A soldier with roots in Thomson is still being honored a year after his death in combat.
Thomson native Dan Malcom, Jr. had always said he wanted to be a Marine, like his late father. On Nov. 10, 2004, he died doing exactly what he wanted to do, fighting for his country and protecting his fellow Marines.
Lt. Malcom finished the eighth grade in Thomson and moved to Miller County in 1993. In 2001, he graduated from the Citadel. He was killed by sniper fire while ensuring the soldiers he commanded were safe during a skirmish at a government complex in Fallujah, Iraq.
And just over a year later, 1st Lt. Malcom was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star "with Combat Distinguishing Device," one of the country's highest honors for valor. His sister Dana Killebrew received the honor on behalf of his family at a ceremony in Bainbridge, Ga., on Nov. 22.
"I was really wishing that Dan could have been here to accept it himself," Ms. Killebrew said. "I'm just very proud that he did what he did."
The citation accompanying the Bronze Star came from President George W. Bush and was read by a Marine at the ceremony. It detailed the events surrounding the actions of Lt. Malcom on the day he was killed.
The citation stated, "By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, First Lieutenant Malcom gallantly gave his life for his country and reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
Her brother's heroic actions didn't surprise Ms. Killebrew. She always knew that he was a very intelligent, caring person.
In addition to the Bronze Star, Lt. Malcom is being remembered by a scholarship and a memorial sword in his honor, both to be awarded at the Citadel. His former fifth grade teacher from Thomson, John Zwemer, was instrumental in organizing both of those efforts.
"I went up to the funeral at Arlington, and on the way back I got this wild hare idea that we needed to do something to remember him at the Citadel," Mr. Zwemer said.
From there, the Dan Malcom Memorial Fund was started in the hopes of endowing a scholarship for future Citadel students in his memory. Also, this past April, the first Dan Thomas Malcom Memorial Sword was given to a Citadel graduate who took a commission as an officer in the Marine Corps.
Author and Citadel graduate Pat Conroy - who wrote The Prince of Tides - gave the commencement address for the class of 2001. According to Mr. Zwemer, when Mr. Conroy heard of Lt. Malcom's death, he offered to fund the sword in perpetuity.
Mr. Zwemer is glad that his former student has been remembered with the various awards and honors.
"Knowing Dan as I do, he'd probably say, 'Why all this fuss about me?'" Mr. Zwemer said. "But that's precisely why we make a to-do over the young men and women that put their lives on the line for us. He gave up his tomorrows so that we have our todays."
Anyone wishing to give to the scholarship in Lt. Malcom's honor can send donations to The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, S.C. 29409. Contributions should be marked "Dan Malcom Memorial Fund."