Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shifty Powers.........a true American hero

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, 2009 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.
"A nation without heroes is nothing."
Roberto Clemente
Z: I don't know who wrote this, I wish it had been me. I wish I'd have had the pleasure of meeting Shifty. God bless him and his family and all American soldiers. So, I believe we should only vote at 21.......do I leave this guy out? :-) PLEASE WEIGH IN BELOW.......

20 comments:

Maggie M. Thornton said...

I've been reading about Mr. Powers quite a bit lately. True Americans are remember him and his sacrifice. There is something about the men and women from this era who served at such a difficult time in our Nation's history. I wonder what we will do when the last WWII vet dies? I guess we won't be doing anything at the Staples Center.

Thanks so much for making this available.

Joe said...

I got tears in my eyes just reading this.

Would that more people understood what service in the United States military really means.

Ducky's characterization in the previous comment section demonstrates beyond any shadow of a doubt that he has absolutely, positively zero clue. He just loves to see his stuff in print somewhere, and will oppose what is right at any cost.

(I did respond to the prior post, BTW).

Z said...

Thanks, Joe....Glad to have you here!
Yes, opposing what is "RIGHT" seems to be a joy to the leftwingers.
This man feels like REAL AMERICA to me, the one that feels like it's slipping away........so scary.

You're welcome, Maggie!
The humility is what got to me; THAT stands out these days, doesn't it.

Pat Jenkins said...

you know z every human being has his "unsung" moments in life, and no better example of that then the soldier who did this or that to save someone else. we can never recognize everyone for the "little" things they have done, but let us hope they haven't gone unnoticed by the one who does have the ability to see all!!!!... great post.... glad i had a chance to read it...

beamish said...

A touching tribute for a true hero.

MK said...

Rest in peace warrior. We are lucky to have had men like him with us for so long.

Hi Z

Regarding your question about the emissions trading thing in Australia, the short story is that the ruling party desperately wants to impoverish us, the opposition also wants to but at a much slower rate, make of that what you will, and in the middle are a few key elected players who won't play ball, because they see it for the crap that it really is. So for now we haven't adopted it and my view is that we won't, it'll just take some time for enough people to lose faith in the new global warming religion being shoved by the left.

Have a read of this, to see one of those senators -
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5804831/Climate-change-The-sun-and-the-oceans-do-not-lie.html

Boy, i hope i'm right.

Elmers Brother said...

I met this man at a D-day remembrance last month.

what an honor...how many WWII CMOH recipients are still with us?

He was so humble, thanked other vets for their service, (he's now a pastor) and gave sand from Normandy to vets who were there on D-day.

Leslie said...

It is very sad that such history is wrapped in a group of people that are so ignored by society. They have stories to tell, they lived courageous lives, and they leave in a whisper, never flaunting the title "Hero," yet so deserving of it and our respect...

Z said...

Pat, I wish lots more Americans got to read this....I'm glad you did. I hadn't heard of him before..!

MK...thanks for that link and information....so they were thinking about it but sanity's reigning; here, it isn't..the LIARS got our kids and so it's pretty much a lost cause. Thanks for that link: FACTS just don't matter to the leftwingers.

EBRO..VERY VERY cool you got to meet that guy. I can only imagine how good you must have felt!

Leslie..well said.

Deborah on the Bayside said...

............................ ................ ................. ................ ............ .......................... ................

This is my moment of silent awe and respect for his humility and responsibility. Thanks for posting.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
I always felt the weight of my ancestors in the military. My grandfather, father and uncle most recently. Many fought in the Civil War as Germans who spoke little of no English. These guys are the reason there is an America. The rest of us are slackers. Thanks for the post.

Tom said...

Amen.

JINGOIST said...

Thank you Z for posting this wonderful tribute. I thought this was YOU until the part where Shifty said, "No thank you son" for the seat swap.

One of my regular customers is also a bonafide WW2 hero. His daughter claims to be putting together a book before he passes. When that happens I'll give you a heads up. He's failing quick too.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Oh man, that's an absolutely wonderful story.

BAND OF BROTHERS should be REQUIRED VIEWING for EVERY young student in America -- to learn what sacrifice and dedication to duty and country is really about.

BZ

lovelyprism said...

Aww Shifty died? I didn't hear a thing about it! That makes me angry. Thanks for the post, I sent it on.

Jen aka Pinky said...

It's an honor to be in the presence of real heroes.

Thank God (sincerely) for people like Mr. Powers.

Anonymous said...

Loved this story!!
For those of us raised by parents who experienced WWII, we have some feeling for what they went through, just young kids themselves. But what of the next generation, and the next?

Fabulous people like Shifty Powers will not be known at all unless someone makes a movie about them. History is getting lost.

From the kid of a vetern, I honor
you Mr. Powers, and thank you for
your sacrifices on behalf of our nation.
Thank you Z for introducing him to all of us.
Matisse

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