87 year old World War II Veteran finally receives his Bronze Star
Charlie Malarik with his 99 year old sister Sue Clark in Bethel, Ct. on 9 /17/09
Charlie Malarik was born in Danbury Connecticut on Edgewood St. in 1922
Charlie’s parents were Czechoslovakian immigrants who landed in New York City in the late 1800’s. They called Yonkers their home for several years before moving the family to Danbury Ct. around 1910. Charlie came from a Family of seven, three boys and four girls. Charlie’s cousin Katherine Mayercik, the wife of Howard Polley, lived down the road on Westville Avenue. As a young man, Charlie had great memories of the Danbury Fair which was an easy walk from his house. He also remembers a time when he ran from school to see the Zeppelin Hindenburg fly over the Danbury Fairs’ west terrace. He said the huge blimp flew so low that he could see the passengers smiling and waving. This took place just one year before the disaster on Thursday May 6th 1937, when the LZ 129 caught fire and was destroyed within one minute while attempting to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.
Charlie attended the Morris Street Elementary School, Main Street Middle School and four years at Danbury High School on White Street. After graduating from Danbury High School, he was a tree surgeon for the nationally recognized arborist, Albert Wadsworth Meserve in Danbury. At the start of World War II Charlie and his friends considered enlisting. Charlie’s two brothers and one of his sisters had already done so. His sister was the first woman from Danbury to enlist during WWII in the Nurse Corps. One year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Charlie was drafted into the Army. Now all three Malarik boys were serving our country. But this story has a better ending than the movie ‘Private Ryan’. After making it through boot camp at Camp Maxey in Texas, and then training at Camp Swift Texas and Fort Devon’s Massachusetts, Charlie was shipped out of Fort Dix, New Jersey. After eleven days at sea, with a convoy of 50 ships, Charlie made port in England. He was then quickly deployed to Cherbourg, France where his first mission was with the “Red Ball Express,” which helped transport equipment and supplies to a depot near Paris. After that mission he ended up fighting near Berlin’s Elbe River in Germany for the 102nd Infantry Division in the 9th Army. This is where Corporal Charlie Malarik worked as an observer who helped locate enemy positions slated to be bombed with heavy artillery. This was an extremely important job especially for the American troops that were advancing. One night while out on a mission driving his jeep, Charlie remembers being caught in the middle of a fire fight and seeing the white tracers from the German guns and the pink tracers of the American guns. Suddenly, a German flare lit the night sky above him, revealing his location. He quickly drove his jeep into a nearby barn to seek cover. The Germans saw this and sprayed the barn with machine gun fire. As pieces of the barn rained down on top of Charlie, he thought the barn was going to collapse. But a few moments later, to the surprise of everyone, Charlie emerged from the barn uninjured. After 18 months of service he returned to Danbury. He stayed at his home for a few years before he decided to wander about. He traveled to Ohio and then Texas where he met his wife Elizabeth. They eventually traveled to Maine where Charlie got a job working with L.L. Bean. Charlie and his wife have been living in Maine ever since with their daughter Michele and granddaughter. Charlie returns to Danbury almost every year for the holidays to visit family who still live in Connecticut, including his 99 year old sister, Sue Clark who lives in Bethel. Sue is thinking of writing a book about her experiences as a civilian in Danbury during WWII, which undoubtedly would be a great book because she always has amazing stories to tell.
Charlie Malarik at the WWII Monument at Rogers Park in Danbury, Ct. on 9 /17/09
I took Charlie down to the War Memorial in Rogers Park, in Danbury. At the WWII monument Charlie recognized some of the names of his fallen comrades. I could tell that these memories were not easy for him to talk about. With over a thousand WWII veterans dieing every day, it is truly a blessing to see my cousin Charlie alive and well. I tried to find out how many WWII veterans that were still alive who were born in Danbury, but after several phone conversations, no one could even guess, maybe a thousand or less then a hundred? You will find some of these war heroes at the local VFW on Byron St. in Danbury. The Bronze Star Medal that Charlie received, along with the Bronze Star Ribbon, is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award, including both combat and non-combat awards. - Howard Polley
Wisconsin man celebrates 40 Christmases with 1 tree
Dan Young, AP
WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — Neil Olson put up a Christmas tree when two of his sons went off to war in 1974, vowing not to take it down until all six children returned to his Wisconsin home for Christmas. The same tree, he says, is still standing in his living room.
Olson's oldest son was injured in the Vietnam War, and his disability has stopped him from returning to Wausau from Washington state for Christmas. So the tree has stayed up, still covered in the same ornaments, tinsel and lights as the day Olson decorated it. And the needles, though yellowing, are still there.
"The needles are kept on for a reason," Olson, 89, told the Wausau Daily Herald for a story published Wednesday. "It's supernatural, I say."
Five of Olson's six sons live in Wausau. His youngest, Rich Olson, said the tree has become part of his father's furniture.
"It's like family now. I hate to take it down," he said.
Despite its permanent status in his home, Neil Olson hasn't flicked on the lights since the year he put up the tree. The large, multi-colored lights are now nearly 100 years old, he said.
"It'd just blow up on me," he joked. "All that dust on there. It'd be like an atomic bomb."
Olson said he still hopes his oldest son, with whom he still talks, will make it home for Christmas one year.
"I bet you if my sixth boy comes home, the needles will drop right off," he said.
Information from: Wausau Daily Herald Media,
The oldest record of a cut Christmas tree decorated in today's tradition is reported in a travel diary from 1605, which describes a fir tree in Strasbourg, Germany, hung with paper roses, apples, wafers, and candies. Tradition suggests that the first Christmas trees in the United States were wooden pyramids covered with evergreen boughs decorated by children in a German Moravian church settlement at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Day in 1747. From that beginning, the use of a real Christmas tree as part of the Christmas holiday celebration in the United States has grown until today more than 30 million real Christmas trees are purchased each year in the United States. And, although at one time all Christmas trees were naturally grown wild trees, almost all Christmas trees marketed today are grown in plantations where they are planted and intensively managed for six to 12 years specifically for harvest as Christmas trees.