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The motorcycle

I'm from Portland, Oregon


Donald (Don) Malarkey tried to get into the Marine Corps right after the attack on Pearl Harbor but was turned down because of a problem with his teeth. He then applied to be a fighter pilot but couldn't pass the entrance exam because of the math problems.1 day Malarkey saw an article in a magazine about paratroopers. His mother was upset that he wanted to go into the paratroopers because his dad's two brothers lost their lives in World War I.Malarkey went to work in Portland, Oregon in the summer of 1942. While there he was notified that he had been drafted. His boss told him that he could get a deferment but he didn't want it. He was told to report to Fort Lewis [Annotator's note: Fort Lewis is outside of Tacoma, Washington and is now known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord].Malarkey volunteered for the paratroopers.He was sent to Toccoa, Georgia [Annotator's note: Camp Toccoa] where he was to join an experimental regiment that was training to go into the paratroops.The training was very demanding. They ran up a mountain called " Currahee."The men marched to Atlanta from Toccoa in full field gear. They set a world record.The men then took the train to Benning [Annotator's Note: Fort Benning, Georgia].


The men learned to pack parachutes and jump from a tower. They had to pack the first 10 parachutes they would use at Benning [Annotator's Note: Fort Benning, Georgia].After officially becoming paratroopers they were sent to Camp McCall in North Carolina. They travelled to various other camps as well including Camp Campbell, Kentucky where they took part in practice jumps.In late summer the men were sent to Fort Bragg [Annotator's Note: Fort Bragg, North Carolina] to prepare for deployment. They went to Camp Shanks [Annotator's Note: Camp Shanks, New York] where they deployed to England.Malarkey landed in Liverpool. The men were then put on trains and sent to small communities around England.They continued to train in England. Most of the parachute training jumps they conducted were at night. The last 1 they did they carried live ammunition for their mortars. The main landing force that was to hit the English beaches was discovered by German torpedo boats and many men were killed [Annotator's Note: Malarkey is referring to Exercise Tiger which took place on 28 April 1944 in Lyme Bay]. Malarkey's unit was supposed to be airborne by the 4th [Annotator's Note: 4 June 1944] but bad weather delayed their departure. Their objective was a couple of causeways leading to Utah Beach.


Malarkey's group did not have pathfinders to identify the drop zone. Their pathfinders had gone down in the channel [Annotator's Note: English Channel]. The pathfinders were rescued by a British ship. The British crew thought the pathfinders were spies because 1 of them had called out to them in German.Several planes were shot down during the flight toward Ste. Mere Eglise, France. Many planes dropped down to just above the trees and increased their speed.Each plane carried 18 men. The company commander's plane was shot down and he and all of men in company headquarters were killed. There were 3 men from Malarkey's plane that were together - Malarkey, Bill Guarnere, and Joe Toye.When they got closer to the causeways they ran into several other members of the battalion [Annotator's Note: 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division].Colonel Strayer was informed about 4 artillery pieces located in a nearby field and sent Lt. Dick Winters to knock them out.Lt. Winter's group knocked out 3 of the guns and a group led by Lt. Ronald Spears knocked out the 4th.About a week after knocking out the guns at Brecourt [Annotator's Note: Brecourt Manor, France] Carentan was captured.Malarkey spent 30 days in Normandy after which the men moved to the Utah Beach area where they bivouacked. While on Utah Beach 1 of Malarkey's friends, Alton Moore of Casper, Wyoming, would pilfer food items. Just before leaving Normandy, Moore told Malarkey that he had a motorcycle hidden away. Malarkey asked Lt. Compton [Annotator's Note: Lt. Lynn "Buck" Compton] if they could bring the motorcycle back to England. They got permission and brought it back to Southampton with them. Malarkey and Moore rode the motorcycle all summer until they were preparing to leave for Holland. Malarkey was told that Sobel [Annotator's Note: Lt. Col. Herbert Sobel] knew they had the motorcycle. Sobel sent word to Malarkey and Moore that he would not take it from them until they left for combat.


There had been numerous plans for the 101st [Annotator's note: 101st Airborne Division] but none came about until the jump into Holland.After capturing Eindhoven the 101st took Nijmegen [Annotator's Note: Eindhoven and Nijmegen of the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden] where they spent 2 months.Holland was rainy and muddy.The mission was a failure. The mission was supposed to take 5 days, it was around 1 December [Annotator's Note: 1 December 1944] before Malarkey's group was taken off the line. Soon after returning to a base in France, they were thrown into combat again around Bastogne, Belgium [Annotator's Note: the Battle of the Bulge].When Malarkey's unit returned to France all of their equipment was ruined and had to be replaced. They were in the process of re-issuing equipment when word was received that they were moving out to Belgium.On 22 December the Germans demanded that the American troops [Annotator's Note: American troops in and around Bastogne, Belgium] surrender. General MacAuliffe [Annotator's Note: General Anthony Clement McAuliffe] replied with a 1 word answer, "Nuts."On 23 December 1944 hundreds of planes came over and dropped supplies including medical personnel. The entire division's medical staff had been captured on the first day of the fighting.After the supply drops the 101st had all the food and ammunition they needed to continue the fight.Malarkey believes that the 82nd [Annotator's note: 82nd Airborne Division] would have also said "nuts" to a German surrender demand but doesn't think other units would have done so. When the 101st arrived in Bastogne they took ammunition from retreating US soldiers passing them.To Malarkey, the 101st holding out at Bastogne was the greatest feat of arms to take place during the war. The weather was terrible and they had no proper equipment. Joe Toye had been hit but was sent back to the front lines.


On the 3rd of January 1945 the 101st [Annotator's note: 101st Airborne Division] attacked through the Bois Jacques woods [Annotator's note: Near Foy, Belgium] to identify German positions. On the way back to their previous positions they were shelled by the Germans who were in Foy.When Malarkey got out of his foxhole, about 18 men were down including Joe [Annotator's Note: Joe Toye] and Guarnere [Annotator's Note: Bill Guarnere] who each lost a leg. Joe had been hit for the fourth time.After being in Bastogne for 30 days the 101st were sent to Haguenau, France in Alsace-Lorraine where they took up positions along the Moder River.While in Haguenau, Louis Nixon who was an intelligence officer ordered a couple of patrols across the Moder River during which 2 of the best soldiers in the unit lost their lives. Malarkey believes that the patrols were stupid.1 good thing to happen at Haguenau was the shower trucks. The men hadn't had a shower in 6 weeks.Malarkey returned to the University of Oregon within 2 weeks of returning to the US. He continued to think about the war.After he graduated, he was asked by friends why he had never spoken to them about the war. He didn't want to talk to anyone unless they had similar experiences. Malarkey's best friend had been a gunner aboard a B-17 bomber.When the series "Band of Brothers" came out on HBO Malarkey got a lot of calls from friends asking why he had never told them about his experiences.Malarkey began attending reunions in the late 70s. In 1984, the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy invasion, he got a call from Dick Winters [Annotator's Note: US Army Major Richard Winters] asking if he could go to France. The family who owned the farm they had fought over on D-Day was working on a family history. Malarkey decided to go.


Malarkey went to Normandy, France to meet with the family who owned the farm where he had fought on D-Day. The family gave Malarkey medals to give to the surviving men who had fought there. The family also produced a blood stained rug that 2 dead German officers had been placed on.1 of the family members asked who had fired the mortar. When Malarkey replied that he had, the man told him that all of his rounds had gone over the manor. None had hit it.He had been firing the mortar without the base plate. The mortar had dug itself into the ground and he had a tough time getting it out until a man walked up with a shovel and helped him.Malarkey and his friend Louis drove around looking for the place where he had landed on D-Day [Annotator's note: 6 June 1944 in Normandy, France]. He found the place he landed. He landed near a pasture. Joe and Bill [Annotator's Note: Joe Toye and Bill Guarnere] landed nearby. When they landed they heard a number of other paratroopers and began following them towards the coast. They came across a German ammunition detail and captured it. Malarkey doesn't recall killing the Germans or horses as depicted in the HBO series "Band of Brothers".When they reached the coast road they had to pull back away from it to avoid the naval and air bombardment. After the bombardment ended they began moving toward the causeways [Annotator's Note: their D-Day objective].Malarkey came across a group of German prisoners and heard 1 German sergeant say that he was from Portland, Oregon. After talking to the enemy prisoner he learned that they had worked in the same type of business that happened to be located right across the street from each other.In the HBO miniseries there is a scene showing Captain Ron Speirs killing the prisoners. Malarkey doesn't have any knowledge of that happening. He claims that an incident like that did happen when they were going into Carentan but when the division [Annotator's Note: US 101st Airborne Division] investigated the killings they could find no one from 'D' company that would verify that Speirs had done it. Malarkey doesn't doubt that Speirs did it.Before crossing the Rhine River, Malarkey and the other platoon sergeants were called to Speirs' tent. Speirs told them that when they crossed the river they were to take no prisoners.Speirs was a tough guy.

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