Talley, Benjamin Branch.

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Talley, Benjamin Branch, born 29-07-1903 in Greer County, Oklahoma, received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia School of Technology in 1925 and a Master of Science degree from the Graduate Engineering School, Westinghouse Colorado, Pittsburgh in 1926. Both degrees were in electrical engineering. After working for a year in Pittsburgh, Benjamin was commissioned an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. As a lieutenant, Talley served for two years in Texas and Colorado with the 2nd Engineers . He attended the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and was then assigned as supply officer of the engineer battalion conducting the Nicaragua Canal Survey. Returning to the United States,

In the lead-up to the American entry into World War II, on 11-09-1940, Talley, by then a captain, traveled to Yakutat, Alaska, where he had been placed in charge of the construction of Elmendorf Air Force Base.] On 15-01-1941 Tallet became area engineer for Army construction in Alaska, supervising the construction of twenty-eight projects totaling around 300 million dollars. He had traveled to Anchorage, through Seward, on January 7. Convinced that the United States was going to enter the World War soon, he ordered construction to continue on projects such as Elmendorf throughout the winter. Talley was in the field for two-thirds of his time, flying over 900 hours in two and a half years. On 01-05-1941, his role was renamed ‘officer in charge, Alaska construction’, and he became a member of the Alaska Defense Command’s staff. He worked to improve the state’s shipping capabilities and rehabilitate Anchorage’s harbor.

By October 1941 Talley was a colonel. In November he visited Lietenant General John Lesesne DeWitt,  commander of the Western Defense Command, in San Francisco to get several projects approved. He arrived back in Alaska on December 6, just a day before the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Benjamin oversaw construction of a secret base on Umnak that protected Dutch Harbor from a Japanese attack. Talley examined numerous of the Aleutian Islands as potential locations for airfields, visiting several of them. He was given broad authority over construction and was made the head of the Army Transport Service’s Alaska division, though he eventually lost that role after diverting a ship to supply Umnak. Because he employed the most people in the state, Talley represented the United States Department of Labor. His obituary wrote that he “supervised virtually all Army and Army Air Corps projects in Alaska as the military prepared for the Japanese invasion of Alaska.”

Talley worked for nine years in aerial topographic surveying with the 29th Engineers Detachment at Wright Field. As a captain, he invented a portable stereo comparagraph on which he held a patent, wrote a textbook on aerial photogrammetric and lectured at Harvard on the subject. Brigadier. General. Talley came to Alaska in 1940 as a captain to supervise construction of Yakutat Airfield, and afterward, assumed charge of $300 million of construction, including all Army and Air Corps projects in Alaska. From 1941 until 1943, he was responsible for established air bases at Cold Bay, Adak, Attu and Shemya Island. In mid-1943, he went to Europe to serve with V Corps as deputy chief of staff for plans, overseeing planning for American troops landing in Normandy, France. For his leadership and bravery under fire on D-Day and during the period immediately following the landings, Talley was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Brigadier General Talley took the 1st Engineer Special Brigade from Utah Beach to the Pacific for the Okinawa operation and, after V-J Day, went to Korea as deputy commander of the Army Service Forces. After World War II, Brigade General Talley served as District Engineer briefly in Huntington, West Virginia and then for two years in Louisville, Kentucky. After attending the National War College, Brigadier General Talley served as chief of the estimates branch of the intelligence division in the army, from 1949 to 1952. In 1952, he was appointed as Division Engineer of the North Atlantic Division. In 1955, he was named division engineer in Moracco, where he retired in the rank of Brigadier General on 30-04-1956. After retiring, he worked in New York, Oklahoma and Vietnam. In 1964, he settled in Anchor Point, where he lived the rest of his life. Following the death of his first wife, Brigadier General Talley married Virginia Morsey Wheeler in 1975.  She died old age 92, on 18-02-2011, after a brief illness. During the 1980s, Talley helped work on a documentary film about World War II history in Alaska. The award-winning film, “Alaska at War” premiered in Anchorage in October 1986.

Death and burial ground of Talley, Benjamin Branch.

   Benjamin Talley at the very old age of 95, died 27-11-1998 in Homer, Alaska and is buried with his wife Virginia M, born Wheeler, on Arlington National Cemetery, Section 30.

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