The 2011 book Shifty's War by journalist Marcus Brotherton, published by Penguin/Berkley-Caliber, captures Sgt. Powers' full life story.
Powers was born in Clinchco, Dickenson County, Virginia and volunteered for the Paratroopers with his newly-met good friend, Robert "Popeye" Wynn. Shifty spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, hunting game prior to joining the service. This later proved useful, as many of the skills he obtained helped him as a soldier. He graduated from high school and enlisted on 14 August 1942 at Richmond, Virginia.
Powers jumped into Normandy on D-Day, missing his drop zone. He eventually came in contact with Floyd Talbert and the two made their way to Easy Company. He also participated in the Allied military operation Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, and the Battle of the Bulge in Foy, Belgium.
Shifty was well-known throughout the 101st for his accuracy when shooting his rifle. Though he humbly told his comrades that his father was the best shot he'd ever seen, they still admired his sharpshooting skill. While in Foy, a German sniper shot three members of Easy Company, and everyone hid for cover. With the aid of Carwood Lipton, Shifty made a heroic attempt and silenced the German with his M1 right between the eyes. Company members say Powers saved many lives that day. He was generally considered to be the best shot in Easy Company. One of his most truly remarkable achievements, and a testament to the extraordinary gifts his backwoods upbringing brought to Easy Company, was the story documented in the Ambrose book, Band of Brothers, about the time in Bastogne when Shifty mentioned to his commanding officer that he noticed a tree in the distant forest that was not there just the day before. The "tree" was ultimately discovered to be a camouflaged German artillery piece. Were it not for Shifty's keen observations and outdoors experiences, many lives may have been lost, had that enemy weapon not been spotted from a distance of nearly a mile away and amongst a literal forest of other trees.
Because many men serving in the 101st lacked the minimum points required to return home, a lottery was put in place. Shifty Powers won this lottery after the rest of the company rigged it in his favor and was set to return stateside. During the trip to the airfield, the vehicle that Shifty was in was involved in an accident and he was badly injured. He spent many months recuperating in hospitals overseas while his comrades-in-arms arrived home long before he did.
Honorably discharged from the Army in the postwar demobilization, he became a machinist for the Clinchfield Coal Corporation. He is listed as one of 20 men from Easy Company who contributed to the 2009 book We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers, published by Penguin/Berkley-Caliber.
Powers died on 17 June 2009 of cancer in Dickenson County, Virginia. He is buried at Temple Hill Memorial Park, Castlewood, Russell County, Virginia.