Dunlap, Robert Hugo, born 19-10-1920 in Abingdon, Illinois, went to school in Abingdon and graduated from high school in 1938. While in high school he was active in football, basketball and was a member of the track team. He also took part in the class plays.
He went on to 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 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Five feet six inches tall, weighing 148 pounds, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 05-03-1942, at age 21, while still a student at Monmouth. He was promoted to private first class at that time and was 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 Officer Candidates Class at Quantico, Virginia. He was discharged as an enlisted man on 17-07-1942, and commissioned a second lieutenant the following day.
Following Reserve Officers Class at Quantico, 2nd Lieutenant Robert Dunlap requested parachute training and was ordered to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, San Diego, California. He was designated a Parachutist on 23-11-1942, and the next month was assigned to the 3rd Parachute Battalion. Advanced to first lieutenant in April 1943, he took part in the invasions of Vella Lavella and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands during the latter part of 1943.
During the Bougainville campaign, 1st Lieutenant Dunlap, while attached to the 1st Parachute Regiment, was awarded a Letter of Commendation (updated to a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal) from Admiral Halsey, William Frederick “Bull”. On 09-12-1943, his rifle platoon was pinned down by. As platoon leader, he exposed himself to the heavy fire and was able to rally his depleted platoon and maneuver it into position and reoccupy the lost ground. His commanding officer said of him at that time, “Apparently a very quiet, retiring personality, this officer demonstrated outstanding qualities of battlefield leadership. Skillful, courageous, and tenacious in adversity.”
First Lieutenant Dunlap returned to the United States in March 1944 to join the 5th Marine Division under command of Lieutenant General Keller Emrick Rockey, then being formed at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. The veteran officer became a machine gun platoon leader in Company G, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines.
He departed for overseas duty for the second time in the summer of 1944, and on 02-10-1944, was promoted to captain. With his new rank he became commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, in which capacity he was serving when he earned the Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima.
As commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign, Captain 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. It was the day following the original landing on 19-02-1945. When the volume of enemy fire finally became too intense to advance any further toward the caves located high to the front, Captain 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, the captain 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. Captain 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 Captain Dunlap spurred his men on to heroic efforts which resulted in the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in that sector.
On 26-02-1945, Captain Dunlap was felled by a bullet wound in the left hip. He was evacuated from Iwo Jima and subsequently was a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Guam, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, and Great Lakes, Illinois.
The Medal of Honor was awarded by President Harry S. Truman to Captain Dunlap in ceremonies at the White House on 18-12-1945. Later, after nearly 14 months of hospitalization, Captain Dunlap was discharged from the Great Lakes Naval Hospital on 20-04-1946. He went on inactive duty in September 1946 and was retired with the rank of major on 01-12-1946.
He kept the M1941 Johnson rifle he used on Iwo Jima and displayed it in his home; it has become a valued piece of local history. In 1949, John Wayne contacted Dunlap on behalf of Paramount Pictures to ask him to consider selling the film rights to his story. Fearing the film would present an idealized portrait of the war, Dunlap declined the offer.
Death and burial ground of Dunlop, Robert Hugo.This photograph was taken in 1995, at the 50th anniversity of the Battle of Iwo Jima. These men received the Medal of Honor for actions during the battle Robert Dunlap, Jack Lucas, Douglas T. Jacobson and Joseph McCarthy
Dunlap, died on 24-03-2000, at the age of 79. He was buried in Warren County Memorial Park in Monmouth, Illinois.