Tom Tackaberry was born on September 6, 1923, in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve on October 23, 1942, and went on active duty beginning March 17, 1943. After completing basic training and infantry training, Pvt Tackaberry joined the 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment and completed jump school in 1944. He trained extensively with the 541st while it was held in Strategic Reserve in the United States during World War II, and he entered Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in April 1945, receiving his commission as a 2nd Lt of Infantry on August 30, 1945. Lt Tackaberry next served as Commanding Officer of the Parachute School at Fort Benning from August to December 1945, followed by service as Commanding Officer of the 245th Quartermaster Depot Supply Company in Germany from December 1945 to October 1946. After serving with the 279th Quartermaster Company in Germany from October 1946 to April 1947, Lt Tackaberry served as an instructor with the 7719th European Command School Germany from April 1947 to July 1948. His next assignment was as a Platoon Leader and then Executive Officer of the 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from July 1948 to October 1951, followed by the Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning from September 1951 to June 1952. Capt Tackaberry served as Commanding Officer of Company K of the 9th Infantry Regiment in Korea from June 1952 to January 1953, and then as Assistant Operations Officer with Headquarters 2nd Infantry Division in Korea from January to August 1953. His next assignment was as an instructor with the Army ROTC detachment at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, from August 1953 to May 1956, followed by Ranger School at Fort Benning from May to August 1956. He then attended Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from August 1956 to July 1957, before serving as Assistant Plans Officer with Headquarters XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg from July 1957 to September 1958. Maj Tackaberry next received an assignment to complete his degree in Psychology at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, from September 1958 to February 1960, followed by service as a Human Factors Research Staff Officer and then Chief of the Human Factors Engineering Branch in the Office of the Chief of Research and Development with Headquarters U.S. Army in the Pentagon from February 1960 to January 1963. LTC Tackaberry attended the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California, for Italian Language training from January to September 1963, and then attended Italian War College in Civitayecchia, Italy, from September 1963 to July 1964. His next assignment was as Plans Officer with the U.S. Army Element at Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy, from July 1964 to June 1965, followed by Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from August 1965 to July 1966. He served as Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam from July 1966 to February 1967, and then as Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Affairs with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam from February to July 1967. His next assignment was as Deputy Director in the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison at the Pentagon from September 1967 to March 1968, followed by service as Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon from March 1968 to April 1969. Col Tackaberry served as Commanding Officer of the 196th Infantry Brigade in South Vietnam from May to November 1969, and then as Chief of Staff of the 23rd Infantry Division in South Vietnam from November 1969 to May 1970. His next assignment was as Deputy Director for ROTC Affairs in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel with Headquarters U.S. Army in the Pentagon from June 1970 to October 1972, followed by service as Chief of Legislative Liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Army from November 1972 to September 1974. Gen Tackaberry served as Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg from October 1974 to October 1976, and then as Deputy Commander of VII Corps in West Germany from October 1976 to July 1977. His next assignment was as Chief of the U.S. Element of the Central Treaty Organization in Turkey from July 1977 to July 1979, followed by service as Commanding General of XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg from July 1979 until his retirement from the Army on October 1, 1981.
His 3rd Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Colonel Tackaberry distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 11 September 1969 while serving as commanding officer of the 196th Infantry Brigade. When Landing Zone Siberia came under an intense mortar, recoilless rifle, and heavy automatic weapons fire from three companies of North Vietnamese Regulars, Colonel Tackaberry flew to the besieged firebase. Despite the heavy barrage of fire directed at his craft, Colonel Tackaberry jumped from the helicopter and immediately began assessing the tactical ground situation. Braving the relentless enemy fire, he moved from position to position to instruct, encourage, and direct effective suppressive fire against the determined hostile force. He then left the safety of the firebase to move outside the perimeter, personally directing an assault against the enemy emplacements. Obtaining an M-60 machine gun, he led the attack against the dug-in communists until they were soundly routed. After returning to the firebase, Colonel Tackaberry spent an additional four hours on the landing zone until the perimeter defense was reestablished. Colonel Tackaberry's outstanding leadership, extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.