Harold Drake Dies; Stars And Stripes Reporter Called Asia ‘My Side Of The World’
Harold Drake died with his wife by his side at Gold Coast Hospital in Canberra. He was 83-years-old. Harold Drake's career at Stars and Stripes started in 1956, shortly after he finished his tour of service in Korea as an artilleryman. He served during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, a month-long firefight that claimed the lives of more than 40,000 troops, and found work at as a reporter for Stars and Stripes in 1956. Harold Drake died after 18 years in retirement, having left the paper in 1995.
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"Stars and Stripes has lost a true legend," former colleague Gerry Galipault said.
Harold Drake started as a reporter at Stars and Stripes, but quickly moved up to senior writer and columnist. He covered the Vietnam War extensively, traveling to the battlefront four times during the war and again in 1985 for the tenth anniversary. In 1973, he traveled to the Phillipines to cover the release of POWs. Harold Drake died with an impressive resume of interviews as well, talking to everyone from rock stars to presidents.
Every president, "Ford through Clinton -- I think I got them all when they came over here," Drake once said.
Mother Theresea, Rod Stewart and Elizabeth Taylor were all interviewed by Drake during his career. Colleagues remember him as someone who knew how to ask real questions without being brash or offensive.
"He managed to find the human element in everything he wrote. And he was always a gentleman in the process," former Pacific Stripes news editor Ron Rhodes told Stars and Stripes.
Harold Drake died but his legacy as free-thinker and gifted writer lives on among the staff members whose lives he touched during his 39 years with Stars and Stripes. Particularly when he would toy with a wire contraption he called the "whirlygig" to help him focus.
"He was quirky, but always fun and always smart," said Galipault, who worked in the Tokyo office from 1984-90. When working the whirligig, "you could tell his mind was working a mile a minute, thinking about what to write next, what to say. And he always said it beautifully."
Harold Drake was known as an expert in Asian affairs, and became fascinated with Japan during a trip there while serving in Korea. That fascination is what led him to apply to the Tokyo-based job at Stars And Stripes in 1956.
He once described the Far East as "my side of the world."
Harold Drake is survived by his wife of 38 years, Kazuko, his sons Larry, 52, and Kenny, 47, both of a previous marriage, and two grandchildren.
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