July 15, 2009
Darrell "Shifty" Powers ~ Band of Brothers ~American Hero R.I.P.
Darrell “Shifty” Powers, one of the soldiers depicted in “Band of Brothers,” passed away on Wednesday, June 17, 2009.
Darrell "Shifty" Powers (March 13, 1923 – June 17, 2009) - A True American Hero.
Darrell "Shifty" Powers
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Infantry
(Band of Brothers)
"R.I.P. Shifty, and may God be good to you!!
Darrell "Shifty" Powers, like millions of Americans, answered the call of World War II. A quiet, unassuming man, Shifty joined the Army and then volunteered for the Airborne.
After intensive training, Powers was assigned to the famed Easy Company 2nd Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, where he jumped into Normandy on D-day. He was involved in the assault on Bracore Manor, which saved thousands of lives on Omaha Beach.
Powers fought in the battle of Carentan and the airborne invasion of Holland as part of Operation Market Garden, where millions of French and Dutch citizens found freedom.
The 506th was encircled by superior German forces in the Battle of the Bulge and against incredible odds, successfully defended the city of Bastone. Powers and the 506th then entered Germany, liberated concentration camps and captured Hitlers, "Eagles Nest" in Berchtesgarden.
Shifty survived the war only to be seriously injured in an auto accident while en route home and his return to civilian life.
Like millions of veterans, Powers lived a simple productive life and would have slipped into history unknown if it were not for Stephen Ambrose and the story "Band of Brothers", which was turned into an HBO mini series.
“The world depended on them. They depended on each other.”
That was the tagline for “Band of Brothers” – an award-winning 2001 HBO mini-series drama on the World War II experiences of Easy Company, a U.S. Army unit that fought bravely and fiercely across Europe.
Bravery – and dignity – was a constant, running thread in the life of “Shifty” Powers, both during and after his life as an Army sharpshooter in the actual “Band of Brothers.”
During the war, he fought brutal battles against the German army across France and Belgium.
After the war, Powers served as an eloquent representative for the men he fought with: At one point during the “Band of Brothers” mini-series, he appeared on camera to talk in moving, humane fashion about his grim but necessary task during the war – killing the enemy.
And, too, Powers served as a loyal, steadfast representative for the country he fought for: from graciously meeting with a former enemy German soldier to eagerly accepting any chance to speak with modern-day members of the U.S. military.
Ivan Schwarz, a producer on the “Band of Brothers” HBO series, remembers Powers as a “kind, generous soul with a great sense of humor.”
“Shifty was an incredibly humble human being,” said Schwarz, now executive director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission in Cleveland, Ohio.
“He was like most of the other [Easy Company] soldiers we met for the series. They were good guys who were kind of shocked that, 50 years later, people were making a big deal over them for just doing their duty.
“That’s exactly how Powers was, too,” Schwarz said.
"Don't miss, Shifty" is from the HBO adaptation. Here is an anecdote from the book:
Shifty Powers came in from an OP to report to 1st Sergeant Lipton. "Sergeant," he said, "there's a tree up there toward Noville that wasn't there yesterday." Powers had no binoculars, but Lipton did. Looking through them, Lipton could not see anything unusual, even after Powers pinpointed the spot for him.
One reason Lipton had trouble was that the object was not an isolated tree; there were a number of trees along the road in that area. Lipton expressed soume doubts, but Powers insisted it had not been there the previous day. Lipton studied the spot with his binoculars. He saw some movement near the tree and then more movement under other trees around it. Then he saw gun barrels - 88s by their appearance, as they were elevated and 88s were the basic German antiaircraft weapon as well as ground artillery piece. Lipton realized that the Germans were putting an antiaircraft battery inamong the trees, and had put up the tree Powers spotted as part of their camouflage.
Lipton put in a call for a forward artillery observer. When he arrived, he saw what Powers and Lipton had seen. He got on the radio, talking to a battery of 105 mm back in Bastogne. When he described the target he had no trouble getting approval for full battery fire, despite the short supply of artillery ammunition.
To zero in on the target, the observer called for a round on a position he could locate on his map, about 300 meters to the right of the trees. One gun fired and hit the target. Then he shifted the aim 300 meters to the left and called for all the battery's guns to lay in on the same azimuth and ragne. When he got a report that all was ready, he had his guns fire for effect, several rounds from each gun.
Shells started expoding all around the German position. Lipton watched throuigh his binoculars as the Germans scrambled to get out of there, salvaging what they could of their guns, helping wounded to the rear. Within an hour the place was deserted.
"It all happened," Lipton summed up, "because Shifty saw a tree almost a mile away that hadn't been there the day before."
Lipton and Popeye Wynn looked at the place where the sniper had held them up, the one Powers shot at. They found the sniper with a bullet right in the middle of the forehead.
"You know," Wynn commented, "it just doesn't pay to be shootin' at Shifty when he's got a rifle."
Subject: Memorial Service: you're invited.
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 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.]"
Wild Thing's comment..........
Shifty, thank you for so many years of being safe and for our freedom we have loved so dearly.you are one of our heroes, fade away gently old soldier , you will never be forgotten.
I want to take this time in this post to say something.
The Band of Brothers was passed on by these fine men to others and those all part of the Brotherhood of those who have served our country. Most of the finest people I ever met in my life have been Veterans, from WW11, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Gulf War, all of them and today as well.
And our troops serving in combat arms today are just like these guys of WW2.I have met several with three and four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several are disabled and every one of them has told me the same thing, they would serve again and their love for our country and how important it has been for them to be a part of keeping us the country we have been.
We are losing our WW11 Veterans and the Band of Brothers and I pray so much that people realize how important it is to say thank you, to walk across that room if you see a Veteran and say thank you. And when seeing someone in uniform serving now to thank them, buy their meal if you see them when eating out, let them know their sacrifices and service is appreciated.
I know all of you here and the regulars that read this blog each day are already thanking them. But to those from the left that send such vile hate mail and try to get your sickening comments through this is for you to read. You take advantage of the most awesome freedom any country ever had in the history of the world. These men like Shifty and those at this blog have paid the price and deserve better then your protests and disrespect we see from Obama and his wife and other politicians and from you all on the left. Think about it, because they have made a difference!!!
....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.
3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
Posted by Wild Thing at July 15, 2009 03:55 PM
We strive to appreciate/understand the contributions and experiences of others by relating our own experiences.
I recall the three weeks of "Staging Battalion" we went through at Camp Pendelton as preparation for Viet Nam. One whole day was spent on a fake town they had built for house-to-house or "urban" warfare. I remember thinking, "Shit! I am soooo glad I'm going to fly over this crap in the doorway of a helicopter!" I was so thankful I would not have to move through a series of occupied buildings. That was some shitty combat. Shifty Powers went through more than one town/village as just PART of his tour in WWII. Think of the pressure on you to know one of your buds is running the gauntlet as bait to draw out a sniper and you have to maintain proper BRASS and take the guy out before he nails your buddy.
Semper Fi, Soldier! Rest Easy, brother.
Posted by: Billy Ray at July 15, 2009 05:19 PM
The military is full of "Shifty Powers". They are great people and not all of them are recognized with awards. They come from Middle America. Most serve America long after their discharges.
Wild Thing-you are right. I try to thank every veteran I run across. I keep in touch with several I served with. Like me, they care about the America we will leave behind.
Sadly, our WWII and Korean War vets are dying off rapidly. Nice to see Chuck Yeager is still going strong.
Thanks Shifty. We still honor you and your Band of Brothers from all services, all wars in between wars.
AIRBORNE! All The Way!
Posted by: TomR at July 15, 2009 05:56 PM
Pretty soon there will be no WW 2 Vets left. So we will have to carry on where they left off and make damn sure, what they did and what they sacrificed has not been forgotten or done in vain.
After all from one arrogant American to another, we must not let the world forget either. Otherwise we will be doomed to repeat it.
Posted by: Mark at July 15, 2009 06:37 PM
If he hasn't died there was only one WWI Vet left at 108 if I recall correctly.
I've read that "Band Of Brothers" book three times, the heck of it all is you get to love guy's like 'Shifty' even if you have never met him, that's because some just like him have served in your own unit during your own era, leading by example and letting it all hang out for their buddies.
Chrissie, your comment says it all, too many have their hero on their "Che" Guevara tee shirts and in the White House. Thank you.
Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2009 10:33 PM
Thank you everyone, you all are my
Posted by: Wild Thing at July 16, 2009 12:57 AM
RIP Shifty, they don't get any better than you and your fellow WW2 vets.
And to all who have never seen Band of Brothers, please do yourself a favor and rent it. It'll take up your whole day but will be worth every minute. We've seen it several times because it was so well done reminded us of when America fought to win. We no longer do that.
Posted by: cuchieddie (Pissed off American) at July 16, 2009 11:23 AM
All I can say is thank you Shifty.
Posted by: Don Stark at July 21, 2009 08:19 PM
THANK YOU SO MUCH,SHIFTY,FOR ALL THAT YOU AND YOUR FELLOW SOLDIERS DID FOR OUR COUNTRY. TWO OF MY UNKLES GAVE THEIR LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY IN WW11. RIP,SHIFTY, AND TO ALL OF OUR MEN AND WOMEN THAT HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY.
Posted by: BILLY LANGLEY at July 23, 2009 03:47 PM