A piece of U.S. history has passed away, as David Thatcher, one of the last living members of the famed World War II Doolittle Raiders, died at age 94 on Wednesday in Missoula.
Thatcher received several medals and honors for his bravery in the Pacific and European theaters of battle.
Thatcher, who served in the Army Air Forces as a member of Flight Crew No. 7, was part of the air raid led by then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. It marked the United States’ first strike on the Japanese islands in World War II.
He and fellow surviving Doolittle Raider Dick Cole were inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation at a ceremony hosted by John Travolta last January.
General Mark Welsh, the Air Force Chief of Staff, shared the following information on Facebook:
America and its Air Force lost a true hero this morning with the passing of Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, one of the two surviving Doolittle Raiders. Thatcher, then a corporal, was engineer/gunner in the back end of a B-25, one of 16 sent on that historic suicide mission to bomb Japan. They stunned that country, punctured its aura of invulnerability, and gave America hope just 4 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His actions were, in the words of the logistics officer for the mission: “Beyond the limits of human exertion, beyond the call of friendship, beyond the call of duty.” He inspired a nation and lived a life devoted to all we hold dear as Airmen. Betty and I will keep Staff Sgt. Thatcher and all who loved him in our thoughts and prayers. r/mark
Calling hours for Thatcher will take place on Saturday, June 25 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Garden City Funeral Home on West Broadway in Missoula.