Friends, family, fellow sailors gather for funeral of fallen Champaign County fallen sailor

Published: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 1:56 PM

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Drake receives the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in July for his efforts during Mid-Cycle Inspection (MCI) aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile-class destroyer USS John S. McCain. Drake, a graduate of Triad High School, is among the sailors missing after a crash involving the USS McCain. Photo from U.S. Navy. Contributed photo
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Drake receives the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in July for his efforts during Mid-Cycle Inspection (MCI) aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile-class destroyer USS John S. McCain. Drake, a graduate of Triad High School, is among the sailors missing after a crash involving the USS McCain. Photo from U.S. Navy. Contributed photo

UPDATE @ 1:37 p.m.

Friends and family continue to gather for the funeral of Navy sailor Jacob Drake Saturday morning in West Jefferson. 

Fellow sailors have turned out to pay their respects as well as a group of Blue Star Mothers who have children in the Navy. 

Petty Officer Third Class Nathan Rafferty, 28, drove with another sailor from Norfolk, Virginia for the visitation and funeral. 

"Whenever you go through boot amp you get really close to them he was a great kid and everyone just flooded to him," Rafferty said. 

A group of Blue Star Mothers including Nan Hayes from Marysville told our reporter they are attending because they to have children serving overseas.


The Champaign County sailor who was killed when the USS John McCain collided with a merchant ship near Singapore last month will be remembered today at his funeral.

BACKGROUND: Champaign County missing sailor

Family and friends will gather at the Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home in West Jefferson in Madison County. A public visitation will begin at 10 a.m. and his funeral will start at 2 p.m. He will be given military honors at that time.

RECENTLY: Body of Champaign County sailor who died in Navy crash comes home

Drake was a Triad graduate. He was 21.

Drake was missing for several days after the crash on the South China Sea.

His body landed in Ohio on Tuesday and he was escorted to West Jefferson by emergency vehicles and veterans. Many honored Drake in downtown West Jefferson by standing on the side of the road as the procession went by.

RESPECTED: Jacob Drake Honored

The family has thanked everyone for being there for them.

“The support is greatly appreciated,” his sister Veronica Drake said. “It is very nice to have support from the community and to know Jake will be so well remembered by everyone around him.”

Miami Valley veterans chosen for Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:30 AM

            Richard V. Reynolds CONTRIBUTED
Richard V. Reynolds CONTRIBUTED

Three Miami Valley veterans are among 20 statewide chosen as the newest inductees into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

The two Air Force veterans and a former Marine include:

* Blanche Aviles Casey, 73, of Beavercreek, a veteran of both the Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War era who became a federal servant after serving 30 years in the Air Force.

Casey is a member of the Greene County Veterans Service Commission, and serves on the Greene County transit board, according to the state. She’s a member of veterans’ service organizations and won recognition awards for her extensive involvement in public service.

RELATED: Two local WWII veterans mark 100th birthdays

* William E. DeFries, 57, of Clayton, a Marine Corps veteran who is a small business owner, philanthropist, and mentor, among other roles.

DeFries acts as a mentor at the Ohio Veterans Treatment Court in Montgomery County for veterans suffering substance abuse or mental illness, according to the state. Among a wide range of community public service, he has offered jobs to the unemployed at his restaurants and organized fund raisers through community service organizations for young adults involved in athletics, art and academia, the state said.

RELATED: WWII 75 years later: 101-year old Dayton man relives Doolittle Raid

* Richard V. Reynolds, 68, of Beavercreek, a retired three-star Air Force general, was a past chairman, president and CEO of the Air Force Museum Foundation Inc. He led a nearly $41 million fund raising campaign to add a fourth hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force that opened last year and is part of the fund raising effort to build a $6.5 million Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus.

Among other post military work, Reynolds co-founded Air Camp Inc., for Dayton elementary and middle school students in the region.

The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame will induct its newest members Nov. 9 in Dublin, Ohio.

Local group leading ‘Convoy of Hope’ for relief aid to Puerto Rico

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 7:08 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 8:28 PM

            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees collected hurricane relief aid for Puerto Rico. CONTRIBUTED
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees collected hurricane relief aid for Puerto Rico. CONTRIBUTED

Members of PACO, who include Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees, and several businesses have gathered more than 100 pallets of hurricane relief aid items to ship to Puerto Rico, still reeling from Hurricane Maria, an organizer says.

“The Dayton community came through big time,” said Tony Ortiz, an organizer for the Puerto Rican, American Caribbean Organization (PACO) who coordinated with area businesses and base employees to roll out a “Convoy of Hope” — five semi-tractor trailers filled with aid that left Wednesday.

RELATED: Ohio National Guard deploys more troops to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico

“This is a great feeling,” said Ortiz, an Ohio Attorney General employee who is the diversity liaison to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio.

Food, water, and cleaning supplies were among items collected, he said. “You name it, it was there,” Ortiz said. “People came out in droves to help.”

The truck will head to a Convoy of Hope warehouse in Missouri and be shipped from there to Puerto Rico, he said.

“We’re all affected by it so we’re trying to do all we can,” he said.

Ortiz, who has family who live in Puerto Rico, said his relatives were “surviving” after Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory, the second since Hurricane Irma sideswiped the island weeks before the latest powerful storm caused widespread damage.

RELATED: Wright Patt hurricane relief flights expected to fly for weeks

His family remained without power and lacked food and water, he said.

“Everything’s wiped out,” he said. “All of them lost their business. They’re just stuck up in the mountains living off the mountain.”

The Convoy of Hope is collecting aid though out Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland, he said. People in those cities are continuing to work with the convoy project, but their participation has not yet been confirmed.

The need remains great: Less than 20 percent of island residents have had their power restored since the storm and the death toll has climbed to nearly 50.

As many as one million Puerto Ricans do not have clean water to drink and many hospitals continue to operate on generator power as the tropical heat soars.

— WHIO-TV’s Kate Bartley contributed to this report.

Middletown soldier killed in Fort Jackson military accident to be laid to rest

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 7:26 PM

Private Timothy Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County.

UPDATE @ 11 a.m. (Oct. 16):

A Middletown U.S. Army soldier killed in a military accident early this month at Fort Jackson in South Carolina will be laid to rest Monday.

Funeral services for Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft will be held at 2 p.m. in Middletown at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home, 3805 Roosevelt Blvd.

A visitation will be held prior to the funeral from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

According to his obituary, Ashcraft attended Mayfield Elementary and Middletown Middle School in Middletown. He then went to West Clermont school district to finish his education. Timothy also attended Live Oaks, where he was studying to be a welder. 

Interment will be held at Woodside Cemetery.


A U.S. Army soldier from Southwest Ohio was killed Friday after he was struck by a military vehicle while in formation.

Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft, was one of two soldiers who died in the incident that injured six others at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, according to the military. The other killed was identified as Pvt. Ethan Shrader of Prospect, Tenn.

Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County, our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are thankful for his dedication and service to our country,” according to a statement released by the West Clermont Local School District. “His impact ... will not soon be forgotten.”

U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate what caused the military vehicle to crash into the pedestrians.

“We are continuing to support everyone affected by this tragic event,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate the cause of the fatal crash.

The six injured were privates Emmett Foreman of Daleville, Alabama; Hanna new of Cartersville, Georgia; Benjamin Key of Cookville, Tenn.; Alan Kryszak of Clarksville, Tenn.; Cardre Jackson Jr. of Laurel, Maryland; and James Foster of Macon, Ga.

DoD: Springboro soldier killed in Niger in attack by Islamic extremists

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 1:35 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

More details revealed about Niger attack where local solider was killed

UPDATE @ 5:45 p.m. (Oct. 11): Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Springboro and the other U.S. soldiers killed in Niger were victims of an attack by Islamic extremists, the Department of Defense tells the Associated Press.


Family and friends of 39-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson remember the Springboro soldier after he was killed in a terrorist ambush in Niger. 

Staff Sgt. Johnson was killed during a joint operation between U.S. and Nigerian forces near the border of Mali. The Associated Press reported that he and three others were killed by enemy fire after an ambush. Around 40 and 50 extremists ambushed in vehicles and motorcycles, attacking the patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. 

RELATED: Remembering 43 area servicemen who died on active duty since 2002

Jeff and Teena Baldridge are neighbors of where Staff Sgt. Johnson’s family used to live, and saw soldiers outside, looking for Johnson’s mother. 

"We knew when they said that -- we knew who it was and we knew where he was," Teena Baldridge said. 

"Jeremiah was doing what he really wanted to do, he really wanted to be an NCO (non-commissioned officer) in the United States Army," Jeff Baldridge said. Baldridge is also a retired Air Force veteran. 

CRIME: Clark County animal shelter burglarized, supplies stolen

Political leaders also shared their condolences, including U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Gov. John Kasich tweeted “My heart goes out to Jeremiah’s family. Rest in peace, Staff Sergeant.”

Staff Sgt. Johnson is survived by  a wife and two children. His funeral service will be held sometime within the next week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.