An American Icon, a Hero and a Soldier died last month. I only just heard.
I copied the paragraphs below from Theodore’s World:
Darrell “Shifty” Powers, like millions of Americans, answered the call of World War II. A quiet, unassuming man, Shifty joined the Army and then volunteered for the Airborne.
After intensive training, Powers was assigned to the famed Easy Company 2nd Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, where he jumped into Normandy on D-day. He was involved in the assault on Bracore Manor, which saved thousands of lives on Omaha Beach.
Powers fought in the battle of Carentan and the airborne invasion of Holland as part of Operation Market Garden, where millions of French and Dutch citizens found freedom.
The 506th was encircled by superior German forces in the Battle of the Bulge and against incredible odds, successfully defended the city of Bastone. Powers and the 506th then entered Germany, liberated concentration camps and captured Hitlers, “Eagles Nest” in Berchtesgarden.
Shifty survived the war only to be seriously injured in an auto accident while en route home and his return to civilian life.
Like millions of veterans, Powers lived a simple productive life and would have slipped into history unknown if it were not for Stephen Ambrose and the story “Band of Brothers”, which was turned into an HBO mini series.
I’ve watched that series more times than I can tell you. It’s a chick flick to me. Stories of real men doing brave and amazing things. What’s not to love? Yeah, the actors are all hot, gorgeous men, but they aren’t really why I watch it. It’s the interviews with the now old men I can’t get enough of, I love those men, the actual soldiers, with all my heart.
Here you’ll find an interview with Shifty about his M1 Rifle.
The most amazing thing about that M1 is you could throw that thing down in a mud hole, drag it through it, pick it up and it would fire. It wouldn’t jam; it would fire. What we did mostly was keep the outside of it as clean as we could with a rag or something. And we’d clean the bore out as often as we could. Any time we were off the line we’d clean the rifles well. In combat, when you were right on the line you don’t take time out to clean the rifle. You just kept the mud and dirt wiped off the outside of it the best you can. They were outstanding weapons, that rifle worked all the time.
I loved what Shifty Powers had to say on that second to last collection of interviews:
“We might have had a lot in common. He might’ve liked to fish, you know, he might’ve liked to hunt,” Powers said. “Of course, they were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was doing what I was supposed to do.
“But under different circumstances, we might have been good friends.”
I liked his voice.
According to the article in The Roanoke Times he was scheduled to go visit the troops in Iraq but couldn’t because of his health. Imagine that, 86 and still trying to spur on his fellow soldiers.
Darrell C. Powers. A real and true American Treasure. R.I.P.