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Floyd Talbert

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Floyd Talbert

Floyd Talbert
Talbert in his army uniform in 1942.
Nickname Tab, Bunny
Born (1923-08-26)August 26, 1923
Kokomo, Indiana
Died October 10, 1982(1982-10-10) (aged 59)
Shasta, California
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Rank Staff Sergeant (Requested demotion from First Sergeant)
Unit Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards
  • Bronze Star
    *Purple Heart
    *Good Conduct Medal
    *American Campaign Medal[1]
  • Relations -Russe Talbertll (Father)
    -Nellie Talbert (daughter)
    -Robert Talbert (Brother)
    -Max Talbert (Brother)
    -Kenneth Talbert (Brother)
    -Arlene Hunt (Wife)
    -Linda Talbert (Daughter)

    Staff Sergeant Floyd M. Talbert (August 26, 1923 – October 10, 1982)[2] was a non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Talbert was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Matthew Leitch. Talbert's life story was featured in the 2010 book A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us.[3]

    Youth

    Floyd Talbert grew up in Kokomo, Indiana with his four brothers. After the Great Depression, Talbert and his brothers worked odd jobs in carpentry and on farms throughout high school in order to help out at home. After he graduated from high school,[4] he worked for Union Carbide at Haynes Stellite.

    Military service

    Drawn by the daring nature of the new group called the paratroopers, Talbert enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 24, 1942 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Tab had volunteered for the paratroopers. He was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division at Camp Toccoa under the direction of Captain Herbert Sobel. Like many of the men of Easy Company, Talbert made his first combat jump on D-Day. Talbert was accidentally bayoneted by Private George Smith after the Battle of Carentan, and was evacuated. Fellow Easy Company members, Walter Gordon and Paul Rogers wrote the poem 'The Night of the Bayonet' to immortalize the incident.[5] When Talbert referred to the poem, he would always say, 'I could have shot the bastard six times as he lunged towards me, but I didn't think we could spare a man at the time.'[6]

    Talbert returned to Easy Company and jumped in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. Talbert was promoted to First Sergeant of Easy Company. However, he did not like the position, so he requested a demotion.

    In May 1945, Talbert obtained one of Adolf Hitler's 'bulletproof' staff cars. He was ordered to turn it over to the brass, but he first conducted an experiment whether or not the windows were bulletproof.[7][8] He discovered that armor-piercing ammo could break the glass. Next, he drained the water from the radiator. Only then did he turn it over to Regimental Staff.[7][8]

    Major Richard D. Winters, whom Talbert worshiped and considered a friend, had described Talbert as his "guardian angel", and said that if he had to pick just one man to be with him on a mission, it would be Talbert.[9]

    While Talbert was an excellent soldier, he was 'deathly afraid of anything that crawled'. So his comrades, including Forrest Guth, were always putting things in his footlocker, his bed and even his ammo belt. According to Guth, Talbert 'would go wild'.[10] Talbert was also an easy target for ribbing. Shortly before Christmas 1943, as NCO Talbert would serve Christmas dinner to his men. When all food were served, Talbert discovered that his knife and fork had been removed. Talbert turned a bright shade of red and shouted a challenge for the culprit to admit to the misdeed. The men continued eating and snickering, and eventually Talbert stormed out of the mess hall without one bite of food. Walter Gordon, one of Talbert's best friend who enjoyed teasing Talbert, later chided him by suggesting that he had probably forfeited his last Christmas dinner.[11]

    Later years

    Talbert chose not to attend Easy Company reunion until he showed up at one shortly before he died. But he did meet some Easy Company comrades after the war. One night he went out on town with Edward Tipper, whom he thought must have been killed in Caranten, and had a great reunion with him.[12] Talbert also stood up for fellow Easy Company comrade LaVon Reese when he got married.[13]

    In the book "Band of Brothers", author Stephen Ambrose described Talbert as having become a drifter and alcoholic, and living as a mountain man in California in his later years. Talbert's family members have made a number of efforts to correct this impression. According to one of Talbert's brothers:

    He attended Indiana University after his discharge from the service and immediately accepted a position with the Union Carbide (Haynes Stellite Division in Kokomo, Indiana). He then transferred with the same organization to Alexandria, Indiana, and worked there for several years. He decided to become a full-time farmer and purchased land in that area. Later, he became a plant manager for the General Tire and Rubber Company. He also was a successful car salesman both in Indiana and California.

    The life he was living in California was exactly what he wanted to do. He told us that many times and appeared happy with his activities. He settled in Redding, California, and lived there for many years. He loved to hunt and fish and he fell in love with that geographical area including Lake Shasta.

    His daughter was very disturbed and upset with Ambrose when she read his book. I told her that I did not blame Ambrose, for he was only printing what he had derived from interviews. I told Ambrose the same thing. However, it did hurt the family somewhat because he was not a drifter. In addition, prior to his death in 1982, according to his daughter, he had managed the drinking problem very well and had his finances and his life in order when he died.[14]

    Another brother gave additional information as follows:

    ...Tab's move to California was prompted by a diagnosis of a terminal disease and that Tab simply decided that he wanted to spend his remaining time outdoors.[14]

    Talbert died of complications of a heart condition on October 10, 1982 in Shasta, California.[15]

    Medals and Decorations

    Bronze Star
    Purple Heart
    Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster
    European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrow device
    World War II Victory Medal
    Army of Occupation Medal
    Croix de guerre with palm
    French Liberation Medal
    Belgian World War II Service Medal
    Combat Infantryman Badge
    Parachutist Badge with 2 jump stars

    References

    Bibliography

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