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

Crowds lined the streets Tuesday evening to honor a Champaign County sailor who died when his Navy ship crashed near Singapore last month.

Petty Officer 2nd class Jacob Drake, a graduate of Triad High School, was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 21 when the U.S.S. John McCain collided with a merchant ship in the South China Sea. Drake served as an electronics technician on the ship.

RELATED: Champaign County town rallies to support missing sailor

He was 21.

Drake’s body was flown to Columbus on Tuesday, landing about 4:30 p.m., and was then escorted to the Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home in West Jefferson in Madison County, where services will take place on Saturday.

Those who lined the streets in West Jefferson waved American flags and prayed for Drake. They said they did so because they wanted to honor the young man his service to the country and making the ultimate sacrifice.

Vicki Germann, a West Jefferson resident, said she learned of the procession on Facebook just hours before it began. She said there was no way that she was going to miss it.

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

Drake’s sister, Veronica Drake, said she was happy to see that a lot of people showed up for her brother and her family during this tough time.

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

A public visitation for Jacob Drake will start at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home and last until the time of funeral service and military honors there at 2 p.m. The funeral home is at 1355 W. Main St. in West Jefferson.

In order to honor his love of animals, his family encourages a contribution be made to a local animal shelter or rescue in lieu of flowers.

Young children and older veterans all came out to support the fallen Champaign County man and lined Main Street in West Jefferson on Tuesday.

“We want the children to know that he is a part of our country,” said West Jefferson resident Margie Jennings. “He served for our country and our freedom. We would like to thank his family also.”

Many children were seen waving flags. And while heavy rain started to fall, no one left and all stood silent when Drake’s remains made their way through downtown.

West Jefferson resident Geoff DeLong said the Drake family should know that they’re here to support them.

“They should know that we are here to support them because the fact is it’s the one thing we can do,” he said.

It’s important that the sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces make aren’t forgotten, Jennings said.

“It’s sad to see so many of these young men and women go out and serve our country and not get to come home,” Jennings said. “We are showing our gratitude toward him and sending a lot of prayers toward his family.”

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