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Ranger Battalion veteran of World War II to speak on D-Day anniversary

Posted 5/15/19

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a veteran who fought at Normandy will be the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Central PA WWII Roundtable, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6.

Hawley native Joe …

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Ranger Battalion veteran of World War II to speak on D-Day anniversary

Posted

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a veteran who fought at Normandy will be the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Central PA WWII Roundtable, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6.

Hawley native Joe Drake served as sergeant with Company A, 2nd Ranger Battalion.

One of his outfit’s most famous exploits was climbing the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1944. Drake, however, arrived a few weeks after the initial Normandy landings and helped to clear out remaining pockets of German soldiers in the vicinity.

Drake entered the army in April 1943, and after training in Mississippi, Louisiana and England saw combat in Northern France, the Rhineland, and Belgium, including the Battle of the Bulge.

A monumental victory for the Rangers of the 2nd Battalion in which Drake did participate was the assault on the city of Brest in August 1944. 

Drake’s A Company disabled the strongest and largest German fortress in the area, taking over 850 German prisoners. 

Drake made it back to the United States in October 1945 and was discharged that December. He worked for 34 years in the Hawley post office, serving as postmaster for the last 15 years. 

Today, the 95-year-old veteran lives on the street where he was born.

The June meeting will feature a buy one, get one free book sale, with proceeds donated to local nonprofit organizations that benefit veterans.

The Central Pennsylvania WWII Roundtable is a nonprofit organization that provides a forum for World War II veterans, authors, historians and others to share their knowledge and experiences related to the war.

Meetings, held the first Thursday of every month, begin at 7 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 433 E. Main Street, Hummelstown.

Anyone with an interest in World War II is invited to attend the meetings. There are no membership or admission fees.

For more information, contact Charlie Lloyd at charlie.centralpaww2rt@gmail.com or 717-503-2862, or visit the organization’s website at www.centralpaww2roundtable.org.