Several lucky breaks - one being his knowledge of shorthand and the other the sinking of his boat - probably saved Tom Carlin from becoming one of the thousands killed or imprisoned during the Battle of the Bulge.
Born in Crawford County, Tom grew up as a farmer. In July of 1941, he was inducted into the U.S. Army, where he was assigned to Ground Force Headquarters as a stenographer.
He was practicing his shorthand one Sunday afternoon when a captain inquired what he was doing. Because of his knowledge of shorthand, Tom was chosen to go with the captain to be the reporter for the battalion commander in Virginia in December of 1941.
In August of 1942 he was shipped to Washington. After 22 months, orders came through that any healthy soldier had to go overseas. Tom went through advanced training in Texas and was shipped to Scotland and then to South Hampton, England.
On Dec. 28 he was ordered into combat in Belgium. About 1500 men were crossing the channel at Le Hemp, France, when their boat was torpedoed and began taking on water. A French gunboat rescued the men. They had moved only 100 yards away from their boat when it exploded and sank. Without equipment, they could not continue on to their assigned destination at the Battle of the Bulge.
Tom was then assigned to Eisenhower's headquarters in Paris to help plan the occupation of Berlin. He was one of the first Americans to enter Berlin to work with the brigadier general in 1945, shortly before his discharge.
Tom states his war experience was unique, as he never carried a gun or came in contact with the enemy. He had the opportunity to see Scotland, Luxemburg, Germany, England and France.
He also saw and/or met General Patton, General Gavin of the 82nd Airborne Division, General Colyer of the 2nd Armor Division and General Zukov of the Russian army. Tom recalls the soldiers purchasing ice cream for children in Belgium in the days after the war. He also played a pivotal role in reuniting an American GI with his son.
Tom's fiance, Virginia, was a stenographer for Civil Aeronautics. They both lived in Washington before returning to Pittsburg after the war. Tom and Virginia were married 62 years and had two children, Tom Jr. and Barbara. Virginia died in December of 2004.
Tom began working for the U.S. Post Office as a postal carrier in 1958, retiring in 1976. In March of 2007 Tom moved to an assisted living apartment at Cornerstone Village (now Via Christi Village in Pittsburg), where he enjoys visiting with his fellow residents and the excellent food.