Donald Malarkey was born
in Astoria, Oregon on July 31, 1921. He was the second of 4 children.His father
was in the insurance business.
He was in his first semester
at the University of Oregon in the fall of 1941 when the Japanese attacked
He later tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps, but he lacked the mathematics requisites. When he was drafted in July 1942, he volunteered for the paratroops of the United States Army, becoming a member of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. He received the Bronze Star Medal for his involvement in the Brécourt Manor Assault on D-Day in Normandy.
Over Christmas vacation Don read an article in the Readers Digest describing the glamour of parachute troops "Go on a mission for a few days, get picked up and return to your base!" He mentioned to his mother that he was going to volunteer for that service and her reaction was very emotional. His dad's two brothers were killed in the first World War. Don returned to college and in April he took the exam for pilot training which he ended up walking out on as he could not handle the math due to the limited courses he had at the catholic schools he attended.
He registered for the
draft and was notified to report in August 1942. The owner of the plant where
he worked offered to get him a deferment but he refused. Don quit his job
at a machine shop where he did extensive defense work for liberty ships. He
spend a few days in Astoria and ran into a friend who was already in Fort
lewis. He told Don the first thing that was asked in the initial indoctrination
at Fort Lewis was for volunteers into the parachute troops. He had made his
mind up as to what he was going to do.
|Photo taken on Peachtree Street in Atlanta after a furlough in New York (Xmas 1942) It was used as a post card for his family.|
Don volunteered for the paratroops because he wanted to be in a high risk all-volunteer outfit.
Later during his time with Easy Company he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and served under the command of Lt. Richard Winters, later promoted to Captain and then Major. Malarkey was involved in combat in Normandy, Operation Market Garden in Holland, Bastogne, and Germany.
As effective commander
of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st
Airborne Division during D-Day, First Lieutenant Richard Winters was tasked
to take on a battery of German 105 mm howitzers that were firing onto causeway
#2 off Utah Beach. Some other units had stumbled onto the enemy position head-on
earlier in the day, and were repulsed.
Upon arrival at the battery location, Winters
developed a quick plan of attack.He positioned a pair
of M1919 .30 caliber machine guns to serve as a base of fire (the fulcrum
of an attack) and several soldiers with rifles positioned on one flank to
provide covering fire, then led an attack down the hedgerow leading to the
first gun position.
Company, led by Lt. Ronald Speirs, arrived to aid the assault on the last gun. After the four guns were disabled, the small team was low on ammunition and withdrew.Winters had discovered an enemy map in one gun position that showed all of the German artillery and machine gun positions throughout that area of the Cotentin Peninsula. This was an invaluable piece of intelligence and was handed up the chain of command.
Later, when two tanks
from Utah Beach arrived, Winters directed their fire to clean up the position.
Winters lost one man under his command, PFC John D. Hall from 2nd Battalion's
Headquarters Company, and another one of his men was wounded during this attack,
Private Robert "Popeye" Wynn from Winter's squad."
Colonel Robert Sink, the commander of the 506th PIR, recommended Winters for the Medal of Honor, but his award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross because of the D-Day policy of granting only one Medal of Honor per division, which was awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole. However, at the time of the writing of this article, there is a campaign to upgrade Winter's Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor as many felt he deserved.
Lipton - "Popeye" Wynn
The 13 involved E-Co members were awarded as shown above.
The official Army history of these events on D-Day is quiet about the battle. Army historian S. L. A. Marshall did interview Winters about the attack, but the interview was not private -- many of Winters' chain of command were present -- and, according to his Memoir "Beyond Band of Brothers," he may have downplayed his description of the event to avoid personal accolade and keep the account succinct. However, nearly every man involved was later recognized for his role in the attack.
The assault has been widely acclaimed as a textbook assault on stationary gun positions and is still enacted for training purposes at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
In 1984 Don, together with his wife Irene, visited Brécourt Manor after 40 years. Back again at the spot where they fought this magnificent battle.
Below some photos made during that visit.
Above: Don together with Michel(l) and Louis (r) next to the cut in the hedgerow where the first gun was located and the point where Don ran out to the German soldier.
Right: Louis(l), Michel and Don at Brécourt Manor
Left|: Louis, Don, Michel
Right: the pastures near Brécourt were the guns were situated (1984)
of the photos on this website were taken by Peter van de Wal. I assert the
moral right to be recognized as the photographer and the owner of these images
in any form. If you wish to use these photos for noncommercial purposes I
consent to such use as long as the source of the photos is clearly acknowledged
in the same publication as the photos you wish to reproduce.
Peter van de Wal ©