Friday, September 4, 2009

In Memory of "Shifty" Powers

I received this e/mail from a friend and I was so touched with the story of Darrell "Shifty" Powers, a true WWII hero, that I wanted to share this with a grateful nation. What is interesting is that the "In Memory of Darrell "Shifty" Powers" memorial remembrance was written by Chuck Yeager, Maj Gen. [retired] who is only one month younger than "Shifty" Powers.

Tribute to Darrell "Shifty" Powers 13 March 1923 - 17 June 2009 (aged 86) Darrell "Shifty" Powers (March 13, 1923–June 17, 2009) was a former U.S. Army NCO during World War II who served with the famed E Co/2/506 of the 101st Airborne Division (the Band of Brothers). Shifty was an original member of Easy Company, training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. Shifty's hometown was Clinchco, Virginia, in Dickenson County.

Powers was born in Clinchco, Dickenson County, Virginia and volunteered for the paratroopers with his good friend, "Popeye" Wynn. Shifty spent a great deal of time in the outdoors hunting game prior to joining the service. This would later prove useful as many of the skills he obtained helped him as a soldier.

Powers jumped into Normandy on D-Day, missing his drop zone. He eventually came in contact with Floyd Talbert and the two made their way to Easy Company. He participated in the assault of Carentan and every major battle Easy Company was involved with until the end of the war. He was considered by many to be the best shot in the company.

Because many men serving in the 101st lacked the minimum points required to return home, a lottery was put in place. Shifty Powers won this lottery after the rest of the company rigged it in his favor by removing their own names, and was set to return stateside. During the trip to the airfield, the vehicle that Shifty was in was involved in an accident and he was badly injured. He spent many months recuperating in hospitals overseas while his comrades in arms arrived home long before he did.

Honorably discharged from the Army in the postwar demobilization, he became a machinist for the Clinchfield Coal Corporation.

He is listed as one of 20 men from Easy Company who contributed to the 2009 book We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers, published by Penguin/Berkley-Caliber.

"Shifty" Powers died June 17, 2009, of cancer in Dickenson County, Virginia.

Darrell "Shifty" Powers was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Peter Youngblood Hills and appears in all 10 episodes. (credit Wikipedia)





In Memory of Darrell "Shifty" Powers


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 is, 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 who 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, 2009 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 email to everyone you know. Especially to the veterans.

Rest in peace, Shifty.
Chuck Yeager, Maj Gen. [ret.]


BIO...Chuck Yeager


Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a former brigadier general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. In 1947, he is widely considered as the first pilot (at age 24) to travel faster than sound. Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force's retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.


His career began in World War II as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September, 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of Flight Officer (WW 2 U.S. Army Air Forces rank equivalent to Warrant Officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes.
Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). Although Scott Crossfield was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter exceeded Mach 2.4.
He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager's flying career spans more than sixty years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, even into the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.