Monroe "Tex" Combs, who served in what became one of the most famous units in World War II, died Friday in Lafayette. He was 95.
A Lafayette resident since 1964, Combs was a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. During the war he joined Easy Company, which was made famous by the HBO series “Band of Brothers,” based on Stephen Ambrose’s book.
On the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion, Combs parachuted into combat and counted himself among the lucky ones. As he exited the airplane, wind tore away the machine gun from a container sewn onto his jump harness, and his parachute eventually got caught in a tree. When he jumped down, he landed in water up to his neck.
“If I’d have had that machine gun and hadn’t landed in a tree, I’d have probably drowned,” he told The Advocate in 2013. “The Good Lord had reasons to keep me upright, didn’t he?”
Combs fought for 18 days before being wounded severely enough that he could have been sent home. He declined the opportunity and joined in the invasion of Holland on Sept. 17. When Germany launched the Battle of the Bulge offensive on Dec. 16, the 101st hustled in to hold on to Bastogne, Belgium, before it was surrounded.
They successfully defended the city, and Combs was transferred from Headquarters Company to Easy Company. He fought with the company until Germany’s surrender.
By that time, they had reached Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s famous Eagle’s Nest residence. There, Combs found a German military leather overcoat, which he took home from the war.
After the war, Combs became a petroleum engineer and worked for Tenneco and Chevron oil until retiring at age 70 and starting a consulting business.
Combs is survived by children Sherry Chappell Roberts, Ron Combs and Matt Combs; grandchildren Chasse Chappell Hudgins, Joshua Chappell, Chris Combs, Charlton "Chuck" Combs, Duke Wood, Terry Wood Sharp and Scott Browning; and 13 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Anne, and a daughter, Christie Combs.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Delhomme Chapel of the Flowers, 1011 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette. Visitation will be from 8:30 until the service. Burial will follow at the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery.