Veterans' Memorial Project

Robert Melville Ash

Canton, IL

World War II

College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences

Graduation Year: 1940

Service Branch: Marines

Rank: Major

Date of Birth: 01/21/1918

Date of Death: 09/15/1944

Affiliations: Alpha Gamma Rho; ROTC

One of the fiercest battles of World War II was fought in the Palau Islands on the Island of Peleliu in the South Pacific. The battle on D-Day, September 15, 1944, was to be the last battle for Marine Major Robert M. Ash. Major Ash graduated from the University of Illinois in 1940 with 4 years of ROTC and national commander of Phalanx, an honorary military society. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on entering the Marine Corps following his graduation. He was sent to Officer Training School in Philadelphia and after his graduation was assigned as a marine recruiter for 6 midwest colleges. His next assignment in May, 1941, was aboard the USS Colorado in the South Pacific. It was docked in Bremerton, Washington, undergoing repairs when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. It was then ordered to Pearl Harbor. Major Ash remained on the Colorado until June, 1942, at which time he was transferred for duty as a marine officer aboard a newly commissioned cruiser, the USS Denver. In June, 1943, he was promoted to Major. In February, 1944, on a 15 day leave after having been out of the states for a year, he visited his family and then flew to New York City. In March he reported to Officer Training School in Quantico, Virginia. Major Ash graduated Command School in June, 1944, and left on what was to be his last Pacific tour. He had been on a cruiser for many months and had participated with courage and valor in nine major engagements in the Southwest Pacific theatre. He was carried to an advance U.S. base by clipper plane, transport and submarine. Sadly, on September 15, 1944, Marine Major Robert M. Ash died in the battle of Peleliu. His landing LVT took a direct hit by enemy forces. (excerpts taken from “Bloody Beaches: The Marines at Peleliu” by Brigadier General Gordon D. Gayle)

– submitted by Barbara Ash-Dougan, Portland, OR, niece

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