Voices of Oswego Veterans

A Conversation with David

David Drake

Photographer: Megan Barry

Featuring: David Drake

You never know the full story behind someone until you sit down and listen - a conversation with SUNY Oswego student David Drake about his passion for creative writing and his experience in the Marine Corps.

Read Audio Transcript

About David Drake

David Drake is a former Marine and local SUNY Oswego student veteran. David is studying English and literature with a focus on creative writing and wants to use that degree to become a writer. His love for comics and books began when he was young. He enjoyed drawing comics and wanted to become a graphic designer. After some time, David became very unmotivated and depressed. He drank every day and lost his home. Realizing he had hit rock bottom, he decided to join the Marines. He went into the service with an open contract and became an electrician. He traveled to nine countries and met a lot of new people that helped to turn his life around. After serving, David decided to go back to school and to pursue his passion for literature.


Listen to Audio

Zach: Hello, and welcome to the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast. I’m Zach Meal,

Marija: and I’m Marija Rozite. We’re glad you stopped by to hear the story of David Drake, a former Marine and current student at SUNY Oswego. Here is his story.

Zach: Thank you for coming and doing this project with us, it really makes a difference.

David: It’s my pleasure.

Zach: We’re glad to have you here, so let’s get into it. So what were some of your initial thoughts about the interview?

David: I had initially thought you were going to interview me about war, and stuff like that, I was actually afraid that you were going to ask me questions like how many people have I killed in wars, and I don’t wanna talk about that. It’s too gloomy, too depressing and has too many demons attached to it.

Zach: We understand that, and what we want to show is the full person, not just your service. So what’s the proudest moment you’ve ever had?

David: I’d probably say it’s the time I got up and went back to college. I had spend a lot of time sitting on my ass essentially and gawking time rather than doing anything about it. My life was just going nowhere. And getting back into college, that probably the proudest moment of my life.

Zach: And in going back to college, what did you decide to take as your major?

David: Creative Writing, that’s my major, definitely some English classes. Maybe I will declare a minor in linguistics.

Zach: Did you have any future plans on what you wanted to do after you get out of college?

David: If I don’t go straight into grad school, which may or may not be an option, I don’t know yet. My plans right now include getting published, literary journals, maybe novels and stuff. And maybe going onto the other side of that and being the editor. Kinda like running the whole gamut.

Marija: What made you choose Oswego?

David: The creative writing department, that was the deal breaker there. I had said before that the location didn’t have anything to do with the choice, even though I’m only an hour and a half away from my most recent home. But the creative writing department and the curriculum and the instructors that they have there, they know what they’re talking about, they know what they’re doing. I have complete confidence.

Zach: Are there any previous life experiences that help you in your studies now?

David: Yeah, I guess my past experiences. It’s just the stage of life that I’m at in comparison to people like you. And I’m not trying to make that sound like my studying habits are better than yours, and they may not be. It’s just something that works for me. That just depends on the individual. In my past experiences, I’ve found out what works, what doesn’t, both ya know, as far as the education system goes. And as life goes overall.

Zach: Do you have any books or movies that you find to be your favorite over any other?

David: As far as books go, I’m reading all types of different things, I can go from classic literature like Ambrose Beers, which is written in the late 19th century to a book on Abraham Lincoln to a book on something completely different. So for me, to say if there is a favorite is very hard. I know I am very drawn to books like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I thought that was a very fine book. It was one of the few books that I could pick up and read from cover to cover in one afternoon, without having to set it down, I couldn’t set it down. But as far as movies go, I like westerns.

Marija: Have you ever considered becoming an English teacher?

David: I have, actually. I don’t know how much serious consideration I’ve put into it, but it’s something I’ve kept in the back of my mind. My former college that I was at, one of the instructors had asked me to take control of the class for at least one class. I had done presentations for other classes where I had complete control for a class period. And I actually find that very rewarding and is something I will keep in the back of my head as time moves on.

Marija: Who is your childhood hero?

David: Scrooge McDuck. I don’t know, I always like to read the comic books. Walt Disney characters, you know Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, but then Donald Duck had this Uncle Scrooge, and Uncle Scrooge had this huge money bin of gold coins and stuff, and he’d swim in it. If anyone else tried to swim in it they’d tear themselves apart, but not Scrooge McDuck.

Zach: Was there a childhood experience that inspired you to be who you are today?

David: I don’t know if I can really say any childhood experience really inspired me to be who I am today, I can tell you that my childhood experiences made me who I am today, probably through means that weren’t intentional. Case in point, I found that writing has actually helped me because I had huge terrible problems with my ears growing up. When I was a child, ear surgery, so that actually hurt my confidence growing up a little bit.

Zach: Was there anything that inspired you to be who you are today?

David: I grew up in a family that my father and my uncle and many of my cousins, they served in the military, but that doesn’t exactly mean I wanted to follow in their footsteps, because that didn’t really happen until later, that decision. But as far as anything that inspired me to be who I am today. The best thing I can tell you is I would write and draw these little booklets that I didn’t plagiarize, I just derived from characters like Uncle Scrooge.

Marija: Why did you join the Marines?

David: I wish I could give you an altruistic reason for that, but really my reason for going in was very selfish. And basically what I needed to do was I needed to save my own life. I wasn’t living very well, at one point I was living out of a storage unit. And I was drinking every day and every night. I was working at a job that I despised. I was going into work drunk. I was leaving work drunk because I would take the alcohol in there with me. I was living a pretty bad life at that time, and joining the Marine Corps was the only way out at that point. That was the only option that I had is that I had to get out.

Marija: Did you have a speciality in the military?

David: My speciality, the MOS, Military Occupational Speciality, I was an electrical service repairman. And basically I was working on stuff like generators and AC units to keep that up for the support divisions. And along with that, I was also wiring up camp so everyone had the necessary electricity that they needed with the support and everything that needed to be done. It’s not something I’d wanna do now, it can be a challenge and it’s not necessarily the challenge I want now. It isn’t even something that I chose to do. It just kinda was sprung on me, I went in there with an open contract, meaning that I’d do anything the Marine Corps wanted me to do, and that’s what got pulled out of the hat for me.

Zach: Is there anything that really helps you get through tough times?

David: I guess if I had to sit and think about tough times, I would remember the fortitude that I had in Afghanistan, that really helps me get through tough times. I don’t really consider tough times in as being anything that someone else might consider like something bad or something subjective like that. I’d consider just, things that really try my patience as tough times. And going through something, an experience like getting off into a hostile land like Afghanistan and remembering what I had to deal with, that really keeps my head above water.

Zach: Well David, thanks for your time and sharing your experiences with us

David: Sure.

Zach: So in the end, after his years of service, David is now happily here in Oswego and studying to earn his degree in creative writing. We should all be grateful for those who are willing to serve regardless if they came through tough times. This has been the Voices of Oswego Veterans project, with Zach Meal

Marija: and Marija Rozite, we’re glad you took the time to listen and learn more about David.