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News > First African-American general in history of Delaware National Guard to retire today
Brigadier General Ernest G. Talbert, Delaware Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force
Brigadier General Ernest G. Talbert, vice commander, Delaware Air National Guard. Gen. Talbert retired Jan. 11, 2009 after a 36-year career during which he broke many barriers. He was the first African-American to attain the rank of colonel in the Delaware ANG, the first African-American to become 166th Airlift Wing commander, and the first and only African-American general in the over 350-year history of the Delaware National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa Chatham)
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First African-American general in history of Delaware National Guard to retire today

Posted 1/11/2009   Updated 2/12/2009 Email story   Print story


Release Number: 010109

1/11/2009 - NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE -- 

News media invited: Ceremony begins 2:30 p.m. today, Sunday Jan. 11, 2009. Call ahead to make arrangements; arrive no later than 2:00 p.m. Photo of Gen. Talbert available upon request.

Contact: Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
Public Affairs Specialist, 166th Airlift Wing
Cell 302-593-2126, or office 302-323-3369
E-mail: Benjamin.Matwey@denewc.ang.af.mil
Release No. 2009-01-001, January 11, 2009 [corrected copy]


NEW CASTLE - Ernest G. Talbert, a resident of Bear, Delaware, will officially retire today from the Delaware Air National Guard, retiring as vice commander, Headquarters, Delaware ANG, and at the rank of brigadier general, the highest-ranking African-American in the over 350-year history of the Delaware National Guard, and the first African-American general of the unit.

Attending the 2:30 p.m. ceremony at the New Castle County Air Base will be senior leaders of the Delaware National Guard, invited civilian officials, members of Gen. Talbert's family and other invited guests.

In a final message to fellow Airmen, Gen. Talbert said, "It has been an extreme privilege to have served in the Delaware Air National Guard with all of you. I wish you Godspeed, and thank you for your continued service to our great nation and state."

At his retirement dinner on Jan. 10, General Talbert said his life lessons and philosophy were, "Believe in God; do unto others what you would have done unto you; do the right thing; value friendships; and look to the poems 'If' by Rudyard Kipling, and 'Invictus' by William Ernest Henley for inspiration."

He added that his life goals were, "To serve, as this is the rent we pay for the privilege of living; to have a positive and life altering effect on a child and society; and, to leave the world a better place."

General Ernest G. Talbert dreamed of flying in his youth, and then attended college where he became a pilot during his junior year and loved the experience of manned flight. As his career as an Air Force and Delaware Air National Guard officer progressed, he took on larger responsibilities in peacetime and at war. He first served in combat zones in Southwest Asia in 1991 with fellow Airmen from his unit in Operation Desert Storm. Later, as wing commander, he led his unit from Delaware as his wing Airmen deployed overseas from 2003-2005 on numerous combat missions to Southwest Asia to support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

General Talbert is a rated command pilot, with more than 6,500 flight hours gained in flying seven aircraft; the C-130A, C-130E, C-130H, C-141A, T-37, T-38 and T-41.

He has received nearly 40 military awards and decorations to include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Brigadier General Hugh Broomall, Deputy Adjutant General for Air, Delaware National Guard, said, "Ernie Talbert's career is the clearest proof we have in the Delaware National Guard that outstanding performance merits ever higher positions of leadership. Delaware and the nation should be proud of Gen. Talbert's career contributions, including his mentoring of dozens of Airmen, his wartime combat service and leadership, and his steadfast devotion to those who serve in the Delaware National Guard and wear the uniform of the U.S. military. Gen. Talbert has upheld his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Delaware against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

General Talbert's military career has spanned slightly over 36 years, with 30 years service in the Delaware Air National Guard, which he joined in Jan. 1979 after six years prior service in the U.S. Air Force. He first joined the Air Force on June 7, 1972.

General Talbert's current operational assignment began in May 2005 as Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Delaware Air National Guard, Previously he was commander, 166th Airlift Wing, from 2002 to 2005, an assignment he began just months before he led the 1,000-Airman wing during the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003. His previous assignment was vice commander of the wing, a period when Operation Enduring Freedom was launched after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 and after which unit Airmen deployed to missions in Afghanistan just one month later in Oct. 2001.

A product of the Delaware public school system, Gen. Talbert attended Drew Elementary School in Wilmington and then, when his family moved to Dover, he attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Dover Central Elementary and Dover High School. He ultimately graduated from Wilmington High School in 1968. He received a B.A. in Economics from New York University in 1972 and an M.B.A. from the University of Delaware in 1983.

After graduating New York University's ROTC program as a Distinguished Graduate in May 1972, he entered Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams AFB, Ariz., where he earned his pilot wings in June 1973. His operational assignment was to Charleston AFB, S.C. where he flew the C-141 jet transport aircraft from June 1973 to Dec. 1978.

In Jan. 1979, he began his career with the Delaware ANG as a part-time, or "traditional" guardsman. He performed in that role until Aug. 1984 when he became the unit's first federal technician tactics officer. He became a C-130 aircraft instructor pilot and pilot flight examiner, and progressively served as the 166th Airlift Group's aircrew scheduler, aircrew-training officer, chief of aircrew standardization and training, and operations plans officer until Sept. 1994. That month, he took on the position of the Chief of Current Operations for the 166th Operations Support Flight, where he provided day-to-day leadership of the wing's operations plans function.

In Feb. 1996, he became the Commander of the 142nd Airlift Squadron. During his tenure as commander the squadron received its best subjective evaluation to date on an Air Force Aircrew Standardization and Training Visit. The squadron also achieved a grade of outstanding on the mission employment phase during their Air Force Operational Readiness Inspection, thus enabling the wing to achieve an overall grade of excellent. He served admirably in a dual role, serving as the Air National Guard Detachment Commander and the Operations Officer of a joint ANG-Active Duty provisional airlift squadron during the unit's first ever Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployment in support of Operation Joint Forge in 2000. In 2000 he also served as the commander of the 166th Operations Group. He was responsible for the worldwide operations of the 142nd Airlift Squadron, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the 166th Aerial Port Flight and the 166th Operations Support Flight. His leadership contribution was a key component of the wing's selection to receive the National Guard Association Distinguished Flying Unit Award for 2000.

In Nov. 2002 Gen. Talbert became the Wing Commander of the 166th Airlift Wing. During his tenure he oversaw the largest mobilization effort in the Wing's history, directed the Wing's recovery from the effects of a devastating tornado and successfully led the wing and 34 other units in the largest to date Air Mobility Command Expeditionary Operational Readiness Inspection. In May 2005 General Talbert became Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Delaware Air National Guard.

General Talbert has numerous association and civic relationships. He is president of the John Porter Chapter (Dover Del.) of the Tuskegee Airmen; executive board member of the Delmarva Boy Scout Council, Youth Leadership subcommittee member of the City of Wilmington HOPE Commission; past president of Delaware's General Bill Spruance Chapter of the Air Force Association; member of Central Baptist Church, Wilmington, Del.; former member of the Board of Trustees of the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame; member of the Dean's Advisory Board, Lerner School of Business and Economics, University of Delaware; member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

General Talbert married Richelle Faith Culley in 1973; they have three children and two grandchildren.

This release is in the public domain, and any part may be used as written.

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