On October 9, 1942, PFC Francis E. Drake, USMC made the ultimate sacrifice at Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theatre of Operations during World War II in defense of the United States of America. Today, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Brigadier General John Driscoll, Assistant Adjutant General and the Land Component Commander of the Massachusetts National Guard, honor PFC Drake’s memory and supreme sacrifice with the presentation of the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty to his family members, nephew Francis P. Drake, Jr., and his wife Rainey Drake.
Also attending the ceremony were Patrick Carnavale, Director of the Western Massachsuetts Office of Governor Charlie Baker, Michelle Brown of the Office of Congressman Richard E. Neal, State Representative Carlos Gonzalez, State Representative John Velis, and Tom Belton, Director of Springfield's Office of Veterans Services.
The Massachusetts Medal of Liberty is awarded in the name of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth to any Massachusetts serviceman or woman killed in action or who died as a result of wounds received in action.
PFC Drake was the first Marine from the City of Springfield to die in World War II. At the time of his enlistment, he lived at 255 Mill Street in Springfield. It was in the midst of this intense offensive on October 9, 1942, south of Point Cruz and west of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal, that PFC Drake attempted to carry a wounded Marine to a protective ridge about 100 yards distant from his place of injury when both Marines were struck by enemy fire and killed.
PFC Drake was buried in a field grave and his remains were deemed unrecoverable by the Marine Corps in 1949. His name was inscribed on the Wall of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery Taguig City, Philippines. PFC Drake received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart posthumously.
In 2011, a resident of Guadalcanal, while digging a foundation for the expansion of his home, discovered remains of an American service member. Through the work of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the remains of were positively identified as PFC Drake in 2017. PFC Drake’s remains were repatriated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where he was interred in the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Agawam on May 25, 2018.
“The Commonwealth will forever be indebted to Private Drake for his bravery and willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “When we honor the brave service members who answered their country’s call, never to return, we must also honor the loved ones left behind. The Medal of Liberty is just one way of recognizing that they, too, made a great sacrifice to the cause of liberty across the world.”
“I am thankful to Mayor Sarno and Brigadier General John Driscoll, Assistant Adjutant General and the Land Component Commander of the Massachusetts National Guard for honoring the life, service, and sacrifice of PVT Francis Drake, USMC with the awarding of the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty. PVT Drake served his country honorably. I was pleased to be in attendance with those commemorating his life when his remains were brought home more than 75 years after his passing last spring. I am hopeful that his family will accept this token as a reminder of PVT Drake’s distinguished duty to our country. Thank you from the Untied States of America,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Seventy-seven years ago, lest we forget and always remember the ultimate sacrifice PFC Francis E. Drake, USMC made in defense of freedom. Dread the thought, that without brave and dedicated veterans like PFC Drake, what our world would have been. PFC Drake and our veterans changed the face of our world for the better. May God rest his soul and Godspeed to all our military personnel.”
“It's a privilege and our solemn honor to recognize the sacrifice of Private Drake with the Medal of Liberty." said Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard. "With this medal presentation we affirm to the Drake family their loved one will always be remembered."