Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Virgil's Cousin

Lieutenant General Carlos M. Talbott, USAF (Retired)
FRaVMotC Virgil Xenophon has mentioned his cousin, first cousin I might add, a coupla/few times in the comments. First time that I can recall, (Blogger's search engine was running pretty much like the U.S. Congress last night) was here, a Friday Flyby featuring the P-38. His comment there was:
Next, I should comment that when I spent the better part of the summer (age 13) of '56 staying with my first cousin (my Mother's age--she was 20 yrs younger than the rest of her siblings) Lt Gen Carlos M. Talbott (then an O-6) when he was Wing Co of an F-100 Fighter Day Group at Foster AFB, Victoria, TX, Maurice and his boss, then Maj Gen Henry Viccellio were invited to a Fourth of July BBQ at this Texas Senators ranch and I was in the Maurices' station-wagon (with the General driving) in the backseat with Maurice's kids -- the wives following in another car) taking in all the "shop-talk" during the several hour drive. Maj Gen Viccellio (a giant of a Texan, who still had pox-mark scars from the pre-depression era when small-pox vaccinations were not yet wide-spread) ) was the P-38 Wing Commander who planned the mission and hand-picked the pilots who shot Yamamoto down. Talk about being in the presence of history! And to further add to the history tale, the Senator whose ranch we were invited to was LBJ's ranch! Little did I know when I shook his hand as a 13-yr-old that he would be the President ordering me off to war a decade later!
Yeah, how cool is that? Virgil didn't just make history as a Phantom driver in Vietnam, he witnessed quite a bit as a lad as well!

So the other day Virgil's cousin popped up again in the comments:
That aerial refueling shot you are showing is of F-100s--one from each of the three squadrons--from my 1st cousins (Lt Gen Carlos M. Talbott, Lt Gen, USAF Ret, Vice-Cmdr of PACAF) 322nd Fighter Day Group when he was a 32 yr-old O-6 Commander at Foster AFB, Victoria, TX circa 55/56. (He won the Bendix Air Race in '55 flying good ole FW-777) He won the race (elapsed time--no air refueling then) deciding to land w.o deploying the chute (as repacking the chute took about 45 min) and risking burning up the breaks, putting him out of the race for good. His gamble & skill paid off and he not only won via elapsed time but was first over the field at Philadelphia.

PS: He was obviously then in such favor (later to fall out of favor--didn't get his first star until he took the 366th TFW to Vietnam in 65) that his unit was the FIRST in the Air Force to be equipped with the brand new Century series fighter.

He died 26 Feb 2015 at age 95.
So by now I realize that via the "power" of the web of world-wideness, I can look up Lt Gen Talbott. So I did.

What an impressive guy.

First of all, he flew missions in World War II, flying the P-47 "Jug" as a member of the 397th Fighter Squadron of the 368th Fighter Group in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

From the 397th's website:


Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Two Me-109 kills. A pretty impressive record. And that's just his early years!

In his official Air Force biography there is this:
He is a command pilot, has flown more than 4,500 hours, and during World War II flew 96 combat missions. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross; Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Air Medal with 15 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; Golden Cross of the Royal Order of Phoenix (Greece); Korean Medal of Merit; from the Republic of Vietnam the National Order of Vietnam, 5th Class, Armed Forces Honor Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Order, 2nd Class; Order of Cloud and Banner, Republic of China; and Air Force Wings of Turkey, China and Republic of Vietnam.
So make that two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Oh and that F-100, FW-777, that Virgil mentioned? She's here...
52-5777 North American F-100A-5-NA Super Sabre 5777 (MSN 192-22) registration N1453 reserved 1972, NTU.  Noted in 1990 on display at Hill AFB Museum, Utah. (Source)
I actually found a picture of the old girl -

F-100A Super Sabre, S/N 52-5777, Buzz Number FW-777, at Ogden, Utah (S0urce)

Great website by the way, I need to spend more time there.

Sadly, Lt Gen Talbott passed away in February of this year. His obituary in the Washington Post started with:
Folded his wings, at 95 years of age, on Thursday, February 26, 2015 in Arlington, VA. (Source)
Now that's one of the men who built the Air Force that I served in.

God Speed Sir, I'll stop by next time I visit Arlington and I'll bring a nickel.

38 comments:

  1. Very cool! VX has been making comments about his cousin on several blogs over the years, glad you did the digging to get the whole story. The ranch you mentioned is about 16 miles east of town and well worth the visit. Now that Lady Bird has passed, I'm told the Texas White House is now open for tours. Since she was alive and lived there the last time I visited, it wasn't open. May have to go back.
    LBJ was NOT on my Dad's fave list. He refused to visit as LBJ's grave was on the tour. He said he didn't want to get in trouble if he started having a bladder control problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Juvat, I figured it was about time to talk about Lt Gen Talbott.

      I too am not an LBJ fan. His award of the Silver Star in the Pacific during WWII irks me, though I lay that more on MacArthur than LBJ. From what I understand, LBJ's reports on conditions in the Pacific Theater did improve things for the GIs in that theater.

      But it's his record in Vietnam that particularly bugs me. He had no idea what he was doing. Also, LBJ's policies regarding civil rights probably damaged the minority community more than it has ever helped them IMHO.

      When the third ship in the Zumwalt class of destroyers was announced that it would be named the "USS Lyndon B Johnson" I went through the roof.

      But considering the politics behind ship naming, it's no surprise. At least it's better than Giffords or Chavez.

      Delete
    2. Where to start on LBJ and Vietnam - micromanaging it? What a disaster he was. Master politician, horrible President.

      Delete
    3. Don't talk too much about VX or his head will explode! I thank him for vectoring me over to the Lexicans years ago. I still believe there needs to be a tasting between Barbancourt and (my favorite) Bacardi Eight-year-old!

      Delete
    4. William - "Master Politician, horrible President", sums it up very nicely.

      Delete
    5. Dave, you're probably right about Virgil. I'd like to be a fly on the wall the day you two get together. I'll bet there are some stories to be told!

      Delete
    6. I'd rather you be there as well. Then we could get the whole chat covered. Jeanie and I are firmly rooted in OBS Florida , near Daytona. Got an extra queen size bed, dining room, private bath and private pool and beach. Passable grub all around - they even have bars with restaurants this much time after the five hundred.

      Delete
    7. Now that would be an experience to write home about!

      Delete
  2. Such stories! I had heard of that P47 story but didn't know of the pilot. Fair Winds and following seas to that airman. Hope he will let me buy the first round when that time comes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, he is a pilot, I'm betting you won't need to twist his arm.

      Second round might be up in the air though!

      Delete
  3. Ahh, serving under LBJ.
    Hmmm, let me think back, way back. "Lead, this is four", (patiently) "Yes four?" (excitedly) "Look, there's an airfield at three o'clock!" "I Know, four". Later. "Lead, this is four", (politely) "Yes four?" (excitedly) "Look, there are some dikes and power plants at eleven!" "Yes, Dave, I know". Later. "Lead! This is four!" "Huh?" "Can you see that huge span across that big river over there? My GIB is painting it, for pity sakes!" "OK, Fuzz, we know".
    Later still, "Lead to flight, go hot and tactical. There's the bamboo bridge we're fragged for. Watch out for all of the Thuds coming off of it. We're number sixteen on target this morning. Good luck!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave,
      You sound like you probably shouldn't visit the ranch either. Bladder control problems can strike on short notice. ;-)

      Delete
    2. Dave, that's how I remember it. Of course, I was in school reading about it, you were doing it.

      I have zero respect for his Presidency.

      Check that, I need to re-evaluate that assessment based on the current "regime."

      Delete
    3. Juvat, I had a similar urge when visiting London and seeing the crypt of Edward I, King of England. AKA Longshanks, AKA Hammer of the Scots.

      Same visit, saw the Stone of Scone, in London. Was sore tempted to make off with it to return it to Scotland, where it belongs.

      I resisted that urge. The Stone was returned to Scotland in November of 1996, by the British government.

      Would I have a beer with LBJ? Probably not. But if it was a choice between him and Longshanks? Then it's "What are you drinking LBJ? COuld you pass the pretzels?"

      Some folks have long memories.

      Delete
    4. Dave/

      Don't forget the truck (singular) we "killed" in a "suspected truck park" for a solid month on the Ho-Chi Minh trail. (or at least the DaNang crowd did.) We got so sick of seeing a pic of that same truck during a msn brief that we'd throw things.. saying things like "you DO realize, don't you, that this is the nth time...you guys do any BDA anymore?" Blank stares..

      Delete
    5. Ah yes, "suspected truck parks." I wonder how many lives and how much ordnance was expended on those.

      Delete
    6. "Suspected Truck Parks" reminds me of a story. Too long to put down here. I'll have to break out the real keyboard.

      Delete
  4. Concur with all re: LBJ, but the person I would have loved to put crosshairs on was Robert Strange McNamara.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think ol' bobby strange got what came around. I saw one of his last interviews a while back and while he was blathering on and hitting all the talking points, you could tell his heart wasn't in it. He knew. He knew we knew. And he knew we knew he knew. I'm guessing it sucked pretty bad.

      Delete
    2. I would think it would suck pretty bad to come to the realization that your arrogance caused the deaths of a large number of your countrymen as it became obvious that your end of days was approaching. That might actually be the definition of hell. Eternity knowing that in the end, you knew nothing.

      Delete
    3. In the end he became irrelevant.

      But at what a cost.

      Delete
    4. Didn't McNamara write a book? I seem to recall that he did, not wanting to put a dime in that man's pocket I didn't read it.

      Did anyone here do so?

      Delete
    5. I, also, managed to avert my eyes..

      Delete
  5. Sarg/

    Hitting clean-up here, I'd like to say thanks for the post. Might add that Maurice was also a Mid-West Golden Gloves Champion prior to attending WP (where he also boxed--don't remember what weight class)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you've mentioned him a few times, thought I'd look him up. To say I was impressed by the man and what he did would be an understatement.

      Delete
  6. PS: AFAIK, Maurice was the ONLY Flag Officer of any service to serve two tours in SEA as a flag officer. The 1st as Director of the TACC (Tactical Air Control Center) HQ&thAF in Saigon when he made his first star in 1966 and later in '72 as as Maj Gen, Dir of Operations, HQ MACV/DCO, HQ 7thAF before appointment as Vice Cmdr, PACAF as a 3-star.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds to me like he more than earned his pay.

      Delete
  7. Very impressive man. Sorry to hear of his passing. Not many left of that great generation.

    What did you mean when you said that you would bring a nickel when you visit Arlington? Is that an AF tradition?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's an old song from the Korean War, which, as far as I know, came out of the Air Force. The Nasal Radiators can correct me there.

      Here's a link to it.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Sarge. Now I understand. I might need to download that song to play if I ever DJ a veterans picnic.

      Delete
    3. That would be pretty cool!

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)