Published Sunday, November 04, 2012
By ALEX MCRAE
Family and friends will be gathering soon to celebrate the 100th birthday of Art Carlson, a World War II veteran who has called Newnan home since 2001.
Carlson officially turned 100 Sunday. A large celebration is planned Nov. 29 for the veteran who was among those profiled in The Newnan Times-Herald’s tribute book to WWII veterans — “Coweta’s Greatest Generation.” He is among those featured on the cover.
Carlson lives with his son and daughter-in-law, Dick and Dee Carlson. Dick says his father mentions that he didn’t expect to live so long but is happy he did and plans to keep on going as long as he can.
Carlson was born in 1912 in Clayton, Washington, and relocated to Michigan as a child. After his father died, Carlson moved in with his grandparents and graduated from high school in 1931. The Great Depression was in full swing and Carlson was glad to get a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps that paid a dollar a day plus meals. He eventually tried farming and worked on a fox ranch and at a factory.
World War II broke out in December 1941, but it was 1943 before Carlson was drafted. By that time, Carlson was 30 years old and had a wife and two children. Six weeks after Carlson was inducted, the Army stopped drafting men over age 26. Carlson didn’t complain. “That’s just the way things go,” he says. “And when I got called I was ready to go and do my duty like everybody else.”
After boot camp at Camp Blanding, Fla., Carlson was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C., to join the Army’s 87th Infantry Division. In October 1944, he sailed for Europe. After just three weeks in Britain, the 87th Division was ordered to France.
Winter was fast approaching. Bitter low temperatures and drenching rains mixed with snow made living conditions miserable in the tent city Carlson’s 346th Regiment called home.
“Our tents were wet, our gear was wet; we were soaked and it was pretty miserable,” he says. “Sometimes we’d say we didn’t think things could be any worse. But that was before we started getting shot at.”
Carlson found himself freezing through the Battle of the Bulge and was on the front lines when his unit broke through the Siegfried Line. Carlson was in Czechoslovakia when the fighting ended in Europe.
Carlson returned to his former factory job in Michigan, but soon moved on to a job with Whirlpool Corp., where he worked almost 28 years before retiring in 1964.
Even after retirement Carlson kept active by doing landscaping and hunting deer.
Carlson’s wife died in 1992, and nine years later he moved to Newnan to live with his son and daughter-in-law.