Tom was born in West-New York, Guttenberg, New Jersey, on January 9, 1918.
He was the seventh child of Joseph and Isabelle Hastings with eight brothers and sisters. Growing up in his loving and caring family environment, Tom was ill prepared for what the future held for him, as so many other young men and women felt, when World War II burst upon them… .
Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Tom was chosen on April 18, 1941, by the Selective Service System to serve his country. Assigned to the Army, Tom was sent to Camp Dix, NJ, for four days and from there he was sent to Camp Croft near Spartanburg, SC for his Basic Training. Completing this training, he was sent to Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, where he was assigned to the 28th Infantry Division. Three of his brothers also joined the Army later on: Jack went into the 101 Airborne Division, Bob into the Army Air Corp and George into the Navy.
“When we arrived in Camp Livingston, LA, General Martin was retired and General Bradley took over the division. They decided to have a parade for Gen. Bradley to welcome him. One of our majors decided he wanted our trucks to be nice and shiny to impress the new general. So everyone was given oil and we were told to cover the vehicles and we paraded like that. About an hour later every one of us was down by the river washing all trucks and jeeps. General Bradley took one look at the vehicles and said “who the hell did this?” Anyhow, we kind of lost track of that major after a week. I don’t know where he went but he sure wasn’t with us anymore!”
After travelling through many other Army camps in the United States, he was finally shipped to South Wales in October 1943… .
“On the boat going to Wales, the weather was very bad and very rough. When you ate your mess gear would slide from one end to the other of the table. Now this fellow Drago, was so annoyed he took out his bayonet and jammed it into his mess kit and said, “It ain’t gonna move now!”. When we were over in Wales, the English were complaining cause we American’s were “oversexed and overpaid and over there”. We used to say: “Yes that’s right, but you’re underpaid, undersexed, and under Montgomery”!”
After nine months of training in South Wales Tom debarked from Southampton, England and landed in Normandy (near Colleville, Omaha Beach) in July 1944 (D+46) before moving out towards St.Lô.
“We were in Normandy and we were fed our favorite sandwiches. Peanut Butter and marmalade. The bees were all over the place on our sandwiches and just swarming around. One of the guys got so disgusted that he couldn’t keep the bees away, that he turned his sandwich over and ate it bees and all!”
“We ran into some little problems while we were in Normandy. We spotted this French women and her father walking down the road towards the German lines. Well they walked into the German lines. They came back out and, of course, nobody bothered. The next thing you know we were getting shelled and mortared. The next day the same thing happened. We said. We said wait a minute, every time she goes into the German lines and comes back, we get shelled and mortared. Next day for the third time they started down the lane and we opened up and boy we shot up all over the place, and the last I saw of them they were running like Hell for the cellar. The FFI (Forces Françaises Intérieur = French resistance) told us she was a German lieutenant’s girlfriend and the father had been selling produce the German Army and he was very well satisfied with their price, so it just goes to show you.”
After 4 weeks of hedgerow-fighting through towns like St. Manvieu de Bocage, St.Germain de Tallevende, Ger, Conches, Versailles Tom’s unit participated at the Victory Parade in Paris on August 29th towards the 28th collecting point at the Bourget Airfield.
“After the parade in Paris we were taken out on the road headed for Le Boucle when they stopped our company and said there’s something in the woods here and you have to go and get it, see what it is. So we stretched up in a Skirmish line, and this damn fool Kraut jumped up and shot our clerk right in the heart, and, of course, he was finished before he could say two words. After that about twenty TODT workers came out. He was in charge of these TODT workers – they were the ones who were supposed to build fortifications for the German Army”.
During its movements Tom’s unit advanced through Belgium into Luxembourg to end up in Wallendorf (Schnee Eifel) by the end of September. From October till half November displacements continued through towns like Rotgen, Germeter & Vossenack. At that time they were assigned to battle the Germans in the Huertgen Forest. Tom recalls it was Hell as they battled freezing rain and snow as well as fanatical German troops. Afterwards they moved back to Luxembourg in the sector of Leiler/Weiswampach.
“We were going to Luxembourg and it was night, it was black as pitch and we were going along and there were people saying Amerarue’s, and all of a sudden a trumpet started playing Stardust. It sure gave you a heck of a feeling I’ll tell you that.”
At that time they received over five thousand soldiers for replacements. After seventeen days they were brought back to the Ardennes for R&R (rest and rehabilitation).
“In Belgium we were near this little town and the people were very, very good to us. I think Rashone or something like that was the name of the town (actually Rachamps). They brought us into their house and gave us something to drink. We had a few C Rations that we shared with them. They heated them up for us and we all ate together and a nice time was had by all.”
Shortly after this on December 16 the Germans attacked with fresh troops and tremendous numbers of tanks and mechanized equipment. This, one of the greatest battles for American troops during World War II, became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 112th IR now linked up with the 82nd AB and fought very successfully this attacking fanatical, well-armed and equipped German mechanized force, stopping them from obtaining their objective. Tom’s CP at that time was situated at Ouren. During the first days of this German offensive Service Company supplied several other 112th units between Weiswampach and Beiler, making sure the 116th Panzer Division wouldn’t make a breakthrough…. During this time Tom recalls driving a truck to get ammo and supplies, when his buddy Ralph State, who was with him, was shot through the head. They were at that time encircled by the Germans, and one of the three American tanks sent to help them overturned on the steep twisting road, blocking their way out of their predicament. Captain Godspeed, his commanding officer, decided to try a different road, which they had no idea where it would take them. At least it offered them a possible opportunity to break out of their trap. Fortunately by this evasive manoeuver they escaped from certain capture.
During January 1945 the 112thIR runs different assaults on the towns of Spineux, Wanne in support of the 106th Infantry Division. During that time Tom’s unit was responsible for supplying the front lines in the sector of Trois-Ponts/St.Vith. The Service Company was dispatched “to safety” in the surrounding towns for over-night rest and reconditioning. Tom stayed a few days at Sougné-Remouchamps (Aywaille) with the Hausman family before moving out again through Sigolsheim towards Le Valtin for the Colmar Campaign… .
Sougné-Remouchamps before WWII
House anno 2015 at Sougné where Tom stayed in January 1945...at that time the door with window on the left side used to be a butcher's shop, while the "garage" on the left used to be the slaughter house... .
“We were in Colmar and they sent us (me and Phil who was the Staff Sergeant) to Saint Marie Armines in France to pick up a load of wire, we needed wire very badly. We had to stay overnight because it was dark and the people there said the Germans were active after dark. So they told us we could use this bed, they had got it all ready for us, and when we got in there, there was a big cobblestone in the bed, hot! We went to sleep and woke up sweating! We kicked the stone out of the bed. Whew! Nobody said anything to us about not using the stone; even so we slept good there that night. The next day on the way back, our engineers were cutting trees opening up the road because the Germans had sneaked behind the lines and thrown these trees across the road so we couldn’t get anything through to the outfit. But they were cutting them up and everything was cleared in about an hour, but it’s fortunate that we did not try to make it the night before…”
After the Germans were defeated Tom was guarding prisoners at a POW camp called “Bad Kreuznach” and was talking to a German prisoner, who said he would make Tom a picture of the camp. The next day he handed Tom a picture of the camp beautifully scratched out on a flattened C-ration can. The surprised and grateful Tom gave the prisoner two packs of cigarettes and both were completely happy with the transaction.
“After the war was over, we were put in the Army of Occupation and sent to the 106th Division, 424th Infantry. We had a big, big prisoner of war camp at Bad Kreuznach. We got there around July or August and they were eating our C-rations, and this prisoner took the top and made this little diagram and so forth of the prisoner camp. While on guard duty he asked me if I wanted to buy it, I said what you want for it, and he said two packs of cigarettes. I thought it was pretty nice.
We also found out there were Russian female soldiers who were put there for safety. Little did they know we were Americans! Everybody used to cut cards to see who could pull the guard duty over the Russians. The Women! Ha, ha, if you think I’m kidding!”
On February 12, 1949 Tom married Myrtle Johnson and they had four children, three girls and a boy and a foster girl.
Their first daughter Susan (Ocean County College) married William Frick and they had three children, Thomas, Matthew and Elizabeth. Holly, their second daughter married Lawrence Pallino and she has a son named Jorrel from a previous partner. She is currently working for an eye doctor, while Jorrel will be father in June 2015. Robert, their son, joined the Marines in 1977 and was stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina, with the Marine Air Wing. After discharge Bob entered civil live but remained at Cherry Point, working with the Marines. He and his wife had two children, Robert and Melissa. June ,their youngest daughter, married Rick Farrington and is step mother to three children and works in the sheriff’s department of Ocean County at Tom’s River. In addition Tom had a foster child Helen, Who married an attorney, Otto Kostbar. She predeceased Tom in 2009.
Afterwards Tom worked for Dorns Trucking, Secauses for 15 years before retiring in 1974. He lived in Union City, Beachwood & Onley, Virginia before moving to Whiting in 2001.
Tom passed away on Wednesday, Dec.7, 2011 at Concord Healthcare Center, Lakewood at the age of 93. By the time he passed away he had 13 grandchildren, Thomas, Matthew, Elizabeth, Robert, Melissa, Jorrel, John, Randy, David, Danielle, Ryan, Shannon & Lawrence Jr. and 9 great grandchildren. He loved to travel, reading, dogs, loved his family, was a kind and sweet man and was known to be the family comedian.
He was a 60 year member of the American Legion, VFW, Elks & Pine Ridge Safety Patrol, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Society of the 28th Div.,AEF, 112th Reg. Assn. & the 28th Infantry Division Association. He proudly served his country in WWII and the Battle of the Bulge with the 112th Infantry Regiment, Service Company, US ARMY.
Tom & Myrtle, anno 2005