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Interview with Charles K. Malinowski [8/26/2004]

Thomas Swope:

This is the oral history of World War II and Korean War veteran Charles K. Malinowski. Mr. Malinowski served in the U.S. Marine Corps with the Fourth Marine Division in the Pacific Theater during World War II and with the First Marine Division in Korea. His highest rank was gunny sergeant. I'm Tom Swope and this interview was recorded at Mr. Malinowski's home in Mentor, Ohio on August 26, 2004. Charles was 82 at the time of this recording.

Thomas Swope:

Where were you living in 1941? I'm getting a little closer here. Where were you living in 1941?

Charles K. Malinowski:

In 1941 I was living at 13913 Chapelside Avenue, Southeast Cleveland.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh. How old were you in 1941?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I was 19 years old, and the draft was right -- breathing down my back. That's why I joined the Marine Corps.

Thomas Swope:

So you enlisted in the Marine Corps?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I joined -- I enlisted in August 13, 1942.

Thomas Swope:

Before that, do you have specific memories of December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Pearl Harbor? Yeah. I was working at Plum Brook Ordnance Plant in Sandusky, Ohio at that time. It was on a Sunday afternoon and I was working that Sunday at the industrial plant there.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh. What did you think when you heard the news?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, right away you -- you think Jesus, you know, nothing like that ever happened before. And you couldn't understand what -- you know, what -- why things like that happen when they don't even give you a notice or nothing. And right away you think of joining the -- some branch of the service. And the reason I joined the Marine Corps was I had a friend of mine, he was a -- a -- not an uncle but he was like a -- a friend of my uncle's, and I seen him in his blues and that enticed me to join the Marine Corps. And we talked it over with a couple of my friends and one neighbor of mine across -- lived across the street from where I lived, we decided we'd join in the Marine Corps.

Thomas Swope:

So how soon after Pearl Harbor did you actually sign up?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, Pearl Harbor was in --

Thomas Swope:

December.

Charles K. Malinowski:

-- yeah, and I signed up on August the 13th --

Thomas Swope:

Is August 13 --

Charles K. Malinowski:

-- 1942.

Thomas Swope:

-- when you reported? That's when you reported?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. Like I say, we had to join the draft and everything, and then it started getting where they were starting to call people close -- close to me, and I decided I would go in the Marine Corps.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh. Do you remember your first day at boot camp?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I'm --

Thomas Swope:

Your first day at boot camp?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, Jesus, forty -- sixty-two years ago.

Thomas Swope:

[Laughing.]

Charles K. Malinowski:

It's kind of hard to remember.

Thomas Swope:

Was it tough?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, it wasn't tough but it was something different. I was sort of military minded. Before the war started, I was -- you know, the Depression and everything. I was in the 3 C's for two years, which is sort of military back -- background on it. So I was pretty well up on military life a little bit. In fact, I was stationed right here in Ohio at Defiance, Ohio just south -- southwest of Toledo.

Thomas Swope:

What kind of work were you doing with the 3 C's?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Mostly construction and drainage ditches and culverts and small bridges and stuff like that, in that area. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

So you understood military discipline when you got --

Charles K. Malinowski:

Discipline. We had that -- you know, with the -- the Army was in charge of all the 3 C men.

Thomas Swope:

When you first went into the Marine Corps, was it a tough adjustment to be in there with guys from all over the country?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Most of them -- like I said, there was -- that picture I just showed you, there was thirty-six of us from the Cleveland area so there was a -- quite a few of us. I didn't know any of the -- the gentlemen except the one that was -- had lived across the street from me. We were all in the same platoon, Platoon 633 I believe it was. It's been so long, I can't -- some of the things I can't remember everything.

Thomas Swope:

Where did you do your training? Where?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Where did I -- I had my training at Parris Island. And from Parris Island, after we got out, they were -- they sent us to -- they sent me and a group of us from the same outfit to -- to Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. And right away I thought I was going to sea school because that's -- they had the sea school there; and here they put me on a guard duty, and I stayed on guard duty for almost seven months. After that then they sent me to Camp Lejeune and I formed a -- helped form the Fourth Marine Division. Went in at a Third Battalion -- I mean the First Battalion, 25th Marines.

Thomas Swope:

What was your job, what were you trained as, rifleman?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I was the AR man.

Thomas Swope:

The AR man?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. That's a Browning automatic rifle. And it's a little heavier than you think because I was almost six foot tall and pretty -- I wasn't really heavy weight but I mean I was stronger than a lot of the other guys. Once you go through boot camp, you lose a lot of weight. You do a lot of training and stuff like that so we -- you -- I was a hundred and sixty-eight pounds at almost six foot so --

Thomas Swope:

Do you remember any particular stories from your training time?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Nothing -- not really. We didn't train too much at Camp Lejeune when I got there. We went aboard ship. We went to Norfolk Navy Yard again and went aboard ship and went through the Panama Canal and went up to San Diego and got out at -- get off at San Diego, and they put us aboard what we call cattle cars and went to Camp Pendleton at Las Pulgas Canyon.

Thomas Swope:

More training there then?

Charles K. Malinowski:

We had most of our training -- training there. Mostly all mountainous trailing. And we had quite a few amphibious landings at Oceanside and -- and we went to board ship, and we were the only division that went right from the States into combat. We went to Roi and Namur in the Marshall Islands. It was part of Enewetak Atoll. After that we came back -- after the operation, we came back to Maui; and Maui was the rest base for the Fourth Marine Division during World War II. Every time we made an operation, we came back to Maui, got replacements, retrained, and then we went to other islands. After we were -- that was in January of '44 and in January of -- I mean of -- June 15 of '44, we went to Saipan and Tinian. And after that operation, we came back to Maui again, got replacements, retrained; and then we went to Iwo Jima, the Fourth Marine Division.

Thomas Swope:

All right. Let's go back and talk about some of those actions. How about that first action in the Marshalls, what do you remember about that?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, it was mostly -- there was a -- like a group of islands; and the two main islands, the -- the other reg -- there's three regiments in the division. And the other two reg -- infantry regiments hit the Roi and Namur, and the 25th Regiment took all these little islands and made continuous landings, two or three islands at a day. We -- the first day we hit was a day before they hit the Marshall -- before they hit Roi and Namur, and then they brought artillery and they set up artillery and we sort of were a defense for the artillery while they were firing on Roi and Namur. And then that -- after the island was taken, like I said, there was a bunch of little islands along and we were going through all these little islands to pick up any stragglers that the Japanese had.

Thomas Swope:

Do you have memories of your first actual day in combat?

Charles K. Malinowski:

The what?

Thomas Swope:

Your first day in combat?

Charles K. Malinowski:

My first day?

Thomas Swope:

Yeah, when you were under fire?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Not -- not really. He -- it was -- I think there was only a couple Japanese on the island that we were on and it wasn't what you call a real big island. The two main islands was Roi and Namur, so there wasn't too many Japanese on the island.

Thomas Swope:

When was that, in late '43, 1943?

Charles K. Malinowski:

'44.

Thomas Swope:

That's when that happened?

Charles K. Malinowski:

January of '44.

Thomas Swope:

That's when you went to the Marshalls?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yes.

Thomas Swope:

Okay.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah, we went to the Marshalls. And after the Marshalls, like I said, we went back to Maui and -- in Hawaii and retrained; and then we went to -- and before we went to Saipan, we were in LST's and we were docked at West Loch in Pearl Harbor. And there was nothing ever said in the history of the division or anything but our division, we lost a hundred and thirty some men. They don't -- they still don't know what really caused the explosion on these LST's. They know that there was, you know, gasoline, 55 gallon drums of gasoline and a lot of ammo; but they don't know how it really started in that it -- it -- the -- when that gasoline exploded, well, it threw flames and debris on the other LST's and caught them on fire. We lost something like four or five LST's in that operation -- well, it wasn't an operation. It was just a -- we were just docked at -- at Pearl Harbor getting ready to go to Saipan. And some of us had liberty and some of us didn't. And the ones that didn't, well, we got caught in the fire and most of us jumped ship and went on land and went up to the -- what they had is like a casual company right there at the Navy shipyard in -- in Pearl Harbor there. And then they -- they had to give us all new clothes and new weapons and everything because our -- we left our weapons and clothes on the ship and most of them got all burned up. So they had a total of about a hundred and thirty-seven people that was killed in the -- these explosions.

Thomas Swope:

And you told me earlier that what had happened, you got off, got on land and ran through the sugarcane fields?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I ran -- there was like a big cane field. You had to run because there was things flying through the air like molders and parts of ships and stuff like that that was just a -- a -- like a shrapnel just flying all over the place. You didn't want to stay too close to the ship because the Coast Guards and the Navy, they -- well, they -- a lot of them people stayed aboard their ship because they had to take care of it. They had the fire extinguishers and fire hoses and stuff like that trying to put their fires out. But all the Marines -- most of the Marines just jumped ship. And I don't know if we got the word or how it was but everybody said abandon ship, so that's what we did. And like I said, we had to run through the cane field and -- I don't know if you ever seen a cane field on -- it's -- it's hard to run through one of them because them stalks are pretty -- pretty thick. Yeah. And we went to casual company, stayed in casual company I think it was -- I can't remember, I think it was one or two days; and they -- they -- they replaced our clothing and -- and weapons. Then we went aboard new -- new ships that they -- new LST's that they had set aside for emergencies I guess.

Thomas Swope:

Did they suspect it was sabotage?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, there was so damn -- there was so many rumors going on, you know. They said it was sabotage, they said it was a -- a submarine that came in through the West Loch and -- and caused the explosion, and then some say it was the people that was handling the -- loading the LST's with ammunition and stuff like that, that -- that they're the ones that caused it. But there were so many different rumors that you really don't -- really don't care and I don't think they -- to this day, I don't think they really know how it all started. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

And you gave me a copy of a newspaper article here. It says this happened on May 21, 1944?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yes.

Thomas Swope:

Wow, one hundred twenty-seven -- it says here one hundred twenty-seven lost at Pearl Harbor, three hundred eighty hurt, ten dead and reported missing. So like you said, a total of one hundred thirty-seven.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And it was three hundred and somebody -- three hundred and some that was casualties.

Thomas Swope:

Right, three hundred and eighty.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. So there was quite a few people that was -- like I say, there was a lot of people injured and -- and casualties that they had to replace and they -- we got all our replacements. They had a big casual company there in Pearl Harbor and they replaced all the guys that was either killed or wounded. It wasn't too many in my company that got -- got wounded.

Thomas Swope:

This story is actually dated June 14 so it took them --

Charles K. Malinowski:

That was the --

Thomas Swope:

-- more than three weeks to report it.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

As little as they did.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. We stopped at Enewetak and -- before going to Saipan. Had one of the biggest -- I never seen so many ships in all my life and -- and the -- what do you call it --

Thomas Swope:

The harbor or the -- the _____.

Charles K. Malinowski:

It's -- it's not a harbor. Well, it's sort of a harbor.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

I mean you can only get in one or two ways and that was it. But there were so many ships in there that I never believed it. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

So what can you tell me about Saipan then? Saipan.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Saipan? I was in the -- one of the first wave of going in on Saipan. As soon as we hit the island, my outfit made a -- a complete right turn and the rest of the people coming in went forward. And we -- there was like a -- a little peninsula that went out and that's what we -- my company was -- had the responsibility of clearing any Japanese that was in that area.

Thomas Swope:

What else can you tell me about that?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Jesus, it --

Thomas Swope:

Anything you want to share.

Charles K. Malinowski:

It's hard -- it's hard to remember, you know.

Thomas Swope:

Sure.

Charles K. Malinowski:

When you're fighting, I mean your mind's not functioning -- well, it's functioning but it's not tune -- you're not thinking about -- I mean you know you had a job to do and you do it. And our -- like I say, my company was responsible to clear the small little peninsula, and we did that. Then we went back into the regular -- regular lines that they had established already. And it lasted -- oh, Jesus, Saipan lasted almost a month. They expected it to -- you know, to clear it in a -- in a week or so but it was pretty well def -- the Japanese had it pretty well defended, and that was one of the main islands to -- on the outer peninsula -- I mean outer defense line for Japan. And the reason that we -- they wanted them islands was -- Saipan and Tinian, is the long-range bombers were able to establish bases where they can hit Japan from these islands. And after we were -- we've taken Saipan, just before we hit Tinian, a Third Marine Division was taking Guam; and Guam's in the Marshall Islands. There's three main islands and Guam was more -- it was the United States' property, but Saipan and Tinian were -- belonged to the Japanese. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

So did you also land on Tinian?

Charles K. Malinowski:

We also landed on Tinian. But I was -- that's something funny. I was scheduled to be on the first wave again, and our tractor broke down going from Saipan to Tinian and there was about a -- about a three mile -- I mean -- yeah, about a three mile distance between both islands. And my tractor broke down. I didn't get to Tinian -- the funniest part of it, they had a -- the Second Marine Division made a fake landing on the island where they -- the Japanese figured that's where we were really going to hit, and we -- the Fourth Marine Division hit on the smallest beach that the -- that it was ever hit at -- at any island. The beach was only like a hundred and some -- a hundred and some yards wide, and we made a landing on there. They had hardly any defense there because they were planning on us hitting the big beach right there at Naha. And that's the main city of Tinian. And we made a landing and they -- they never expected us to land on a small beach -- beachhead like we did. But like I said, my tractor broke down and we didn't get into the -- back into the action until the afternoon, and here they -- the division we -- our outfit hit early in the morning. Yeah. And that night that we -- after we hit Tinian, we had a big banzai attack, tanks and everything. So that's about it.

Thomas Swope:

What can you tell me -- how can -- can you describe that banzai attack?

Charles K. Malinowski:

The firefight?

Thomas Swope:

The banzai -- yeah, exactly.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, I don't know. It's -- it's -- it's just you're in a position -- you already dug your foxhole and you stay there and try to keep anybody from penetrating through your -- your outfit. And like I say, there's -- there ain't much to say. I mean you fired if anybody come through. I mean you don't how many you killed or anything. It's pretty hard to say, especially at nighttime. And they -- they illuminate the -- during the nighttime, they had -- the ships would shoot flares up in the air and it illuminated the area almost like it's almost daytime. Yeah. So we had a pretty good vision of things that's coming up towards you.

Thomas Swope:

Anything else you can tell me about those, Saipan or Tinian?

Charles K. Malinowski:

No.

Thomas Swope:

Any other memories that might come to mind?

Charles K. Malinowski:

No. That's -- I mean you just -- a lot of cane fields. Oh, boy, I never realized they had that many cane fields in Saipan and Tinian. Yeah. There was a lot of cane fields. That was their main industry like was sugarcane on the islands.

Thomas Swope:

So after that, did you go back to Maui?

Charles K. Malinowski:

After the operation of Saipan, we went to Tinian and after the operation at Tinian, we went back to Maui, yeah, in the Hawaiian Islands. And we didn't -- my company was pretty lucky. We didn't lose too many men in Saipan and Tinian. I remember losing my first sergeant and we were bringing him down off one of the hills there and I'll never forget it. He says take my shoes off, he says I don't want to die with my shoes on. I'll never forget that. Yeah. But we went back to Maui and we regrouped and got our replacements and trained and trained and trained. That was it. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

So you must have been back on Maui for several months, right?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, yeah. We -- well, let's see. It took about -- altogether with the Saipan and Tinian operation, it must have took us maybe a month and a half to take both of them islands. And so we hit it in June, June the 15th, and about the -- around the first of August and we were back at Saipan -- I mean Maui again. And we didn't -- we trained until February of '45 to hit --

Thomas Swope:

Iwo Jima.

Charles K. Malinowski:

-- Iwo Jima. And when we were going to Iwo Jima, we went close to the islands of Saipan and Tinian. And another thing I remember is there was a -- a B-29 taking off at Tinian to go to -- to bomb Japan proper; and when it was taking off, it blew up before it got up off the ground. I'll never forget that either. And I don't know -- I couldn't tell you anything about it because I wasn't -- I was on a -- aboard ship but you -- we were watching the ships -- I mean the planes as they were taking off to -- to go hit Japan proper. And reason they took the island of Iwo Jima is the bombers had to go over Iwo Jima to get to Japan proper, and it was like 600 -- only 600 and some miles from Iwo Jima to Japan and they would notify the -- the people in Japan that their bombers are coming over, getting ready with their anti-aircraft and planes, and they -- we didn't have no escorts. I mean the bombers didn't have no escorts. This way when we took Iwo Jima, they had escorts they can go with the bombers to Japan. And Iwo Jima was -- it was something. I mean it -- we lost a lot of our -- a lot of men then. I got -- I was wounded twice on Iwo. I got hit the second day and I got hit on the 12th day. That's -- let's see, second day was the 20th of February and I got hit the -- the 2nd of March. And when I got hit the 2nd of March, it was enough wounds where they evacuated me back. And from there I went aboard the hospital ship and went from the hospital ship, they took me to Guam. Had a big Army hospital up there, and I stayed in Guam only three or four days. Then they put us aboard like a -- a -- it was a ship -- like a small aircraft carrier and they took us back to Hawaii. And I spent about a month or five or six weeks at the hospital in -- in Hawaii, and I was right above Diamond Head. I could look right straight down and there was Diamond Head, and I stayed there. Then after that I was returned back to my regular outfit on Maui, and we started to regroup and retrain again to get ready to hit Japan proper. A lot of people, you know, they realize that when they dropped the A-bombs, you know, they said it was inhumane or _____; but at that time for us, we had to go in there. We'd have even lost more people than we did at Iwo Jima. And we were glad to see -- see that A-bomb dropped. In fact, the amount of people that was killed when they dropped them bombs, if they had us making landings, they would have had more people -- more casualties, more people killed than what them two bombs -- the casualties they had for the two bombs. I know it was a -- a -- I don't know how to explain it. It -- it's -- it wasn't a -- a big bomb. I mean they are big bombs, but the lives -- actually the lives that it was saved by dropping them bombs, I think it was better than what we would have lost and what they would have lost. Yes, sir.

Thomas Swope:

Let's get some details about Iwo Jima, whatever you can remember. What do you remember about the landings on Iwo Jima?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, boy. I never -- it -- you -- I don't know if you -- you have ever tried to run in sand. And this sand, it was -- the -- the -- the sand wasn't -- like when we hit Saipan, it was pure white, the sand. But on Iwo, it was almost pure black. Yeah. And when you hit the beach, they had us zeroed in right -- right off the bat; and we lost more men in one day than they've lost already in Iraq in as many days as they've been there. And the -- like I say, a lot of people don't realize, you know, how many men that was really lost during the war and how -- it's a different war al -- altogether, you know. Even -- even when I went to Korea, it was a different war. I -- I spent twenty years in the Marine Corps and from the -- fighting in World War II and fighting in Korea, it's a lot different. All it was is mostly small operations between companies like. And whereas during World War II, it was a bigger operation and we -- we lost a hell of a lot more men during World War II.

Thomas Swope:

Did you go in with the first wave on Iwo Jima?

Charles K. Malinowski:

On Iwo, I went in the first wave. I don't know how lucky I was to -- to not get hit that first day. In the morning -- the second day, we were starting to move out and I got up to -- to run into a -- a shell hole and that's when I got hit the first time. Then on the 12th day, I was laying on a -- laying on the ground when it was -- I don't -- I can't -- it's kind of hard to say. It was either -- you can hear these -- when there's mortar firing or artillery firing, you can hear these -- the shells going. You could tell if it's yours or if it's theirs. A lot of people don't realize that but you could -- you could -- and I was laying on the ground. And whatever hit me on the 2nd of March, the second time, I got hit by -- it was either a small mortar or a hand grenade because they -- it didn't hit me that bad. It hit my -- my right thigh and the back of my neck. And it -- but like I say, it was enough where they had to evacuate me. The first time I got hit was a bullet wound; and when I was running from one shell hole to another, that's when they hit me. And it hit me in the back of my left leg and they -- when you get hit, it feels like somebody took a baseball bat and hit you in the back of the leg, and you don't how bad it is. When a corpsman came up and looked at it, he started laughing. I said what are you laughing about. He said it's hardly anything. He says -- so he's -- first he ripped my trouser leg -- I mean my pants leg and he put a couple safety pins on it. He said it was hardly anything, which like if you took a poker and hit -- and burned the back of my leg in about four inches, four or five inches. That was it. It was just like a hot poker that was put in this, but it felt like somebody hit me with a baseball bat. Yeah. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

Did you see the raising of the flag on Suribachi?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's how -- they -- everybody turned around. See, the island, we hit and then we split; Fourth Marine Division went to the right and the Fifth Marine Division went up on Mount Suribachi. And when they started raising the flag, everybody said hey, look, they're raising the flag; and everybody turned and looked in the opposite direction. They seen the -- they seen the flag raising. I mean it wasn't in my outfit but it's good to see the, you know, American flag out there. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

Good for morale.

Charles K. Malinowski:

That was -- that was on the 23rd. Yeah. So -- of February. And right now, we have -- the outfit I'm with now, the Marine Corps League, the men that were on Iwo, every February the 19th we go to a Mass and have a little get-together.

Thomas Swope:

What else do you remember about Iwo Jima?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, not -- not too much. I mean you're -- like I say, your mind is sort of blank. I mean, you know, I -- I don't really remember too much from one day to the next, only -- all you know is you get up and move from one area to another and you keep moving forward and that's it. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

Lose any close buddies on Iwo Jima?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I never had to go -- I never had no -- no hand-to-hand combat at all. It was always at a distance. They kept moving back and we kept moving forward. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

But as far as buddies in your outfit, did you lose anybody that you knew well?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Oh, yeah, I lost some good -- good buddies that was in my squad. Yeah. In fact, I lost my squad leader and my plat -- couple -- couple of men in my squad that -- that we always went on liberty together and stuff like that. I lost them the first day. Yeah. Yeah, they got hit right there on the beach. Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

So then you spent basically the rest of the war in Hawaii, right?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. Then I went back --

Thomas Swope:

Fortunately.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah, I'll say that Hawaii -- and after they dropped the bombs and they -- they declared that the war was going to end, the Fourth Marine Division was disband and they sent us all back to the States. The Second Marine Division went into Japan proper and the First and the Sixth Division went into China. But the Fourth Marine Division, we -- we were disband and came back to the States.

Thomas Swope:

Do you remember any big celebrations on V-J Day?

Charles K. Malinowski:

There was no celebrations. There was no celebrations for us.

Thomas Swope:

Just relief?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah. We came back to the States, they put us aboard trains and we -- I went to -- well, when I went from Camp Pendleton, I went to Bainbridge, Maryland and they discharged us from Bainbridge, Maryland. And they were -- I was told that if I wanted to re-sign up that I had ninety days to make up my mind; and that's what I did. After ninety days, there was nothing for me. Jobs were scarce -- still scarce then and so I -- I re-signed up in the Marine Corps. And I stayed in for twenty years. That's why I went from -- from there I went to -- to Philadelphia Navy Yard and I stayed at Philadelphia Navy Yard for -- oh, three or four -- four or five months, something like that. And then from there, I got transferred and I went to Bermuda. Bermuda was a real nice island, the British -- and I got married just before I went to Bermuda at Norfolk Navy Yard; and then I had my wife come to Bermuda and she was there for -- I was there for 28 months and she was there for -- oh, I'd say maybe about 20 months she was with me. She came home and had our first child. And then after I got out of Bermuda, I got transferred to -- oh, boy. In Indiana. I'm trying to think of the name of the -- the base. It was an ammunition depot.

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Charles K. Malinowski:

It's right south of -- of Bloomington.

Thomas Swope:

That wasn't Camp Atterbury, was it?

Charles K. Malinowski:

No.

Thomas Swope:

No.

Charles K. Malinowski:

No. So it was -- it was at an ammunition depot. It was a pretty nice -- pretty nice area. And then I made sergeant and they put me up to go to Parris Island as a drill instructor. And I went to Parris Island for -- I was stationed at Parris Island from '50, '51 and '52. That was -- I was down there for about 30 months. That was the worst duty I ever had.

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Charles K. Malinowski:

It's not -- it's not -- well, it was a hard -- the reason it was so hard, it was -- like right now, they have three and four drill instructors per platoon. When I was there, it was during the early part of the Korean War and we didn't have enough men. I was lucky to have a junior. I hate to say it but I would put my troops -- troopers to bed and I would take a fast run home and I'd go home to see my wife. Well, my kids were sleeping by then because it was 10, 11:00 at night before I could sneak off and go see my wife. Then I'd have to be back in the barracks to have roll call at 4 -- I mean reveille at 4:00 in the morning. That was one of the worst duties I ever had. But they give you a job and you got to do it. That's the way -- that's the way I look at it. Yeah. Some say well, you're DI's, you're rough and tough. Well, we're rough and tough but we have to be rough and tough at that time. It's your job to do it and you have to -- you have to do it. And now, I'm 82 years old, I'm mellow and -- I'm the old man and I -- I just turned mellow right now.

Thomas Swope:

Did you say you went to Korea too?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I went to Korea in '52. They kept -- well, when I was on Parris Island, they said you better train them the way you want them because you might be taking them over to Korea with you. Well, naturally, that's what happened. So I -- I was there -- I left May of '52 at Parris Island. I went to Camp Pendleton and trained with some of the recruits and other people that was at Camp Pendleton, and I went to Korea -- I left Parris Island in May and I went to Korea in September. September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May. I went to Korea in -- in September of '42.

Thomas Swope:

'52.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And the war in Kor --

Thomas Swope:

'53, right?

Charles K. Malinowski:

'53 of July I think it was, of '53. And I hit it just right. I had 11 months duty. I was on the line -- one of the line companies. And if you had 11 months when the war ended, you were able to come back home; and if you didn't, you had to stay there for another -- you had to stay there for 18 months. So I made it just under the gun. And our -- the company I was with was Able 15 and we had two large operations that we had. One was a platoon size operation and I -- I don't even remember the date. And then before the war ended, we had a company size operation that we had. And the company commander, myself, and our radio man, three of us went to Reno Outpost. And just in front of the Reno Outpost they had Ungok they called, the islands -- I mean hills in front of the thing and that was -- the Koreans was there and our company made a company size raid on these hills in front of Reno, Nevada. And we lost about 14 KIA -- KIA's, killed in action, and I don't know -- remember how many wounded we had but we had 14 KIA's, killed in action. And that was a pretty good size raid for a company size raid. Most of Korea was -- like I say, it was a different -- a different type of war than we had during World War II. We were stationary and on the lines and we were in bunkers and stuff like that and had outposts, and we sent out anywhere from one to two squads per -- to check our front lines, make sure that the enemy wasn't coming in or something like that. So it was altogether different than -- like I say, it was more of a defensive thing than it was during World War II. World War II you went straight ahead, and Korea we stayed on a -- a stationary line. So that's about it.

Thomas Swope:

Does that cover it?

Charles K. Malinowski:

That just about covers everything.

Thomas Swope:

Any other vivid memories come to mind when you think about either World War II or Korea?

Charles K. Malinowski:

No, not -- after Korea -- after Korea, I went to Clarksville Base, Tennessee and it -- Clarksville Base, Tennessee is right on the -- right inside of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. And they called that -- the place where I was at, they called it the bird cage because they had four -- four perimeters of -- of fences and one of them was a hot line. I mean it was all electric. If you touched that, you're gone. So -- and it was -- Clarksville Base, Tennessee was a -- you had to have a top secret clearance to be on guard duty there or even to get into the place. And I was there for almost -- almost three years and had my wife and the family there with me. And after stationed at Korea -- I mean at Clarksville Base, Tennessee, my wife's mother had cancer and I was running back and forth like on weekends to -- with my wife to -- so could visit her mother, and I got transferred to Camp Lejeune. So I heard about getting a humanitary transfer, and a humanitary transfer is where you can get stationed closer to home. They get -- with the reserve I and I Cleveland but they were filled up, but they did have -- they gave me authority to get a humanitary transfer into Columbus, Ohio so it was a lot closer. I didn't have to travel so far and my wife was able to visit her mother and so forth. And I was stationed at Columbus for three years there on I and I duty with the Reserve Training Center. So it was a lot easier for -- for us as a family. And after I got finished at the Columbus, Ohio, I went to -- I got orders for Camp -- Camp Pendleton and when I went to Camp Pendleton, I took my family and everything right there with Camp Pendleton. I stayed at Camp Pendleton for about a year and a half. I joined the outfit there and we were getting ready to go to Okinawa, but we trained at Camp Pendleton for about a year and a half. We had cold weather training, I had desert training and everything. And I went to Okinawa and we spent a year in Okinawa. And I came back and I only had seven months to do and I got transferred to Camp Lejeune and I got an MP and guard company. That was one of the best duties I ever had. All I had to do was make up the roster for -- for all the different posts that they had within the base that -- the different gates, MP's in town, and the guard -- the brig; and I made my roster up and it was 10:00, 11:00, the skipper say hey, gunny, you're finished, go on home. So I'd go in at 8:00 in the morning and by noon I was -- I was home. It was one of the easiest and the best duties I've ever had. And that was my last seven months in the Marine Corps. And then I retired. I retired on May the 31st, 1962 and that was on my wife's birthday, and it gave her a nice birthday present.

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And that finished my time in the Marine Corps.

Thomas Swope:

So this probably is so obvious but I'll ask. Did you enjoy the Marines?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, I enjoyed it a lot but it was just starting -- when I was in Okinawa that last -- that last year, well, we were always going around Vietnam and -- and Laos and everything; and I had already had an idea that -- what was going on and I knew that the Vietnam War was starting to come up. And when I told them I was going to retire, he said well, gunny, we'll make you an E-8 to stay. I says yeah, but you'll still send me to Vietnam. I says I know because I'm -- I was infantry -- trained as infantry mostly. And I says you'll still be sending me to Vietnam and I didn't want it. I was wounded twice during World War II and I was lucky in Korea and, you know, if you're up at the bat, I says that third strike is -- it's a fatal one. So I got out of the Marine Corps. I told them that's it, I don't care if you -- you want to give me another rank. I said I don't want it. So I got out and I retired.

Thomas Swope:

Very good. You think that covers it?

Charles K. Malinowski:

That covers all of my military thing but I still -- after '62 and then in '84 I started a Marine Corps League in the Lake County area.

Thomas Swope:

You started it in this area?

Charles K. Malinowski:

I was the one that formed the Marine Corps League, Colonel Justice M. Chambers Detachment.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

I belonged to the Buckeye Detachment, Marine Corps Buckeye Detachment. And every time -- I'd go there, they were -- I live in Mentor and their -- they live -- they had -- they would meet at the VFW Hall in -- in Parma Heights.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And I would go there and there was three guys --

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Charles K. Malinowski:

-- every time I went there, you know. I says Jesus, you mean to tell me that's the only -- that's all the Marines that you have here? I was a mailman. I says hell, I got more former Marines in my mail route than you people have here coming to -- coming to here. They said well, if you want to -- to have them sign up. So I got them signed up. And after signing them up and everything, they says well, if you -- and I had them come to Eastlake, the American Legion Hall 678. And I got like 20 some guys to sign up, and I -- I tried to talk them into -- Buckeye Detachment says have your meetings here because they had another detachment, the Major Logan Detachment, on the west side. And they says no, they wanted to stay in Parma. So they said if you want, get 26 men and you can -- 25 men and you can start your own detachment.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

So I told all the guys that I knew, I said well, get your friends and we'll start a detachment here in the -- in the Lake County area. So that's what we did, we started one here; and I had 26 men to start off with. That was back in '84. And right today in 2004 we're one of the largest detachments in the state of -- we are the largest detachment in the state of Ohio; and we found out in '8 -- when was it, 2003 when we had the state convention here in -- in Mentor, that we're one of the 10th largest in the country. We had 370 members in our detachment, so we're -- I was proud of that.

Thomas Swope:

That's great.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Yeah.

Thomas Swope:

Who was Colonel Chambers?

Charles K. Malinowski:

Colonel Chambers -- the reason we named our detachment after Colonel Chambers, Colonel Chambers was a -- I knew of him. I mean I wasn't in his -- his outfit but he was a Third Battalion, 25th Marines Regiment -- I mean in 25th Regiment and I was in the First Battalion. There's three battalions in a regiment, and they formed a -- a reserves, they start naming them after the Fourth -- the Fourth Marine Division; and the Third Battalion, 25th Marine Reserves was stationed here in Cleveland. So put Colonel Chambers in the Third Battalion, 25th Marines; that's why we named our detachment after Colonel Chambers. And right as -- right as today, his son -- you can't name a detachment -- a detachment after anybody that's living. Colonel Chambers died in '7 -- '78 and we named our detachment after Colonel Chambers because the Reserve Training Center was -- reserves in the Cleveland area was Third Battalion, 25th Marines. And never -- never sorry to name -- right today, we have his son -- he's a retired lieutenant colonel and his grandson is in the Marine Corps right as today, and he's a major in the Marine Corps and he's stationed in Iraq right now. But he's -- this is August. He's due back sometime this month or next month.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And we're going to have our Marine Corps Birthday Ball coming up in November, on Sunday, the 7th of November. And Colonel Chambers, Jr., he's -- he lives in Gettysburg and he's going to come back here and be our guest speaker.

Thomas Swope:

Oh, great.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And he said if his son is available, he might be coming with his son and they could both be here as guest speaker and a guest of honor. So we're hoping that his son will be able to be at our Marine Corps Birthday Ball also. We're having our Birthday Ball at the Croatian Hall in -- on Lake Shore Boulevard and 91. And we even got -- one of our members is a former Marine, Eddie Rodeck. He's a former Marine and he's going to be our -- he's going to play our music. So hey, if you got good music, you got good chow, you're going to have a good -- you're going to have a good reunion. And that's all it is is a reunion. We're the only outfit -- Marine Corps is the only outfit that celebrates their birthday. All the other military, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, none of them celebrate their birthday when they originated. The Marine Corps is the only one. It's November the 10th but that -- November 10 this year falls on a -- on a Wednesday and some -- a lot of the guys, you know, they all work so they -- they don't want to go celebrate in the middle of the week anyway. So it's -- the best deal we got was on a Sunday so we're going to have ours on a Sunday this year. It will start at 3:00 in the afternoon and last till about 8:30, 9:00 at night.

Thomas Swope:

Very good.

Charles K. Malinowski:

All right, sir.

Thomas Swope:

Always liked the Marines. My dad was in the Army but I always --

Charles K. Malinowski:

Well, hey, that was nothing to -- hey, I had Army guys --

Thomas Swope:

Exactly.

Charles K. Malinowski:

-- fighting with me during World War II on Saipan.

Thomas Swope:

You're right.

Charles K. Malinowski:

And then we had Army fighting right next to us in Korea.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Charles K. Malinowski:

So I had Army all with us.

Thomas Swope:

They're okay.

Charles K. Malinowski:

Hey, the quarterback's not the only guy on the team. It takes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps altogether. That's the only way we work and we work good together, yes, sir.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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