Veterans Day: “The real heroes never came home”

Painting features Oregon’s own Don Malarkey

click to enlarge

Valor Studios – In Dec. 2004, Valor Studios funded a charitable trip to bring six of the Band of Brothers veterans to Germany to meet and greet the troops of the 1st Armored Division, just back from Iraq. Buck Compton, Babe Heffron, Bill Guarnere, Don Malarkey, Earl McClung, and Shifty Powers participated.

After two days in Germany, on the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, our tour traveled to Bastogne to revisit the veterans’ old foxholes with today’s soldiers. But, on the way to Bastogne, our host, now-SGM Billy Maloney, arranged a special moment for the veterans – a visit to Luxembourg American Cemetery where their fallen comrades are buried.

“In the Company of Heroes” depicts this moment. Wading through countless crosses and stars of David, Bill, Babe, Don, and Earl found the spot first, the headstones of their buddies.

There, in silence, Babe remembered his best friend John Julian. Don Malarkey would break down at the cross of his friend, Skip Muck. And Bill and Earl remembered the faces of Alex Penkala and others.

When they returned home, the Easy Company verterans asked that this moment be commemorated in a painting. The name of the painting reflects their often-stated belief: “The real heroes never came home.”