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malarkey

Donald Malarkey

Donald Malarkey (b. 1921) is a former American soldier who fought in World War II. He is one of the soldiers portrayed in the Band of Brothers television miniseries, in which he was played by actor Scott Grimes. He is also mentioned in the book on which the series was based, Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose.

Family and early years

Donald Malarkey was born in 1921 in Astoria, Oregon. His father was Leo "Tick" Malarkey, who gained his nickname while attending the University of Oregon, where he played football and had a job winding a huge campus clock. Two of Don's uncles, Gerald Malarkey and Robert Malarkey served in World War I. Gerald died in combat and Robert died in 1926 due to complications of a mustard gas attack.

Don attended Star of the Sea, a Catholic school in Astoria, where he excelled as an athlete, most notably as point guard on the basketball team. He graduated from Astoria High School in 1939. As a youth, he worked on a purse seiner crew on the Columbia River. He also was a volunteer firefighter during the destructive Tillamook Burn forest fire, which destroyed thousands of acres of Oregon timber. He was in his first semester at the University of Oregon in the fall of 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

World War II

After the attack, Malarkey tried enlisting in the Marines, but was rejected because of dental problems. He then tried the Army Air Corps, but lacked the requisite mathematics background. When he was drafted in July 1942, he volunteered for the paratroops of the United States Army, after reading a Reader's Digest article about them being the best and being 'cocky'. He trained at Camp Toccoa, Georgia and was among the one in six soldiers who earned their Eagle wings.

He became a member of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. He went to England in 1943 to participate in the largest amphibious invasion in history: D-Day. In the darkness of the morning of D-Day, Malarkey parachuted into France with his unit. Later that day, he received the Bronze Star for his heroism in a pitched battle to knock out a German 105 mm artillery battery, an action now called the Brécourt Manor Assault.

He fought for twenty-three days in Normandy, nearly eighty in Holland, thirty-nine in the Battle of Bastogne in Belgium, and nearly thirty more in and around Haugenau, France, and the Ruhr Pocket in Germany. He was promoted to sergeant before Operation Market Garden. Never seriously wounded, Malarkey served more time on the front lines than any other member of Easy Company.

Postwar life

Don returned to the University of Oregon in 1946. He was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. While attending the university, he met and became engaged to Irene Moor of Portland. They were married following Don's graduation in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in business. The couple lived in Astoria, Oregon, where Don worked for Lovell Motors. During this time, Don ran for the position of County Commissioner of Clatsop County, Oregon and was elected in 1954. The family moved to Portland, Oregon where Don worked as an insurance and real estate agent. The couple had four children.

In 1987, Don was introduced to author and University of New Orleans Professor of History Stephen Ambrose at an Easy Company reunion in New Orleans. In 1989, Don traveled with Ambrose and other members of Easy Company, including Richard Winters and Carwood Lipton, to various sites where they had fought in Europe following the D-Day invasion. The oral history and first person recollections that Malarkey and the others provided became the basis for Ambrose's book Band of Brothers, which was published in 1992. During Ambrose's collection of anecedotal information for the book, Malarkey told of the saga of the Niland brothers of Tonawanda, New York, how two had died on D-Day and another was presumed killed. This episode was the impetus for the screenplay of Saving Private Ryan.

Don lives in Salem, Oregon and travels and speaks extensively to high school and college students and other groups on his Easy Company experiences. He has traveled to Army bases and hospitals in the United States and Europe, where he has met with soldiers wounded in the Iraq War. In 2005, he appeared in an advertisement urging repeal of the estate tax. Malarkey's autobiography, Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Combat of a Sergeant from World War II's "Band of Brothers", was published in May 2008 by St. Martins's Press.

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