Branch: U. S. Airforce
Rank: Airman 1st Class
Status: Died non-battle
Date of Service: Korean War
Home Town: Clearbrook
Talmadge Kloster headstone in Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery
Talmadge Lavern Kloster was born May 2, 1929 in Clearwater County to Jacob Nelson and Gertrude Hanson Kloster. Jacob had been born in Twin Valley but in 1896 his parents moved to Pine Lake Township to homestead. Jacob and Gertie farmed first in Greenwood then Eddy Township where their children Orvis, Morris, Talmadge, James, JoAnn, Darlene and Donald were born.
Talmadge, whose nickname was “Tally” attended school then enlisted in the Air Force on September 23, 1950, inspired by his older brother Orvis who had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the Army in WWII. As an Airman 1st Class of the 301st Bomber Wing, 352nd Bomb Squadron, Tally was assigned to be a gunner on a B-29 Superfortress Bomber with the Wing temporarily based at Upper Heyford Air Base in England from its regular base in Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.
On February 2, 1953, Tally’s aircraft was taking off on a routine training mission at Wheelus Field, Tripoli, Libya when the engine failed. An engine on the plane had recently been replaced but it had a missing piston and didn’t have enough power for takeoff. All fifteen occupants died in the crash, included Airman 1st Class Talmadge Kloster.
Tally’s body was recovered and shipped home to his family. The Kloster family had moved to Minneapolis in 1950 but they buried Tally in the Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery near Gonvick. When ordering the headstone, Tally’s father Jacob had asked the Veteran’s Administration, “Would you kindly put “Asleep in Jesus” and 1 Thessalonians 4:14?” which was indeed inscribed on the upright marble headstone. Talmadge Kloster was 23 years old.
The Kloster family donated the farm where Jacob’s family had lived to the City of Clearbrook for a ball park asking only that it be named after Talmadge and that everyone be allowed to use it free of charge. The Klosters donated the funds to build a concessions/storage building and two picnic shelters, plus another ball field.