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