Lewis Combs

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Lewis Barton Combs (April 7, 1895, Manchester Center, Vermont – May 20, 1996, Red Hook, New York) was a United States Admiral who helped found and direct the famed "Seabees" construction battalions in World War II.

Born in 1895 to Louis D. and Stella Burgess Combs, at age 10 he became a golf caddy at the local course in Manchester, Vermont. On occasion he caddied for Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the 16th president. His family moved to Rensselaer, New York in 1907, where he attended the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (class of 1916), having earned a bachelors degree in civil engineering. He went to work as a maintenance engineer for the New York Central Railroad.[1]

World War I[edit]

After the United States entered the First World War in 1917, Combs enlisted. He was appointed assistant civil engineer in the Navy with the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) on December 27, 1917. Combs served in this assignment throughout the remainder of the war until September 1919. He was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant in July 1918.

Later years[edit]

After his retirement from the Navy in 1947 he spent 15 years as head of the civil-engineering department at his alma mater, RPI.

Personal life[edit]

Combs' wife of 71 years, the former Laura B. Warren, died two months before her husband. The couple left no immediate survivors. [2]


  1. ^ "Civil Engineer, Scholar, Naval Officer: The Life of Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs | Seabee Online". Seabeemagazine.navylive.dodlive.mil. 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2017-07-23. 
  2. ^ Rpbert McG. Thomas (1996-05-24). "Adm. Lewis B. Combs, 101, Seabee Founder". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-23.