Captain Robert H. Dunlap's Medal of Honor

In the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history, 27 Marines and sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for action on Iwo Jima. No other campaign surpassed that number.

Robert Dunlap was born in Abingdon, Illinois. Before graduating from Monmouth College, Dunlap enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve in March 1942. After graduating, Dunlap attended Officer Candidates Class at Quantico and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He then attended Parachute Training School, joining the 3rd Parachute Battalion.

In 1943, he participated in the invasions and subsequent fighting on Vella Lavella, Bougainville, and the Solomon Islands. With the dissolution of the parachute battalions, Dunlap was assigned to the 5th Marine Division and became the commanding officer of C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines. Over the first several days of the Iwo Jima campaign in February 1945, Dunlap repeatedly put himself in harm’s way in order to call in artillery fire to bombard Japanese positions. On February 26, Dunlap was shot in the left hip, but survived, spending 14 months recovering from his wounds.

Medal of Honor Citation for Captain Robert H. Dunlap

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company C, First Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 20 and 21 February 1945. Defying uninterrupted blasts of Japanese artillery, mortar, rifle and machine-gun fire, Captain Dunlap led his troops in a determined advance from low ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from which the enemy poured a devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, steadily inching forward until the tremendous volume of enemy fire from the caves located high to his front temporarily halted his progress. Determined not to yield, he crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his front lines, took observation at the base of the cliff 50 yards from Japanese lines, located the enemy gun position and returned to his own lines where he relayed the vital information to supporting artillery and naval gunfire units. Persistently disregarding his own personal safety, he placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct more accurately the supporting fire and, working without respite for two days and two nights under constant enemy fire, skillfully directed a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable Japanese positions despite numerous obstacles and heavy Marine casualties. A brilliant leader, Captain Dunlap inspired his men to heroic efforts during this critical phase of the battle and by his cool decision, indomitable fighting spirit and daring tactics in the face of fanatic opposition greatly accelerated the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in his sector and materially furthered the continued advance of his company. His great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the bitter hostilities reflect the highest credit upon Captain Dunlap and the United States Naval Service.”


Kali Martin

Kali Martin earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies and German at the University of Miami and a master's degree in Military a...
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