Badder Than Fiction: Donald Malarkey
On July 31st, 1921, Leo and Helen Malarkey welcomed their son, Donald, into the world. Growing up in Oregon, Donald graduated High School in 1939 and was in his first semester at University of Oregon when America was attacked in Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Originally, Malarkey attempted to enlist with the Marines after the attack on Pearl Harbor but was denied due to dental problems. He tried the Army Air Corps but lacked the mathematical requirements.
So what is a man to do? Well, where most people go “NO THANKS” to jumping out of a moving aircraft and parachuting down into an operation, Malarkey was unafraid. Or just very, very brave.
When he was drafted in 1942, he volunteered to become a paratrooper in the US Army and began training at Camp Toccoa, in Georgia. In 1942, Malarkey received his jump certification. He then joined the famous Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, which would later be detailed in HBO’s miniseries: Band of Brothers.
In 1944 he helped knock out not one, not two, but four German 105mm artillery battery, which he later received The Bronze Star for. A little rundown of how much Donald Malarkey was on the front lines (or air, so to speak): He spent twenty-three days in Normandy, thirty-nine in Belgium at the Battle of Bastogne, and nearly eighty days fighting in the Netherlands, among other various battles. His list of medals and decorations is long: including his Bronze Heart, Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and more for his heroism.
Fortunately, Donald Malarkey was never seriously injured in battle, and he was able to return to civilian life. In 1989, he met the author and professor Stephen Ambrose, who traveled with Malarkey and other E Company members, gathering their stories and first-person experiences of world war 2, which was later turned into the book Band of Brothers.
Malarkey would tour high schools and colleges, to speak to students about his experiences in Easy Company, he would also visit hospitals and speak to Iraq veterans. When he died, on September 30th, 2017, Malarkey was the oldest surviving member of Easy Company.
Rest in peace, hero.