War Hero E-mail Goes Worldwide -- But Who Really Wrote It?

ABC News identifies author of e-mail about memorial for Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

ByABC News
July 16, 2009, 1:12 PM

July 16, 2009&#151;<br />WASHINGTON -- You've probably received or heard about the e-mail traveling around the world that calls for an online memorial service for World War II hero Darrell "Shifty" Powers who died quietly last month at age 86. It served its purpose of getting national attention for former SSgt. Powers, a member of the 101st Airborne who parachuted into Normandy and who was profiled in the HBO war series "Band of Brothers."

The e-mail's writer described meeting "Shifty" at an airport in Philadelphia and, upon learning of his accomplishments in the war, offered to switch his first-class seat for "Shifty's" seat in coach. For some people it sounded too poignant to be true. I was very skeptical and believed it was one of those made up e-mails based on partial truths whose writer's goal is more about seeing how far it can travel in cyberspace.

Some versions of the e-mail give the impression it was written by another hero, famed test pilot Chuck Yeager, while others say it comes from military columnist Joe Galloway.

But neither man actually wrote it. The e-mail was unsigned.

The original e-mail you'll see below is very moving and reminds us that we have not always given the heroes of World War II their proper sendoffs. And "Shifty" died just before Michael Jackson. A lot of people were angry that news coverage of Jackson's death and memorial service pushed so many other deserving stories off the newspaper pages and TV screens.

But the questions remain. Is the personal account of meeting "Shifty" in this e-mail true, and who wrote it?