One of the “Band of Brothers” has died. On Monday, when the world was focused on the shootings in Las Vegas, we learned that Donald Malarkey, a World War II paratrooper who was awarded the Bronze Star after parachuting behind enemy lines at Normandy to destroy German artillery on D-Day, died. He was 96 and lived in his home of Salem, Oregon.
Malarkey and his brothers in Easy Company were portrayed in one of the greatest war miniseries made, Band of Brothers. The company parachuted into the front lines and fought across France, the Netherlands and Belgium to defend the world against the Nazi’s advances in 1944. In 2009, Malarkey was awarded France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor Medal. As a solider toward the end of the war, Malarkey was assigned to the town where Adolf Hitler’s famous home, the Eagle’s Nest, was located.
Malarkey was born on July 30, 1921 in Astoria, Oregon. He was a freshman at the University of Oregon when he was drafted into the Army in 1942 and volunteered to become a paratrooper. He and his wife, Irene, had four children. He provided his recollections, along with those of several other members of the company, to writer and historian Stephen Ambrose, who wrote a book about those experiences, which later became the hugely popular miniseries. He was the oldest surviving member of Easy Company, and in August, Malarkey attended an Easy Company reunion in Portland.
Easy Company in the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s residence in Germany. Image from Pinterest.