Robert Joseph Madden was born on 9 June 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was raised in township of Woodbridge in New Jersey, living at 74 Spring Street at the time of his enlistment.
Like so many young men, Robert enlisted in the Marine Corps just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on 17 December 1941. He attended recruit training in Parris Island, South Carolina. In April 1942, Private Madden was attached to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. A few months later in July, Madden reported to K Company, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines in New River, North Carolina. By September, Madden was in American Samoa with 3/3. In October 1942, he was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division as a rifleman.
The Marines of the 1st Marine Division had been engaged in a desperate fight on the island of Guadalcanal since 7 August. Private Madden and the rest of the 2nd Marine Division would soon join them. On 23 October, Private Madden and the rest of 1/8 embarked aboard the U.S.S. President Hayes. They made a short stop on the 30th-31st to Efate, New Hebrides. By the 4th of November 1942, Madden and the men of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines landed unopposed on Guadalcanal but were quickly thrown into the fight.
On the evening of 6 November, Private Madden and his fellow C Company men were in a defensive perimeter between Point Cruz and the Matanikau River. That night the Japanese attacked the fresh troops. A sharp engagement occurred, and hand-to-hand combat ensued as the enemy probed the Marines’ lines. By the time the sun came up, Private Robert Madden had been killed in action with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head and a bayonet wound in his left side. He was the first man of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines killed in action on Guadalcanal, but he wouldn’t be the last. At least 41 men of the battalion would be killed on the island during the three months they were there.
Private Robert Madden was buried in the 1st Marine Division Cemetery on Guadalcanal. In 1948, Robert’s remains were returned to the United States and re-interred in the Saint James Cemetery in Woodbridge at the request of his mother. Military honors were rendered by the local Marine Corps League, Terrance J. Brady Detachment. Robert’s half-brother, Harry Stankiewicz who was also a Marine, was in attendance.