Military Wiki
Robert E. Cleary
10th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1983-1987)
Born June 2, 1931(1931-06-02) (age 91)
Place of birth Tewksbury, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1951-1987
Rank Sergeant Major
Commands held Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star
Purple Heart (2)
Air Medal (3)

Robert E. Cleary was the tenth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, serving in this position between 1983–1987. He was the last Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps to have served in the Korean War.

Early life

Robert Cleary was born in Tewksbury, Massachusetts on 2 June 1931, and graduated from Holyoke Trade High School in May 1949.

Military service

Cleary enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 24 October 1951. He underwent recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, then attended a nine-week Demolition Specialist Course at Schools Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where he was promoted to private first class. Upon completion of the school, he was assigned as the Battalion Demolition Specialist, Company B, 7th Engineer Battalion at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Promoted to corporal, he remained with the 7th Engineer Battalion until April 1953.

Cleary transferred overseas, where he joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea, as a Squad Leader and Right Guide with Company I, 3rd Battalion . While in this assignment, he was promoted to sergeant. Returning from overseas, he reported to the 1st Rifle Company at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center, Springfield, Massachusetts. In early 1958, he returned to Camp Pendleton, for duty as a military policeman with the Military Police Company.

In May 1958, he was promoted to staff sergeant, and continued to serve in this assignment until April 1961, when he transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for duty as a drill instructor.

Upon completion of his tour as a drill instructor, Sergeant Major Cleary joined Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines for duty as a Section Leader, and later, Platoon Sergeant in the 81 mm Motor Platoon. In February 1965, he transferred to H&S Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, as a Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader.

This assignment was followed by his first tour in Vietnam as a Platoon Leader, Company G, 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, where he was promoted to gunnery sergeant. In August 1966, he transferred to Company F, 2nd Battalion 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, for duty as Company Gunnery Sergeant. For his combat service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Navy Commendation Medal with valor device, and two awards of the Purple Heart.

He returned to San Diego for a short tour as a drill instructor in August 1967, at which time he was selected for promotion to first sergeant. He was reassigned to the 27th Marine Regiment as the Company First Sergeant. During March 1968, he returned to Vietnam, serving as the First Sergeant of Battery C, 1st LAAM Battalion, MACC-19, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Subsequently, he served as Company First Sergeant of Company G, 28th Marine Regiment.

Cleary then reported to H&S Company, 2nd Battalion 7th Marines as the Company First Sergeant, followed by his third tour in Vietnam as the Squadron Sergeant Major of HMM-165. Upon his return from overseas in May 1973, he was assigned to VMA-223 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, where he attained his present grade and served as the Squadron Sergeant Major. In September, he was reassigned to the 2nd LAAM Battalion.

He reported to Headquarters Marine Corps in September 1974 for duty as the Battalion Sergeant Major of Marine Security Guard Battalion, followed by duty as Personnel Sergeant Major. His next assignment was as the 3rd Marine Division Sergeant Major in July 1979, then returned to Marine Security Guard Battalion.

On 1 January 1982, Sergeant Major Cleary was selected as the Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Development and Education Command in Quantico, Virginia. He was selected as the 10th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on 25 May 1983, and assumed the post on 28 June 1983. He retired in 1987.

Awards and honors

His personal decorations include:

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Marine Combat Aircrew Badge w/ 3 service stars
1st Row Silver Star
2nd Row Purple Heart w/ 1 award star Air Medal w/ Strike/Flight numeral "3" Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device & 1 award star Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
3rd Row Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
4th Row Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 7 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ 7 service stars
5th Row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ palm Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Korean Presidential Unit Citation
6th Row Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Military offices
Preceded by
Leland D. Crawford
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
David W. Sommers

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).