CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan --
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, gathered to honor a fallen Westminster, Md., hero in Marjah, Afghanistan, March 27.
Staff Sgt. James Malachowski, the former platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Fox Company, 2/8, was a true Marine who fought with distinction and valor.
Malachowski began his Marine Corps career June 20, 2003. He successfully completed his Military Occupational Specialty school and earned the MOS mortarman. Malachowski was in the midst of his fourth deployment, having already completed three combat tours in Iraq. He gave his life, March 20, serving his country and the Marines around him.
“Staff Sgt. Malachowski was the epitome of the Marine I want to be: smart and cunning, stern, but fair,” explained Lance Cpl. William Saunders, a rifleman with the company and a Birmingham, Ala., native. “He taught me how to conduct myself in a professional manner and how to better improve myself both physically and mentally.”
“Staff Sgt. Malachowski, in my mind, is what every platoon sergeant should be like: a mentor, a leader and a counselor,” added Lance Cpl. Bradley Piorkowski, one of Malachowski’s junior Marines.
Piorkowski said his former platoon sergeant took pride in mentoring and teaching his Marines new things.
“He was always pushing us to learn, and when necessary, teaching us that individual actions didn’t just effect us, but the [entire] platoon,” explained Piorkowski, an Orlando, Fla., native.
Lance Cpl. Robert Simmons, a rifleman in Malachowski’s platoon, described the close relationship Malachowski had with his Marines.
“He was always making sure we were doing [well] and didn’t need anything,” said Simmons. “When he found out that my wife was going to give birth while we were [deployed], the first thing he would ask when he saw me everyday was how she was doing.”
During the seven months Piorkowski served under Malachowski, hecame to see his late platoon sergeant as a selfless leader.
“He went out of his way to be there for us,” said Piorkowski. “It didn’t matter what it was; he was there. When the other Marines would talk with him, he always smiled and talked like he had known us since we were kids.”
Malachowski’s personal awards include the Purple Heart Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star, the Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star, and the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with one bronze star.
Malachowski is survived by his wife and two children.