Jacob Drake, left, and Brad Frick are enjoying a meal together at a restaurant in Great Lakes, Illinois, in 2014, before Drake had to catch his plane ride to Virginia. Both joined the Navy and have been good friends since 2013, where they met in their Navy training classes. Drake was one of the 10 sailors who went missing after the USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker near Malaysia Monday.
Brad Frick, an Electronics Technician Petty Officer 3rd Class in the Navy, couldn’t believe what he was hearing when he found out one of his best friends, Jacob Drake, was lost at sea.
He had just gotten back from a trip to the United States and had a hard time settling back into his 12-hour shifts in Bahrain. He was in the process of fixing his sleep schedule from the time zone differences, and the news he received early Monday morning wasn’t “the right equation for a good night’s sleep.”
“(His fiancée) was the first one to tell me he was missing and I didn’t want to believe it at all,” he said. “I messaged his mom to confirm it, and she did.”
Drake was aboard the USS John McCain when it collided with an oil tanker near Malaysia on Monday, and he’s reported as one of the missing 10 sailors aboard the ship.
Since then, Frick has been trying his best to keep up with the news about the missing sailors and Drake as much as he can, often speaking with Megan Partlow, Drake’s fiancée. Since then, Frick has been sending many pictures of himself with Drake to his mom.
Frick said he considered Drake to be one of his best friends, ever since they both left basic training to receive their Navy training in Great Lakes, Illinois, in 2013. Frick was 22 at the time, but Drake was 18 and fresh out of high school.
They went to the same class and they roomed together for 10 months, and both their passions and personalities were able to quickly spark a friendship between the two. Though they are years apart from each other, Frick would invite Drake to parties at his house near their school. They even spent a Thanksgiving together.
“It is really crazy to think that the age difference really does go out the window here,” he said. “We were both loud personalities, and we liked to be the jokesters, the center of attention, if you will. We liked to be the life of a party.”
He said Drake joined to Navy to give himself some discipline. He’s an intelligent person and he knows it, though he’s not cocky about it. Frick said Drake would achieve some of the highest grades in their class, having his work done hours before anyone else did. Being a tech-savvy person, Drake was also an electronics technician.
Frick said Drake was known for his sense of humor. It matched his family’s, where they could joke about anything. Though very “raunchy and crude,” it was all great to Frick.
“He was a goon, a goofball and he had no shame” Frick joked. “Every time we hung out, he was a walking joke at his expense and he didn’t care. If it got a rise or a laugh out of people, that’s all he cared about… He was there to have a good time, no matter what.”
They both finished school in July, 2014, though they went their separate ways. Drake left the Illinois base to be stationed in Virginia. They still kept in touch through talking to each other and playing video games together. Eventually, in 2015, they were both stationed countries apart, with Frick stationed in Bahrain and Drake in Japan.
“It’s really weird how well we hit it off so fast as friends,” he said. “It was a short 10 months, but it mattered a lot more.”
They talked a lot about their work lives and their interests, but Drake didn’t talk much about his personal life, and Frick had only visited him in North Lewisburg three times. Drake had taken trips back to Ohio, though, where he met Partlow, which Frick said he was very happy for them being together.
Frick didn’t communicate much with Partlow beforehand, which the initial message of Drake’s disappearance taking him by complete surprise. It also didn’t help that he had another friend aboard the USS John McCain that morning.
“The friends you make in the military, some of them hit that ‘ride or die’ slot,” he said. “They’re people you hold onto dearly. These are friends you’ll keep until the end of time, no matter what.”
Frick is staying hopeful for good news about Drake, keeping in contact with Drake’s mom and Partlow.
There will be a candlelit vigil in the sailors’ honor tonight at the North Lewisburg Ball Park at 8:30 p.m., which he said he’s very grateful to have happen.
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