Photo Information

Pfc. Robert Ellason Barrow III, a Marine with Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, poses for a photo at his squad bay on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Aug. 16, 2023. Pfc. Barrow’s completion of recruit training marks the continuation of his family’s legacy of military service; most notably that of his great uncle, Gen. Robert Hilliard Barrow, who served as the 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria

Big Shoes To Fill

16 Aug 2023 | Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island

With his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor secure in the palm of his hand, Pfc. Robert Ellason Barrow III added his name to a family legacy of over 80 years of military service.

In 1942, Gen. Robert Hilliard Barrow attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, commissioning shortly after. He served during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, receiving the Bronze Star Medal, Distinguished Service Cross, and Navy Cross, while also being recognized with many other awards for his perseverance and devotion to duty. Gen. Barrow served as the commanding general for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island from 1972 to 1975 and became the 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1979. In 2002, the Headquarters building on MCRDPI was dedicated to Gen. Barrow in honor of his service and his reformation of recruit training.

His great-nephew Robert Ellason Barrow III, is set to graduate with Delta Company, Platoon 1056 on Aug. 25, 2023 at MCRDPI. Gen. Barrow’s son, retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert H. Barrow Jr., presented Pfc. Barrow with his EGA following completion of the Crucible.

“From this day on, until the day they put you in the ground, you’re a United States Marine,” said Lt. Col. Barrow as he handed Pfc. Barrow his EGA.

“He’s the only living member of my family that was in the Marine Corps,” Pfc. Barrow emphasized. “It felt like he was passing that torch on to me.”

Pfc. Barrow was born November 25, 2003, and was raised in an environment that honored the legacy and contributions of his family to the U.S. Military.

Grace Episcopical Church in Saint Francisville, Louisiana, where Gen. Barrow is buried, pays tribute to Pfc. Barrow’s great-uncle annually. Gen. Barrow’s service is honored with a cake cutting and wreath laying ceremony every November on the Marine Corps Birthday.

As a child attending the event, Pfc. Barrow observed how many older Marines and Vietnam veterans were present, coming from near and far to be there.

“I would always go up to them after the cutting of the cake and ask questions,” reminisced Pfc. Barrow with a smile.

Pfc. Barrow said that during the echo of the 21-gun salute performed at the ceremony, the legacy of his great-uncle’s service to the Corps resonated within him.

“I knew I wanted to be a Marine since I was about 11 or 12 years old,” said Pfc. Barrow.

His father served in the Navy during the Persian Gulf War, and as a child, Pfc. Barrow heard many stories about his experiences. Conversations with his father and his step-grandfather, who was a rifleman at Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, as well as multiple family members in various branches of the military, inspired Pfc. Barrow to join.

“Growing up I always heard stories from my family about what the military gave them, the experiences they had, and how it changed them for the better,” said Pfc. Barrow.

Despite his family history, Pfc. Barrow’s recruit training experience was no different from any other recruit’s. His drill instructors made it a point to administer the same degree of intensity during training to every recruit in the platoon.

“They didn’t treat me any differently and I appreciate that,” said Pfc. Barrow. “In my mind I’m no different from any other Marine.”

Pfc. Barrow’s drill instructors often referenced his family history to motivate him.

“If I messed up on something, they would say, 'You have Marine Corps in your blood’; it would definitely put a fire in me to want to be better,” asserted Barrow.

Following graduation and 10 days leave spent with his family, Pfc. Barrow will execute orders to the Infantry Training Battalion at the School of Infantry on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“I’m very excited for this next challenge,” said Pfc. Barrow. “I know if I put my mind to it, I’ll be able to accomplish it.”

Pfc. Barrow views his family legacy as a challenge to make his own impact in the Marine Corps.

“Their experiences inspired me to do my part to help the Corps,” he stated proudly. “I’m proud to say that I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island