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03-25-05, 07:49 AM #1
Robert Campbell; decorated Marine
Robert Campbell; decorated Marine
By Jack Williams
March 24, 2005
A newly opened Camp Pendleton provided the setting in 1942 for training that prepared Robert A. Campbell for the most demanding missions of a 23-year military career.
From 1943 to 1945, he saw action in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima.
By the end of World War II, he would be awarded a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He rarely discussed the details and never showed his medals.
"It took 50-plus years for his family to learn of an event in Iwo Jima," said Dan Conaway, his son-in-law. "Like so many of his fellow Marines who stared death in the face on so many occasions, Bob was self-effacing and dutiful."
One incident Col. Campbell couldn't forget happened in March 1945. Ordered to secure an airfield on Iwo Jima as head of a special weapons platoon, he and his lieutenant were caught by artillery fire as they scouted the area.
The lieutenant lost part of an arm in the blast, which also ravaged his side. Col. Campbell patched up the lieutenant as best he could to stop the bleeding, put him on his shoulder and carried him to safety.
Two days later, Col. Campbell suffered wounds that led to his Purple Heart.
Col. Campbell, who retired from active duty in 1964 as training commander of 2,000 Marines at Camp Pendleton, died March 19 at Rancho Vista Retirement Community. He was 86.
The cause of death was heart failure, said his daughter Cynthia Campbell.
As a civilian in Vista, Col. Campbell pursued a post-military career in real estate that spanned 30 years.
He was born and raised in Chicago. Working part time, he helped pay his way through the University of Illinois, where he played varsity football as an end and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism.
With war on the horizon, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in February 1941.
Assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment at Camp Elliott in the Miramar area, Col. Campbell took part in a three-day march in 1942 to Camp Pendleton.
Named after Major Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton, Camp Pendleton evolved into a major World War II training base from what had been a sprawling cattle ranch. It was dedicated Sept. 24, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"Dad remembered marching down the hill into Camp Pendleton for the first time and seeing a touring car with the president in the back, smoking a cigarette," his daughter said.
Col. Campbell received the Bronze Star for gallantry on Guam and the Silver Star on Iwo Jima in 1945. It took U.S. Marines more than a month to capture Iwo Jima. More than 6,890 of them died and 18,070 were wounded.
Survivors include his wife, Doris; daughters, Constance Vandehay of Philomath, Ore., Cynthia Campbell of San Diego, Catherine Evans of San Luis Obispo and Christine Nielsen of San Diego; sisters, Patricia Baron of Huntsville, Ala., Betty Anderson of Harbor City and Dolores Ferrell of Seal Beach; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
Private inurnment was scheduled at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. A memorial Mass is pending. Donations are suggested to the Alzheimer's Association, the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association.
Jack Williams: (619) 542-4587; email@example.com
Rest In Peace
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
03-25-05, 09:07 AM #2yellowwingGuest Free Member
God rest your Soul, Colonel. Thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us.
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