Though his impact during the Korean War was significant, Michael Drake said his father, Dale, was not a volunteer.
“He was drafted into the Army to serve as an anesthesiology physician. That was his first job,” said Michael, who himself is an anesthesiologist in Evansville.
Dr. Dale Drake, who passed away on Tuesday, was stationed in the 8055 MASH unit in Korea. He was 93 at his death.
Dale, along with his wife, Cathy — who worked in the same unit — would later help Hollywood shape the way America saw the Korean War.
About 10 years after Korea, the Drakes visited Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, a military surgeon they knew during the war.
After an evening of drinking and reminiscing, Hornberger — who used the pen name Richard Hooker — started writing a fictionalized account of the couple’s wartime experiences.
Hornberger credited that late-night storytelling session in writing “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.”
The novel inspired the movie “M*A*S*H.” The movie was then adapted into one of the greatest American television shows of all time.
The Drakes would later settle down in Evansville after the war.
“(Dale) was recruited to Evansville by Bob Steckler, MD,” Michael said. “(Steckler) was in the same war unit as my mom and dad.
“The reason my parents came here is because the Catholics were building a hospital on the undeveloped East Side of Evansville. My mom and dad took a chance and said, ‘Let’s make this our home.'”
That hospital would later be known as St. Mary’s, now St. Vincent.
Dale Drake continued to work at St. Mary’s as an anesthesiologist, and later was named Chief of Anesthesia at the hospital, a title he kept for 16 years.
“As chief of anesthesia, he did a very good job,” Michael said. “I’ve been chief of anesthesia. I can tell you, it’s a thankless job. It’s easy to lose your temper when you’re working under a lot of stress in the operating room. My pops kept it together.”
“My mom and dad are from Oklahoma and Montana,” Michael said. “They always intended to move West after retirement. They got as far as Solarbron (Family-first Senior Living facility.) They never left Evansville because they loved Evansville.”
Michael said he’ll always remember Dale as being a good father and grandfather.
“After retirement, he focused on two things: crossword puzzles and family,” Michael said. “He was a wonderful grandfather to his seven grandchildren and a good parent to us.”