PVT Richard J. Malone
9th army, 30th Division, 119th Infantry, Company B
Killed in Action 24 March, 1945 at the Rhine Crossing
-- Kathleen Ann Malone Prantner --
-- Mary Esther Malone Woerner --
-- Margaret (Maggie) Elizabeth Malone --
Dick Malone was the Supervisor of the Farm Security Administration in
our little town of Faulkton, South Dakota. Local farmers and ranchers
could apply to him for federal loans, which helped them increase
production for the war effort. The farmers and ranchers were exempt
from the draft and, because of his work, so was Daddy.
In 1943 it became necessary to draft fathers, but still Daddy was
exempt. He had nothing but disdain for those who found ways to avoid
serving their country and drifters who pretended to be farm workers to
claim an exemption to which they had no right. He grew in admiration
for those farm boys who went when they could have stayed at home.
At last, although he was 36 years old, he felt he had to go. He
couldn't bring himself to use his family, his work, or his status as an
only son as excuses. Mom understood and we have never heard a
reproachful word from her about this decision or anything else to do
Kathy was five, I was four, and Maggie was two when he left for Basic
Training in March, 1944.
We have 186 letters written from Basic Training to March 24, 1945, when
he was killed at the Rhine crossing. We treasure these letters beyond
words. As he was one of a million replacements, we had almost given up
hope of finding one veteran who remembered him. Then in April, 1999,
with the help of the American WWII Orphans Network, Maggie found the
very man who was with Daddy when he died. In a very kind letter he
told us about it, answering our lifelong need to know. Then in
September of that year, we attended a reunion of his division and met a
fine old fellow who had been about nineteen in the war and, with tears
in his eyes, fondly recalled our dad as "Papa": an older man who had
kept the young ones out of trouble.
From Daddy's letters, as well as Mom's recent willingness to talk, we
have learned that Daddy was kind, approachable, fun-loving, romantic,
and a terrific dancer. When we were very small, he loved to sing to us
in his warm, Crosby-like baritone. Kathy was his darling, I was his
sweetheart, and Maggie was his honey.
Mother never remarried. We all missed our dad every day of our lives,
yet never discussed how we were feeling, even among ourselves. In spite
of that empty daddy-shaped place in the heart, never to be filled no
matter what else happens, we try to see ourselves not as victims but as
survivors. We talk about him often and this helps us to feel his dear
presence in our lives. We are proud to be Dick Malone's daughters.