Despite a chilly September rain, more than a hundred area residents lined Main Street in downtown West Jefferson Tuesday to honor the memory and service of fallen Navy Petty Officer Jacob Daniel Drake as a police procession led him through town to the Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home.
Veterans, parents with their children, area law enforcement and residents wishing to pay their respects stood in the rain with American flags waving, some with signs showing their gratitude both for Petty Officer Drake and their country.
“I am here to give my respects to the young man who served our country. I think these young men and woman who are going into the service today are very brave and I am really proud of them. When one of them falls it is really sad,” said Becky Danglade of West Jefferson as she stood by the curb holding an American flag.
She said her husband is retired from the 121st Air National Guard out of Rickenbacker. When she heard that Petty Officer Drake was being brought back for funeral services in West Jefferson and there was going to be a procession though downtown, she said, “To not come here and pay respects? That wouldn’t be right.”
Nearby, Margie Jennings and Dustin Ewry brought their six children to watch the procession and pay their respects. They held flags and made a sign the children made saying, “Thank you Jacob.”
Margie Jennings felt being there was important for her children. “It’s important for them to show their respect, appreciation and gratitude from our entire family to this fallen officer.”
The West Jefferson family operates Midnight Creations downtown. “Normally we close at 5 p.m., but everyone downtown stayed to show their respect.”
Petty Officer Drake served on the U.S.S. John S. McCain for nearly two years before dying Aug. 21 at age 21 when his ship collided with a merchant ship near Singapore. He was one of 10 sailors killed in the collision.
The police procession guided the sailor from the John Glenn International Airport after the body arrived from Singapore.
Petty Officer Drake joined the Navy right after graduating from Triad North High School in North Lewisburg. He was a native of Cable in Champaign County.
According to his obituary, he was posthumously promoted to an Electronics Technician — Petty Officer Second Class. “He enjoyed his time serving to the fullest, and traveled the globe representing the best the United States and Ohio has to offer. Jake was a well known cat enthusiast, and enjoyed visiting Japan’s “Cat Cafes” when in port. He will be fondly remembered as a funny guy who loved life and he never had a problem making friends wherever he went,” it read.
Petty Officer Drake is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents Ronald and Bonnie Drake and uncles Steve Drake and Danny Kelly. He is survived by parents, Suzanna and Ronald Drake; sister, Veronica Drake; fiance, Megan Partlow; grandmother, Teresa McGhee; great-grandmother, Bonnie Riebel; aunts and uncles, Rob (Tammy) Drake, Lori Drake, Lisa Boyer, and Shelly Kelly; close cousins, Brandie (Gary), Erin, Trevor, Nick, Melody (Devon), Tyler and Trystyn; numerous other family members and countless friends.
Public visitation will be Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. until time of funeral service and military honors at 2 p.m. at the Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home, 1355 W. Main St. in West Jefferson. In order to honor Jake’s love of animals, his family encourages in lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution be made to a local animal shelter or rescue of your choice.
Reach General Manager/Editor Gary Brock at 937-556-5759.