January 4, 1924 - August 15, 2020
Joe Drapela passed away at the age of 96 on August 15, 2020 at Boone Ridge Senior Living Community in Salem, OR. He was born in Milwaukee, WI, and as a youngster moved with his family to the Willamette Valley. While still attending high school, Joe volunteered for military service but was told to stay in school and finish high school. He was eventually drafted to fight in World War II. He was a staff sergeant with the 490th Bomb Group, 850th Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force. Joe was a tail gunner on a B-17 stationed at Eye Airfield (RAF Eye) located between Ipswich and Norwich, England. During his military service, he flew 31 bombing missions over Europe, including one over Berlin and received extra credit for flying lead position on several missions.
After attending business college on the GI Bill, Joe worked for many years at the State of Oregon Department of Revenue in Salem, OR. Joe enjoyed bowling, golfing, fishing, dancing, and hanging out in his hammock with his grandchildren.
Survivors include wife of 68 years, Mary Jean; children, Debbie, Gary, Karen, and Scot; grandchildren, Nathan, Taylor, Nicole, and Danica, and; stepsister, Irene Pietrok and her children, Jim and Cecelia.
A Funeral Mass will be held at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Salem OR. He will be interred with military honors at Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, OR.
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