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America Has Lost A True Hero

By Wyatt Earp | July 16, 2009

<i>Staff Sergeant Darrell Shifty Powers</i>

Staff Sergeant Darrell Shifty Powers

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.

Topics: The Troops | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “America Has Lost A True Hero”

  1. GroovyVic Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 7:06 am

    What a shame. Especially knowing what Powers went through when he was on his way home.

    Interestingly enough, I found out from reading the book and watching the interviews with the men of Easy Company that one of the guys is from Erie and that I had actually met him through the credit union I used to work at.

    And a few years ago I saw a brief blurb about the passing of C. Carwood Lipton.

  2. Mrs. Crankipants Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    My Dad’s five brothers and my Father-in-Law all served in WWII. Sadly they are no longer with us.

    Great post.

  3. Morgan Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for the post, Wyatt. I hadn’t known about his passing. May S.Sgt. Powers rest in peace.

    I had a grandfather who served on the Iowa during WWII. Sadly, he died long before I was born. I wish I had known him.

    By the way, I hope you get the chance to meet Major Winters and the surviving members of Easy Company, and to thank them.

  4. Doghouse Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    You have to make the effort to meet them; you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t.

    And you know they’re worth the effort.

  5. MeToo Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    My father-in-law was a Seabee in World War II and my uncle served in the Navy and nearly lost his life. His best friend who was standing right next to him did give his life that day. My uncle never talked about “the incident” and my father-in-law never talks about his service. The things they have in common are a true love for this country, quiet courage and a sense of responsibility. Funny how the true heroes never think of themselves in that way. We all owe them a debt we can never repay.

  6. CaptainAmerica Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Ditto man. I watched the box set over and over. It never ends, it just gets better.

  7. Alan B Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    RESPECT to all the young men and women who gave the best years of their lives (and sometimes the last years of their lives) in service to their countries and to the Allied cause.

    Long may they live in the memories of those who recognise their sacrifice.

  8. Sully Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you for the post Wyatt, we lost a good one there.

    I wonder…. is there anything named after the guy? a school, a bridge, any building at all?

    There should be.

  9. Alan B Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Not quite on topic but hopefully of interest:

    The oldest man in the world is an Englishman who served in WWI at Jutland and Passchendaele and is the only living founder member of the RAF.

  10. Rides A Pale Horse Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 3:07 pm


    I’ve watched the series a few times now and have been brought to tears each and every time. Very powerful and moving experience. Hanging on my wall in an honored spot in my living room is a portrait of “Night of Nights” by Gil Cohen and signed by Buck Compton, Earl McClung and Don Malarkey, given to me last Christmas by my nephew who is serving with the 82nd Airborne on his second tour of Iraq.

    I also have some connections to WWII. I had 6 uncles (my dads brothers) that served during the war. Two Navy, both in the Pacific, one on an LST, one on a fleet oiler. two Army, combat engineer and AAA gunner in Europe, both came ashore D-Day+2 and two USMC Pacific Theater. All made it back but time has taken all but one.

    My girlfriends grandmothers second husband was a veteran of Bastogne, 82nd Airborne, 513th PIR.

    Last but certainly not least is her uncle who passed away in January of 2008, a Pearl Harbor survivor who was on the U.S.S. California at the time of the attack. I’ve included a link to a remembrance I did of this extraordinary man who was not only a hero while he served but continued his heroism long after the war.

    I meet a lot of WWII vets at the VA and to a man, they refuse to accept the term “hero”. All will tell you the real heros are still “over there” and that they just “had a job to do”. Still, they are all heros in my eyes. I am honored to have been in their presence at one time or another.

    R.I.P. Sgt. Powers. Let us never forget their sacrifice and let us also honor our troops fighting now.

    Gen. George S. Patton Jr. said it best:

    “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died”. “Rather we should thank God that such men lived”.

  11. Wyatt Earp Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Folks, in case you’re wondering, this will be the only post here today. I’m declaring it Darrell “Shifty” Powers Day here at SYLG, in honor of his memory.

    New posts will be forthcoming, but not until after midnight. Staff Sergeant Powers is too important to be thrown in with the usual lame posts here.

    – Wyatt

  12. Jon Brooks Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    May God hold him gently in the palm of His hand. RIP S.Sgt. Powers and thank you.

  13. Rick Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the story.
    A True Hero nad Great American.

  14. Chris Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    My father was a fighter-bomber pilot during WWII. He flew 95 combat missions in North Africa and Italy, came home to be an instructor, and then went to the Pacific to prepare for the invasion of Japan. He passed 15 years ago, never seeng to what extent this Country has deteriorated. I consider it a blessing he never witnessed 9/11/01. My Mom’s cousin fought at Tarawa, surviving that bloodbath.

    Like Powers, Winters, Lipton, Randleman and the other 16 million men and women in uniform, he believed that the true heros stayed in Theater, under the dirt or under the water.
    And he never asked me to give him one thin dime in payment for what he did for me.

  15. Flea Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Rest in peace.

  16. Old NFO Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    RIP Shifty, Rest in peace…

    Hand Salute!

    Ready… Two…

  17. RT Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I fear we are under the thumb of the “spoiled” generation. Those who served in WWII (and in the military, period) are exceptional people, even though they’d likely not consider themselves so.

    Great post to the memory of a deserving man. :)

    May I also say that I am glad people are bragging on their family members. They all deserve the recognition.

  18. Wyatt Earp Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    GroovyVic – We’re losing them too fast. I was born too late, I’m afraid.

    Mrs. Crankipants – Thank you, and thank you for your relatives’ service.

    Morgan – It would be one of the greatest moments of my life.

    Doghouse – You’re right, and they are.

    MeToo – Well said. And they never brag. They had a job to do and they did it. It is amazing.

    Captain – I can watch the 88 assault in Carentan 24 hours a day.

    Alan B – Agreed. Respect to all men and women who served in that war. Didn’t know that about the WWI survivor. Simply awesome.

    Sully – I agree. An effort should be made to rename a school in his memory.

    RAPH – You must be so proud of them. Thank you for their service to this great country.

    Jon – Amen to that.

    Rick – Agreed on both.

    Chris – You gave his love and respect. That’s probably all he ever needed. Thank you for his service.

    Flea – Amen.

    Old NFO – A well-deserved salute from all of us here.

    RT – They absolutely do. My grandfather was too young for World War I, too old for World War II. My father’s uncle was at Pearl Harbor, though, but he passed before I was old enough to ask him about it.

  19. Alan B Says:
    July 18th, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Re: #9

    Sadly, Henry Allingham who served in WWI died today.

    Henry Allingham was 113 and the world’s oldest man.

    Only Harry Patch (111) is left of WWI survivors in GB. (I believe there is one more who lives abroad).

    Kind comments have been made by the Queen, Prince Charles and many others.

    In March, he received an upgraded Legion d’Honneur from the French ambassador in London and was made the first honorary lifetime member of the Royal Naval Association.

    He was also presented with a doctorate in engineering from Southampton Solent University and was made an honorary freeman of his home city of Brighton and Hove in April.

    On his visit to the Somme in 2006 he was asked how he wanted to be remembered. “I don’t” he said, “I want to be forgotten. Remember the others.”

    RIP, Henry.

    You are free now of the memories which you have had to live with for so long.

  20. Wyatt Earp Says:
    July 19th, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Alan B – RIP, Henry. Thank you for your service.