[Forwarded, and verified as a true account]
One of the “Band of Brothers” soldiers died just a month ago (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
At that point he continued “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.
He then added “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 every day for the next
No weeping fans on television.
And that’s not right.
Let’s give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way and
say in our hearts, “Rest in peace, Shifty.”
Dr Bob Griffin
“Jesus knows me, this I love”