|Birth||26 August 1923 (Kokomo)|
|Death||10 October 1982 (Shasta)|
Floyd M. "Tab" Talbert (26 August 1923 – 10 October 1982) was known for being a paratrooper in the United States Army during World War II. Talbert was portrayed by Matthew Leitch in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). Talbert was among those featured in Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book of the same title, and his 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.
Talbert reached the rank of First Sergeant, a non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, but later requested a demotion in order to be back among the men as a Staff Sergeant. He participated in major actions such as the Battle of Normandy and Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he first returned to his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana for work, later working elsewhere in the state for manufacturing companies, and in California.
Talbert was born in Kokomo, Indiana and grew up with four brothers, including Bob and Max. He was called "Tab" as a nickname in the family. After the Great Depression, Talbert and his brothers worked odd jobs in carpentry and on farms throughout high school in order to help their family financially. After graduating from high school, Talbert worked for Union Carbide at Haynes Stellite.
Drawn by the daring nature of the new group called the paratroopers, Talbert enlisted in the U.S. Army on 24 August 1942 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and volunteered for the new group. He was assigned to Easy 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 prior to the Battle of Bloody Gulch and was evacuated. Talbert was wearing a German poncho and prodded Smith with his personal Colt revolver to wake him for guard duty, startling Smith to think Talbert was a German commando attempting to capture him. Fellow Easy Company members, Walter Gordon and Paul Rogers wrote the poem "The Night of the Bayonet" to immortalize the incident. 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."
Talbert returned to Easy Company and jumped in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium. At Foy, Talbert was promoted to First Sergeant of Easy Company, replacing Carwood Lipton (who received a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant), but requested a demotion to Staff Sergeant while at Zell-am-See, Austria, preferring to be among the enlisted men.
In May 1945, Talbert obtained one of Adolf Hitler's 'bulletproof' staff cars. He was ordered to turn it over to officers, but he first conducted an experiment to determine whether the windows were indeed bulletproof, discovering that armor-piercing ammo could break the glass. He then drained the water from the radiator and turned the vehicle over to Regimental Staff.
Major Richard D. Winters, whom Talbert greatly admired and considered a friend, had described Talbert as his "guardian angel." He said that if he had to pick just one man to be with him on a mission, it would be Talbert.
While Talbert was an excellent soldier, he was "deathly afraid of anything that crawled". His comrades, including Forrest Guth, frequently put crawling creatures in his footlocker, his bed and even his ammo belt. According to Guth, Talbert "would go wild". Talbert was described as an easy target for ribbing. Shortly before Christmas 1943, as NCO, Talbert served Christmas dinner to his men. When all food was served, Talbert discovered that his knife and fork had been removed. Talbert reddened with anger and shouted 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 his best friends who also enjoyed inflicting such teasing, later chided Talbert by suggesting that he had probably forfeited his last Christmas dinner.
According to his brother Bob in an online forum, Talbert attended Indiana University after returning from the war. He took a job with Union Carbide (Haynes Stellite Division) in Kokomo, later transferring to Alexandria, Indiana. Later he worked as a farmer before joining General Tire and Rubber Company as plant manager. He married in Indiana, where he and his wife had a daughter.
Talbert later worked as a car salesman in Indiana and California. He eventually settled in Redding, California for more of an outdoor life.
For years, Talbert avoided Easy Company reunions, but attended one shortly before he died. He also met with some Easy Company comrades after the war. One night he went out on the town with Edward Tipper, whom he had believed must have been killed in Carentan, and had a great reunion with him. Talbert also stood up for fellow Easy Company comrade LaVon Reese when he got married.
Author Stephen Ambrose wrote about Easy Company in his book, Band of Brothers (1992). In following the lives of the men, he described Talbert in the postwar years as struggling to find a place for himself. He also wrote that Talbert became a drifter and alcoholic, and lived in his later years as a mountain man in California.
Talbert's family members were disturbed by this portrait and disagree with it, as they have expressed in forum postings online. They acknowledge that he had difficulty with drinking for a period, but his daughter has said that prior to his death in 1982, her father "had managed the drinking problem very well and had his finances and his life in order when he died."
His brother Max Talbert wrote in the same online forum:
...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.
Talbert died of complications of a heart condition on 10 October 1982 in Shasta, California.
Medals and decorations
|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|