First Marine from Springfield to die in WWII buried in Agawam - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

First Marine from Springfield to die in WWII buried in Agawam

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

Last October, the body of Francis Drake was recovered in the Solomon Islands.  He was first Marine from Springfield to die in World War II.

Today, Drake was laid to rest on American soil, as he always wanted.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, Francis and Rainey Drake were as close to their uncle as they've ever been.

"They talked about him quite often, talking about what had happened over there," said nephew Francis Drake.

Marine Private First Class Francis E. Drake was killed in Guadalcanal in October of 1942 and was buried alongside two others to be recovered at a later time.

Seventy-five years later, that time arrived.

After all these years, PFC Drake's remains were found just three feet below the surface by the current landowner who was building an outdoor kitchen.

The Drakes told Western Mass News that memorials like one at the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery in Agawam make the pain of their loss a little more bearable.

"I think our closure will be today when we finally get him here and buried," said Rainey Drake.

Those coming to pay their respects from the community help the family as well.

"This is one of those days where it's sad, but as well as a joyous day because we were able to bring him home," said Eric Segundo, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Massachusetts.

Shawndell Watts, who came to pay his respects, added, "That's like living legends right here.  When you talk about superheroes, those are superheroes."

Legends even family members know so little about.

"To not know anything really about him, as far as who he was or how he grew up.  We wanted to maybe find somebody who served with him or knows something about him or spent time with him," Rainey Drake added.

The Drakes aren't alone.  There are some 72,000 warriors from World War II who are still unaccounted for...but never forgotten.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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