- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

TICKFAW, La. (AP) - Specialist Chris Drake may have passed away more than two years ago in Afghanistan, but a dedication ceremony on July 12 in Tickfaw shows his memory remains strong.

The Village of Tickfaw renamed 3rd Street to Chris Drake Drive in a ceremony attended by many members of the community, Louisiana National Guardsmen, the Patriot Guard and elected officials.

Drake, 21, was killed on May 26, 2013 in Afghanistan when a rocket propelled grenade struck the vehicle he was traveling. His family lived in the Tickfaw area and he was a graduate of Independence High School, where he played football for the Tigers.

“It’s wonderful and I appreciate it so much that they took the thought,” said his mother, Rose Drake. “I’m sure Chris is smiling down on us now with a big grin.”

Drake said she has received strong support from the community since her son died.

“What I enjoy most is how people came together and supported since he died,” she said. “He hasn’t been forgotten.”

Tangipahoa Parish Councilman and former U.S. Army paratrooper Louis Joseph told the crowd how the street name change came to be.

He said after Drake’s funeral, he was driving through Tickfaw after the funeral and was impressed with the turnout and show of love for the Drake family and the military from all the citizens of the parish.

“I thought it would be nice to see if we could get as street named after Drake who gave his life for the freedoms we enjoy,” he said.

Joseph then contacted Tickfaw officials about the idea and presented it during a town meeting.

“There was no hesitation,” he said. “They just jumped on it.”

Not long after, Joseph said he was driving one day when town attorney Maurice Trippi called him and let him know the ordinance was done.

“I told him you almost made me run into the ditch,” he said.

Joseph thanked the village officials and the people of Tickfaw for working with him and making the renaming possible.

Tickfaw Mayor Anthony Lamonte said town officials were proud to rename the street.

“The only reason we’re here today to do this is because the men and women who sacrificed so we could be free,” he said.

Major General Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana National Guard told the crowd the nation owes the Drake family a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. He reminded people since the wars in the Middle East began, 57 Louisiana National Guardsmen have been killed in action.

Curtis said for his actions in the Guard, Drake earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign medal, Louisiana War Cross, NATO Medal and Combat Action Badge.

After the ceremony, Joseph said he was ecstatic the Village of Tickfaw made the idea come true.

“I am very proud of what happened today and my hat is off to the people of Tickfaw,” he said. “To me, Tangipahoa Parish is one of the most patriotic parishes in the state.”


Information from: The Daily Star, https://www.hammondstar.com

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