Surviving ‘Band of Brothers’ members visit Kingsley Field
By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing
/ Published October 26, 2011
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Two surviving World War II veterans made their last formal appearance to a packed house at Kingsley Field, Aug. 31, 2011.
Lynn "Buck" Compton and Donald G. Malarkey, who were members of "E" Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, better known as "Easy" Company, parachuted into Normandy, France June 6, 1944--the infamous D-Day.
With the help of Vance Day, the man responsible for tailoring the presentation focused on leadership the three have delivered all over the country, the two vets recounted throwing themselves into battle amidst a hail of anti-aircraft fire.
Compton wryly recollected putting nearly everything into his leg bag including his weapon, rations and ammunition that night and having it ripped from his leg upon exiting the aircraft, "and I haven't seen it to this day," he chuckled. "I sure wasn't much of a threat to the Germans without even a weapon."
Marlarkey, at 90 years of age, explained to the assembled Airmen what was behind his decision to go to war and risk his life.
"I wanted to be part of a tough, new outfit, and I wanted to avenge two of my uncles killed in World War I by the Germans."
To that end he spent more consecutive days in combat than any other "Easy" Company soldier.
"I was struck by the fact that these two have continually given to their country and even now at their age they are still doing it," said Tech. Sgt. Mike Shirar. "Being a military history major makes this extremely special for me, it would be like someone else meeting a movie star or a celebrity."
The presentation consisted of scenes taken from the HBO Special Band of Brothers. Vance would show a particular vignette and ask the two for their reactions. On an occasion or two he pointed out that the adaptation wasn't entirely accurate, while at other times confirming the eerie reality of others.
"When we first began this Don couldn't watch the video clips without breaking down, but now he can watch it and he's fine," said Vance. "He's healed through this process and we're talking about a man who has had PTSD for all these years."
The presentation lasted two full hours in the Kingsley theater, and when it was over the Airmen of the 173rd rose and applauded the two men. "I would have been surprised had the standing ovation not been spontaneous," said Shirar. "We knew we were in the presence of great men who set the standard we seek to live up to today."