By Derek Maul

Veteran John Newcomb comes from a long line of military tradition.

“My great-grandfather, Loring Newcomb, served in Union Navy (American Civil War),” he said. “I had his dress saber before passing it on to my son, Mike, when he graduated West Point.”

Mike Newcomb, who helped his dad through the conversation, retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Rangers. He now works at Special Operations Command.

Born in 1934 and raised in the Boston suburbs, John Newcomb always wanted to go into the service.

“I loved airplanes,” he said. “I had them hanging from my bedroom ceiling and the walls. One day my brother got mad and set fire to my Spitfire.”

After earning an aeronautical engineering degree from Boston University, Newcomb was commissioned as an Air Force maintenance officer in 1957. He served three and a half years active duty, mostly in Japan.

“We had three squadrons of B-57 bombers,” Newcomb said. “I thought about a career in the Air Force, but I was married and I wanted to use my engineering.”

Newcomb moved his family to Seattle, Washington in the early 60’s, where he enjoyed a 35-year career as an engineer with Boeing.

“Some design work the first year,” he said. “Then field service with commercial customer support. It was a very good job. I solved engineering problems with the different airlines.”

Mike Newcomb remembers his dad talking about the planes he worked with and how much he enjoyed working with leading edge engineering.

“It was a good company,” John Newcomb said, “and I loved Seattle. We lived 20 miles north, close to the water. We had a boat at the marina on Puget Sound. I’d catch salmon and then smoke them.”

After his wife, Eileen, passed away, Newcomb moved to the Brandon area to help with his grandson. The Newcombs had been married 50 years.

“As for the Air Force, I’d recommend it,” Newcomb said. “There are many good jobs and you’re not on a battlefield.”


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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at