(second block, fourth letter of the prisoners' quadratic tap code...)

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...am here to tap through the walls.



Mon Jul, 20 2009

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

At that point, again, very humbly, he said 'I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where Normandy is?'

At this point my heart stopped. I told him yes, I know exactly where Normandy was, and I know what D-Day was.

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."
Bruce McQuain posts a viral e-mail describing a meeting with a very rare individual.

Don't you think it would have been wonderful to meet that man and let him know how big a deal he really was?

Good for you, Shifty. It might be that not everyone will always remember you, but you will not be forgotten.

He finally jumped-off last month. I didn't know that.

(Ps. -- I not only know where Normandy is, I know where Toccoa is. I have a solo landing in the Citabria there, in my flight logbook. This was before I knew the 506th had trained there. If I had known, I would have borrowed a car for a look around.)

AxeBites

Various guitars I see floating by, mostly Gibson and mostly eBay.


Early Norlin ES-335 -- 1970, in Walnut ("ES-335TDW"). This is a period-piece look and feel, and arguably the sound as well but that's to cut things very finely. A "classic" 335 would be the original of 1958 in the Sunburst or Natural finish, or the Cherry Red of 1959; the Walnut of 1970 (second year of that finish offering) is not really a "classic" 335. In the history of the Gibson aesthetic, this is analogous to, say, vertically-striped polyester bell-bottoms or Bahama Blue shag carpeting. None of this is to say that they're not cool guitars, and this is a nice one. Excellent photographs.

Chrome hardware, featuring the trapeze tailpiece (like my L-47 and I've always liked it) and ABR-1 bridge with period-typical nylon saddles. Bound rosewood fretboard, with small block markers, and then the crown inlay at the machine head. These would be the T-top Humbuckers. Vintage Nazis would moan that the upper bouts are pointy (the body templates were wearing-out in the factory) and the fourteen-degree machine head with the volute signals a sometimes not-fun era of the line, but these things really do rock or moan or whatever you want a 335-type semi-hollow to do. ...which, of course, is because it really is a 335.


In the months since I've let AxeBites languish all to bleedin' hell, Gibson's Robot Guitar technology has sifted out to other models than the original Les Paul application. I don't know how it's going: I still haven't even seen one of these self-tuners. I don't see piles of them burning on the sides of the highway, nor reverent hangings in display cases over bars, so who knows? This 2008 Robot SG is ready to rock in the Metallic Red. Nickel hardware; it's the stoptail wired for data to send to the tuners, with dual Humbuckers. It's a bound rosewood fretboard, but I really like the single-bound machine head with the crown inlay. That's a real cool old-school look, right there, to set off that crazy-ass color. {nod}