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World War II Vet Donald Malarkey, Portrayed In 'Band Of Brothers' Dies At 96

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And now we remember a member of Easy Company. That's the U.S. Army's famed E-Company featured in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers."

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Donald Malarkey was one of those brothers. He died last week. But 73 years ago, Malarkey was in a plane over France, hunched under gear and a parachute, waiting to jump. It was D-Day - June 6, 1944.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mass squadrons of bombers and transports led the way, more than 11,000 planes spearheading the attack.

BOB WELCH: Men are scared. They're throwing up. The plane is too low. They're out of position.

KELLY: That's Bob Welch. He co-wrote a book with Malarkey.

WELCH: And suddenly, they're just diving into the night and not knowing where they're going to land. It was total chaos.

KELLY: Easy Company landed miles from where they were supposed to. Their mission was to take out German artillery.

WELCH: It was hugely significant because our guys were being pounded as they came in from the surf.

SIEGEL: And Easy Company succeeded. Then Malarkey and his platoon pushed through France to the Netherlands, into Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

WELCH: They're in the cold and snow at Bastogne. He's just seen two of his buddies have their legs blown off. His best friend, Skip Muck, is dead. And he's standing around a campfire, thinking, if I just put a bullet through my foot, they'll have to send me back to England. And he considers that. But he doesn't do it because, he says, if I go back, it's easier for me, but it's harder for the men I leave behind.

SIEGEL: Donald Malarkey spent 172 days on the front lines, more than any other man in Easy Company.

KELLY: For his actions, the U.S. gave Donald Malarkey a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Malarkey got married, had a family. He became an Oregon county commissioner. Later he worked in insurance and real estate.

SIEGEL: Here's Donald Malarkey of Easy Company speaking in 2009 to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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DONALD MALARKEY: You can look back and with great pride realize that you had done a very significant thing and acted responsibly in what amounted to saving the world.

KELLY: Malarkey died September 30 in Oregon. He was 96 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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