‘Shifty (Article written by Chuck Yeager)
We ‘re hearing a lot today about big splashy memorial services.
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
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,
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
“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 who 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 before his death June 17, 2009 after Fighting Cancer
No big event in Staples Center .
No wall to wall back to back 24×7 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.
(When I was General Manager of the Jeux Canada Games in Saint John, NB, in August, 1985 the Commanding General at Camp Gagetown contacted me and asked if I could accommodate some American Troops who were just finishing a massive military exercise and were enroute home to the U.S. I agreed and in came the 1st Brigade of the 101 Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They came down and attended the Games. Colonel Ralph L. Haglar Commanding Officer of the Brigade in appreciation came to my office and presented me with a 101 Airborne Division Citation. I was truly honoured. CAPER)
Major General Chuck Yeager – WWII and Cold War Hero
Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force’s retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.
His career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). Although Scott Crossfield was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter set a new record of Mach 2.44. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager’s flying career spans more than sixty years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, including the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War
(I think that it is amazing how the “media” chooses our “heros” these days… Michael Jackson & the like – CAPER)