Time for something serious. Online Memorial for Darrell “Shifty” Powers.

Will sent this to me and it’s something everyone should read.

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.

Darrell “Shifty” Powers, one of the soldiers depicted in “Band of Brothers,”
passed away on Wednesday, June 17, 2009.

-Ben & Will

This is going to be the last post of the day in honor of “Shifty.” Take some time to contact the veterans in your life just to say thanks. We’re going to. You will feel a whole lot better about it and the Internet will always be here tomorrow.

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