Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Eagle has Flown Home

I received this today via email.
One of the "Band of Brothers" soldiers died on June 17, 2009.

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

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, right here, on this blog. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you for what you’ve done. Some of us won’t forget.

Rest in peace, Shifty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

*doesn't want to admit she watched the whole Michael Jackson service and was teary-eyed at some parts*

Cough anyway. Well I hope Shifty did get a military memorial of some sort with honors and all, even if it isn't nationally televised. But yeah it's too bad that veterans don't seem to get more respect. I know that simply appreciating their efforts to them does go a long way, so people should do it more.

Also, randomly, I think my dad's dad was actually at Normandy on D-day. I THINK. he's dead now and my dad regrets never talking to him more about it. But yeah he was in the army in WWII. And didn't seem to like talking about it much. He also died before I could really appreciate it either. Dangit.

- L