GEORGE R. TALBOT
Sergeant First Class | Armor
After finishing high school, George began working as a truck driver at the DeKalb Hybridseed Company. Since the 1930s, DeKalb had been the leader in hybrid seed corn sales. After working there for four years he was inducted into the service on October 9, 1950. George quickly found himself assigned to B Company, 245th Tank Battalion.
The 245th Tank Bn. was the primary tank unit of the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Division. The 45th was one of four National Guard units considered to be combat ready, or at least close. In February, 1951, the division was alerted that it would be moving to Japan and moved to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to prepare for overseas movement. On September 1, the 45th was activated for the Far East and sailed for Japan. There was speculation among the troops that the division was going to be used for another amphibious invasion of Korea, this time on the east coast of the peninsula. These plans changed, however, and the division arrived at Hokkaido. The area was not at all prepared for an entire division and the first assignment for the unit was to clear the forest to make room for bivouac. Over the course of a few days, all personnel cleared trees. Some found the means to liberate equipment such as bulldozers from the engineers and make the work a bit faster. For the next few months, the division participated in a number of field problems and other training to prepare for fighting in Korea.
The division moved to Korea in December 1951 in the heart of the second brutal winter of the war. They were assigned to locations around Chorwon, tasked with protecting routes leading to Seoul and by December 23, were defending line Jackson and later line Jamestown. The mountainous terrain limited the action of tanks, and the 245th served mostly as mobile artillery emplacements. Chinese and North Korean forces continually pounded the 45th Division lines with unrelenting artillery and mortar fire. The 245th Tank Battalion returned the favor, sending rounds right back into enemy territory while forward troops patrolled the front and fought from sandbag bunkers. This was the period of outpost warfare, similar to trench warfare in World War I.
Since their arrival in December, the 245th Tank Battalion was placed in reserve, at that time located behind the 9th ROK Division. Though they were in this rear position, they were still tasked with defending the route behind the ROK troops from enemy armor. One company of the 245th provided direct support to the 9th ROK Division. The Chinese were much more experienced than the newly arrived division and often had the upper hand, from establishing secure positions or simply knowing the terrain. The 45th Division suffered a lot of casualties in the first months of fighting. The first major action for the 245th outside of throwing rounds over the hills came in a series of raids conducted by the Chinese. On May 25, after the third raid, the 245th retaliated with a small force of nine tanks to Agok in hopes of pushing the Chinese away and setting up patrol bases. For a week after June 6, the 45th Division launched Operation Counter, pushing the Chinese back to set up secure positions around Old Baldy. During the second phase of the operation, the 180th Infantry and the 245th Tank Bn. raided objectives on Pokkae Ridge and Outpost Eerie. The combined attack on Eerie resulted in over 6o enemy casualties, about half of them killed. The 45th lost four soldiers and one tank, but succeeded in taking the position.
They continued to defend Old Baldy well into 1952. The Chinese desperately wanted the position and attacked frequently through the summer and into autumn. In July, the 245th Tank Bn. was attached to the 2d Infantry Division, but would soon return to its native 45th Division, less Talbot's Company B which came back to 45th positions at the end of the month. Though the fighting was stagnant in 1952, especially for the mostly static tank positions, Talbot and the other tankers in the 245th saw no break in combat since they arrived the previous year. The Chinese ruthlessly tried to regain lost ground and poured artillery, ammunition, and troops into 45th Division lines. Talbot wears a Combat Armor badge on his uniform as a symbol of the bitter fighting in the hills of Korea. This is an unauthorized award seldomly seen on a uniform, but well deserved for any soldier who felt entitled to one.