Thomas Lee Eichman was born December 17, 1940, in Sibley, Iowa, to Thomas August and Hazel Eichman. He was the middle child between his two sisters, Mary and Pat. He grew up amidst a large extended family in northwest Iowa.
After graduating from the University of South Dakota in 1962 with a B.A. in Math and German, Tom went on to earn his M.A. in German Language and Literature from the University of Iowa in 1965. He then went on active duty with the Army. Upon receiving his commission, he was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. It was here that he met his wife, Alice. Tom and Alice were married in Alice's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, on November 26, 1966. After leaving the Army in 1967, he returned to school, earning his Ph.D. in Germanic Linguistics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1971, and finally an M.L.S. from the University of Maryland in 1976. Following the birth of his son Peter in 1982, Tom returned to Fort Meade as a civilian, working for 24 years as a linguist and teacher at the National Security Agency.
Tom's passions were linguistics, research, and teaching. As an assistant professor at Indiana Statue University, Evansville, he taught classes in German language, literature, and English linguistics. After relocating to the Washington, D.C., area, he earned a certificate for teaching English as a second language from Georgetown University in 1980. He taught ESL classes for several years before returning to Fort Meade. He continued teaching during his time at NSA, with courses on applying linguistics to foreign language instruction and translation at the National Cryptologic School.
Tom was a dedicated baseball fan and student of the game from an early age, and continued to follow baseball throughout his life. He was active in civic life through the University Hills Civic Association, both prior to and following his retirement from NSA.