Sixty-Five Years and One Day
Sixty- Five Years and One Day|
Over sixty-five years ago American, British, Canadian, and Australian forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. It was the largest invasion in history and cost the lives of over four thousand men in one day. This was the beginning of the end for Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
In the pre -dawn hours before the main beach landings occurred, British and American Airborne troops jumped into Nazi held France behind the beaches to block key roads and bridges so that the German’s could not reinforce their positions guarding the Normandy beaches.
The casualties among the Airborne and Glider troops was, in some cases, as high as ninety percent. Most of these men landed miles from their designated Drop Zones and had to fight their way to where they were suppose to be to conduct their missions.
The men of Easy Company 1 Battalion (Airborne) 506th Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division ( the company made famous by the HBO series “Band of Brothers”) that survived the jump found themselves as far as six miles from their Drop Zones. Yet they somehow managed to regroup and carry out their missions.
These men went on to fight and die until the end of the war to prevent Hitler and his Nazi party from ruling the world. They participated in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, when they made a second Combat Jump into Holland.
They became known to history and the world as “The Battered Bastards of Bastogne” when they held the strategically important town of Bastogne during the now famous “Battle of the Bulge.” They had gone into that battle with one hundred and forty-three officers and men. When they were finally pulled off the line sixty-two were left standing.
The men of Easy Company went on to fight and die with honor until the war ended. Less than a dozen of the original one hundred and forty plus men who started out as Easy Company in the states were still alive by war’s end.
After the war these men came home to live out their lives as they had lived them during the war, with honor and dignity. They became hard working, law abiding citizens of the country they had fought so valiantly to protect and preserve.
I hold in my heart for these men the greatest love and highest respect. They set the high standards that those of us who went into the Airborne in later years had to uphold.
At this point you are probably wondering where this is all leading to. I will tell you that I am at this point ashamed of my country.
Because recently one of these brave and honorable men of Easy Company passed away.
Did this great country go into weeks of mourning?
Was there a huge memorial service held at the Staples Center and covered by all the major net works?
Are people still talking about what he did and how he lived his life, both during and after the war?
Well, we SHOULD BE. Because if there ever was a man who truly deserved our homage it was Mr. Darrel (Shifty) Powers. One of the original members of Easy Company 1st Battalion (Airborne) 506th Infantry 101st Airborne Division.
You see, Mr. Powers passed away on June the 7th 2009.
SIXTY-FIVE YEARS and ONE DAY
after he jumped into history and the hearts of those of us who CARE to remember him and the great sacrifices he made to insure we too would have the advantages of growing up in a FREE nation.
Rest in peace Shifty on that beautiful Drop Zone on the other side of the mountain.
With the Greatest Love and Respect
Ernie (Smiling Hawk) Tucker
82d Airborne Division
By ernie Hawk
© 2009 ernie Hawk
(All rights reserved)