HBO, back in 2001, gifted us the ten part series of Band of Brothers. We were able to get to know the soldiers of Easy Company. They were the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the “Screaming Eagles”. We saw their military campaigns played out on the screen. We saw incredible acting in the roles of each of the soldiers. The real life soldiers of ‘Easy’ were gracious enough to share thoughts on camera too.
But behind each one of those soldiers, was a girlfriend or a wife or a family. A support network of loved ones that should they get through the war, they would be going home to.
I was privileged to talk to the daughter of one of Easy Companies veterans.
Thank you for sharing your time with me.
Introductions first, I think. Who are you and for those who don’t know, how are you linked with Easy Company?
My name is Marianne Malarkey. I’m the baby in our family.
My Dad was Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey.
What is a first memory that you have of your dad?
When I was little, my mom and dad were moving. I decided at 2 years old, I would climb into the moving truck and try to drive it. Well, that didn’t work out well. I actually drove forward and ran into my parent’s car! I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. This was the first time I had seen my dad get REALLY mad!
What is the best memory that you have of your dad?
My best memory of my dad was from 2009. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I had to have a double mastectomy. My husband took a couple of weeks off from work to be with me. When my husband went back to work, my dad started coming by 2-3 times a day to check on me.
When he would come first thing in the morning he would get me a fresh cup of coffee, make me something to eat, and build a fire for me. This was amazing because he was always the one being waited on, not the one that was waiting on others. It was just his generation! The women did all of that.
My mom had died in 2006, so I think he knew my mom would have been doing all of this, so since she wasn’t there, he realised that he needed to be that one! I remember sitting there that first morning when he did this, being so impressed! I was so proud of him doing this!
He would hang out and we would watch TV, visit, and then he would run errands! After he left that first morning I sent a text to my sisters and told them what dad had just done. They were shocked! I loved this time with my dad! It was just so special.
How did it affect the family when he was away with Easy?
I am not completely sure how it affected my Grandparents other than what was written in his book Easy Company Soldier. My dad was my Grandma and Great Grandma’s life! I know he was greatly missed and they worried about him a lot! He wrote to his mom and Grandma frequently and he wrote to his girlfriend Bernice as well!
How was life in the family when he returned?
My dad went back to college, he had broken up with Bernice and then met my mom at their college. Life wasn’t easy and they were very poor. He worked his way through his studying. He didn’t have a good relationship with his dad in his life.
He struggled with PTSD, of course, he didn’t know what it was at that point! When he married, my dad started a family right away. My dad just wanted to live life and try to move on from the war. It worked for a while and then his memories of the war got to be overwhelming.
Did he ever talk to you about his experiences?
We did talk a lot about his experiences. I was the baby of the family and I am the only one that stayed in town where I was raised. After my mom died, I became his travel companion. I went to a lot of talks, traveled to some amazing places! I have many stories on film and tape. My childhood summer vacations were going to the Easy Company reunions! I am very lucky to have these experiences with my dad.
If you could sum up your dad in 5 qualities, what would you say?
Loyal, passionate, caring, stubborn at times, and a family man!
For someone who had no idea who your dad was or what he was part of, how would you describe him?
There are a lot of people I talk to that have no idea what my dad was a part of or what he did. I explain he fought in WWII, he was a paratrooper, and he helped save the world from Hitler.
He was a tough soldier but there was a soft side to him. He would cry easily! He was protective of his family and so was my mom! Family was everything to him!
He never minced words. He would tell it like it was, even if the truth hurt. He had a close-knit group of friends and they enjoyed life! Lots of parties at our house! He was fun, he was silly and when he had to be, he was focused!
He sold real estate and I am a second-generation Realtor. He had his own company Malarkey Real Estate! I was always with him at the office, he was a great dad. My mom started working and I would go to his office after school. I would even go on appointments with him.
I tell them, he was the kind of man who would give you his last dollar if you truly needed it, he would go without so others could have something. He always rooted for the underdog.
He wasn’t the kind of dad that would say “I love you” in fact I never remember him telling me that. I didn’t need to hear it, I could feel his love, I felt it all the way to the end of his life
I am so proud of my dad, he evolved with the times! He was progressive and he loved life.
Marianne. There are not enough words to thank you for your time. I am incredibly grateful.
Donald, Sir… Thank you for your service, Currahee.