DeForest Lee Talbert
Sergeant, United States Army
Jul 29, 2004
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant DeForest L. Talbert, 24, of Charleston, West Virginia, died July 27, 2004, in Baladruc, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Talbert was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment from Beckley, West Virginia.
The incident is under investigation.
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
TALBERT, DEFOREST LEE, Sgt., USA
On Tuesday, July 27, 2004 of Charleston, West
Virginia formerly of Alexandria, Virginia. He leaves to cherish his memory,
one son, Deontae James Hamlett; mother, Gloria Nesbitt; stepfather, James
Nesbitt; father, Ben Dickens; three sisters, Tawanna Talbert-Loving, Latasha
Marble and Chiquita Talbert; one brother, James Talbert; two brothers-in-law,
George Loving and Michael Marble; devoted friend, Frances Hamlet; four
nephews and a host of other relatives and friends. Celebration of Life
to be held Thursday, August 12, 6 p.m. at Antioch Baptist Church, 1120
Queen St., Alexandria, Virginia. Interment Arlington National Cemetery,
Friday, August 13 at 10 a.m.
Talbert was killed in Iraq two weeks ago when an explosive device detonated near the Humvee he was in.
The Alexandria native had been living in Charleston to attend West Virginia State University.
He enlisted in the National Guard in November 2001.
Wise says Talbert's selflessness and bravery
brings honor to his family, the people of Virginia and West Virginia and
to the nation.
By S. Mitra Kalita
DeForest L. Talbert entered the alternative education program at T.C. Williams High School the way a lot of students do -- full of resentment.
He was raised by a single mother in a public housing complex in north Old Town Alexandria. He spent much of his freshman year skipping class and talking back to teachers. He was bright, athletic and good-looking -- and he knew it, recalled Carolyn Lewis, principal of the Secondary Training and Education Program, which supports students who aren't doing as well as they could.
"He was really in trouble in the streets," Lewis said.
Talbert was supposed to try the program for a year -- and stayed for three, thriving. By senior year, he was a star running back on the football team, known to teammates and fans as "Touchdown Talbert." He became a mentor to children from low-income families at a nearby preschool. Then he went to West Virginia State College on a military scholarship and joined the Army National Guard, dividing his time between service and school.
On Tuesday, Talbert, 22, was killed in Baladruc, Iraq, when a bomb exploded near his vehicle during a routine patrol with other members of the Guard's 1st Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment, based in Dunbar, West Virginia. Department of Defense officials said yesterday that the incident is under investigation.
Years after he left Alexandria, teachers, police officers and children on the streets still marveled at the transformation of "Dee," as he was called, from a tough-talking, troubled teenager to football star, responsible father and Army sergeant.
"Here's this kid who went through so many hurdles growing up in the inner city," said Jill Lingle, a George Washington Middle School resource police officer who knows Talbert's family. "Even the younger boys I know at the school would talk about him. They'd say, 'Did you see what Dee did?' Everyone knew he'd gone on to college. He was definitely a role model for these young kids growing up in the same way."
Friends, former teachers and mentors have crowded the Alexandria home of his mother, Gloria Nesbitt, this week to offer condolences and support.
Talbert's girlfriend, Frances Hamilett, 22, said she had spent much of Monday at the home she shared with him in Charleston, West virginia, trading instant messages with him over the Internet. As always, he asked about their son, Deontae, who turned 3 last week.
"We were having regular conversation," she said. "He didn't want to go on patrol. He kept saying he loved us and we would see him in August. I think he felt something might happen. He kept saying, 'Don't get off the computer.' It was like he knew something was going to happen."
On Wednesday, two Army officers arrived at Hamilett's home and told her Talbert was dead. She said she fell to her knees crying.
They were talking about marriage, she said, but no wedding date was set. They had had a hard time in recent years, both emotionally and financially. They were college freshmen when Hamilett became pregnant, and they feared that one or both of them might have to drop out of school. Hamilett wants to be a social worker; Talbert was studying communications.
"It was a struggle, but we overcame it," Hamilett said. "While I was in class, he would watch our son, and we went back and forth like that."
Deployed in February, Talbert kept in frequent touch with his family, complaining of Iraq's intense heat and promising his son that he would be home to watch the next Dallas Cowboys game. Hamilett said Talbert was not particularly patriotic or political but had enrolled in the Army so they could stay in school and he could provide for Deontae.
"He wanted to make sure he had money for our son," Hamilett said. "The reason he signed up was to have money to pay for school. It was a job. I don't think he ever thought he was going to war."
During the last year, T.C. Williams students sent Talbert letters and care packages, and Talbert wrote them back thanking them for their thoughts -- and for making him the envy of his fellow soldiers.
"He said he was the only one who got a lot of mail because we always wrote to him," Lewis said.
Lewis said Talbert never forgot his friends in Alexandria and reached out to them often through the computer and telephone. His messages, she said, were filled with humor and gratitude.
"We are a smaller learning community rather than a mainstream school," Lewis said. "We were his family."
Lewis said she received an e-mail from Talbert on Tuesday and regrets deeply that she didn't save it.
"Just want you to know that I'm fine," it said. "It's still hot."
Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2005
TALBERT, DEFOREST LEE
Posted: 14 August 2004 Updated: 25 August 2004 Updated: 4 December 2004 Updated: 21 August 2005 Updated: 13 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008