Stars and Stripes Pacific
APO AP 96338-5002
29 March, 2013
Dear Mrs. Kazuko Drake,
It is with deep appreciation and respect that I offer you our condolences at Mr.Drake’s passing. Though I never knew Hal, I can literally see his legacy in every hallway gallery found in our headquarters here at the Akasaka Press Center in Tokyo, Japan. Most importantly, Hal’s four decades of service and his impact on our global organization is readily observed in the professional standards followed and the insightful newsgathering conducted by our military and civilian staff writers today.
You both were witness to such momentous changes in world history, and together you took action; your collaboration and teamwork shines brightly as a courageous example of the power of our dreams and the difference that we can make in the world around us when we have the courage to follow them.
I join the men and women of Stars and Stripes Pacific in honoring all that Hal and you have contributed to our shared communities, and know that Hal’s legacy is alive and well.Brian H. Porter, Lt. Col, USAF
PS&S News Letter – May 2013
Stars and Stripes Pacific recently celebrated the lasting contributions of two of its esteemed alumni, Hal Drake and S.Sgt. Paul D. Savanuck.
After a long battle with stomach cancer, Hal passed Jan. 27 in Queensland’s Gold Coast, Australia, where he made his home with his bride Kazuko. The Santa Monica, Ca., native served his country as an artilleryman during the Korean War, and then served the military community again by joining Stripes as a staff writer.
Over the next 40 years, Hal rose through the ranks, working the Saigon Bureau during Vietnam, then coming to Tokyo as a writer and special correspondent. He and Kaz witnessed much of the history of the emerging post-war Pacific Rim from
￼￼the offices of the Akasaka Press Center, shaping generations of Stripes reporters along the way.
At the time of his retirement in 1995, his editor Robert Trounson said, “Hal is a brilliant writer who has seen the paper through many ups and downs. For long periods of time, it seemed as though his professionalism was carrying the entire staff.”
Hal was interred with military honors in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (known as “the punchbowl”) in Hawaii on April 3. (See Erik Slavin’s article in this edition).
During the March budget meetings at SSP, the Publisher took time to meet with Col. Eric Tilley, Commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Japan; members of the renovation team, including representatives from 78th Signal Battalion, Director- ate of Public Works; and staffers to “cut the ribbon” for the newly renovated 3rd floor office spaces. This included the dedication of the S.Sgt. Paul D. Savanuck Media Center.
Savanuck was covering 5th Cavalry operations for Stars and Stripes in Quang Tri province when a North Vietnamese army unit attacked the armored column’s night encampment on April 18, 1969. While taking photographs of the action by the light of exploding shells, the Baltimore native was wounded in the knee. When the defensive perimeter was breached, he put down his camera and went to the aid of soldiers more seriously wounded. He and 11 other soldiers were killed in the engagement. For his gallantry and dedication to duty, he was promoted posthumously to staff sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
We are reminded of the very personal charge each of us has as we continue the Stripes’ mission, as highlighted by the Publisher during his remarks at the dedication:
“Staff Sergeant Savanuck demonstrated the courage and bravery of the Stripes’ staff. It is our honor to pursue the same goal as Sergeant Savanuck – telling the story of the military community — in a facility named in his honor and spirit.”
Hal Drake Memorial
SSP staffers Erik Slavin, Norio Muroi and Monte Dauphin attended a memo- rial for longtime SSP reporter Hal Drake, hosted by Kazuko Drake at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan in Tokyo on April 8.
Press passes to
photos of the old
Stripes newsroom and sto-
ries from Drake’s career were among the mementos on display at the event. Drake’s career at Stripes, which spanned from 1956 to 1995, included cover- age of everyone from Mother Teresa to Buster Douglas. He later moved with his wife, Kazuko, to Australia, where they helped Japanese students study abroad. Several of those former students were on hand at the memorial to share their stories of Drake, alongside some of the former journalists who knew him professionally.
Former AP reporter Richard Pyle sent a message to the memorial, in which he recalled the time when Drake’s applica- tion for membership to the correspondent’s club met some resistance. Who would object to a Stars and Stripes reporter in the club? A group of Communist bloc reporters – all of whom worked for governmentrun publications. Drake was admitted, managing not only to outlast those reporters, but also communism itself.by Erik Slavin