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Kenny Malick 1st Lt. 3rd Armored Division


T1gertank519

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T1gertank519

Kenneth “Kenny” Malick was born 105 years ago today on January 7th, 1916. He was brought up in Sunbury, Pennsylvania by his father, Nelson, a county telegraph operator, and his mother, Olive, a young housewife. He grew up playing a lot of basketball, and he enjoyed swimming with his friends in the local Shamokin Creek. He was interested in photography as a hobby, and he joined the Boy Scouts for a little adventure. Kenny’s first taste of leadership came when he was chosen to be his Scout troop’s Patrol Leader. In 1935 he found his first job as the sales promoter/ district sales agent of Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA. He supervised over 150 magazine agents, further advancing his leadership abilities. Kenny’s number was drawn for Selective Service in May of 1941. He planned to spend his year in the army, and then go back to his job at the Publishing Company. He soon realized he wanted to go back to Sunbury- there was a childhood friend there. Kenny was in love with a girl named Rachel Beck- and he was dead set on marrying her on his first leave. As soon as the army let him go on leave, he kept his promise. Kenny and Rachel married on July 4th, 1941. Life was calm, the war in Europe was of little concern to the Malick couple, and Kenny was still against an army career once his selective service was through. His first year in the army was spent as a motorcycle courier for the 51st Armored Infantry Regiment of the 4th Armored Division. He wasn’t much of a motorcyclist, so he was made a driver of a GMC Half Ton 6x6 Truck. As the end of Malick’s Selective Service drew closer, Kenny had a rude awakening when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. December 7th marked a change in Kenny’s attitude- he now wanted to fight, and not as an enlistee, but as an officer. 

 

    After months of hard work, Malick was able to secure an earned spot at Officer Candidate School. He would report to Fort Knox on the 26th of May, 1942, ready to prove his worth. Kenny received many accolades during his time at Knox, and the Director of OCS at Fort Knox, Colonel Calais described Kenneth very well when he said,” This officer is a newly commissioned enlisted man who I believe to have good immediate value and a greater potential value to the service.” Kenny was soon assigned as the Platoon Leader for the 3rd platoon, 33rd Armored Regiment, of the 3rd Armored Division. He did not know it, but while he was at OCS, the men he would be leading were taking part in the brutal Desert Training Maneuvers in the deserts of California and Arizona. Kenny arrived in the regiment just in time for advanced training on the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. Kenny and his wife Rachel spent much time with the other officers and their wives at the Indiantown Gap. They developed a sense of Comradery, to the extent where the wives would write to each other throughout the entire war. In September of 1943, the 3rd Armored Division arrived in England. While in England, Kenny took the time to have fun with his hobby, photography. He visited the Winterstoke Gallery and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, as well as rode horses out into the English countryside. The pre-invasion training soon caught up with Kenny, and by July 9th of 1944, he had arrived in France. In combat, Kenny’s job was to be the leader of 5 M5A1 Stuart Light Tanks, all with a complimentary crew of 4 men each. A critical part of Task Force Lovelady, the quick and maneuverable Stuarts were used for reconnaissance as well as anti-infantry operations, although they did not have many anti-tank capabilities. During the Normandy Campaign, Task Force Lovelady fought their way through Aire, Pont Hubert, Bois du Hommet, and Marigny by the end of July. In early August they wrenched Hill 264 out of the hands of the Germans, before being attached to the 30th Infantry Division. Men like Kenny were put into a position right in the way of a massive German counterattack. The German attack, led by SS Panzer divisions, drove a wedge from Mortain to Avranches. The attack was constant, running for almost a week straight before being battered back by men of the 30th Division and the 3rd AD.  On August 18th, the 33rd made contact with British forces at La Fresny de Sauvage, decisively closing the German Falaise Pocket. With the cutoff and surrender of 15 German Divisions in the Falaise Pocket, the Normandy Campaign was over. 

 

The Allied beachhead was successfully established, but the battle for Northern France was just beginning. After a mad-dash past Paris, the 3rd armored division “Spearhead” crossed the Seine and the Marne River. The crossing of the Marne was peaceful, contrary to its WW1 counterpart. August 28th would be an eventful day for Kenny Malick. At 8:30 in the morning, he met with his company commander to discuss the coming attack on the French city of Soissons. At noon, Malick’s tank went on ahead of the rest of his platoon, rounding a corner near the Rue Alain Langlet. There had been sporadic fighting with German forces throughout the day, with a few enemy tanks spotted far out in the distance on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, one of those German Tanks, a Mark V Panther, was waiting around the corner parked behind a French hedgerow. As Malick’s Stuart drove down the road, it received a 7.5 cm KwK 42 round straight through the side plating, instantly killing the driver and the assistant driver, as well as seriously wounding the gunner and the tank commander, Kenny Malick. Kenny and his gunner were personally pulled out of their tank while unconscious a few hours later by their Company Commander, Captain Tom Morrison. Kenny had received shrapnel from the high explosive round in his scalp, skull, dura, and brain, leaving a large hole in the skull, as well as scars on his forehead. Sadly, the gunner died 2 days later from his wounds, leaving Kenny as the only survivor of his tank crew. Kenny’s wounds were immense, and soldiers speculated that he would not survive his wounds. 

 

Kenny was driven to Cherbourg, still unconscious, and 3 days after his wounding he was operated on. He was flown to England, where he stayed in a hospital for 3 months before being sent back to the United States. Only 28 years old, Doctors inserted a plastic plate into his head to cover the skull defect. They speculated he would not survive to reach 40 years old, and that he would be plagued with mental issues for the rest of his life. Luckily, Kenny fought to live his life on his own terms. The pills he took in the hospital helped him combat seizures, and things began to look up when the hospital staff sent him home to spend Christmas and New Years’ with his wife, Rachel. Although he was no longer permanently in the hospital, Kenny had to make frequent checkups to make sure he was still healthy. He was honorably discharged after the New Year and after going before an army retiring board, but the Army did not give him any medical pension or disability benefits. There was a lot of concern due to Kenny’s tendency to fall unconscious, seemingly at random. Throughout 1946, Kenny had his first 4 seizures, being admitted to the hospital many times. In 1947 he was diagnosed with epilepsy, and due to prescribed medication, he had several more seizures that year. In early 1949 Kenny went before another Army Medical Board, where he finally received a full medical pension to help with the cost of his medication. After two further seizures in the early ‘1950s, the VA finally found the right medication to stop any unconscious periods and all seizures. 

 

Throughout all of his troubles, Kenny desired to prove the army doctors wrong. He wanted to live a full life. Now that his mental issues had been defeated, he did just that. Kenny moved back to his hometown with his wife, a schoolteacher. He worked for the Sunbury Post Office for 35 years- and he beat many records for sorting thousands of letters while he was at it! He spent the majority of his time with his wife- 61 years. They were always together, and Rachel was supportive during Kenny’s darkest days. The Couple enjoyed traveling- especially to Penn State games. Kenny continued to enjoy photography and nature, and he continued going down to the Creek for a long time. Kenny didn’t settle for 40 years old; he passed away at 88 years old on December 19th, 2004- proving many Army doctors wrong. To his nieces and nephews, Kenneth was always known as Uncle Kenny, the kindest, and most generous man around. Even in his suffering, he never complained about the card he had been dealt. 

 

Happy 105th Birthday Kenny. I am honored to be the one to remember you.

-Preston 

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M24 Chaffee

Very nice armored grouping! Nice that he was able to have a full life. Thanks for sharing all of this. 
 

Feank

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Hookemhorns88

Nice uniform and grouping.  Glad to see that it is being preserved and honored. Like Mr. Malick, it is a survivor.

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Very well done and honorable write up!

Thanks for sharing.

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Moonlight Gecko

Fantastic group and history. Glad you're keeping the memory of his honor and sacrifices alive.

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I Hate Moths

Great to see the photos of him.   Here is an excerpt from a letter that Captain Morrison sent to his wife Pauline.  Also a  Christmas card that Ken and Rachel sent to Captain Morrison, and Pauline.

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bertmedals

Great group. You did a wonderful job telling his story.  Thanks for posting it and rembering him.

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huntssurplus

Nice write up and awesome group! Glad to see it looks to be in good hands!

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
T1gertank519

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed it. Here is a photo of the officers of company B.
Kenny is the one wearing a helmet and smoking a cigarette.

[mention]I Hate Moths [/mention]
Your research on Tom Morrison and the letters you posted about Kenny have helped me immensely. The family and I thank you. Morrison is in the center, kneeling! 1dd532220f10d87c2641d456269e9013.jpg


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  • 2 weeks later...
USCapturephotos

 

Great grouping and I especially enjoyed the photos of him later in life after reading your write about how he bravely beat the odds. What a tough soldier. It's amazing that he survived that Panther shot. I knew a Sherman tank gunner with the 4th armored who was severely wounded during the Bulge when his tank was hit by German tank fire. He rolled up his pant leg once to show me where his calf had once been. It looked awful and helped me realize what a terrible ordeal it was to be hit in a tank.

Thanks again.
Paul

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Brian Keith

Excellent tribute! One of the Greatest Generation.

Thanks for posting this, love the photo's.

BKW

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I Hate Moths

That is a great photo of the B-company officers. I am delighted to see it, as will the Morrison family.

Here is a photo where. Ken Malick is on the far right and Captain Morrison is 2nd from left.

 

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Great story and very nice uniform and documents. It tells a story not often told, of a serious wounded soldier who suffered for the rest of his life.

 

Did you ever received  his medals?

 

Regards

Herman 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/14/2021 at 1:33 AM, Hermanus said:

Great story and very nice uniform and documents. It tells a story not often told, of a serious wounded soldier who suffered for the rest of his life.

 

Did you ever received  his medals?

 

Regards

Herman 

Hi Herman, 

His Purple Heart medal was kept by the family. 
I hope that helps. 

My best regards, 
Preston

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