Fallen Westminster Marine remembered as life of the household

Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski was killed in action Sunday in Afghanistan

  • The family of Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski, who was killed in action on Sunday in Afghanistan, including (from left), father James, mother Alison, and sister Brandy, speak briefly to the press outside their home. Malachoswki, 25, who had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from North Carroll H.S., was serving his 4th combat deployment, after three previous tours of duty in Iraq.
The family of Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski, who was killed… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
March 22, 2011|By Raven L. Hill, The Baltimore Sun

In life, Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski made his family proud by maintaining a sense of humility even while earning a distinguished record of service in the Marines.

Now, in death, the fallen Marine has made his family even prouder.

"He said that if he ever went, he wanted to go out in combat," said his mother, Alison, on Tuesday at the family home in Westminster. "And that's how he went."

Malachowski, 25, was killed in action Sunday in Afghanistan by a homemade bomb. It was his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had previously served three deployments in Iraq.

Born and raised in Hampstead, "Jimmy" was remembered Tuesday as the life of his family, whose death has left a hole in family members' lives. His interests included weightlifting, running, firearms and wood-working.

He particularly enjoyed bodybuilding, his mother said. "If it was heavy, Jimmy would lift it."

She said she used to warn him that if he got any bigger, "he'd have to turn sideways to get through the door." He was running up to 10 miles a day by the time he left for Afghanistan.

Malachowski came from a military family; his mother is a retired Marine, and his sister is in the Army. He decided to join the Marines in his final year at North Carroll Senior High School, attracted to the challenge and sentimentality.

"It was the Marine Corps. It was the hardest thing to do and … his mom was in it," said his father, James Sr.

He left for boot camp the day after high school graduation in 2003.

Added his mother, "He has challenged himself and the Marine Corps has challenged him over the last six years. He's done very, very, very, very well at it, too, I must say. We're really proud of our little boy."

He had been awarded two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, two Marine Corps Good Conduct medals, a National Defense Service Medal, two Iraq Campaign medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He was promoted to staff sergeant last April.

He earned a position on the Marine Corps Rifle Team and taught more than 50,000 recruits the fundamentals of marksmanship.

Family members said they only learned about some of his accomplishments since his death, which was just like him. Though he didn't like to brag, there was no doubting his courage, they said.

On his first tour in Iraq, his mother recalled asking him, "Just what do you all do over there?"

His reply: "We do what everyone else can't or won't do. That's when they call us."

His older sister, Brandy Malachowski, 28, said she was thrilled to get her first salute as a commissioned officer from her brother. And his parents said they hope that others will remember his sacrifice.

His father said, "We were proud of him on Saturday, and we're even prouder of him now."

"It was like a bright flame that burned very brightly, but very shortly," his mother said. "We really hope that everyone else in this country remembers this war. We still have these young men and women dying for this country."

Funeral arrangements are pending. His body is expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base Wednesday morning, according to military officials.

Survivors include his parents and sister; his wife, Lindsay; and two sons, Vincent James and Evan Michael.

raven.hill@baltsun.com

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