Ronald (Ron) Talmadge, 87, beloved father, brother, grandfather, great grandpa "GGPA", father-in-law, uncle and friend went to his eternal fly-fishing resting place Sunday, November 14, 2021.
An avid outdoorsman, musician, and retired pilot as a Major in the United States Air Force (USAF), Ronald "Ron" Talmadge's love of life didn't come to an end at his passing. After a courageous battle with COPD, he passed in his home surrounded by family.
Over the last several months he was supported by his caring family and long-time friend in a manner befitting such an amazing father, brother, grandfather "Papa", great- grandfather, "GGPa", uncle and friend. The legacy he built, which was to be one inclusive family, will live on after his passing.
Ron completed his Bachelor's in Music degree at Drake University in Iowa. Shortly after, he joined the USAF where he was chosen to go to flight school and train to be a pilot. He first flew trainers at Lackland AFB (where he and his trainer once had to crash-land a plane on a foamed-down runway).
After his initial training, Ron was chosen to fly combat support missions in a cargo plane called the C-123 "Provider". (It's interesting to note that the Providers were actually unused troop transport gliders fitted with turbofan engines that were capable of lifting loads of heavy cargo including fuel for outlying aircraft in Vietnam.) On October 19, 1966, upon returning to base for additional supplies he was summoned to see if he could do a quick turnaround with full portable bladders of fuel to a Green Beret fire base that was being overrun by the Vietcong. The base and fuel depot had been heavily mortared, meaning the Army could not fly the troops out by helicopter. Ron and his crew used rope and pallets to rig up the fuel bladders for a quick push out the back door once they were on the ground. Coming into the area they saw that the night sky was lit up with tracer rounds from every direction. Ron flew his plane into a steep dive over the runway for a quick touch-and-go. His loadmaster and tech sergeant then opened the rear door, cut the rope, and kicked out the bladders near the waiting helos. The helicopters were then able to be refueled allowing all the Green Berets to get out alive. At the campaigning of the Army, on February 22, 1967, the US Air Force presented Captain Ronald Talmadge with The Distinguished Flying Cross "for his exceptional personal courage in the face of imminent danger; professional competence, aerial skills, and devotion to duty". He was also decorated with many other medals and commendations for his heroic and essential support of his Air Force missions.
Ron's flying ability and his attention to detail garnered a look from the Strategic Air Command where they had him flying the KC-135, an in-air refueler jet. He flew countless missions during the Vietnam war and then flew strategic support missions refueling one of the many B-52s circling about the earth during the Cold War.
Once, while flying over the Mediterranean near the Strait of Gibraltar, two F-14 Tomcats hooked up for a "drink of fuel". The pilots alerted Major Talmadge about two Russian Migs that were trailing them and told him to bug out ASAP after their splash of AV gas.
Later in his Air Force career, he piloted aircraft for various scientific research missions including missions to photograph The Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Austrailis. He commanded a "sniffer" which flew over enemy borders to take photographs and samples to make sure they were not doing above-ground nuclear testing. Major Talmadge also flew the Airborne Laser Lab and other scientific support aircraft.
Always lighthearted, Ron took a group of scientists on a trip "around the world" by tipping his wing to the North Pole and pivoting his plane around it. It was an unofficial "around the world record".
He retired from the USAF as a Major after 20 years of service, with over 6,250 flight hours, 725 of those hours over enemy territory.
Following his service in the Air Force, he settled down with family. An avid outdoorsman, you could find him in the spring and summer driving his boat at Cochiti, Santa Rosa, or Elephant Butte lakes here in New Mexico and in other parts of the country. He has taught his kids and countless others how to water ski. You could also find him along the rivers and streams teaching his kids how to fish. In the winter, you could find him sharing his love for snow skiing on the slopes of New Mexico with his children - some of them are now skiing in Italy, France and Japan.
The simplest pleasures in life brought him the utmost joy. Whether it was traveling 5000 miles round trip in a car by himself to see family back East or traveling with family to the Florida beaches in winter, he enjoyed his sight-seeing.
He took 4-wheeling to new heights when it came to fishing at Rio De Las Vacas in Northern New Mexico, creating his own trails rather than following the guided paths. He was a proud grandpa and great grandpa. He was a sports fan who loved the Lobos and spent time with family, watching the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He rooted for the Cowboys but if the Cowboys weren't playing, he would watch another game and root for the underdog.
He lived life to its fullest potential, visiting with family, loving, and caring for family and friends alike. He was a man among men, a hero above all heroes, a straight shooter who told you like it was all while being genuine, kind-hearted, full of humility and love for each and every person whose life he touched. He was a man who ended a conversation with 3 words that mean so much to anyone who hears them, "I love you" and we end by saying "We Love You Too".
He is preceded in death by his parents Maurice and Emma of Iowa, and older brother, Paul of Albuquerque and his late wife, Judy. He is survived by his sister Joyce Spaulding and her husband, Laird, out of Portland, Maine. He is also survived by his 10 children: Daughter, Renee O'Hea (Patrick) of Albuquerque and their children, daughter Kelli Muwumba (Davis), their daughter, Makenzi; son, Kyle O'Hea (Anne) and their son, Finnegan; and son Keelan O'Hea. Son Steven Talmadge of Albuquerque and his son Tyler (Karissa) and their children Grace and Jack. Son David Talmadge (Jennifer) of Falmouth, Maine and their children Charlotte and Maxwell; son Bryan Talmadge (Lisa) of Southside, Alabama; daughter Janan Talmadge of Espanola; son Matthew Talmadge (Nicole) of Connecticut and children Maddox and Felix and Cooper and Lucy; son Michael Talmadge of Seattle; daughter Kathy Woody (Bob) of Albuquerque and their daughters Elisa and Emily; daughter Kristy C De Baca (Valentin) and their children, Noah and Isabelle; son Kirk Neamen (Shani) out of Seattle, Washington; nephew John Talmadge (Andie) and their children Arianna and Sammie; and niece Rebecca West (Jim) and their children Ash, Mallory, Tira, and Josie.
He is a long-time member of First United Methodist Church where his memorial service is planned for Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 11am (315 Coal Avenue SW - primary parking entrances are on 4th street and Coal in downtown Albuquerque.) A reception at First Methodist will follow the service. A full Military Honors burial service will take place at Sunset Memorial Park at 924 Menaul Blvd. NE in Albuquerque.
In lieu of flowers, please plant a tree or a rose bush or provide to a family member to do so, or please consider a donation in Ronald's name to The Wounded Warriors.
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