Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey was an NCO from Easy Company.
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 suspend himself, 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 to financial problems, and Don's father left them and became an alcoholic, mainly to forget the bankruptcy, and later died in 1950.
Malarkey eventually entered Astoria High school in 1936. Sometime around his freshman year, he started dating a girl named Bernice. He graduated in 1939, but had no money for college. He found work at the Pillsbury Flour Mill, so he could get money for college. He saved enough money, and went to the University of Oregon in 1941. He eventually broke up with Bernice, who went to Marylhurst College, and later wrote in his memoir that it was a stupid thing to do "But when you're young, sometimes you do stupid things".
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 jumpwings 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. During his stay, he also met and became friends with a man named Patrick McGrath.
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 patrol, and Malarkey, Guarnere, and Toye broke away from the group, and met up with "Popeye" Wynn, 1st Lt. Winters, Sgt. Lipton, an Able Company soldier named Pvt. Hall and two 82nd Airborne Soldiers named Pvts. Olson, and McDowell. He helped take out another German patrol, and later explained to Hall why Guarnere was so fierce.
After entering Ste. Marie-du-Monte, Malarkey engaged in a conversation with a German POW soldier who had apparently been from Eugene, Oregon and 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 be only 100 miles from you. While walking away, he brushed pass 1st Lieutenant Speirs. He then heard gunfire shortly after and turned only to see the Germans had been murdered. He looks worryingly at Speirs when the lieutenant returns 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. After discovering 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 Brecourt Manor 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 at "The Island" on October 5, with mortar fire.
Malarkey then fought at the Battle of Bulge (Bastogne) on 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 after that, but manged to continue fighting. He was given Hoobler's Luger by Sgt. Lipton to help him with the traumatizing 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 commisioned 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 warEdit
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
Malarkey was a happy, cheerful man, and enjoyed life as shown through his career at speaking events (which ended in 2012). 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.
He died September 30th, 2017, in Salem, Oregon of age-related causes.