Robert C. Kilmartin, Jr. – Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps

From contemporary press reports:

Robert C. Kilmartin, Jr., Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps, is  the holder of the Bronze Star Medal for service during the Tulagi phase of the Guadalcanal campaign, he also lists among his medals Presidential Unit Citation with one star, the Expeditionary Medal, the Victory Medal, the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, the American  Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asistic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, and the World War II Medal.


He resided with his wife, Alice C. Kilmartin, at 4514 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

“Killy” Kilmartin, Jr., United States Marine Corps, retired, 93, died 12 August 1990 at his home in Vinson Hall, McLean, Virginia. Although born in Petersburg, Virginia, on the day of the Marine Corps Birthday in 1896 (November 10), he was raised and educated in Washington, D.C. He was a law student in his final year when U.S. declared war on the Central Powers in April 1917.

H was commissioned in June of that year and assigned to First Officers Training Course at Quantico together with other Second Lieutenants who were to gain fame in the Marine Corps – Clifton B. Cates, Graves B. Erskine, LeRoy P. Hunt, and Merritt A. Edson, among others. Because of his age, 20, he was retained in the U.S. for duty at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard as a guard and legal officer.

In May 1919 was assigned to the office of the Navy Judge Advocate General, and while in this billet completed legal training at George Washington University, as well as a year of postgraduate study in international law. His legal background was to follow him throughout his career.

In 1921 he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade in Santo Domingo as Brigade Legal Officer as well as legal aide to Military Governor, responsible for advising the Governor on important issues concerning occupation and government. From Santo Domingo, he was transferred to Quantico to become Base Adjutant and Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier General Dion Williams. When Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler took command of the base, Kilmartin became his adjutant and worked very closely with him for several years, as he did with then-Major Aleander A. Vandegrift, for whom he would be D-1 of 1st Marine Division in 1942.

He was an instructor at the Basic School in Philadelphia and served at sea as well as at Marine posts and stations both stateside and overseas in subsequent years. He was serving as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines at Quantico, when a cyclone temporarily closed down Parris Island in August 1940. An emergency recruit depot was established at Quantico which he commanded.

In June 1941, he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division and went to war and the invasion of Guadalcanal with it. In the invasion itself, he was assigned as Chief of Staff to Brigadier Genreal William H. Rupertus’ Tulagi invasion group. Together with some other senior Lieutenant Colonels on Guadalcanal, he was promoted to Colonel and then was transferred to the Division of Plans and Policies at Headuarters, Marine Corps, remaining there until early 1944, when he assumed command of the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. Navy Yard.

He returned to Pacific in Jun 1945, remaining with Fleet Marine Force Pacific, until 1947 when he once again was assigned to Washington, DC and duty with the Public Relations Office of the Navy. He retired in June 1949 and was advanced to rank of Brigadier General for having been specially commended in combat.

Following retirement from the military, he was a stockbroker in Washington, D.C. for 20 years and then staff attorney for the Retired Officers Association, Secretary-Treasurer of the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. and, in the late 1950s, was a boxing judge on District of Columbia Boxing Commission.

His first wife, Alice, died in 1977, and he remarried. Survivors are second wife, Dolores L. Kilmartin.

He was buried August 20, 1990 with full military honors in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.  His first wife, Alice Clayton Kilmartin, 1894-1977, is buried with him.


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