- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Cornelius C. “Skip” Holcomb Jr., a retired Army colonel, died Sept. 23 of a heart attack at the Fairfax Retirement Community at Fort Belvoir. He was 67.

Col. Holcomb was born into an Army family. His father, Cornelius C. Holcomb, was included in Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men” for his command at Anzio during the World War II invasion of Italy. His grandfather, Col. Freeborn Paige Holcomb, served with distinction in the Philippines and other theaters.

He enlisted in the Army in 1957 before attending the Army Prep School, then at Fort Belvoir, and gaining admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1962.

He received a master’s degree in operations research systems analysis from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1971. He also attended armor school at Fort Knox, Ky., and the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. His training included jump school, Ranger training and flight school.

Col. Holcomb served in Korea before joining the 7/17th Air Cavalry Squadron at Fort Knox in preparation for a tour in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

He served from 1974 to 1978 with the 2nd Armored Cavalry in Germany.

Several assignments in Washington included stints with the National Guard Bureau until being chosen for the command list. His favorite tour was as commander of the 4/12th Cavalry Squadron, where he was known as “Cactus Six” for his frequent field maneuvers.

He also was assigned to the Office of Congressional Legislative Liaison, where he worked on the Army budget. A heart attack ended his military career in 1985, but he went to work for what was then BDM Corp. for nine months before suffering a stroke. It was thought that flying light observation helicopters in and out of small airstrips behind planes spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam may have contributed to his health problems.

Col. Holcomb’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and his prized Good Conduct Medal for his enlisted service.

In his retirement, despite physical disabilities, he served as a Red Cross volunteer at Dewitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir. He also lived for a time in the Northern Neck of Virginia.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Mary Ellen Holcomb; two sons, Cornelius C. “Neil” Holcomb of Oak Hill, Va., and Sean J. Holcomb of Mill Valley, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

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