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Navy sailor remembered as ‘great kid,’ steadfast friend

Published: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 3:57 PM

Funeral services were Saturday in West Jefferson for Navy sailor Jacob Drake who was one of 10 sailors who died at sea last month in a ship crash aboard the USS John McCain. Video produced by Barrie Barber.

A Navy sailor who was one of 10 who died aboard a guided missile destroyer was remembered at funeral services Saturday as one who was a steadfast friend, a sailor who took on extra duties without complaint and who made others laugh easily.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob “Jake” Drake served as an electronics technician aboard the USS John S. McCain when a tanker and the warship collided in the South China Sea near Singapore last month, according to the Navy. He was 21 and was engaged to be married.

At a memorial service days from his birthday, Navy shipmates wearing white dress uniforms from the McCain and boot camp, and friends who spoke shared memories and told stories of their fallen friend and colleague to dozens of mourners who both laughed and cried at Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Rafferty, 28, drove more than nine hours from Norfolk, Virginia, to speak at the service of his fellow shipmate with whom he attended boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.

“Whenever you go through boot camp, you get really close,” said Rafferty, who attended the funeral with fellow Navy sailor Connor Gaul, who also drove from Norfolk. Rafferty said Drake was a “great kid” to whom everyone was drawn to make friends.

“He had a unique personality,” said Gaul, 22, now a sailor aboard the USS George Washington. “He could make anybody laugh in any situation.”

Nearly two dozen members of the Patriot Guard gave a final salute of the flag-draped casket inside the funeral home. Navy sailors acted as pall bearers for their shipmate’s return home.

Nan Hays, of Marysville, didn’t know Drake but drove in from Marysville to pay her respects with two fellow Blue Star mothers with sons or daughters in the military. She said they wanted to support the family.

Friends remembered him as “fun and smart” and creative, someone who loved the color pink and cats and going to a cat cafe in Japan, where the McCain was stationed.

“Drake was a loved guy,” friend Josh Ewing said.

RELATED: Navy recovers remains of 10 sailors killed in USS John S. McCain crash

On a rainy Tuesday, hundreds of people, many holding American flags, lined the streets of West Jefferson as Drake’s remains were returned to his home state. His body was flown to Columbus and a procession was escorted to West Jefferson for memorial services and full military honors Saturday.

Vicki Germann, a West Jefferson resident, was among those who stood to pay their respects at the sailor’s homecoming this week.

“He supported us,” German said then. “This is the least I can do — is stand out here, grab a flag and wave it.”

The 2013 graduate of Triad High School in North Lewisburg had joined the Navy in part to travel the world and was stationed at Yokosuka, Japan. He was assigned about the McCain for nearly two years.

Some 400 people turned out for a candlelight vigil held in Lewisburg while the sailor was missing, said Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth.

RELATED: Champaign County missing sailor: three things to know about Jacob Drake

“He was just a wonderful young man, which is indicative of the community,” she said Saturday. “… It’s just a very patriotic community. We’re just so sorry that Jacob died. It was just a tragic, tragic death.”

According to the Navy, the McCain and an oil tanker collided Aug. 21 near Singapore. The crash ripped open a hole on the left side of the warship’s rear hull just above the waterline and flooded crew berths, machinery and communication rooms. Five other sailors were injured.

RELATED: Champaign County town rallies to support missing sailor

The collision was the fourth to strike the U.S. Pacific fleet within a year and led the Navy to order a temporary pause in operations. In June, seven sailors were killed aboard the USS Fitzgerald when a collision with a container ship in the Sea of Japan caused significant damage and flooded sleeping quarters, according to reports. The Navy relieved of command the top three senior leaders aboard the ship after the deadly crash.

After the accident involving the McCain, a 7th fleet admiral was relieved of his duties. The latest crash led congressional leaders to schedule a hearing into finding the cause of the incidents.

Staff writers Katherine Collins and Parker Perry and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Book chronicles heroism of war correspondents like OSU’s Cecil Brown

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 4:49 PM

As he scanned the names of the past winners of the Peabody award for broadcast journalism, Reed Smith, a professor of journalism at Georgia Southern University, came across the name Cecil Brown of CBS and admitted he “had never heard of him before.”

It began a four-year effort by Smith that culminated last November in the release of his book, “Cecil Brown: The Murrow Boy Who Became Broadcasting’s Crusader for Truth.” It’s the story of an Ohio State University student from 1929 who reached the pinnacle of broadcast journalism during World War II and the era of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

Smith became fascinated with Brown’s story and it is easy to see why. As a CBS Radio broadcaster in Singapore in December 1941 he nearly lost his life when Japanese torpedo bombers sank the British battlecruiser Repulse in the South China Sea. Brown was a correspondent on the Repulse.

His gripping minute-by-minute account of the disaster for CBS, which also included the destruction of the British battleship Prince of Wales, earned him the Peabody award and transformed him into one of the best-known correspondents of World War II.

“There were upwards of a thousand sailors who died during that attack,” Smith said. “He was not wounded during attack and fortunately was able to get off the ship. A British sailor reached out in the water off a Carley Float and grabbed him. Cecil thought he had just about had it. It was pretty miraculous.”

Brown also was known for his legendary battles with Italian and British censors in World II as they tried to block or alter his broadcasts, prompting Smith to describe Brown as “very feisty. He was a big First Amendment guy and he became quite exasperated when anybody tried to curtail his freedom of the press.”

RELATED: Cecil Brown’s obituary

For Smith, 68, it was a case of one Ohio man meeting another. Smith, a graduate of Ohio University who earned an M.A. from Bowling Green and then a Ph.D from Ohio University, grew up in New Concord. Brown, who died in 1987, was raised in Warren, married a woman from Columbus who is still alive in Los Angeles at age 104.

He left Ohio State nine hours short of a degree in 1929 and worked as a reporter for a number of years before Edward R. Murrow hired him at CBS Radio in 1940 and assigned him to cover the war from Rome.

Brown reported in an entirely different era than today when journalists are under relentless attacks from President Donald Trump and many conservatives.

“It tells us the public view of journalism has changed drastically over the past 70 years,” Smith said. “Murrow and Cecil were seen as heroes. They were brave men in the war zone telling the truth for what was going on and continuing to get in trouble for telling the truth.”

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Work to start next month on $10.5 million Wright-Patt gateway

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Gate 16A, a commercial truck screening checkpoint, will be consolidated with a new Gate 26A in 2019 in a $10.5 million construction project. JIM WITMER | 2011 STAFF FILE PHOTO
            Jim Witmer
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Gate 16A, a commercial truck screening checkpoint, will be consolidated with a new Gate 26A in 2019 in a $10.5 million construction project. JIM WITMER | 2011 STAFF FILE PHOTO(Jim Witmer)

A new $10.5 million gateway that will consolidate two Wright-Patterson entrances into one is set to begin construction next month, a base spokesman says.

A new Gate 26A, a few hundred yards from the current one, would replace a commercial delivery entrance at Gate 16A off Ohio 444, and the existing Gate 26A off Ohio 235 near the entrance to the 445th Airlift Wing headquarters.

The new entrance way off Ohio 235 will be sited between Sandhill Road and Circle Drive, according to Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Work was scheduled for completion at the end of next year, the base said.


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Top Gun pilot to speak at film screening

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 6:04 PM

            The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

A real-life Top Gun is scheduled to be at a screening of Top Gun 3D at the Air Force Museum Theatre.

Retired Navy Capt. Ken Ginader, a former Top Gun instructor and F-14 pilot, was set to speak at the screening of film, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Ginader is the first speaker in the 2018 Living History Film Series at the museum.

Tickets cost $12 for audience members, or $10 for members of Friends of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

For more information, click onto http://www.afmuseum.com/livinghistory .


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AF museum opens, Wright-Patt workers head to work as shutdown ends

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 9:20 AM

            The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

President Donald Trump has signed a two-year budget deal Friday that ended a government shutdown overnight Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Wright-Patterson employees were told to report to work Friday despite a possible shutdown and had been in a holding pattern waiting for additional word until the president signed the legislation.

RELATED: Wright-Patt workers told to report to work Friday despite shutdown

Base spokesman Daryl Mayer said no orders had been issued to send civil service employees home and the base was awaiting official word the shutdown — which lasted less than nine hours — was over.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which closed after opening for four hours on the first day of a three-day shutdown last month, opened Friday morning as scheduled, according to spokeswoman Diana Bachert.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park locations at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in Dayton and Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center near Wright-Patterson also were open.

RELATED: Threat of government shutdown wearing on workers

The partial federal government shutdown was the second in less than three weeks, the last occurring Jan.20-22.

Wright-Patterson sent home 8,600 Wright-Patterson civil service workers on a one-day work week furlough Monday, Jan. 22.

Overnight Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the floor of the Senate to decry the increase in debt spending, which delayed a vote on the two-year deal until after the midnight shutdown deadline.

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