The Times West Virginian

Local News

November 15, 2013

Ronnie Talkington communicated with his mom frequently while in Vietnam

MANNINGTON — While he was in Vietnam defending his country, Mannington resident Ronnie Talkington made sure he wrote and talked to his mother as often as possible.

“She was having a pretty rough time because my brother had passed away when he was in the service, and it wasn’t long after that that I was sent to Vietnam,” he said.

Talkington said he made calls from Vietnam to Mannington when he could. He and his mother also communicated by tape recordings.

“I would tell her some of the things I was doing. I told her everything that I could because there were some things I couldn’t tell her,” he said. “I would ask how things were at home in Mannington.”

Talkington said his mother would also tell him that she loved and missed him.

But going into the military was something Talkington wanted to do.

It all started in 1968, while Ronnie Talkington was a student at Fairmont State. He took a semester off from college and enlisted into the Army in May 1968.

“By enlisting, I was able to get my choice of what I wanted to be,” Talkington said. “When I went into the service, I took engineering.”

Talkington headed to Fort Knox for basic training. From there he went to Fort Belvoir, Va., for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in heavy equipment and industrial engineering.

At the top of his class, Talkington was given the opportunity to choose his assignment.

“I selected Spain but ended up in Sacramento, Calif.,” he said.

During his time in Sacramento, Talkington ran an Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS).

“It was a ham radio station that transferred calls from the boys in Vietnam to their parents or loved ones here in the United States,” he said.

Talkington said he even performed a wedding ceremony through the radio.

“We had radios that allowed us to talk like we were sitting right next to each other,” he said. “But you could only get signals during a certain time of the day.”

Orders would be placed to send Talkington to Vietnam but would be pulled.

He then was transferred to Fort Lewis in Washington state, but he knew it was only a matter of time until he would be sent to Vietnam.

“I was there for a little over a month until I got final orders to go to Vietnam,” Talkington said. “It was 1969.”

When Talkington was told he was finally going to Vietnam, he said he was ready for it. He was 20 years old at the time.

“They gave four days notice that I was going,” he said.

Talkington said he had a house full of furniture at Fort Lewis that he needed to bring back to Mannington.

“I had $40 in cash and a credit card, so I drove from Fort Lewis to Mannington with a car packed with furniture and a Texaco credit card,” he said. “I knew I didn’t have much time.”

Talkington said when he told his family that he was headed to Vietnam, they were upset but knew it was something he wanted to do.

Although he had experience in engineering, when he stepped foot in Vietnam, he never saw a piece of engineering equipment.

“They then right there assigned me to a trucking company,” Talkington said. “It was a whole new experience.”

Talkington said every day there was a thought in the back of his head reminding him of where he was and what was going on around him.

“You had to watch yourself and make sure you didn’t get shot,” he said.

This was one of the hardest things to take in about being in Vietnam.

Talkington worked in the mailroom while in Vietnam and was attached to the 101st Airborne Division.

“I transferred supplies for the 101st Airborne,” he said.

He said there was another side to the Vietnam War other than combat.

“What I learned over there was that you had to keep your head straight,” he said. “There was drinking and doing drugs over there, and I never drank or did drugs.”

Talkington said a lot of the guys he saw who died did so from drinking and doing drugs.

“I went back and looked to find a lot of soldiers died the day after their birthday, the day before, or were killed within the first week they were there,” he said. “They would drink and do drugs.”

Talkington said he was supposed to be there for almost two years but got out six months before he was originally supposed to. Because he did get out early, Talkington wanted to surprise his family by showing up in Mannington.

Unfortunately, Talkington had to surprise them over the phone, but it was still a good feeling to be home.

“When I landed in Pittsburgh, I had no money or a way to get home to Mannington,” he said. “I had to call my parents and have them come get me.”

It didn’t take long for Talkington’s parents to pick him up. He said they were so happy that he was home they left right away when he called them.

When Talkington got back to Mannington, it was a little over two weeks until he got a job at James Chevrolet.

He then continued his work in the postal service by applying to work at the Mannington Post Office but got the job in Fairmont.

“That was in 1971. Now I’m retired,” Talkington said. “Been retired for 11 years.”

In 1976, Talkington went back to school at West Virginia University and got his degree in business administration and accounting.

“I also got married soon after I returned from Vietnam,” he said.

To this day, Talkington still has all the tapes he and his mother would communicate through.

“Hearing my voice made her feel a lot better when I was in Vietnam,” he said. “And that I would tell her I was OK.”

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • erin autism 1.jpg East Dale student, loyal to twin brother, promotes autism awareness

    Erin Pride, 12, is a sixth-grader at East Dale Elementary School.
    She likes to play basketball, is a Girl Scout and just started learning the clarinet for school band.
    This Christmas, she received a rubber band bracelet loom. Rubber brand bracelets are very popular, and she started making bracelets and trading them at school.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tuesday deadline for voter registration

    The deadline for new voters to register before the May 13 primary is fast approaching.
    Residents have until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday to go to a government office, such as the county clerk’s office or the DMV, and fill out a voter registration card.

    April 19, 2014

  • Swimming Challenge available for children with autism

    The Corridor Chapter of the Autism Society of West Virginia (AS-WV) and the YMCA of Clarksburg will be sponsoring the second annual Swimming Challenge for children affected by autism.
    The swimming challenge gives children with autism the opportunity to attend swimming lessons and work on their swimming skills one-on-one.

    April 19, 2014

  • CASA Superhero 5K set for April 26

    The second annual CASA Superhero 5K will be held April 26 in Fairmont.
    The event is at East Marion (Wave Pool) Park and is an annual fundraiser for CASA programs in Harrison, Marion, Monongalia and Preston counties.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041814 Fishing 2.jpg Fun, prizes mark annual event at Curtisville Lake

    An annual family fishing event begins at 9:30 a.m. today.
    The Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources are having the annual Family Fishing Day. The event will take place today at Curtisville Lake, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. and prizes being given away at 10:30 a.m.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police: Shooting of boy accidental

    A boy remains in critical condition after being shot more than a week ago, and police officials are now saying the incident was accidental in nature.
    On Wednesday, April 9, at 7:52 p.m., police were dispatched to a Fairmont residence after an 11-year-old boy sustained a gunshot wound inside the home.

    April 18, 2014

  • FGH oncology to benefit from cleanup

    Proceeds from this year’s town cleanup and recycling in White Hall will go toward comforting local cancer patients.
    During Monday’s council meeting, recorder Charlie Mason said the town will hold its annual cleanup from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 3, at Fabric and Foam in White Hall. He said only White Hall residents may bring their garbage to throw away, but any Marion County resident may bring metal (excluding computers, televisions and tires) to recycle.

    April 18, 2014

  • Pleasant Valley approves phase two of cemetery project

    Pleasant Valley City Council approved phase two of a project to fence in Samuel Linn Cemetery in Benton’s Ferry at the council meeting Tuesday.
    The cemetery was started in 1852, with the death of Samuel Linn.

    April 18, 2014

  • UPDATE: Police say 11-year-old shot in 'accidental discharge of a firearm'

    A boy remains in critical condition after being shot more than a week ago, and police officials are now saying the incident was accidental in nature.

    April 17, 2014

  • Attorney General - CB.jpg Morrisey wants to work with all to ‘help transform West Virginia’

    State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wants to work with citizens to “help transform West Virginia.”
    Morrisey was the guest speaker for the Marion County Chamber of Commerce’s “Lunch and Learn” event Wednesday at the Mon Power headquarters, located in the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont. His trip to the Friendly City followed a town hall meeting in Harrison County Tuesday night.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads