CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – An Air Force Veteran from Chicopee is celebrating his 100th birthday this week.
Col. Edwin Malikowski has that never give up attitude, and he continues to inspire everyone around him. Family, friends, and the 104th Fighter Wing came together Monday at Barnes Air National Guard Base to celebrate the 100th birthday of Col. Malikowski.
“We are all barnstormers out here at the 104th Fighter Wing so to have him come out and celebrate this birthday and have seen the maintenance facility, he used to be the chief of maintenance back in his day. It’s truly a special tribute to him.”Col. Pete Green
Col. Malikowski served in World War II as an Air Force platoon sergeant and commanded the 104th transportation squadron during the Berlin Air Lift. He retired in 1977 and was awarded the Massachusetts Medal of Merit.
“It was a rough road not easy, it took a lot of patience you have to move around, and just be thankful, thankful.”Col. Edwin Malikowski of the U.S. Air Force
Col. Malikowski was in the U.S. military for 39 years. He’s turning 100 years old on Friday. He told 22News his biggest passions are his family and protecting his country.
“You grow up really fast in the circumstances he was introduced into, which makes you tough as nails,” said Ed Malikowski Jr. “There is no quit.”
You’ll often find Col. Malikowski in his son’s mechanic shop in Chicopee.
Ed Malikowski Jr. said his dad treats his mind like a muscle. He’s constantly exercising it: reading, doing puzzles and learning new things.
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The 104th Fighter Wing celebrated Col. Malikowski’s 100th birthday on November 25, 2019, in the main hangar. The celebration was a surprise as his birthday is on November 29. In attendance were Malikowski’s family, retired Lieutenant Col. Ron Jackson, legislative aide Michelle Moriarty representing Senator Don Humason, and Chiara McNalley representing Representative John C. Velis.
“I’m honored to have the privilege today to host Col. Edwin J. Malikowski,” said Col. Peter T. Green, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. “And celebrate his upcoming 100th birthday.”
Colonel Malikowski is active and works at the family business Mal Brothers Auto Body in Chicopee, Massachusetts, with his son Edwin J. Malikowski Jr.
“My dad is the type of person where anything his family wanted, he would do,” said Edwin Malikowski Jr. “He loves his family as much as he loves this country. If this country were to ask him in all these years of service to do something, it would be instantaneous for him.”
In January 1941, Malikowski was called to active duty and served in World War II as a platoon sergeant. In February of 1945, he was given a rare honor of a battlefield commission to second lieutenant and then two months later was awarded a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant.
His combat record includes service in Northern France, Ardennes- Alsace, Germany, and Central Europe. Additionally, Malikowski served in the notorious Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive on the Western Front during WWII. Colonel Malikowski received two bronze stars for his efforts, the first for meritorious service and the second for valor.
After WWII, Malikowski served as a maintenance officer in the Army Reserve until April 23, 1952, when he was appointed as the motor vehicle maintenance officer in the 104th Fighter Group. During the Berlin Crisis call up, he served as the commander of the 104th Transportation Squadron in Phalsbourg France.
In August 1962, he became the aircraft maintenance officer in the 104th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and later the commander. In June 1970, Malikowski was appointed the fulltime chief of maintenance on the Air Technical Detachment.
“I was ordered by the Pentagon to travel to Vietnam,” said Col. Malikowski. “And send out 78 F-100s from the United States on a routine basis.”
He was awarded the Massachusetts Medal of Merit on October 16, 1977. After 39 years of faithful service, he retired at the rank of colonel.
“Pay attention to detail, remembering the details will set you forward in all aspects of life,” said Col. Malikowski. “Work-life, personal life; you can accomplish anything if you focus on the small steps.”