Marine hero Gen. Robert H. Barrow dies at 86

Though some might have regarded him as a "Hollywood Marine" -- a moniker for those who were recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego -- few places bear the mark of Gen. Robert H. Barrow more than Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Barrow, who served as the depot's commanding general before becoming the Corps' 27th commandant in 1979, died in his sleep Thursday night in his hometown of St. Francisville, La. He was 86.

A decorated veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, Barrow served as commanding general of Parris Island from 1972 to 1975.

"Gen. Barrow's passing is a sad occasion across the Marine Corps and felt especially deeply here at Parris Island," said

Master Sgt. Mark Oliva, spokesman for the depot. "As commanding general, he strove to improve the quality and character of Marines, setting the high moral, ethical, physical and mental standards expected of Marines even today. Gen. Barrow's warrior spirit and his pride as a Marine continue to be a guiding influence on how we make Marines."

Barrow was commandant until 1983, when he retired to St. Francisville after more than 40 years in the Marine Corps.

During his time as commandant, Barrow became the first Marine to serve a four-year tour as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is credited for aggressively responding to racial tension in the corps, ending a tolerance of drug and alcohol abuse among Marines and giving commanders the authority to discharge troublesome Marines, according to a release from Headquarters Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

After Barrow retired, he was named to several government panels, including President Reagan's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management, also known as the Packard Commission.

In 2002, Barrow returned to Parris Island, where the depot honored him by naming its then 60-year-old headquarters building in his honor.

"Parris Island is a moving experience," Barrow said during the ceremony. "The transition that the young adults go through here is just phenomenal. There's no other experience like it. There's just something magic about Parris Island." Barrow Hall still serves as the depot's headquarters.