Col. Einar Axel Malmstrom, born July 14, 1907, in Chicago, enlisted as a private in the Washington State National Guard May 12, 1929, and was commissioned as second lieutenant May 25, 1931.
He was called to active federal service at Parkwater, Washington, Sept. 16, 1940, as a first lieutenant. In May 1943, he moved to the European theater of operations and assumed command of the 356th Fighter Group in November 1943.
On April 24, 1944, while flying his 58th combat mission, he was shot down over France and taken prisoner by the German Army. He spent a year as a prisoner of war and was the American commander of the south compound, POW Camp Stalag Luft 1, Barth, Germany. For this duty, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Returning to the U.S. in May 1945, he was assigned as an air inspector for the 312th Base Unit, Barksdale, Louisiana, the 19th Tactical Air Command in Biggs Field, Texas, and at Greenville, South Carolina.
Moving to Langley AFB, Virginia, Col. Malmstrom served as deputy for reserve forces, 9th Air Force, until August 1949 when he was enrolled as a student at the Air War College. After completing the course, he was assigned as senior Air Force instructor at the Army War College for three years. From this post he was sent to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, as division director of personnel. In February 1954 he was assigned to Great Falls AFB, Montana, serving as deputy wing commander of the 407th Strategic Fighter Wing.
Col. Malmstrom was killed in a T-33 aircraft accident Aug. 21, 1954, approximately one mile west of the Great Falls International Airport. His wife Kathryn, son James and daughter Barbara survived him.
Great Falls Air Force Base was renamed Malmstrom Air Force Base in his honor Oct. 1, 1955, and formally dedicated in June 1956.