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Francis Booth Coombs

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Coombs, Francis Booth A combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Francis Coombs passed away from natural causes on Saturday, July 28. He was 89. Words cannot express how much he was loved and how strongly he will be missed. Mr. Coombs was born in Lawrenceburg,Tennessee on May 28, 1923, the son of Army Lt. Ira Dupree Coombs, a World War I veteran, and Lucille Crews Coombs. A graduate of Battleground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and flew 50 combat missions as a radio operator on B-17s, a plane he cherished all his life. At the end of World War II, Mr. Coombs transferred to the U.S. Army for the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School and subsequently served as a tank commander in the Korean War. He retired from the Army as a major in 1961, having earned the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal among other honors. Although he seldom talked about his career in the military unless encouraged, Mr. Coombs considered those experiences among the proudest and most fondly remembered of his life. He went on to be a weapons specialist with the Department of the Army, first at Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, until his retirement in 1985. Mr. Coombs married the former Josephine Mary Gearhart of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, whom he met while she was working with Special Services in Germany after World War II. They were married on October 6, 1948, in Coburg Castle in Coburg, Germany, and honeymooned in Paris. The couple has two children. In addition to his wife, Mr. Coombs is survived by his son, Francis B. Coombs Jr., the managing editor of The Washington Times from February 2002 to January 2008, and his wife Marian of Crofton, Maryland; his daughter, Barbara Coombs Westrate of Chantilly, Virginia, and her husband Eric; and three grandchildren. Mr. Coombs will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on Tuesday, December 18, at 1 pm. Please sign the guestbook at Please sign the Guestbook at

Published in Washington Times from Dec. 18, 2012 to Jan. 16, 2013
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