Edward Griffin Underhill was born in New York, New York, on 20 November 1914, son of Edward M. and Henrietta Catherine (Green) Underhill. He attended Columbia University, School of Engineering, in New York City, from which he received the degrees of Bachelor of Science in 1936 and Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 1937. Prior to entering Naval Service, he was employed by various firms in the East for construction work, mostly office and field engineering on large and heavy construction projects.
Commissioned Ensign in the Civil Engineer Corps of the US Naval Reserve on 20 May 1942, he was promoted to Lieutenant (jg) and transferred to the US Navy on 20 February 1943. He subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Commander to date from 1 July 1954.
Reporting for active duty in June 1942, he was assigned to the Naval Supply Depot, Clearfield, Utah, and from April 1943 to April 1944 served as Public Officer and Officer in Charge of Construction there. He next had advanced Seabee training at the Naval Construction Battalion Training Center, Davisville, Rhode Island and in September 1944 was ordered to the Naval Operating Base, Oran, Algeria, where he had duty as Public Works Officer. For four months (August-December 1945) he was Assistant to the Director of the Atlantic Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks and between December 1945 and April 1949 was Construction and Planning Officer with the Atlantic Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks, New York, New York.
He served as Deputy Officer in Charge of Construction, Transportation Superintendent and Shops Engineer at the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, New York until July 1951. He then became Executive Officer of Mobile Construction Battalion #5 attached to Service Force, US Pacific Fleet, Task Force FIFTY-SIX. That mobile construction battalion was employed as a part of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment in the construction of the Naval Air Station, Cubi Point, Philippine Islands, the largest single project ever undertaken by the Navy’s Seabees. He assumed command of the battalion in August 1952 and in February 1953 was detached for duty as Head of the Commercial Facilities Branch, Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
He was a student at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, from January to June 1956, when he reported as Officer in Charge (title changed to Commanding Officer) of the Naval Schools, Construction, Port Hueneme, California.
Commander Underhill has the American Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal. He also has the Expert Rifleman Medal.
His official home address was in Hohokus, New Jersey. He was married to the former Martha Annette Widmer of University City, Missouri, and they had two children.
Commander Underhill was a Licensed Professional Engineer, New York State, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Theta Tau. He died 25 February 2002 and is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.