran of three wars World War II, Korea and Vietnam was one of eight Marine generals from Louisiana and one of two commandants from the state.


Gen. John A. Lejeune was the 13th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as its highest ranking officer from July 1, 1920, to March 4, 1929. Barrow served as commandant from 1979 to 1983.


Maj. Gen. David Mize, who served under Barrow in the Marine Corps at Parris Island, S.C., in the early 1970s, said Friday that Barrow was a giant among Marines.


He was one of the great Marines of my 35 years in the Marine Corps, Mize said. Im sure everyone who served with him and around him will mourn the passing of a terrific warrior, a great Marine and a wonderful patriot.


During his 41-year military career, Barrow earned dozens of awards while serving seven tours of duty in the Pacific and Far East, and commanding Marine divisions during the Korean and Vietnam wars.


Barrows personal decorations include the Navy Cross, which is the highest medal awarded by the Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor.


Barrow also earned the Army Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, three Legions of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat V and Gold Star, and the Combat Action Ribbon.


Barrows greatest accomplishments, according to a U.S. Marine Corps news release, were his many enduring reforms to the Marine Corps.


Barrow responded aggressively to racial tension in the Marine Corps, ended tolerance of drug abusers and problem drinkers, and gave commanders the authority to discharge Marines who created recurring problems,”the release said.


Barrow also was instrumental in establishing the now-proven Marine Corps program to pre-position equipment on ships near areas of potential conflict, the release says.


Gordon H. Mueller, president and CEO of The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, said Friday that Barrow was one of the most extraordinary military leaders of the last century.


The museum honored Barrow with its Silver Service Medallion in 2006 for his lifetime achievements and for his values and integrity displayed throughout his career, Mueller said.


Born on Feb. 5, 1922, in Baton Rouge, Barrow grew up in West Feliciana Parish at historic Rosale Plantation and graduated from Julius Freyhan High School.


When he was 17 years old, Barrow enrolled at Louisiana State University, but left before graduating in fall 1942 to enlist in the Marine Corps.


Barrow later graduated from the University of Maryland and attended graduate school at Tulane University. He also is a graduate of the National War College and holds honorary doctorates from Tulane University, The Citadel and LSU.


Paul E. Hoffman, professor of history at LSU, said Barrow described his experience at the university in oral history interviews as one that gave him an education on how to live.


Barrow said in the interviews he found the freedom at LSU to do everything but study. He said he worked several jobs to be able to attend the university and used a war analogy to describe the hazing he received from upper classman.


Being a freshman was like being in guerrilla warfare, Barrow said in the interviews.


Guerrilla warfare was something Barrow experienced first hand during the last seven months of World War II when he led a U.S. team serving with Chinese guerrilla forces in Japanese-occupied central China. Barrow was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V for his leadership during that mission.


When Barrow retired from the Marine Corps in 1983, he returned to Louisiana but continued to serve his country as a member of the Presidents Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Presidents Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management.


President Reagan, who spoke at Barrows retirement, appointed Barrow to both the board and the commission.


In the essay he wrote for the book, Commandants of the Marine Corps, Brig. Gen. Edwin Simmons said Barrow maintained, throughout his life, an abiding love and respect for his Marines.


Maj. Gen. Ron Richard, who met Barrow in 1950 when he was a first lieutenant, agreed and said Barrow was a great man and a wonderful leader with tremendous courage in combat.


West Feliciana Parish Superintendent of Schools Lloyd Lindsey described Barrows military career as one of American lore.


He said he watched films about Barrow while attending officer training classes with the Marine Corps but didnt meet Barrow until returning to St. Francisville where both Barrow and Lindsey lived.


In addition to being a U.S. hero, Lindsey said, Barrow is a true Southern gentleman.


He couldnt sit in a chair when a lady was around and he sang to his wife, Patty Barrow, until she died in 2005, Lindsey said.


He was such a fine man.


Barrow is survived by three daughters and two sons. A private funeral for family and friends will be 1 p.m. Monday in St. Francisville. He will be buried at Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery.


Residents living near the cemetery might hear loud reports during the service, a Marine Forces Reserve news release said.

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His Official Bio...


General Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born 5 February 1922 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After attending Louisiana State University, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and was commissioned a second lieutenant 19 May 1943.


Lieutenant Barrow subsequently served as Officer-in-Charge of an American team attached to a group of Chinese Nationalist guerrillas. He entered China via India and after many months of operations along the periphery of the area held by the Japanese in central China, his team entered Japanese occupied territory and conducted intensive guerrilla operations for the last seven months of World War II. For this service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”. After the war, Lieutenant Barrow remained in China for another year, six months of which was spent in Shanghai and six months in the Tientsin-Peking area.


He returned to the United States in October 1946, and served as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Atlantic, until September 1948. Captain Barrow then completed the Amphibious Warfare School, Junior Course, Quantico, Virginia.


From 1949 until 1950, he served as Commanding Officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.


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


In February 1956, he commenced an eighteen month tour with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From the summer of 1957 to the summer of 1960, he served as the Marine Officer Instructor, NROTC Unit at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. In September 1959, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.


Colonel Barrow graduated from the National War College in June 1968. He then served in the Republic of Vietnam, as Commanding Officer, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), and as Deputy G-3, III Marine Amphibious Force. During the nine months he served as Commanding Officer of the 9th Marines, his regiment participated in numerous combat actions in the vicinity of the DMZ, Khe Sanh, Da Krong Valley, and A Shau Valley. For extraordinary heroism in Operation Dewey Canyon, he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross.


After promotion to brigadier general, he served as Commanding General at Camp Butler, Okinawa. On further 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, FMF, Atlantic, at Norfolk.


General Barrow became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps in July 1978, so serving until appointed the Corps' Commandant on 1 July 1979.


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. 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 as Commandant on 30 June 1983 and returned to his native state of Louisiana. Upon retirement he was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal.


In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, a complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Navy Cross; the Army Distinguished Service Cross; the Silver Star Medal; three Legions of Merit; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the China Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars; the Vietnamese Service Medal with one bronze star; four Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry with Palm; the Republic of Vietnam National Order, Fifth Class with Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the United Nations Service Medal; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

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General Barrow was the CO of the 9th Marines when I served in Viet Nam with H&S, 2/4. Even then, as a Regimental CO, the General had an enviable reputation as a Field Marine, effective and resolute. As Commandant, General Barrow did much to restore discipline and pride to the USMC.

He was a consumate gentleman who served Country and Corps with style and dignity.

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A great Marine hero & USMC Commandant of recent times. His presence and outstanding leadership of the Corps was felt when it was truly needed. Semper Fidelis, General Barrow. REST IN PEACE, SIR. salute.gif


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Patrick Dennis/The Advocate A U.S. Marine Corps military procession marches down Royal Street in St. Francisville on Monday as it escorts the hearse bearing former commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert H. Barrow. The Marine Barracks detail, from Washington, D.C., honored Barrow, a four-star general, during the procession and the funeral.




Dignitaries attending the funeral and graveside service included the current Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, former commandant Carl E. Mundy Jr. and U.S. Sen. James Webb, D-Va.


Conway said Barrow raised the quality of Marines entering the service in the post-Vietnam era by strengthening and reorganizing recruiting and 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 said. “Our country is a safer place and the U.S. Marine Corps a better institution because of Gen. Robert H. Barrow,” Conway told mourners.


“It’s easy to see what a great tactician he was, and what a great combat Marine he was, but he saved the Marine Corps. A lot of people don’t realize that,” Webb said after the ceremonies. “At a time of real political turbulence in this country, he kept the politicians away from the Marine Corps, and he kept the Marine Corps out of politics. Those are two things we need to think hard about,” said Webb, a Marine combat officer in Vietnam and former Navy secretary.


Gen. Mundy said Barrow was asked, during his farewell visit to the Senate Armed Service Committee, if he would remain in the Washington, D.C., area, where government officials easily could seek his advice. “Thank you, but I’m going to a place were you can hear a leaf hit the water,” Mundy said Barrow replied.



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