COOMBE, THOMAS CHARLES, JR., First Lieutenant, # 0-799724, USAAF


Thomas C. Coombe Jr. was born 6 July 1920 in Tamaqua, Schuykill, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Charles Commbe (1887-1940) and Lillian E. L. (Gilfert) Coombe (1899-1981). Siblings included Ernest Carl Coombe (1922-2005), Arthur Grant Coombe (1924-2003), Lillian Edith Leona (Coombe) Kenner (1926-2015), Franklin Louis Coombe (1929-1997), and William E. Coombe (1931-    ). In 1930, Ida Bertha (Raudenbush) Coombe, mother of Thomas C. (age 42, (1860-1940) (widow). In 1940 his father worked as a foreman at a coal mine. Already in the military, he married Geraldine Lucille Sanko (1921-1991) (born in Barnesville, PA) on 2 June 1942 in Alexandria, Pennylvania, by Presbyterian Minister Fred V. Hoag. From 1916 to 1920, excluding time in the military, he worked as a blacksmith for the railroad and Shepp Colliery. He began working for LeHigh Coal & Navigation Co. on 22 Aug. 1922 in the Mining Dept.; Trackman 22 Aug. 1922 to 12 Feb. 1926; Contract Miner from 12 Feb. 1926 to 19 Aug. 1926; Fire-Boss from 19 Aug. 1926 to when he was made an Assistant Foreman 1 April 1928 and an Assistant Foreman in the Greenwood Dept. from 1 April 1934. Pay increases to $205.50 mon’ly and to $223.00 mon’ly 1 May 1937. The 1900 census shows his father was a coal mine foreman.


He enlisted 20 February 1940 at Pottsville, PA, and had extensive flight training as a pilot. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He served overseas beginning 23 September 1943 to his death. On 25 May 1944, a C-46A, 42-23600, upon which he was co-pilot, assigned to the India-China Wing ATC, Station 11, departed the airfield at Missmari, India, on a cargo flight to Kunming, China, at about 0222 hours local, through the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump). The aircraft did not arrive at its destination. He is remembered on the monument at the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.


His father, Thomas C. Coombe, son of Edward Charles (1857-1926) and Ida (Raudenbush) Coombe, served during WW I from 29 June 1917 through 19 May 1919, inducted ito the U.S. Army Pennsylvania National Guard, and saw service in the 8th Pennsylvania Infantry, Co. E, 29 June 1917 to 14 September 1917, then the 103rd Train Headquarters, from 14 September 1917 through 19 May 1919. He took part in the Fifth German Offensive in Ourcy, Vesle, the Meuse-Argonne, the Thiercourt section. He was not wounded. He served overseas from 6 May 1918 to 7 May 1919, and was honorably discharged at Camp Dix, New Jersey, 19 May 1919.


His brother, Ernest C. Coombe, born 22 May 1922, enlisted in the U.S. Army (# 33813205) on 7 July 1944 through 30 January 1946 and was overseas between 14 February 1945 and 21 January 1946. He was honorably discharged in Indiantown Gap, PA.


His brother, Franklin L. Coombe, served in the U.S. Army from 27 March 1951 to 6 March 1953, during the Korean War.