On Veterans Day, we honor all of the men and women who sacrificed their time and personal safety to ensure the freedoms and security of our nation. And while we recognize the years they served in the military, we don’t often consider how their service shaped their lives and how they continued to serve even after they were no longer in uniform—like Malcolm Eudaley.
This Aberdeen Village resident proudly served our country during World War II, but this veteran continued to give back long after his military career was over and recognizes the many ways his life was affected.
“I enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 1, 1942. While I was stationed in New York City waiting for a ship to be commissioned, I had the time of my life there, going to Radio City Music Hall, and enjoying the big bands of the day,” said Malcolm.
It was Malcolm’s ability to find joy, hope and meaning in nearly every situation that helped him survive the tumultuous years ahead.
“Once we boarded the ship, we went around through the Panama Canal, then were stationed in San Diego. Our ship was an attack transport vessel, and about 20 of our ships took around 2,000 men apiece to Pearl Harbor, and from there, went on to the Marshall Islands and Guam. We were taking soldiers and Marines to invade these islands. It was really something,” said Malcolm.
Malcolm’s first wartime malady, however, befell him thanks to the environment, not the battlefields.
“We were in New Guinea several days waiting to invade the Philippines, and while I was there, ran into an Army Nurse who had graduated high school with me! It was a small world. We had dinner together, and while spending that time on land, the mosquitoes got me! On Christmas Day, 1944, I was standing on the deck of the ship listening to Glen Miller music, and all of a sudden I wilted and fell to the deck. They rushed me to the sick bay,” said Malcolm.
Not long after Malcolm recovered and was back on duty, his ship was attacked.
“We had a Kamikaze slip in over the water undetected until it got close to the ship and it attacked midship. Our ship was 525 feet long. It hit the signal bridge and the captain’s bridge and kept going 250 feet. 36 men were killed. The plane burst into flames, and though no bomb went off, I was burned on my arms, face and back. The next morning, after the plane hit, we had a burial service for these 36 men. I was able to go on deck and watch them bury these men. Rifles were fired, and taps were played. We took a canvas and covered them up and put two 54-pound shells in each grave formation. It was then I decided I never wanted guns fired over me at my funeral. I just wanted a trumpet to play taps,” said Malcolm.
After Malcolm recovered from his injuries, he had a 30-day leave to visit family, then was back at it, headed on a ship to make an invasion of Japan.
“On our way to Japan, our ship was ready for action, but it was announced that Harry Truman dropped the atomic bombs. We didn’t turn back, though, as they’d decided to send troops from the ship to secure things after the surrender had taken place. When we got to Japan, a typhoon was in the making, and we were preparing to unload the troops at Nagoya. We were really trapped by the winds. We dropped anchor, and the typhoon came into the bay. The winds and rain were so strong, and with the ship only having one anchor out, we were still drifting toward the beach. So we dropped the second anchor, and the wind was still blowing us toward the beach! So the captain had the engine room turn the propellers on at one-third speed, and that finally controlled it.”
After surviving malaria, a Kamikaze attack and a typhoon, Malcolm’s time in the Navy came to an end.
“I would never choose to go through that again, but going through it was an amazing experience that lingers to this day. After the service, I got a degree in marketing from the University of Oklahoma. I eventually moved to Kansas City and got a job at General Motors. It was the best job in my life,” said Malcolm.
But he wasn’t content to work the rest of his days in manufacturing and felt called to do something more with his life.
“I worked there probably two years, but I chose to enter the ministry. My mother was a devout Christian, and surprisingly, in my family heritage, no one had gone into ministry. After seminary, I was charged with a church in a little town of 3,000 in southern Missouri. I pastored there for seven years and took it from 30 people to 110. We ended up raising funds for three buildings, a chapel, an educational unit and a parsonage. I went on from there to a second church for four years, and then to a third church,” said Malcolm.
While Malcolm’s ministry career was spiritually and personally rewarding, he found it rewarding in another way.
“I had the privilege to go to a Billy Graham conference in Minneapolis, and a travel agency set up a contest to win a trip. So I registered my name, and sure enough, they pulled my name out! My wife and I ended up going all over Europe: Greece, Rome, Israel and more.”
Perhaps it was this world-traveling experience that led Malcolm to his next career adventure.
“When I ended up leaving the pulpit, I went to work for World Vision International. We helped communities and schools with things like drilling wells. I worked for them for almost a decade.
We went to Japan and the Philippines and it was really something to be back there in that capacity after having been there under much different circumstances so many years before.”
At 70 years of age, Malcolm started his own non-profit and created a 501(c)3.
“We had a great board with businessmen, doctors, etc. We began traveling to places like Eastern Europe and Russia, where we were networking with an agency out of Colorado Springs, the Association of Christian Schools International. It was a phenomenal organization. We were able to provide textbooks and computers,” said Malcolm.
It was doing this work that Malcolm realized the courage and stamina of local men and women who were dedicated to educating youth even when every odd was stacked against them.
“I met a woman named Tatyana, and she told me her story. Her husband was a helicopter pilot for the Russian Air Force and was shot down over Afghanistan. She could have sought refuge in the U.S., but instead decided to start her own school in Volgodonsk. She was turned down before the education committee multiple times to have the school classified as an accredited school,” said Malcolm. “Finally, she told her story to these men on the committee, how her husband had died and this was now her mission. She said, ‘I’m going to step out of the building, and I’m going to call my school. I’m going to tell them, I want every one of you students to get on your knees and pray.’ She came back into the room and shoved that big document back across the table, ‘We are a qualified school, and you’re going to sign it today.’ This hard-nosed communist chairman not only signed it, but he turned to her, and said, ‘I have a permanently disabled boy I care for, would you pray for him?’”
Experiences like these have greatly affected Malcolm’s life, and have led him to have a desire for giving motivational speeches to others. He believes in the power of prayer and wants others to feel encouraged.
“I don’t have a soapbox, but I want to present the concept that Christianity is worldwide, and there are people who are dirt poor doing amazing things with so little. I’m a little saddened when I hear, ‘Step into the faith, and you’ll be prosperous.’ That isn’t true for so many in the world, but God is still blessing them in so many other ways.”
Malcolm received a blessing of his own recently when he was able to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
“We each had to write up a resume of our military experiences, and when we got there, we went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A friend and I were chosen to lay a wreath, and it made such an impact on me that I will never forget. I told the young soldier that guided us about the 36 men dying on our ship, and that’s why this is so absolutely precious to me.”
We want Malcolm—and all service men and women—to know that their service and sacrifice is precious to us, too. Thank you not only for your time serving in the military but for all you've contributed in the many years after!
PHOTOS: Malcolm Eudaley served in the Navy during World War II, surviving malaria, a kamikaze attack and a typhoon. A quilt shares the story of Malcolm’s service in the Navy.