Abbott, R. Tucker, LT

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
6302-LDO Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1954, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)
Service Years
1942 - 1954

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Abbott, R. Tucker (Dr.), LT.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Last Address
Arlington National Cemetery

Date of Passing
Nov 03, 1995
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

Blue Star

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Dr. R. Tucker Abbott
Mr. Seashell
WWII U.S. Navy Dive Bomber Pilot
Bureau of Medicine Research Scientest

Robert Tucker Abbott (September 28, 1919 – November 3, 1995) was an American conchologist and malacologist. He was the author of more than 30 books on malacology, which were translated into many languages.

Abbott was one of the most prominent conchologists of the 20th century. He brought conchology to the public with his works, including most notably: American Seashells, 1974, Seashells of the World, 1962, and The Kingdom of the Seashell, 1972. He was an active member of the American Malacological Union and Conchologists of America.


R. Tucker Abbott was born in Watertown, Massachusetts. His interest in seashells began early; he collected them as a boy and started a museum with a friend in his basement. After having spent part of his youth in Montreal, he went to Harvard University and became a student of William (Bill) James Clench (1897–1984). In 1941, they started the journal Johnsonia, which specialized in western Atlantic molluscs. He graduated in 1942.

During World War II, Abbott was first a Navy bomber pilot, and later worked for the Medical Research Unit doing research on schistosomiasis. He documented the life cycle of the schistosome in the Oncomelania, a small brown freshwater snail, which he studied in the rice fields of the Yangtze valley.

He married Mary M. Sisler on February 18, 1946. She was also a malacologist.

After World War II, Abbott worked at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (1944–1954) as Assistant Curator and Associate Curator of the Department of Mollusks. During this time, he earned his Master's and Ph.D. at George Washington University and wrote the first edition of American Seashells.

He then went to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (1954–1969). He was chair of the Department of Mollusks, and held the Pilsbry Chair of Malacology. During that time he went on a number of shelling expeditions to the Indo-Pacific region. He also started his own journal, "Indo-Pacific Mollusca". He also was an active editor on "The Nautilus"

In 1969, Abbott accepted the DuPont Chair of Malacology at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. He also headed the Department of Mollusks, and was Assistant Director. In 1971 he became editor-in-chief of "The Nautilus".

Abbott was the Founding Director of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island. He died from pulmonary disease in 1995, two weeks before the museum opened. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Other Comments:
WWII Dive Bomber Pilot,
Research Scientest and Author of more
than 30 books on conchology and malacology

For most people of his generation, the War Years represented a break in their careers, a time-out from life. For Tucker Abbott it was time-in, a chance to do some malacological research and make a difference in the war effort. After a two-year stint as a Navy dive bomber pilot, he was attached to a Medical Research Unit. The first medical malacologist in history, he was set the task of conquering schistosomiasis, a fatal blood fluke disease that would threaten our troops in the Pacific. His studies took him to Baltimore and Bethesda, to Guam and the Marianas, and finally to the rice fields of China's Yangtze Valley in a makeshift lab in an ambulance strapped to a railroad flatcar, where he discovered the life cycle of the schistosome in an 8mm-long brown freshwater snail called Oncomelania. Here was the cause for schistosomiasis. His discovery saved countless lives.

After two years as a WWII Navy Bomber Pilot (1942-1944), Lt. R. T. Abbot H(S), USNR, was assigned to the United States Navy Medical Research Unit no. 2.  His research extended into the 1950's, he is therefore listed as WWII and Korean War.

In May 1945, three naval officers comprising an epidemiological team from Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, located on Guam, came to Leyte. Since only 16 proved cases of schistosomiasis had appeared among Navy personnel, no extensive investigations were planned by this group.

The Subcommission on Schistosomiasis, the Malaria Research Unit together with the 5th Malaria Survey Detachment, and the Navy epidemiological team each planned and carried on their own respective investigational programs. There was some imperfection in the collaboration of the three groups, but cooperative projects were developed by the Subcommission in association with the 5th Malaria Survey Detachment and the Malaria Research Unit and by one member of the Navy team in association with the Army research groups. The latter were most fortunate in having Lt. R. Tucker Abbott of the Navy team, an expert on mollusks, work with them, for until the time of Lt. Abbott's arrival on Leyte there had been no one who could identify snails found in the fresh waters of the island.

The Army and Navy groups remained on Leyte until after the war ended in September. In late October, some of the members of the Subcommission on Schistosomiasis and the commanding officer of the Medical Research Unit proceeded to Japan, where studies were made of the distribution of the disease and its intensity in the natives in endemic areas.
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Naval Aviator Wings

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1942, Naval Aviation Cadet Program/Navy Pre-flight School (Pensacola, FL), 100
 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Formal Schools and Training CoursesNAMRU-2, Jakarta, Indonesia, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)
  1942-1942, Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) Pre-flight Course
  1942-1942, Bombers School
  1944-1945, NAMRU-2, Jakarta, Indonesia, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)
  1944-1954, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1944 World War II
 Colleges Attended 
Harvard UniversityGeorge Washington University
  1938-1942, Harvard University
  1948-1954, George Washington University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Robert Tucker Abbott, Lieutenant, United States Navy
  Dr. Robert Tucker Abbott, biography3
  Published in The New York Times on Nov. 9 1995
  Naval Medical Research Unit One
  Page 1 of the Smithsonian Report. 1947.- Abbott
  Robert Tucker Abbott September 28, 1919 - November 3, 1995
  Nov 03, 1995, R. Tucker Abbott, an Intimate Of Mollusks' World, Dies at 77
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