For Veteran’s Day: Talking to the son of “an ordinary guy”

Dan Powers of Oklahoma City says “I’m an Irishman, so I tell stories.” On Wednesday of this week, he spoke to a group of Oklahoma legislative staffers, and a reporter of Irish ancestry.

His visit came in anticipation of Veteran’s Day, November 11. 

Dan spoke in a fourth floor meeting room of the State Capitol where an acclaimed painting shows Columbia, a feminine figure representing the United States, standing before a symbolic tomb listing the names of every Oklahoman who died in the First World War.

Powers said of his now-deceased father, Eddy, and comrades who fought their way across Europe in the Second World War: “They hated war. They were ordinary guys. They saved the world.” 

After his luncheon talk, Powers spoke with CapitolBeatOK about his father, filling in some details. 

Those who fought in World War II are often dubbed, “the greatest generation.” Asked to name Eddy’s greatest gift to him, Dan replied, “I think his compassion for other people, and his willingness to never quit. He taught me that. He also taught me to stand up for what’s right. He was a big, big proponent of that.”

Like many in his generation, Sgt. Eddy Powers — who landed at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, but returned to his unit in February 1945 to finish the job – adamantly refused to acknowledge the truth when people called him a hero. Dan recalls: 

“He was probably the most humble guy when it came to that. If we tried to center in on that, and the fact that he was a hero, he would tell a funny story, or divert the conversation elsewhere. He just never considered it to be something that was extraordinary. He just figured it was something that needed to be done by the people of his generation.”

Eddy’s final days in the U.S. Army were memorable, as his son tells the story: “On December 6 [1945], he left Europe. He sailed across the Atlantic, of course, and he landed in New York Harbor on December 15. And he said that Lady Liberty never looked so good.” It was one day short of the anniversary of his near-fatal wounding at what veterans called “the Bulge.” 

Dan continues: “He was finally able to get a train back home, to upstate New York, on the 23rd [of December], and he came home for Christmas. He said that was the most important thing, to make sure he got home for Christmas. That was the Army’s Christmas present to him, he said.”

Eddy Powers was a technical sergeant, “a five-striper.” From September of 1942 to December of 1945, he served in the 99th Infantry Division, Company L, 394th Infantry Regiment.