Spc. Chad Hayden Drake: War Casualty Saved Others' Lives
Senior DeMolay Chad H. Drake of Garland Chapter gave his life
in the service of his country. See below for a September 14, 2004, story
courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

Spc. Chad Hayden Drake of Garland left for Iraq on March 13, his 23rd birthday.

The 1999 graduate of North Mesquite High School's plans included possibly becoming a teacher and coaching middle school football.

He was concerned about "his girls" in his absence, including his wife, daughter, sister and mother.

Spc. Drake, 23, died Sept. 7 in Baghdad when his patrol vehicle was attacked with small-arms fire. Spc. Drake was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Eastridge Park Christian Church, 2701 Town East Blvd. in Mesquite. Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Eastridge Park Christian Church. He will be buried in Long Creek Cemetery in Sunnyvale.

Spc. Drake told his family not to worry, said his wife, Randi Drake of Forney.

"He said, 'You have your job, and this is mine,' " Mrs. Drake said.

Born in Dallas, Spc. Drake joined the Army three years ago, enlisting Aug. 16, 2001.

He was to receive a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor for his service about a month before the attack that cost him his life, his wife said. He was on a mission to rescue two pilots when his Humvee was ambushed with a roadside bomb. Spc. Drake got out of the vehicle and returned twice to free the driver and hatch gunner.

"He had to break the steering column of the truck to get that guy [the driver] out and out of the line of fire," his wife said. "After he got his buddies out of the truck, he continued on to help the two pilots."

Spc. Drake didn't realize that he had been wounded in the leg and neck until later. He thought at the time of the ambush that the cold sensation on his neck was from the cold air of the Humvee.

"People told me from the Army that he was always in good spirits; he always did his job," his wife said. "He was well-respected. People looked up to him."

At a Texas birthday celebration before he left, Spc. Drake told his family he'd be back for Thanksgiving.

"They told us the day he died he was in really good spirits," his wife said.

In addition to his wife, Spc. Drake is survived by his daughter, Kaylee Drake of Forney; his mother, Ginger Drake of Garland; his sister, Jennifer Ott of Forney; and his grandparents, Delores and Tod Weaver of Grapevine.