Nature 14

David Allen Drake

September 24, 1945 ~ December 10, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old
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David Drake Obituary

David Drake, 78, of  the Silk Hope Community in Pittsboro, NC died on December 10th, 2023.  He was the son of the late Earle Drake and Maxine (Schneider) Drake of Dubuque, Iowa.  He is survived by his wife Joanne (Kammiller) Drake.  His son, Jonathan Drake and daughter-in-law April, and his grandson, Tristan Drake all of Burlington, NC.  One sister, Diana Drake and her partner David Handler of Old Lyme, CT.

David was the author or co-author of over 80 science fiction and fantasy books,  Drake, a Vietnam veteran and lawyer, turned to writing full-time in 1981, a few years after his first book was published.

Drake was born on September 24, 1945. He studied at Duke Law School and was drafted into the army in 1970, where he was assigned to the 11th Cavalry Regiment (a.k.a. the Blackhorse), where he, via tank, spent the war in Vietnam and Cambodia. He finished law school after he returned and became Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Assistant Town Attorney. He turned to writing to help him grapple with his army experiences, and his first book, the short story collection Hammer’s Slammers came out in 1979.

“The stories [in Hammer’s Slammers] were more important to me as self-therapy than they were as the start of a career,” Drake wrote on his website about his first published book. “They gave me a chance to write about what I’d seen and heard; about the men I’d served with and person I’d become in that time. Being able to get that out on paper helped me keep it between the ditches and (from what they’ve told me) helped other veterans by showing them that they weren’t alone.”

Hammer’s Slammers was a ten-book series and became his best-known work, which includes dozens of other novels including the fantasy series Lord of the Isles and the Lt. Leary series. He also provided outlines for numerous books, including the Belisarious series and The General series. 

Drake stopped writing in November 2021 due to health issues. “I have a long memory. This certainly isn’t a virtue when somebody else remembers another way and I refuse to change my belief,” he wrote in his last newsletter on November 17, 2023. “Sometimes it’s clearly a good thing though, being able to remember events in the army. Not so much because they gave me a career, not so much because of specific incidents as by giving me the feel of a war zone. That’s really different from normal life.”

Quote from Drake:

"The people I served with in 1970 (the enlisted men) were almost entirely draftees. At that time nobody I knew in-country:  thought the war could be won; thought our government was even trying to win; thought the brutal, corrupt Saigon government was worth saving; thought our presence was doing the least bit of good to anybody, particularly ourselves.

But you know, I’m still proud of my unit and the men I served with. They weren’t exactly my brothers, but they were the folks who were alone with me. Given the remarkably high percentage of those eligible who’ve joined the association of war-service Blackhorse veterans, my feelings are normal for the 11th Cav. Nobody who missed the Vietnam War should regret the fact. It was a waste of blood and time and treasure. It did no good of which I’m aware, and did a great deal of evil of which I’m far too aware. But having said that . . .  I rode with the Blackhorse."

Please leave your memorial tributes of David for the family on this webpage.  If you would like to make a memorial donation in memory of David Drake please consider doing so to The Blackhorse Association scholarships.   Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to serve the Drake family.


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