Hartford — State Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London, recognized 94-year-old former prisoner of war and World War II veteran Frank H. Malloy of Uncasville during a House of Representatives session on Wednesday.
The recognition was bittersweet for Malloy, whose son was killed at age 22 in a truck accident earlier this year in Colchester.
"Please, ladies and gentlemen, let's celebrate a World War II POW with the highest level of the esteem and dignity that this General Assembly has to offer," Hewett said.
Applause rang through the chamber for Malloy, who sat in a wheelchair next to his best friend, Herb Mitchell of Cromwell, who held a frame filled with Malloy's war medals.
"Be it hereby known to all that the Connecticut House of Representatives offer the sincerest congratulations to Frank Malloy in recognition of all the stuff you have done, being a POW and serving this country," Hewett said. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Malloy enlisted in the National Guard on Feb. 5, 1941. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in Florida.
Malloy was wounded five times in France, captured by the Germans and taken to a German POW camp where he was served "daily meals consisting of water flavored with pine branches, two slices of bread and three small potatoes," Hewett said.
On April 29, 1945, Malloy was sent to rehabilitation at Camp Edwards hospital in Massachusetts. He was released Oct. 7 that year.
After serving in the military, Malloy worked in Connecticut College's maintenance department for 37 years. At age 85, he adopted a 13-year-old boy named Charles.
Charles was Hewett's son's best friend, Hewett said.
"It was Frank's goal to keep Charlie in line, who was 13 years old at the time of his adoption," Hewett said. "Unfortunately Charlie died in a motor vehicle accident on Feb. 11, 2014. Frank's dream was to give Charlie his medals from World War II."
Among others, Malloy has been awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the American Defense Service Medal.
Malloy takes each day one at a time and enjoys sharing his stories with others, Hewett said.
"He remains extremely humble and has a humorous personality," he said. "One of his favorite treats, he says, is a little nip every once and a while. That just makes his day."
Hewett gave Malloy an "official citation" to express the General Assembly's gratitude, and legislators shook Malloy's hands after the applause died down.
"I want to thank you for your service," said House Republican Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, outside the chamber.
"It's been the best day of my life," Malloy said afterward. "I never knew I had so many good friends."
But, "The main thing I miss is my son," he said.