Talley was among the millions of that Greatest Generation who defended America’s freedoms throughout the world and following his service, carved out a piece of the American Dream for himself and his family. As part of this year’s Veteran’s Day, family members reflected on his service to his country.
Talley served in H-Company, 39th Infantry Battalion, 9th Division, 3rd Army.
Talley, who fought in four out of five major battles in World War II and was even missing in action for a period, was a decorated veteran having earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star for heroism in combat, four battle stars from North Africa, Sicily, D-Day and Battle of the Bulge, a sharpshooter medal, a Victory in World War II Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.
“He earned all sorts of medals and commendations,” said Randall McCord, Talley’s step son. “He was a 30-caliber air cool machine gunner in North Africa, Sicily and D Day.”
“There was the Battle of the Bulge where he went missing,” said McCord. “They found him and he stayed in the hospital eight months after he came home. He had a severe concussion. It like to got him.”
“God was with him, “ said Sara Ruth, Talley’s wife.
“I hit France D-plus four,” recalled Talley in a previous interview with the Herald. “They were shelling Omaha beachhead, laying around, some had drowned with all their heavy equipment.”
“Our aim was to cut the Cherbourg Peninsula in two,” said Talley. “It took several days to do that. I lost quite a few of my buddies during this time.”
“I had a brother that was in the 4th Division and was involved in D Day,” said Talley. “I kept looking for him but I never did see him.”
“We captured 15,000 Germans there in Cherbourg,” said Talley. “I thought the war was. There was so many of them marching that surrendered. They just kept coming.”
“They were tough ones, the German army. They didn’t mind killing prisoners or whatever, but most of the time, when they surrendered, a lot of them seemed happy to be surrendering.”
“I thought, ‘Well this must be all of them.’ But we still had a hard road to travel.
For Talley, that road ended in the push into France when “I got blowed across the road and got tangled in a barbed wire fence. I had a brain concussion.”
Talley was one of eight boys who all served in the war. Because of this, the military refused to take the youngest baby.
After he came home from the war, Sara Ruth said, Talley was disabled. They worked for her brother in Cartersville, Ga. for a while and then opened their own business, a lady’s and children’s shop in Cherokee County which they ran from 1960 to 1983.
“This boy (Randall) was in the Navy abbot that time and I wanted something to do,” said Sarah Ruth. “He (Talley) also stayed in the store 10 years. We let him do what he wanted to do. He knew how to make bed spreads, went to Crompton in Leesburg (now Fruit of the Loom) and they hired him on the spot because he knew how to do all of this. And they were just putting it in at Leesburg. He worked down there about eight or 10 years and retired. They gave him a rocking chair.”
Talley first came to Cherokee County in 1939, re-locating from Cullman County, Sara Ruth said. She shared how they met.
“My cousin had a date with his sister and I came home from Norfolk, working for the Navy,” said Sarah Ruth. “Mother and daddy lived there. I lived with them. We came home in 1945. I never had dated any and mother had gotten sick. I went with James Snead to meet his date. He said some one and go with us and I met him (Talley). He was in his own home in the yard.”
And the Talley’s made a good life for themselves in this area. Mrs. Talley still resides in their Cherokee County home.
Their family members include Sara Ruth’s son, Randall and wife, Joyce; their children, Scott and Jamie. Jamie is married to Leslie and they have one daughter Meg, who has a son, Matt.
“These are my grandchildren and my son, all he had,” said Sara Ruth. “The are his step grandchildren. He said before he died, ‘if it hadn’t been for Sarah Ruth I wouldn’t have had any grandchildren.’”
Talley passed away Dec. 5, 2011 at the age of 89 after doing his family, his country and community proud.”
“He was a real hero,” said Sara Ruth. “We lived together 64 years. We were fortunate to have him all those years. We are real proud of him.”