I found myself in an interesting position the other day. As I was flipping through the channels I came across the first show that Bill O'Rilley returned from his vacation. He told a story of how Fox news tried to get him to return from his vacation to cover the death of Micheal Jackson. He refused, stating he doesn't consider MJ a hero and that story wasn't enough for him to cut his vacation short. For the first time ever I was in agreement with the O'Reilly Factor. It kind of freaked me out a bit. I do watch FoxNews from time to time, because I find it intersting to hear people opinions that don't reflect my own. I'm not afraid of it, because I'm able to think for myself.
Now, I'm not one of these flag waving, bible thumping, "America is the greatest thing since apple pie" kind of people. I do appreciate the lifestyle, and the privilege to have my own opinion and speak out on it. I also can appreciate the fact there are those who have been willing sacrifice their lives to make it so I can live the life I choose. One of these individuals is a man named Darrel "Shifty" Powers. He was portrayed in the TV series Band of Brothers. This is a man that I've never spoken to or even met, but admire deeply. If you've never seen Band of Brothers I highly reccomend it.
I recently recieved this e-mail and thought it was fitting in show how ridiculous news coverage has become, especially over the death of Michael Jackson. I personally find it interesting that those who state what a great man Mr. Jackson was will never realize the contributions of people like Mr. Powers. I'm sure they can't spell D-day let alone find it in their heart to celebrate the things this man did in the name of freedom. He didn't sell millions of records, make billions of dollars, and probably couldn't even dance very well, but he did stand up for a cause that he believed in. This is an obit thread I can really stand behind.
I wanted to do my part to memorialize one of many ordinary heroes, this e-mail has affected me like no other I hope it makes others stop and think too.
From: Chuck Yeager <email@example.com>
Sent: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 1:02 pm
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
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
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
Rest in peace, Shifty.
Chuck Yeager, MajGen. [ret.]