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Thomas C. Talbott, an eyewitness to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, dies

Thomas C. Talbott, a career Marine Corps noncommissioned officer who was an eyewitness to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Sunday of cancer at his Lochearn home. He was 96.

“Tom was a real gentleman and patriot and it is just so sad that he is no longer with us,” said Paul B. Cora, executive director and curator of Historic Ships in Baltimore. “We knew this day was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Born and raised in Nash County, N.C., Thomas Claude Talbott was the son of Joseph Talbott and Sue Talbott, who were farmers, and attended county public schools.

“He left high school in the 10th grade and joined the Marine Corps,” said his wife of 68 years, the former Catherine Nichols, a retired Martin-Marietta executive secretary. Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Mr. Talbott,who was on guard duty at Pearl Harbor’s drydock, took a quick glance at the new Bulova wrist watch he had purchased two days earlier.

“Counting the minutes until his relief arrived, he watched in disbelief as torpedoes fell from the sky in the direction of Battleship Row before the harbor erupted into a fireball,” wrote Paul Joseph Travers in his 1991 book, “Eyewitness to Infamy: An Oral History of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.”

It was 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time when the attack commenced.

“Instead of spending the rest of the day at the beach swimming with his friends, he spent hours trying to rescue tarred and charred sailors who had jumped ship into the burning oil-soaked water,” Mr. Travers wrote.

“You could hardly breathe. That smell and stench stayed in my body and my mind,” Mr. Talbott told the Parkton author, whose father, Herman J. Travers, was a Pearl Harbor survivor. “I still smell it once in a while today. I still have dreams about that day.”

Mr. Talbott and his group of Marines had been scheduled to return to the states in January.

“Then the world came to an end, the way I felt. For the next 72 hours, chaos reigned,” he told The Baltimore Sun in a 2008 interview. By the time the surprise Japanese attack ended, 2,403 Americans were dead, 1,178 were wounded, 19 ships were either sunk or badly damaged, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet was seriously battered. Mr. Talbott, who later served in Korea and as a recruiter, remained in the Marine Corps for 20 years, until being discharged with the rank of master sergeant in 1959. He then was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve for another decade.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Mr. Talbott worked in the security department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Baltimore for 16 years until retiring in the 1970s.

“We met when he was on the Marine Corps recruiting staff at a recruiting stand on the boardwalk in Ocean City[1] in July 1946. I was on vacation,” his wife recalled. “We married in 1949 and bought our home in Lochearn in 1951, where we’ve been ever since.”

Mr. Talbott never forgot what he saw and experienced at Pearl Harbor, but only occasionally talked about it, his wife said.

“He did talk to school kids about it a couple of times,” she said. Florence C. Strawser is vice president of the Maryland Chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

“Anyone who came back from the war, like my dad, it took them years to talk about it because of all the terrible things that are going around in your head,” Ms. Strawser said.

“Tom was a quiet but a very deep and caring man. He spoke several times … and shared his experiences,” she said. “He always said that he was just glad to be alive.”

Mr. Talbott did become a regular participant in the wreath-laying ceremony held on the anniversary of the attack aboard the Coast Guard cutter Taney, the last vessel afloat that was present that day. The Taney is now moored at Pier 5 in the Inner Harbor[2].

“We are a dying breed,” Mr. Talbott told The Sun in the 2008 article.

“I was a friend for many years of Tom’s, and he goes back to the mid-1990s as a participant in the ceremony aboard the Taney,” Mr. Cora said.

“He had throat cancer and his voice had become a whisper, and he was less and less able to get in front of a microphone,” Mr. Cora said. “But when I called him about coming for the 75th, he said, ‘No matter what, I’ll be there.'”

Mr. Talbott was aboard the Taney this past December as the memorial wreath was placed in the Inner Harbor.

“Tom was the last of the Pearl Harbor survivors who regularly attended the event,” Mr. Cora said. The number of living Pearl Harbor survivors is not known, the Pentagon and Navy reported in 2016, but Lou Large, former president of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, told The Boston Globe in 2016, that she had learned only 400 were still alive.

“Stay alert and never take anything for granted,” Mr. Talbott told The Sun in 2012, as he prepared his remarks for the ceremony that year. “I’ve remembered that every day of my life since. You never know what the next step will bring.”

“Tom used to say, ‘Keep America Alert’ and ‘Lest we forget,'” Mr. Travers said. “He was probably one of the most vocal of the Pearl Harbor survivors because he wanted to get that message out to young people.”

“We’re vulnerable at all times because there are people who don’t like us because they don’t have liberty like we do,” Mr. Talbott told The Sun in 2008. “We have freedom. Freedom is one of the most precious things.”

“He never said a word to me about Pearl Harbor,” said Tom James, a former Evening Sun financial reporter and a retired lawyer, who was a longtime friend.

“He was a tough old guy right up until the end. He was still cutting his grass well into his 90s and driving,” he said. “He was still sharp as a tack and he was a wonderful, giving and loving man.”

Mr. Talbott enjoyed gardening, feeding birds and reading. Mr. Travers said that every morning when Mr. Talbott awakened, he looked heavenward and whispered a small prayer.

“He’d say, ‘Thank you God. I’m reporting for duty,'” Mr. Travers said. And at his death, he was wearing the Bulova watch he had worn Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Talbott donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Valley Presbyterian Church, 2200 W. Joppa Road, Lutherville. In adition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Diane Gladfelter Talbott of Baltimore; and many nieces and nephews.


  1. ^ Ocean City (
  2. ^ Inner Harbor (
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US tests missile in Pacific as it escalates threats to North Korea

US tests missile in Pacific as it escalates threats to North Korea

By Mike Head
26 April 2017

While demanding that North Korea halt its nuclear and missile tests and threatening military attack if it does not the Trump administration will today test launch a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from California across the Pacific, in a menacing show of force. According to Air Force Global Strike Command, the operation will test the weapon s effectiveness, accuracy and readiness. In the context of the mounting US military pressure on North Korea and its neighbour China, it is an unmistakeable threat of American preparedness to use nuclear-armed ICBMs. Missile launches were essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities, Colonel Chris Moss, the Vandenberg Air Force Base 30th Space Wing commander said.

For all the political and media hysteria about the danger presented by North Korea s small and primitive nuclear and missile capacity, the provocatively-timed US test again underscores where the real risk of nuclear war resides in Washington and the Pentagon s unmatched arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads. No target was specified for today s exercise, but an earlier US missile test, launched from a North Dakota base in February, travelled 6,760 kilometres to a test range at Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the northwestern Pacific. The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands is just one of the scores of US military bases throughout the Pacific, Japan and South Korea, as well as fleets of warships and submarines, from which devastating attacks on North Korea could be mounted.

On the same day as the missile test, President Donald Trump will hold a rare and suddenly announced White House briefing on the North Korean situation with all 100 members of the US Senate. Adding to the ominous atmosphere, the briefing will be delivered by the top four US war-related officials: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford. (see: Trump summons the Senate to the White House[1] )

In another sign of war preparations, Trump had a publicised dinner on Monday night with two key foreign policy hawks Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. No information was released on what they discussed, but Graham tweeted the next day: Donald Trump is NOT going to let the nutjob in North Korea develop a missile with a nuclear weapon on top that can hit the US. The nutjob was an insulting reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As these developments unfolded, Washington was encircling the Korean Peninsula with nuclear-capable warships conducting war games with Japanese and South Korean naval vessels. The USS Wayne E. Meyer, a destroyer, began exercises yesterday with a South Korean destroyer in the Yellow Sea, west of Korea. Another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald conducted drills with a Japanese destroyer in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, east of Korea.

The US Seventh Fleet said both exercises demonstrate the US Navy s inherent flexibility to combine with allied naval forces in response to a broad range of situations. In further chilling displays, the USS Michigan, a guided-missile submarine, docked in the South Korean port of Busan and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier task force, accompanied by Japanese ships, is due to arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula to stage a combined operation with the South Korean navy. Despite incessant claims by the political elites and corporate media that North Korea was poised to conduct its sixth nuclear test yesterday, the country s 85th anniversary of its army, Pyongyang reportedly only conducted live-fire artillery drills near Wonsan on the east coast.

On Monday Trump summoned ambassadors from the 15 UN Security Council members, including China and Russia, to demand they impose further crippling sanctions on North Korea, featuring an oil embargo, transport bans and punitive measures against Chinese banks allegedly doing business in North Korea. This was despite evidence, such as soaring oil prices in North Korea, that China is already severely constricting supplies. Trump delivered what amounted to an ultimatum, declaring that North Korea was a real threat to the world and a big world problem that we have to finally solve. Publicly, the Trump administration is holding out the prospect of applying enough pressure on China to compel North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programs. But Beijing is sending increasingly alarmed signals that it has very limited influence over the Pyongyang regime.

An editorial yesterday in the state-controlled Global Times warned that convincing Pyongyang to cease its nuclear activities was not as easy as saying abracadabra. The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang could quickly get out of control with terrible consequences that no side will be able to stop. It described the situation as puzzle filled with bombs and declared: Pyongyang must not strike a match and detonate it. This was not the first time that Beijing has voiced dismay at the danger of a military conflagration that would have a severely damaging impact on China s geo-strategic interests. Two days earlier, a Global Times editorial openly criticised North Korea, and said Pyongyang was making a mistake if it thought that Beijing considered it a sentinel and on guard duty for China. The editorial declared that North Korea s nuclear program was jeopardising China s major national interests and preventing Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons was already Beijing s priority in Northeast Asia.

China s leaders obviously understand that their country, not just its erstwhile ally North Korea, is Washington s target. A US assault on the Korean Peninsula could not only lead to the destabilising collapse of North Korea, near one of China s major industrial regions, but install a US-backed regime on China s border, as the US sought to during the 1950-53 Korean War. The fact that China is in the firing line was highlighted yesterday by testimony at a US Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on the Asia-Pacific region. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Ashley Tellis described North Korea as a near-term challenge, whereas the challenges emanating from China are long term, enduring and aimed fundamentally at decoupling the United States from its Asian partners. These comments again point to the underlying driving force behind the Korean crisis. Not just in North East Asia but around the world, the ruling US capitalist class is intent on using America s military might to offset its economic decline and block China, or any other potential rival, from challenging the global hegemony it established through victory over Germany and Japan in World War II.

US Tests Missile In Pacific As It Escalates Threats To North Korea

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Suspect in death of Pamela Butler told witness it was ‘easy’ to get rid of a body

The man charged in the 2009 disappearance and slaying of Pamela Butler told a friend that it was easy to get rid of a body, a D.C. homicide detective said Tuesday. The friend, who is a witness in the case against 51-year-old Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, told detectives that Rodriguez-Cruz had once said if you dig a hole deep enough, no one will find it, D.C. homicide detective Michael Fulton testified in D.C. Superior Court. Rodriguez-Cruz made similar comments about his ability to hide a body to two other people, according to authorities. Rodriguez-Cruz was charged this month with first-degree, premeditated murder in the death of Butler, his onetime girlfriend. She was 47 years old when she went missing Valentine s Day weekend eight years ago. Her body has not been found.

[Ex-boyfriend arrested in 2009 disappearance, death of Northwest woman[1]]

During Tuesday s preliminary hearing, homicide prosecutor Deborah Sines argued that Rodriguez-Cruz had a pattern of abusing women and may also be responsible for the disappearance of his first wife, Marta Rodriguez. She went missing in 1989. Sines said Rodriguez-Cruz told his second wife that he knew how to make sure no one ever found a body. During the nearly five-hour hearing, prosecutors also said they had identified another woman who recounted abuse by Rodriguez-Cruz. They said the woman told detectives that Rodriguez-Cruz duct-taped her wrists, held a gun to her head and repeatedly sexually assaulted her during a 2004 incident in Fairfax County. The woman said he also threatened to sexually assault her 3-year-old daughter, authorities said in court.

This man doesn t impulsively kill. He abducts women, duct-tapes them, sexually assaults them and then holds them captive, said Sines s co-counsel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner. Duct tape and a gun are his weapon of choice.

Without Butler s body, and no clear crime scene, authorities have built a case that relies in part on Rodriguez-Cruz s history of violence. Rodriguez-Cruz, wearing an orange D.C. jail jumpsuit, sat next to his public defender and watched as the detective and prosecutors outlined their evidence against him. Butler s family, including her mother and brother, sat in the audience in the courtroom. Fulton testified that authorities are working to bolster their case against Rodriguez-Cruz. On Friday, he said, police searched Rodriguez-Cruz s Northern Virginia home in connection with his first wife s disappearance and found a Ruger semiautomatic pistol.

In addition, Fulton said, D.C. authorities are testing items found in Butler s home for possible DNA evidence. Fulton described the Fairfax County attack in court, testifying that the woman involved was a security guard at a federal office who also ran a stand at Eastern Market with Rodriguez-Cruz on weekends. The woman said that on the morning of Jan. 9, 2004, she went to Rodriguez-Cruz s home to talk about their work. Fulton said the woman told detectives that when she arrived at the apartment, Rodriguez-Cruz put a gun to her head and a pillow over her face and said: I could kill you tomorrow and no one would ever find your body. I can make your body disappear. The woman told detectives that Rodriguez-Cruz sexually assaulted her as her young daughter was in the apartment, Fulton said. When Rodriguez-Cruz later fell asleep, she told police, she grabbed a knife with one hand and her daughter with the other and tried to run out of the apartment. Rodriguez-Cruz woke, pulled out his gun and grabbed her, the woman said. She then stabbed him multiple times.

Fulton said the woman, who at the time spoke little English, was unable to give a full account of what happened and was arrested and charged with assault. The case never went to trial after Rodriguez-Cruz stopped cooperating with Fairfax authorities, Fulton testified. Rodriguez-Cruz s public defender, Judith Pipe, argued that her client s past relationships were not relevant to the Butler case. Pipe noted that in Butler s otherwise immaculate home, there was evidence that someone had riffled through files in her home office and strewn them across the floor. There was also a box of floppy disks on the floor, a latex glove and some duct tape. This looks like a burglary at the house, Pipe said.

Judge Hiram E. Puig-Lugo said he found enough evidence to hold Rodriguez-Cruz in jail until trial. Puig-Lugo cited evidence such as video surveillance footage that showed Rodriguez-Cruz going in and out of Butler s house about the time of her disappearance. At one point, he is seen carrying five large bags out of the house and a white bucket holding what appears to be cleaning supplies. Puig-Lugo also noted that although there was no evidence of a crime scene in the home, cadaver dogs detected signs of a decaying body in the rear passenger seat and trunk of his vehicle. Puig-Lugo determined that Rodriguez-Cruz would be a danger if he were released and set his next hearing for July 28.


  1. ^ Ex-boyfriend arrested in 2009 disappearance, death of Northwest woman (
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