Darrell Powers, 1923-2009, American Soldier

Darrell “Shifty” Powers died on June 17.

He was in the 101 Airborne Division. He parachuted into Normandy and Holland. He fought the Germans. He lived to tell the tale.

What follows has been circulating as an email. I ask you to pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family.


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 24×7 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.

“A nation without heroes is nothing.” (Roberto Clemente)

8 thoughts on “Darrell Powers, 1923-2009, American Soldier”

  1. > 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 24×7 news coverage.
    > No weeping fans on television.

    You can tell much about a culture by the heroes it chooses.

  2. Great American hero……there are not many left…..should have been the lead story on NBC–not Obama, Mrs. Clinton, Harry Reid, Judge Sotomayor, Joe Biden and the rest of the gang that can’t shhot straight.Rest in peace Mr Powers. It is well deserved. Your eyes saw a lot and said little about it.

  3. Thanks for getting the word out. My heroes are those who quietly served, quietly did great deeds without seeking adulation, and quietly came home to live great lives, building the country and leaving an honorable, enduring legacy for those who came behind them. May God bless the patriots who gave so much and asked so little!

  4. I was flying recently and observed as 2 gentlemen in first class give their seats to 2 young soldiers. It brought tears to my eyes, but pride to my heart as I got to see appreciation in action. It’s easy enough to say thank you, but a bit harder to give up your comfort on a long flight, or take the time to listen to and perhaps meet the needs of our service men and women as they prepare to go into harms way or as they return from battle. Darrell “Shifty” Powers is an American hero. There are new ones being ‘born’ everyday for our country in places like Afganistan and Iraq. We need to recognize them and honor them. Men and women who have served, like Shifty need to know that we appreciate them, even after they have replaced the uniform for civilian clothes that often times don’t ‘fit’ as well as they once did. Thank you Shifty. Thank you Veterans.

  5. My thanks to good men like Shifty who gave their all for our freedom during WWII. Many thanks for making sure good men like these do not go unnoticed. My thanks to all men and women who have since served their country and preserved our freedoms. Our veterans, (patriots) have given their all, may we be a grateful nation and a people worth these sacrifices.

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