A Soldier's Tale: A Larchmont Son Deploys to Afghanistan

1st Lt. Malcolm Gerard Ohl will be deployed to Afghanistan this week for the next 12 months. This is his story.

Beyond the obligatory acknowledgements on Memorial and Veteran’s Days, how often do we consider the day-to-day struggles or dangers that U.S. soldiers deployed in areas of conflict suffer?  In inherently treacherous environments, U.S. military forces risk their lives, sacrifice personal comforts and painfully separate from family and friends in order to protect the hard-won freedoms of the American people.

Many of these soldiers are the sons and daughters of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.  Their contributions to protecting our country are invaluable.

Mamaroneck High School (MHS) graduate and Larchmont resident Malcolm Gerard Ohl—a 1st Lieutenant in the Army—was predestined to be a soldier, with a family legacy of Air Force pilots and other military personnel to carry on. 

At MHS, Malcolm Ohl played varsity ice hockey and lacrosse, was an AP Honors Scholar, built houses for Habitat for Humanity and founded MHS’s conservative newsletter “The Beacon.”

He enrolled in the ROTC program at Boston College in 2005, and trained with the rigor of, “an NCAA division one athlete” said his mother, Irene Byrne Ohl, before being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant the day before he graduated in 2009.

By January 2011, Malcolm Ohl had been awarded an Army Medal of Achievement for distinguished service after he successfully led his platoon in transferring their assets from Alaska to Afghanistan, no small feat for a 24-year old.

Although Malcolm Ohl and his platoon were ranked number one by operation commanders in after field war exercises at the National Training Center (NTC) in March, 2011, it was a sobering reality to find out that the honor would not necessarily safeguard them against militant forces abroad.

“When we are in Afghanistan, this ranking means nothing to the Taliban,” commented Malcolm Ohl perceptively.

This week Malcolm Ohl and his platoon will be deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan from Fairbanks, Alaska as part of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division 2-8 (2nd Battalion-8th Field Artillery). 

And even though Irene Byrne Ohl remains steadfastly confident in her son’s abilities as a soldier, her motherly instincts inspire some trepidation.

“There’s worry,” she said in reference to her son’s deployment, “It comes and goes in waves.”

When asked if the landscape for soldiers would change at all after the recent news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Irene Byrne Ohl expressed relief, tempered with a dose of reality. “It doesn’t bring our service men and women out of harm’s way,” she said, urging Americans to continue to be vigilant.



If you’d like to write a letter of support to Malcolm Ohl or any of the troops in his battalion mail it to: Lt. Malcolm Ohl, 4 Shadow Ln., Larchmont, NY 10538. The troops appreciate letters more than any other single material arrival from the U.S. and, with this simple gesture, you can help brighten a soldier’s day.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article referred to Malcolm Ohl's battalion when it should have been platoon.  The correction has been made.

Buddy May 04, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Hear, hear!
Francie Campbell May 04, 2011 at 11:28 PM
The Netzer/Campbell family sends gratitude and love to Malcolm and the Ohl family. Malcolm, we remember you fondly from your childhood days at St. Francis Xavier. I'll say prayers for you and your family and your platoon at St. Francis when I find myself in the neighborhood. We're moving back to New York from Larchmont this summer, and we're headed back to St. Francis as our parish. Irene, I'll be thinking of you and pulling for you and sending notes to your dear son--- Francie xo
Maria Mantis May 05, 2011 at 02:15 PM
God Bless You and Keep you out of Harm's Way! Gratefully, Maria Mantis
Judy Myers May 12, 2011 at 02:35 PM
It should be noted that Irene Ohl worked with Chatsworth elementary students after 9/11 in the creation of millions of safety pin U.S. flag lapel pins, many of which are still worn during our annual Memorial Day parades and ceremonies. Clearly, as evidenced by her son, her patriotism was passed down. I wish Malcolm safe passage. County Legislator Judy Myers
Lorraine K September 15, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I came across this article while researching my family tree . My grandmother had a brother Denis Byrne who married Margaret Dwyer. They had a daughter Irene Byrne. I was just wondering if the Irene Byrne in this article was the same Irene Byrne from my family. I pray that Malcolm and his platoon have returned home safely. Please contact me @LKulleskog@aol.com if you are the Irene Byrne I am looking for.


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