Karpan, Paul M. (644th)

Paul M. Karpan

Biography:  Paul Michael Karpan was born on September 7, 1922, in Washington, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Paul Karpan and grew up on the Brush Run Dairy Farm. He graduated from Washington High School and then went to work for the Dravo Corporation, which was a ship building company located on Neville Island in the Ohio River. While working at Dravo, he took evening classes at the Penn State Drafting and Engineering School until he entered the service in 1942.

Service Time:  Paul entered the service on December 31, 1942, at Pittsburgh, PA. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company A of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The battalion trained at a number of military facilities within the U.S. including Camp Claibourne, Louisiana, Fort Lewis, Washington and Camp Hood, Texas, before moving to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey to undergo final preparations before shipping overseas. He trained as a TD driver and received both Marksman and Sharpshooter weapons qualifications.

On January 2, 1944, they left the New York port on the RMS Aquitania, which was being used as a troop ship during the war. They arrived at Gourock, Scotland, January 11, 1944. After six months of additional training, they boarded transports and landed at Utah Beach on July 11th and 12th, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. The 644th was committed to battle south of Le Haye Du Puits with the 8th Infantry Division on July 15th, participating in the Cobra breakout beginning on July 26th. Advancing into Brittany in August, they helped capture Brest in early September. They then moved to Luxembourg in late September and fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November. Companies A and C moved to the northern Ardennes sector by early December and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, with Company B arriving later.

The unit joined the elimination of the Bulge in early 1945, and the Roer River offensive in February, reaching the Rhine south of Cologne in March. They crossed the river at Remagen and supported the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket in April. Swinging eastward to the Elbe River, they rolled toward the Baltic coast with the 82nd Airborne Division, and stopped in Schwerin.

Paul received credit for each of the unit’s five campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He was awarded the EAME, American Theater, WWII Victory and the Good Conduct medals. He also shared in the unit’s award of the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Croix De Guerre. He left the service at Indiantown Gap, PA, at the rank of Technician 4th Grade.

Paul returned to Pennsylvania and used the GI Bill to go to technical school and become an electrician. He worked for a number of different electrical contractors before being hired by the Chapman Corporation. While there, he managed large industrial projects for them. On January 12, 1963, he married the former Nancy Pletcher and the couple made their home in Washington, PA. They had five children, Judi, Kathy, David, Michael and Brian. As of the posting of this tribute, the couple has been married 60 years. Just prior to retiring in 1985, he purchased his parents farm and raised a small herd of beef cattle. Paul was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW Local Union #5. His non, work-related memberships include the American Legion #175, the Croatian Fraternal Society of America Lodge #354 and St. Hilary Church.

I want to thank Paul for his service to our country and wish him good health and happiness. Thank you also to the Karpan family for providing the photos and information used in this tribute.