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One More Hero Gone . . . and No Parade

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This was sent to me by a Vietnam era Air Force pilot, Sam Zolezzi, who is now dying of cancer. I met Sam as a client and represented him through two divorces. He became a near and dear friend. He is the embodiment of patriotism – quietly proud of what he and others contributed to the freedoms we all enjoy. He speaks little and most often these days speaks by e-mail. When he sends me something like what follows, I read it with care knowing that if it touched him, it will touch me. My dad was a Marine in the South Pacific in WWII and it was Sam who explained to me, after my dad passed, all those things that made my dad so unwilling to talk about the war. Those of you who are warriors or know one well understand what I am trying to write.


From Sam:


Not sure who originated this—the one who met Shifty in Philadelphia --but it came through MOAA (Military Officers Association of America). I think it is appropriate and warranted to hold an on-line service like this by sending this message to those who care.


FYI. Another hero passes on.


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, and then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made.


Quietly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 . . . . " at which point my heart skipped.


He continued, "I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where Normandy is?" At this point my heart almost stopped.


I told him, yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what D-Day is. 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 D-Day.


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 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, 24 x 7 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 consider forwarding this email to those you know well enough that they will understand what it says. Especially send it to the veterans.


Rest in peace, Shifty.


"A nation without heroes is nothing."

(Roberto Clemente)

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That would have been really neat to meet him.


What is really neat is talking to my grandfather about his "war stories" (he's a Marine Korean Vet). Times have changed, that's for sure!


There is so much media given to certain people (we're still hearing about Michael Jackson), who don't even come close to measuring up to some of our war heroes. Thanks for posting.



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Thank you and may Gob be with you.

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