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LTC Roger Gaines (Army Chief Admin)
Powers, Darrell ("Shifty"), S/Sgt.
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Home Town Not Specified
Last Address Clinchco
Date of Passing Jun 17, 2009
Location of Interment Temple Hill Cemetery - Castlewood, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity
E Company (3rd Platoon), 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. "currahee!"
Darrell Cecil "Shifty"Powers was born in Clinchco, Dickenson County, Virginia and volunteered for the paratroopers with his good friend, "Popeye" Wynn. Shifty spent a great deal of time in the outdoors hunting game prior to joining the service. This would later prove useful as many of the skills he obtained helped him as a soldier.
Powers jumped into Normandy on D-Day, missing his drop zone. He eventually came in contact with Floyd Talbert and the two made their way to Easy Company. He participated in the assault of Carentan and every major battle Easy Co. was involved with until the end of the war. He was considered by many to be the best shot in the company.
Powers, a United States Army paratrooper and sharpshooter, belonged to Easy Company, part of the legendary 101st Airborne Division. He recalled a bitterly cold day in the Ardennes when he was able to draw down on a German sniper, sighting his target by the misty cloud of the man's breath. He killed him with one shot.
"Right there," he said, touching his forehead. "Between the eyes."
Because many men serving in the 101st lacked the minimum points required to return home, a lottery was put in place. Shifty Powers won this lottery and was set to return stateside. During the trip to the airfield, the vehicle Shifty was in was involved in an accident and Shifty was badly injured. He spent many months recuperating in hospitals overseas while his comrades in arms arrived home long before he did.
Darrell "Shifty" Powers was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Peter Youngblood Hills and appears in all 10 episodes.
He is listed as one of 20 men from Easy Company who contributed to the 2009 book We Who Are Alive and Remain: untold stories from the Band of Brothers, published by Penguin/Berkley-Caliber.
"Shifty" Powers died June 17, 2009, of natural causes in Dickenson County, Virginia
-Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award
-Combat Jump Wings 3 Combat Jumps
-Bronze Star (2
-American Campaign Medal
-European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/Arrow Head and 4 Campaign Stars
-World War II Victory Medal
-Presidential Unit Citation w/2 Palms
4 years of high school
Semiskilled machine shop and related occupations, n.e.c.
Single, without dependents
Enlisted in RICHMOND VIRGINIA , Infantry
Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Army of the United States - includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of the United States under Army Regulations 605-10
His nick name is Shifty, and was a most amazing man. Even as a child Shifty would shine shoes so we would have money for 22 shells. He said he became such a good shot he could throw a coin and hit it, and thats probably true! He lived and worked in Norfolk, VA with "popeye" Wynn and they both signed up to the Paratroopers together. He went to Airborne school at Toccoa, GA and was placed in Easy Company, the best company in all the 101st. At Toccoa he was push, along with all the other men, doing the "three miles up, three miles down" run on currahee and doing countless marches and upon completion they would have to empty their canteens. The bond that Shifty and the other men had was one that most people will never have or understand, the men of Easy were beyond brothers! Shifty Powers made it thought the war Shifty has been and will always be an amazing Hero!
Best Friends Lynn ?Buck? Compton, Donald ?Don? Malarkey, Darrell ?Shifty? Powers and Earl ?One Lung? McClung, "Popeye" Winn, Floyd Talbert
Other Memories Growing up in Depression-era Clinchco wasn?t too bad a life, at least Darrell Powers didn?t think so. But he probably didn?t think he and a group of buddies would end up fighting the German Army across much of Europe, or that he and his pals would become famous thanks to a book ?Band of Brothers? by Stephen Ambrose and a 10-part mini-series movie produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (which originally aired on HBO), either.
?When I was a boy, everybody had a garden. Every family kept a cow, raised hogs, raised most of what they needed. Seemed like we got by all right,? Powers, a new member of Marion?s VFW post, said. ?Back then there wasn?t a lot of radio and no television at all. We entertained ourselves. We did a lot of squirrel hunting. We?d run through the woods. We played a lot of ball. It wasn?t a bad life for a boy like me.?
And like everywhere else, there was school. Powers liked school because got to play basketball. In fact, he got his nickname, ?Shifty,? from his outstanding basketball play. After graduating from the local high school, Powers decided to go to technical school.
?Back then, the schools around here didn?t have any vocational schools. But I found out there was one in Norfolk that was sponsored by the government and I thought I?d give it a try,? Powers said. ?So I went off to Norfolk and started training to be a machinist. I liked it pretty well and seemed to be pretty good at it.?
Life seemed to be moving right along for Powers. But then a hitch in his plans popped up. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, an act that drew the United States into what was fast becoming World War II.
?After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they (the government) moved all of us from the school over to the Navy Shipyard at Portsmouth, to do work on the ships there. I worked there as a machinist for a while, I liked the work. But then we heard that the government was getting ready to freeze our jobs there meaning we?d have to stay there until the war was over. My buddy ?Popeye? (Robert Wynn, a fellow Virginian from South Hill) and me wanted to join the military so we went and signed up for the Army before we got stuck at the shipyard. We volunteered for paratrooper school.?
According to Powers, although he was 18 by then, a parent had to sign for him to join the paratroopers. He didn?t want his parents to know he was volunteering for what was considered somewhat dangerous duty. His father signed for him, but was somewhat upset when he discovered what Powers would be doing.
Powers and his fellow paratroopers were originally sent to Camp Pickett in Virginia where they got their basic physicals and their numerous shots and immunizations, but soon shipped out to Camp Toccoa, Georgia, where their actual training took place. Although the training was rigorous and physically demanding, Powers enjoyed learning to parachute from a plane.
?Even though we had had complete physicals already, when we got to Toccoa, we had to go through it all over again. And these were a little different,? Powers said. ?They had different regulations for paratroopers. You had to be so tall but not too tall. So big but not too big (weight-wise). You had to have good hearing. You couldn?t have had any broken bones, even though they had healed. That eliminated a lot of boys that had played football in school. You pretty much had to be in prime condition.?
?They don?t just throw a parachute on you, take you up, and expect you to jump out of a plane. They train you in steps. First thing you do, they have a mock-up of a plane that you climb into and practice jumping out. It?s about two feet off the ground,? Powers said. ?They teach you jump, land, and roll when you hit. Everybody thinks jumping out of a plane is hard but it?s not.?
?And parachuting to the ground isn?t hard either. If you jump out of an airplane you?re going to hit the ground, one way or another.? Powers laughed. ?The hard part back then was landing. Nowadays they have a different type of chute and they can land fairly soft, but back then, with the chutes we had, you hit the ground pretty hard. They taught us to yell Geronimo when we jumped. It was supposed to take our mind off jumping, but it didn?t work for me, so the instructors told me to yell Currahee (The men of the 506th were nicknamed the Currahees after the Currahee Mountain at Camp Toccoa), but that didn?t help either. They finally told me to just yell anything I wanted. Well I finally found something I could yell and it kind of distracted me, I?d yell ?Oh S_ _ t what am I doing here.? It worked for me? Currahee is Cherokee for ?Stands alone.? Powers and his fellow Currahees adopted it as a unit motto.
The training took place in stages. After the first jumps, Powers said they moved up to a tower about 35 feet tall. There they were actually hooked to a line that let them jump and fall about 15 feet then slide down the line. Next was a tower 250 feet tall. Here they wore actual parachutes. The chutes were open. The trainees were hooked to a hoist which raised them to the top of the tower then dropped them so they could get used to the feel of a parachute. The men of Easy Company saw their first action during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
?We were supposed to drop behind the enemy lines. But they missed the dropped zone by 12 to 14 miles. We came down right in the middle of the German Army. It helped that the Germans didn?t know where we were. We didn?t even know where we were. It took us a day and a half to get back to where we were supposed to be,? Powers said. ?We finally got back to the beach. We were supposed to be there for three days; 30 days later they transported us back to England to train for our next mission.? Easy Company lost 54 men who were killed in action on D-Day.
Powers and the rest of Easy Company spent the next couple of months getting more training in preparation for their next mission. On Sept. 17, 1944, as part of Operation Market Garden, they dropped into Holland. They would spend the next three months there fighting the German troops, as they liberated the town of Eindhoven. The U.S. forces met stiff resistance at the town of Nuenen where they met a large German force with lots of heavy artillery. Easy Company suffered several losses during the fighting there.
?After we left Holland, we went to Rheims, France, to pick up replacements for our troops that were killed or wounded. And we needed to re-supply with ammo, food, clothing, things like that,? Powers said. ?But we no sooner got there than they loaded us on trucks and we took off for Bastogne. The trucks were so crowded you had to stand up. You could sit down. By the time we got there, we were worn out, low on ammo, low on food and clothing. It was cold there, and we didn?t have any winter clothes with us.?
?The Germans formed a big circle around the town and they had lots of troops and lots of artillery. They had us outnumbered and had lots more artillery too. They really pounded us with their artillery. What they?d do is they shell one section of the town, then they?d attack there. We?d rush our troops and what artillery we had to that place. They?d shell another place and attack that point. We?d rush everything we had there. It kept them fooled. They never did realize how much they had us outmanned or we?d have had it. We didn?t have much artillery and not much ammo for what we did have. The Germans would pound us, they shelled us constantly and our boys couldn?t really let loose on them since they had to conserve what ammo we had. And we didn?t have much of anything bigger than a bazooka. We didn?t have anything that would handle their biggest tanks. The problem was it wasn?t our (the 101st Airborne) artillery. It was a small company that was already at Bastogne.?
?In my opinion, Bastogne was the toughest fight we had. Between being outnumbered and outmanned, and short on food and ammo and no clothes it was real rough. We lost some men to frostbite; some died. I figured it was a toss-up whether I?d die from being shot by the Germans or just freeze to death,? Powers said. ?But it?s kind of strange to say, but I almost enjoyed that fight. I knew we were better soldiers. We were better trained. We were in better shape. The Germans had taken to drafting anybody they could get. They had old men and young boys. We may have been short on ammo but what equipment we had was better than theirs. We were just better fighters.? The U.S. troops triumphed once Gen. George Patton and his tank corps broke through the line and brought the much-needed supplies.
Powers must have been right about being a good fighter. By the time he was fighting in Germany he had been promoted to Staff Sergeant. ?I started out making $21 a month. I got a raise up to $50 and then to $54. That was pretty good money back then,? Powers laughed.
Bastogne was part of the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans kept the town under siege for a month. Because of the worst winter weather in years, The U.S. troops get few supplies by air. It was their acting commander, Brigadier general Anthony McAuliffe, who when informed that the German commander demanded his surrender replied to the messenger, ?Nuts.? The German translator allegedly translated this as ?You go to Hell.? Either way, the sentiment was the same.
After the Battle of Bastogne, Easy Company continued fighting through Germany and eventually captured the Berteschgarten, Hitler?s secret mountain retreat known as the Eagle Nest.
?Some of our boys found a concentration camp on their way to Berteschgarten, but we were divided into three companies and my company didn?t go there. From what some of them told me, I just real glad I didn?t see what they saw,? Powers said. ?Once we had Berteschgarten, we fought our way to Austria, but the war was winding down and was over soon after we got there.?
?I was in the army three years, one month and a couple of days,? Powers said. ?I was glad to see home. But you know something that puzzles me? In just about three years, we went into the army, exercised, trained, fought and won a war and came home. Our boys have been in Iraq three years now. They can?t come home because the Iraqi army boys can?t do the job and do their own fighting yet? I just believe that as long as our boys are there to do their fighting for them they won?t ever learn to help themselves.?
After the war, Powers returned to his beloved Clinchco. Although his father encouraged him to use his G.I. Bill rights to go to college he did not. ?I told my Dad that I was too old for college. He said I wasn?t any older than a lot of students,? Powers said. ?But what I meant was I was older in my mind. What me and my buddies went through made me feel older that way. I probably should have listened to my Dad.?
Being a machinist, he opened a repair shop. A few years later, in 1954, he decided to move to California, where he lived for three years before returning to his beloved mountain home in Clinchco where he remains today.
Numerous reference sources state that Easy Company was one of the premier fighting forces in U.S. military history. If they were all like Shifty Powers, it is easy to understand why.