Medal of Honor Citation


On 18 December 1945, Major Robert H. Dunlap, USMCR, then a captain, was awarded the nation’s highest military decoration.  President Harry S. Truman presented Dunlap the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.

As commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign, Dunlap led his company through a hail of artillery, mortar, rifle and machine gun fire in a determined advance from low ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from where the enemy poured a devastating rain of bullets and shrapnel. 

When the volume of enemy fire finally became too intense to advance any further toward the caves located high to the front, Dunlap held up his company and crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his front lines, while his men watched in fear and admiration.


From this position at the base of the cliff, about 50 yards from the Japanese lines, Dunlap spotted the enemy gun positions, and, returning to his own lines, relayed the vital information to the supporting artillery and naval gunfire units.  Persistently disregarding his own safety, he then placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct a more accurate supporting fire.

Dunlap worked without respite for two days and two nights under constant enemy fire, skillfully directing a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable enemy positions.  During this critical phase of the battle, his company suffered heavy casualties, but by his inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit, Dunlap spurred his men on to heroic efforts which resulted in the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in that sector.

Previously, during the Bougainville campaign, Dunlap, while attached to the 1st Parachute Regiment, was awarded a Letter of Commendation from Admiral William F. Halsey.  On 9 December 1943, his platoon was pinned down by heavy Japanese machine gun fire.  As platoon leader, Dunlap exposed himself to the heavy fire and was able to rally his depleted platoon and maneuver it into position and reoccupy the lost ground.  Dunlap’s commanding officers said of him at the time, “Apparently a very quiet, retiring personality, this officer demonstrated outstanding qualities of battlefield leadership.  Skillful, courageous, and tenacious in adversity.”

Robert Hugo Dunlap was born in Abingdon, Illinois, 19 October 1920, the son of William G. and Leon K. Dunlap.  He attended school in Abingdon and graduated from high school in 1938. While in school, he was active in football, basketball, and track, as well as participating in class plays.

Dunlap attended Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, where he was a prominent football player and trackman.  Treasurer of the student body in his senior year, he majored in Economics and Business Administration, and minored in Mathematics.  He graduated in May 1942. 

While in college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 5 March 1942; he was promoted to private first class and placed on the inactive list with the Platoon Leaders’ Unit of the 9th Reserve District until his graduation.

Called to active duty in May 1942, he was transferred to the Candidate’s Class at Quantico, Virginia.  He was discharged as an enlisted Marine on 17 July and commissioned a second lieutenant the following day.

Following Quantico, Dunlap requested parachute training and was ordered to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, San Diego, California.  He was designated a parachutist on 23 November 1942, and the next month was assigned to the 3d Parachute Battalion.  Promoted to first lieutenant in April 1943, Dunlap took part in the invasions of Vella LaVella and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands during the latter part of 1943.

Dunlap returned to the United States in March 1944 to join the 5th Marine Division that was being formed at Camp Pendleton, California.  The veteran officer became a machine gun platoon leader in Company G, 3d Battalion, 26th Marines.

He departed for overseas for the second time in the summer of 1944, and on 2 October 1944 was promoted to captain.  With his new rank he was assigned as company commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, in which capacity he was serving when he performed the actions that resulted in the Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima.

On 26 February 1945, Dunlap was wounded in the left hip.  He was evacuated from Iwo Jima and subsequently was a patient at the US Naval Hospitals at Guam, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, and Great Lakes, Illinois.  Hospitalized for nearly 14 months, Dunlap was discharged from Great Lakes on 20 April 1946.  He was placed on inactive duty until September of the year, and retired as a major on 1 December 1946.

In addition to the Medal of Honor and Letter of Commendation with ribbon, Dunlap was awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, American Campaign medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal with four bronze stars, and the World War II Victory medal.  Major Robert Hugo Dunlap died on 24 March 2000. He was buried in Warren County Memorial Park in Monmouth, Illinois.

Marine Corps University