Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey was an NCO from Easy Company.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Donald Malarkey was born in Astoria, Oregon on 31 July 1921, to Leo and Helen Malarkey, and had 2 brothers named John and Bob, and a sister named Marilyn. He had two uncles that fought in World War I. One of them, Gerald, was killed by shrapnel, while the other, Robert, was gassed, and later died in 1926.
In 1933, Malarkey had jumped off his house with an umbrella to practice a parachute jump, and somehow managed not to injure himself. That year, while working at a dairy farm, he survived the Tillamook forest fire. The family eventually lost their home due to financial problems.
Malarkey entered Astoria High School in 1936 and graduated in 1939. He found work at the Liberty Grill in Astoria, so he could get money for college. He saved enough money, and went to the University of Oregon in 1941.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Malarkey wanted to enlist in the Marines, but was turned down because of dental problems, and later discouraged from the Army Air Corps because he lacked the proper math skills. He was eventually drafted in the Army and sent to Fort Lewis. He then volunteered for the Airborne. He was assigned to the Mortar Squad of 2nd Platoon, in Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, attending basic training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. He was taunted by the company CO 1st Lieutenant Herbert Sobel, being called "Private Bullshit."
After training and earning his jump wings at Fort Benning, Malarkey and the Division headed to Aldbourne, England in 1943. While there, Malarkey was approached by General Dwight Eisenhower, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during an inspection, and they asked him some questions about his life, and how he liked England. He wrote that for some reason, he wasn't flustered by this.
He participated in the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, landing near the town of Ste. Mere-Eglise, and hooking up with Sgt. William Guarnere, Cpl. Joe Toye and men from other units. They helped take out a German patrol. Then, Malarkey, Guarnere, and Toye broke away from the group, and met up with "Popeye" Wynn, Lt. Winters, Sgt. Lipton, Able Company soldier Pvt. Hall and two 82nd Airborne soldiers.
After entering Ste. Marie-du-Monte, Malarkey engaged in a conversation with a German POW soldier from Eugene, Oregon who had joined the Germans after his family 'answered the call' for all 'true Aryans' to return to the Fatherland. This gave Malarkey a different perspective on the war, that the people you could be shooting at could have lived only 100 miles from you. While walking away, he brushed past 1st Lieutenant Speirs. He then heard gunfire shortly after and turned only to see the Germans had been murdered. He looked worryingly at Speirs when the lieutenant walked back up the road.
Malarkey then participated in the Brecourt Manor assault: during the assault, he had made a break for what he thought was a Luger on a dead German's body out in the open, then discovered that it was simply a sight for the 105mm guns. Because he ran out to check on the dead German, the Germans thought Malarkey was a medic (at least for a while), but the ruse wore off and Malarkey began taking fire and fled. He was later awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in the assault.
After Normandy, he was made Technical Sergeant, and made Platoon Sergeant of the 2nd Platoon. He then served in Operation Market Garden on 17 September. He helped take out two SS companies with mortar fire at "The Island" on October 5.
Malarkey fought at the Battle of Bulge (Bastogne) beginning 17 December. After Cpl. Hoobler died, Malarkey nearly shot himself but stopped himself just in time. Later, his best friend Sgt. Warren H. Muck, and PFC Alex M. Penkala were blown up by a mortar shell. Malarkey was traumatized, but manged to continue fighting. He was given Hoobler's Luger by Sgt. Lipton to help him with the traumatic experience. He fought at Foy, Noville, and Rachamps afterwards.
Malarkey and his Company then headed to Haguenau on 19 January 1945. Due to the lack of officers, he found himself now in charge of what was left of his platoon despite not being a commissioned officer. He was originally assigned to go on and lead a patrol, but due to battle fatigue, was replaced by a new lieutenant named Henry Jones. He then headed to the Ruhr Pocket in Germany on 2 April.
After the war[edit | edit source]
Malarkey went home after the war and returned to the University of Oregon, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor's degree. He then met and married Irene Moore.
Later years[edit | edit source]
Malarkey was a happy, cheerful man, and enjoyed life as shown throughout his career at speaking events. Malarkey also detailed his experiences in a 2008 autobiography written with Bob Welch, "Easy Company Soldier." Malarkey was frequently asked to speak about his experiences in WWII, and he lectured at West Point and made trips to Kuwait and Germany to meet with wounded soldiers from the Iraq War. He remained close to the other surviving members of Easy Company and attended his final Easy Company reunion in Portland, Oregon in August, 2017.
Death[edit | edit source]
He died September 30, 2017 in Salem, Oregon of age-related causes.