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realclearworld

In memoriam

Glad to pass this on to BabaluBlog readers.

shifty_004

We're hearing a lot today about big splashy memorial services.

I want a nationwide memorial service for 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.

And that's not right.

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

Rest in peace, Shifty.

ShiftyPowers

More at Blackfive, including a video clip of Staff Sargent Powers and his Band of Brothers.

9 comments to In memoriam

  • firefly

    George,

    It's people like Shifty that reminds me what a great nation we used to be. In some ways, we still are, but not like then.. Not ever again. like you said, the death of a movie star or performer brings more rating and $$$ to the networks than the death of a HERO.

    How lucky for you to have met him. Your story had me in tears.

    Thank you Shifty for your sacrafice, dedication and love for your country. Rest in Peace.

  • Orgullosa de ser Cubana

    A true American Hero. I had a hard time reading this because I had tears in my eyes. What a great honor for you to have met this gentleman. Thank you
    Darrell "Shifty" Powers for everything you did for this country, may you rest in peace.

  • asombra

    Hero? What does that even mean anymore, when practically anybody is labeled as such? It's like "legend," "genius" and so forth. All sorts of words have become essentially meaningless due to debasement by constant misuse. But yes, this guy, in real-life terms, is so far above someone like Michael Jackson that the difference in how our society treats them is obscenely grotesque. Welcome to the 21st century.

  • Gigi

    He will be rewarded on the other side. God bless his family.

  • FreedomForCuba

    This is very heartwarming.

    George,

    I have seen all the Band of Brothers episodes since they first aired and several reruns afterward.

    Anytime they're on TV I watch them, that's how much I like that series.

    I have the upmost respect for those men of Easy Company and you were truly blessed that destiny afforded the privilege to meet a hero like Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

    May he rest in peace in heaven in God's Glory.

    The greatest generation is fading away and plenty of what is left in America (the current generation) scares the hell out of me with their lack of values.

  • Henry Agueros

    WOW!!
    What a heartwarming story. Thank you George,

  • Mr. Mojito

    So did he take the seat in first class ?

  • FreedomForCuba

    Mr. Mojito, I made the same mistake.

    It was someone else who got to meet Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

  • Doorgunner

    Doorgunner and sons are grateful and salute our departed brother in arms