The leading television series on cable network Home Box Office today would be the fantasy epic “Game of Thrones,” which will conclude with a final eighth season but possibly continuing with several spinoffs. But back in 2001, a decade before “Thrones” premiered its inaugural season, the flagship HBO program had been the miniseries “Band Of Brothers.” Based on a 1992 non-fiction book, the show chronicles the lives of soldiers from “Easy Company” of the 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, from the Normandy invasion to post-war Europe. “Brothers” made household names and celebrities of some of the featured real-life soldiers, among them veteran Donald Malarkey, portrayed in-series by Scott Grimes.

Last Saturday the real Sergeant Malarkey passed away at age 96.

Another Easy Company departure

Donald Malarkey, the decorated soldier of the famous airborne “Easy Company,” died on September 30 at his home in Salem, Oregon due to complications of old age. His passing was announced to the public by his son-in-law John Hill. As a member of Easy Company, Malarkey was a participant in many significant airborne operations on the Western European front of World War II, as chronicled in the book “Band of Brothers” by historian Stephen Ambrose, which was adapted by HBO into a miniseries.

While Malarkey had expressed being haunted by his experiences on the battlefield and seeing several friends he had on the company dying in action before his eyes, his family members have expressed how he had felt cathartic after watching “Band of Brothers” on HBO.

His role was played by actor Scott Grimes, whose latest role is in the Fox comedy series “The Orville.” Hill remarked that since the show ran on the cable network in 2001, his father-in-law has been able to make peace with the emotional scars of his time fighting in World War II.

Road to ‘Band of Brothers’

Born July 30, 1921, in Astoria, Oregon, Donald Malarkey was drafted into the Army while on his freshman year at the University of Oregon in 1942.

Having chosen to volunteer for the airborne infantry, he figured with Easy Company in momentous battles such as D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the siege of Bastogne. He returned to university and married in 1948, finding work in insurance and real estate. Malarkey met Stephen Ambrose in 1987, and in 1989 he and several fellow Easy Company paratroopers gave their oral histories of the war which would become the “Band of Brothers” book.

Following the success of the HBO show, Malarkey became an author in his own right, a motivational speaker and lecturer, and a welcome visitor to US military personnel during the Iraq War of 2003-2011. He is survived by one sister and his three daughters, and with his death, only one officer of Easy Company is known to survive to this day.