Sidney Jacob Malatsky was born on February 1, 1924 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.1 His parents were Simon Malatsky and Anne Malatsky, née Scheinberg, who were Jewish immigrants from Russia.2 They immigrated in 1900 and 1905, most likely to escape anti-Jewish persecution including violent pogroms that occurred in Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.3 By 1906, Sidney’s father lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts and worked as a teamster. He then entered the dry goods industry and by 1930 was a storekeeper.4 Simon and Anne Malatsky were part of a wave of Jewish immigrants from Russia who settled in Chelsea during this period. By 1915, there were over 11,000 Russian immigrants living in Chelsea, comprising about one fourth of the city’s population and making about 85 percent of its Russian immigrant population Jewish.5 Sidney’s parents were married on September 3, 1913 in Chelsea.6 They had two baby boys who died days after their birth, one in 1915 and one in 1916.7 They then had Sidney’s three older sisters, Jean, Shirley, and Florence Malatsky, all of whom were born in Massachusetts with Sidney following soon thereafter.8
Sidney Malatsky grew up in Chelsea with his family and attended Chelsea High School. It appears that he went by the nickname “Jackie,” and the yearbook entry about him from 1941, shown here, states that, “‘Jackie’s’ face is usually hidden behind his books.” A love of learning likely fueled his scholastic accomplishments, which included making the honor roll and participating in the debating club. Malatsky was also active in band and orchestra and he was on his school’s yearbook staff.9
Malatsky completed high school and worked in a store or warehouse, most likely loading and unloading goods.10 He then enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps Reserves on November 13, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, and entered the service a little over two months later on January 26, 1943.11 Upon entering the military, Jewish servicemen often grappled with questions of American and Jewish identity. For some, the adjustment to military life involved making decisions about their Jewish practices such as deciding whether or not to eat pork that was served at meals. Some Jews in the service faced anti-Semitism or fought against stereotypes as they met peers from different backgrounds. Malatsky may have encountered such challenges and dilemmas as he entered the military as a Jewish man. However, some Jewish GIs felt included in military life and integrated quickly, which could have also been true of Malatsky’s experience.12
Malatsky served in the 827th Bombardment Squadron, 484th Bombardment Group and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant during his service.13 The 484th Bombardment Group engaged in strategic attacks on targets during World War II including “oil refineries, oil storage plants, aircraft factories, heavy industry, and communications in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania [sic], and Yugoslavia.” In the spring and summer of 1944, the 484th Bombardment Group bombed infrastructure and other sites in order to assist with the advance of Allied troops towards Rome. They also transported supplies to the Allies in southern France in September of 1944. The 484th Bombardment Group was recognized with two Distinguished Unit Citations for successes in the face of significant challenges, one for when they “bombed marshaling yards at Innsbruck” and the other for attacking “underground oil storage installations in Vienna.”14
Malatsky no doubt played a role in many of these missions, and a photograph of the 484th Bombardment Group, seen here, shows Malatsky and other members of his crew.15 In November of 1944, Malatsky left from Torretta Air Field in Italy for a mission to bomb Vienna. He served as the bombardier on the plane, so he was in charge of directing the bomb towards the appropriate target location. In the midst of their mission, the plane was hit and subsequently experienced engine failure. The captain decided to try to crash-land the plane in the Adriatic Sea.16
When the plane hit the water, it broke in half with the rear of the plane ultimately sinking in the sea. Most of the crewmembers, including Malatsky, were killed in this November 19, 1944, incident. The pilot of the plane, Henry T. Mills, survived the crash and submitted a Missing Air Crew Report. In the report, he lists the casualties of the crash and explains that Malatsky’s body and those of five other crewmembers were never found. Malatsky was only twenty years old when he was killed.17
Malatsky was awarded an Air Medal and Purple Heart for his military service.18 He is also recognized on the “Tablets of the Missing” at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy.19 Additionally, a memorial marker at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida, honors his life, which was cut short in service to the United States.20
1“U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed June 5, 2017), entry for Sidney J Malatsky, Bushnell, FL.; “Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1860-1999,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed June 5, 2017), entry for Sidney Jacob Malatsky, Chelsea, MA.
2“United States Census, 1940,” database, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org : accessed June 5, 2017), entry for Sidney Malatsky, Chelsea, MA.; “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed July 14, 2017), entry for Florence Malatsky, MA.
3“1930 United States Federal Census,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed July 14, 2017), entry for Semon Malitsky sic, Chelsea, Suffolk, MA.; Gerald Sorin, A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920 (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 32-34.
4“U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed July 14, 2017), entry for Simon Malatsky, Chelsea, MA, 1916.; “1930 United States Federal Census,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed July 14, 2017), entry for Semon Malitsky sic, Chelsea, Suffolk, MA.
5Edward Kopf, “Untarnishing the Dream: Mobility, Opportunity, and Order in Modern America,” Journal of Social History 11, no. 2 (Winter 1977): 207, accessed July 17, 2017, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3786840.
7“Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915,” database, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org : accessed June 5, 2017), entry for Malatsky, Chelsea, MA, 12 Sep 1915.; “Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920,” database, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org : accessed June 14, 2017), entry for Malatzky, Chelsea, MA, 17 Jun 1916.
12Deborah Dash Moore, GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004), 54-57, 66-69.
13"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org : accessed June 5, 2017), entry for Sidney J. Malatsky, Florence, Provincia di Firenze, Toscana, Italy.; “Sidney J. Malatsky,” American Battle Monuments Commission, accessed July 16, 2017, https://www.abmc.gov/node/530133#.WWzNZYqQyLJ.
14Maurer Maurer, ed., Air Force Combat Units of World War II (Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1983), 355.
16“Missing Air Crew Reports, World War II,” database, fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com : accessed July 14, 2017), entry for Sidney J. Malatsky, 484th Bombardment Group, 827th Bombardment Squadron (H), 2, 20.
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