Canberra, Australia — Harold Drake, the legendary reporter for US military newspaper Pacific Stars and Stripes, has died in Australia. He was 83.
Drake, who for close to 40 years reported from battlefields in Vietnam and conducted dozens of interviews with global stars for Stars and Stripes, had been diagnosed with cancer.
The veteran journalist was a renowned expert on Asia and filed a huge array of stories from the region while based in Tokyo for many years. He officially retired in 1995.
Speaking to the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Monday, Drake’s former colleague, Gerry Galipault, remarked:
“Stars and Stripes has lost a true legend.”
Former Stars and Stripes news editor, Ron Rhodes, added to Drake’s old newspaper:
“[Harold Drake] managed to find the human element in everything he wrote. And he was always a gentleman in the process.”
Drake was a fearless reporter, not only covering the Vietnam War itself but also flying to the Philippines in 1973 to welcome back returning prisoners of war released from Vietnam.
His CV also boasted an admirable number of famous interviewees: Mother Teresa, musician Rod Stewart, and actress Elizabeth Taylor were just some of the famous personalities who talked to Drake down the years.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Drake retired to Australia’s tourist resort city of Gold Coast in Queensland in the mid-1990s.
He also had a special fascination with Japan, which he saw during his service in the Korean War. Speaking in an interview after his retirement, Drake remarked:
“There was just something about Japan I had to see again.”
After the Korean war had finished in an uneasy truce, Drake began working at the Los Angeles Mirror. It was there, in 1956, that he saw his future Tokyo-based job with Stars and Stripes advertised.
Harold Drake is the second high-profile war reporter to have passed away in the last few days. Late last week, Vietnam reporter Stanley Karnow died, aged 87.
[Image via Stars and Stripes]