Joel E. Talley

Joel Edwin Talley, CMSgt., USAF (Retired)

March 9, 1948 – April 6, 2022

CMSgt Joel E. Talley (Ret), Shalimar, FL, died at the age of 74 on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 in Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.

Joel was born March 9, 1948 in Winchester, IN to Edwin Talley and Mary Ellen (Alexander) Talley.  He grew up in Farmland, IN and graduated from Monroe Central High School in 1966.  He was active in many school activities and in high school was a member of Student Council, basketball team, cross country, golf team, band, chorus and golf.  He was also a member of DeMolay and a Boy Scout. 

At age 18 he enlisted in the Air Force.  Joel didn’t want to be in the ground war and when he saw two sharp PJs his attitude began to change, he signed up to be a Pararescueman (PJ) and his transformation began to take place.  Joel graduated top of his class in Pararescue and got an assignment to Patrick Air Force Base.  He decided to trade with a gentleman and took Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam.  He arrived in Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam on June 1, 1968, and a month later went on a mission that defined his career.  He was lowered to the jungle floor in North Vietnam and after a nearly 15-minute search he found Lt Col Jack Modica, F-105 pilot, with a broken pelvis.  They quickly secured the injured pilot and as they reached the top of the trees, heavy enemy fire lit up the sky.  For his valor Joel received the Air Force Cross.

Joel and Joette met with Jack and his wife Jackie a few years later and had a lasting relationship with them.  Jack and Jackie became the Talley’s sons “Aunt Jackie and Uncle Jack” and were a part of their family.  Joel would go on to perform numerous rescue missions during the Vietnam era and throughout his Air Force career.  Joel and his family traveled the world; Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, Eglin AFB FL; Thailand, Selfridge AFB, MI; Okinawa, Japan; Scott AFB, Belleville, IL; RAF Alconbury, UK and Hurlburt Field, FL.  He was one of the first people to enter Jonestown in Guyana after the mass suicide as part of the recovery team in 1978.  After 22 years as a PJ he promoted himself out of a job when he made chief master sergeant.  He became the senior enlisted advisor at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal and RAF Alconbury, UK.  Joel loved being a senior enlisted advisor and made many friends and memories.   His final assignment was as the superintendent of the Professional Development Branch of the USAF Special Operations School, Hurlburt Field, FL. 

After retiring he waded through a few post Air Force careers.  In 2002 he was offered a job as the director of Bob Hope Village, and he jumped at the opportunity.  He was also the director of Teresa Village.

Joel is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joette Oliver Talley of Shalimar, FL; his three sons, Justin Talley, Jason Talley and Jon Talley, all of Fort Walton Beach, FL; a granddaughter Jayla, of Fort Walton Beach, FL; one brother Chris Talley (wife, Vicky) of Winchester, IN and one sister Julie Hooton (husband Mark) of Jonesville, MI; extended family of loving nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents.  Joel loved being a baseball coach, assisting in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, water activities (swimming, skiing, boating) and playing golf with his family.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Joel’s life will be held 29 April 2022 at Davis Watkins Funeral Home, 113 NE Racetrack Road, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32547.  Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. with services beginning at 11:00 a.m.  Following the service, the internment will take place at Barrancas National Cemetery, NAS Pensacola, Florida at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Air Force Enlisted Village (Bob Hope Village) (Donor Support, mail@afev.us, 850-651-3766) and to the Pararescue Association.  (Pjassociation.com.).

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