Fwd: FW: True American Hero

Darrell "Shifty" Powers 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?"

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."

At this point my heart stopped.

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 24x7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way.

"A nation without heroes is nothing."
Roberto Clemente

Rest in peace, Shifty.

11 comments:

CMcD said...

The writer says, "...at which point my heart skipped," "at this point my heart stopped," and "my heart was in my throat."

He might want to seek the advice of a cardiac specialist. (He's riding in First Class, so I guess he's one of the lucky duckies that can afford health care.)

Anonymous said...

"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."

I've been have been having a hard time deciding whether the great Michael Jackson flip-out is because these people think he was a pedo freak, or if it's some kind of race issue. Probably a combination of both. I think most white people don't give a shit about Michael Jackson, and the fact that other people do is incomprehensible to them--but it like, offends them that people really loved his music. I don't really understand it.

Anonymous said...

These wingers love to write their little stories about how they, and only they, meet up w/various war heros. These emails do explain what the war hero did & all, but to me, the email seems to exist soley to point out how the email writer is such a cool dude for having met up w/the vet in question.

My money says this is a fable made up to make the writer feel ever so important, whilst also braggin' on how he gets to ride first class. We're all supposed to fall on our knees and kiss his high-falutin ass bc he had the "humility" to offer Shifty his seat in first class (although in the end, he remained in first class and let Shifty ride in "steerage").

You, sir, are a true 'murkin: offering to sit back in coach with the rest of the undesirables. WOW, what a sacrifice THAT would have been, almost comparable to Shifty's, even....

RIP to Shifty (if this particular person actually exists), but please spare me the treacle and self-righteous pats on the writer's back.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least he recently died. But, if he wants to keep up with other American Hero Ed Freeman, he'll have to die at least once more too.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the way that deaths of celebrities are sensationalized and dissected is morbid and disrespectful (not just to the deceased, who may not matter very much since they don't really participate in it all, but to their families). So, no matter how great that "greatest" generation is/was, I don't really want to see them treated like Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson. (Frankly, I didn't really want to see Smith or Jackson treated that way, but I am fine with that being an aspect of celebrity in America.)

I understand wanting a memorial service, but complaining because this American Hero's death wasn't exploited and obsessed over, because his family wasn't harassed by media, because his appearance and habits and finances and possible misdeeds weren't discussed over and over... that is just insane.

I caught on the news yesterday that there was new video of Jackson's hair getting set on fire.
That is what the Right-Wing wants for True American War Heros? Remind me not to sign up for that post then.

Anonymous said...

We do have this National Public Holiday called, uh, let me remember: oh yeah: Memorial Day!

And Memorial Day is rightly set aside to honor ALL the veterans from EVERY war, and there are, rightly so, parades and that kind of celebration that goes on.

And we do ALSO enjoy another Public Holiday (where some get the day off work, but even if you don't, you know about it) called, hmmmm, lemme think really hard about this: oh yeah, sychronicity at work here, it's called VETERAN'S DAY!!! who'da thunk it?

And, as w/Memorial Day, on Veteran's Day there are (rightly so) parades and all sorts of other honors and tributes and so on to, uh, hmmm, oh yeah: VETERANS!!!

I am all for it! And if there are any ancient vets still alive and capable of making it to the celebrations, they are given even bigger tributes than the younger vets (and rightly so).

I'm not sure what else is expected here. It's not like we completely ignore our vets forevermore.

I agree w/the last poster. The last thing I want (and I suspect that most vets & their families would feel the same) is a perpetual 24/7 media circus every time a vet dies. And hey guess what: it would have to be almost 24/7/365 bc I bet some vet in this country dies almost every day.

This hurf-durf is just b.s. that, as with so much other rightwing nonsense, makes no sense.

It's not like Vets aren't honored.

If the winger doesn't like the media circus that surrounds celebrity deaths then: 1) turn off your tv/radio/internet, 2) complain to corporate sponsors, 3) write letters to the media.

But please stop making inane, stupid, useless suggestions like this (no disrepect intended to any vet). Sheesh.

Daft Greg said...

Yes anon, Shifty was a real person. I know this because I saw a profile on him the other day on that "librul" NBC Nightly News. So much for the media completely ignoring him.

Bebe 99 said...

Why the sudden shock at celebrity death overkill? We've seen it all before and it IS repulsive. But hey that's what America is. The average person sups daily on moronic reality tv. Why start complaining now? Jackson wasn't found guilty, but his freakishness was a magnet for pure american media rubber-necking. But the answer, as always is turn off the tube! Say no to media-fed garbage!

Bebe 99 said...

Why the sudden shock at celebrity death overkill? We've seen it all before and it IS repulsive. But hey that's what America is. The average person sups daily on moronic reality tv. Why start complaining now? Jackson wasn't found guilty, but his freakishness was a magnet for pure american media rubber-necking. But the answer, as always is turn off the tube! Say no to media-fed garbage!

katz said...

Am I the only one who misread "Shifty" as "Shitty?"

Celia said...

Katz: you most certainly are not. I keep doing the same thing.

Also, I agree with the anonymouses (anonymice?) regarding the media circus. The only reason these people want a media blitz for someone they don't know is so they can feel superior and more compassionate than the rest of us lumps by showing off how good they are at grieving. It's all "Look at me! Look how much of a shit I can give! Aren't I special?" Which is really disrespectful to the dead, in my opinion.

 
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