Staff Sergeant Darrell “Shifty” Powers, of Band of Brothers fame, passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 86.
Oh, and he passed away last month. Apparently, the country was too busy “mourning” Michael Jackson to take notice. We should all be ashamed of ourselves when an entertainer of questionable character is given more airtime than a genuine American hero. Darrell Powers deserved much, much better.
Here is the local newspaper article on his passing. If I may, I want to say something here. And to be honest, I am a little emotional, so it might not make a lot of sense, but I’m gonna write it, anyway.
Most of you know that I am a history buff. I especially gravitate toward the World War II era. The book that really got me started on the history bandwagon was Band of Brothers. I read it before I ever saw the miniseries, and it may be my favorite book of all time. Cover to cover, I have read it over a dozen times. I also put up a few BoB banners at the old blog, if you remember. When the HBO miniseries came out, I thought, “There is no way it will be better than the book.” In my opinion, it wasn’t, but it was damned close. I immediately purchased the box set and started watching.
I have never finished it.
Like Commander Adama’s book quirk in a Battlestar Galactica episode, I also felt that if I finished the miniseries, then the entire terrific experience would end. That last DVD? Never been touched. It’s stupid, but what can I say? I’ll watch it someday, but not for a while.
Anyway, no book has touched me the way Band of Brothers has. Major Richard Winters – who lives in Lancaster, PA – is my personal hero. My greatest life dream would be to meet him and shake his hand. No discussion, no fawning, just a handshake and a big “Thank you.” He is my idol.
“Wild Bill” Guarnere lives in Philadelphia. I would love to meet him, too, but I’m just an idiot loudmouth blogger, so I keep my expectations low. While I have never met these men – Guarnere, the late Lewis Nixon, the late Carwood Lipton, and Don Malarkey – I felt like I have known them all my life. What makes them special is that they – and almost every other World War II veteran – do not believe they are special. They did their job and did it well, honors and medals be damned. We could use a few men like that today – and you’ll find them serving in our modern American military.
Darrell “Shifty” Powers didn’t believe he was better than anyone else. He didn’t believe he was special. But that attitude, backed up be heroic actions showed the rest of us that he was better; that he was special. And now he’s gone, and we cannot tell him how truly special he was.
Neptunus Lex has a terrific e-mail from someone who met Shifty. Be forewarned, though: it’s a tear-jerker.
Thank you so much for your service, Shifty. We all owe you a debt that can never be repaid.