First Sergeant Floyd M. Talbert (August 26, 1923 – October 10, 1982) 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.
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, he 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 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. Also, Talbert jumped in Operation Market Garden in Holland, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne.
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. 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.
Major Winters had described Talbert as his “guardian angel.”
After the war, he chose not to associate with fellow Easy Company veterans until he showed up at an Easy Company reunion shortly before he died. 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.
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.
Talbert died of complications of a heart condition on October 10, 1982 in Shasta, California.