Remembering Our Fallen

13 Jews Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq

Fallen Comrades: Service members salute James Malachowski, who was killed March 20, 2011, by an improvised explosive device in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was 25.
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Fallen Comrades: Service members salute James Malachowski, who was killed March 20, 2011, by an improvised explosive device in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was 25.

By Maia Efrem, Blair Thornburgh, Andrea Palatnik and Seth Berkman

Published September 09, 2012, issue of September 14, 2012.
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Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski

‘A great man’

When James Malachowski and his fellow Marines were sitting around, discussing what they would do with their deployment money, one talked of a vacation; another wanted to buy a motorcycle. But Malachowski was more grounded: He made plans for a sensible purchase of a washer and dryer.

Malachowski, whose mother and sister both served in the military, was on his fourth combat tour, serving in Afghanistan after three tours in Iraq, according to the Carroll County Times. The United States Marine Corps was the “heart and soul” of the Westminster, Md., Marine, said his mother, Alison Malachowski, and he was aware of the risks involved.

Brandy Malachowski said she’d last spoken to her brother two weeks before his death. He shared what he planned to do after he returned home from Afghanistan when his deployment was over six months later.

In an email to the Times, fellow Marine Gregory Pedrick summed up his friend’s character: “‘Ski’ was the kind of Marine you could count on to get the job done. The USMC lost a good Marine, but the world lost a great man.”

James Malachowski was killed March 20, 2011, by an improvised explosive device in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was 25 years old.


Pfc. Eric D. Soufrine

‘Someone you could count on’

At 6 feet 5 inches, Eric Soufrine was a gentle giant. He loved the outdoors, whether it was fishing on the water or participating in skeet shooting competitions with his father, but he cared even more about helping others. Before joining the military, Soufrine volunteered as a junior firefighter and at a nearby nursing home. Rabbi Herbert Brockman of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Conn., said: “He would be the first one if someone was hurt; he would try and save somebody. He was someone you could count on, someone to watch your back.”

Donna Soufrine said her son had “a great love for his country,” and that “he knew from a very early age, back in grammar school, he would join the military.” His maternal grandfather fought in World War II, and his paternal grandfather was a veteran of the Korean War. Eventually, both Soufrine and his sister, Rebecca Soufrine, enlisted to serve their country.

Brockman said that Eric Soufrine was “someone who wanted to do good things for his community, very involved with family. He saw being Jewish and being American as being inextricably bound together.”

In 2009, Soufrine graduated from Amity Regional High School, where he played football and lacrosse. He enlisted after one semester in Gateway Community College, in New Haven, Conn. He planned to attend college upon completing his service and wanted to study environmental sciences.

“He was a great, great son,” Donna Soufrine said. “He brought us great pride and joy. We all loved spending time with him. He had a quick smile; he brightened your day just by spending time with him. He had a great love of family and was extremely close with his sister.”

Eric Soufrine was killed on June 14, 2011, while riding over an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He was two weeks short of completing a tour of duty. He was 20 years old.


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