Thursday, July 23, 2009

Salute to Darrell "Shifty" Powers

Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company
of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne
Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel,
you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty
himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't
know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having
trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was
at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle", the symbol of the
101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne or
if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I
thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many
jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so,
and was in until sometime in 1945 . . . " at which point my heart
skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training jumps
at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where
Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped.

I told him yes, I know exactly where Normandy was, and I know what D-Day
was. At that point he said "I also made a second jump into Holland ,
into Arnhem ." I was standing with a genuine war hero . . . . and then I
realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day.

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France , and he said "Yes.
And it's real sad because these days so few of the guys are left, and
those that are, lots of them can't make the trip." My heart was in my
throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in
Coach, while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to
get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came
forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it,
that I'd take his in coach.

He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still
some who remember what we did and still care is enough to make an old
man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it. And mine are
brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.

No big event in Staples Center .

No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet
way. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Especially to the
veterans.

Rest in peace, Shifty.

"A nation without heroes is nothing." Roberto Clemente

I salute the man I know it was hard. My Grandfather served in Korea and my Father in Vietnam. There are hundreds of soldiers that come home everyday to no big deal and after risking your life everyday sometimes it is nice to know that someone cares and appreciates it. Several times in Bahrain we had scares, curfew adjustments, off limits places, riots and demonstrations. Then there was Kuwait which was a whole lot scarier. So thanks Shifty, many don't ask to go, many do and there are others that just find themselves there, but they all risk everything.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, my father went to Korea.. my uncle was commissioned to Vietnam 3 times... I always have this 'soft spot' for those who fight in the name of something valuable, yet, I feel truly saddened when they fight for no reason.. no true purpose.. just like you said "..many don't ask to go.. others just find themselves there.." I salute the veterans of old!!! not so much for what they did, or in 'who's' name they did it, but because they are human beings who did their jobs even when most didn't/don't appreciate it!

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