Missoula war hero, Doolittle Raider to be honored on 70th anniversary


A Missoula World War II war hero is set to be officially honored by Congress this week for his role in the Doolittle Raid 70 years ago Wednesday.

David Thatcher, 90, is the youngest survivor of the raid, which took 16 B-25 bombers into Japan in 1942 to help destroy key military targets in Tokyo and several other cities.

A resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate Monday aims to recognize the Doolittle Raiders for their “outstanding heroism, valor, skill and service” and specifically honors the five surviving members, a press release from Sen. Jon Tester’s office said.

Tester, D-Montana, co-sponsored the “Doolittle Tokyo Raiders” resolution. Its introduction this week coincides with the 70th anniversary of the raids, which will be commemorated beginning Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Thatcher is set to attend the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion with his family. In fact, all surviving members of the raid are expected to be in Dayton.

The Doolittle strike took place on April 18, 1942, when America was in need of a morale boost. It was led by legendary Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, and is said to be one of the most daring operations performed by the U.S. early in the war.

“We just thought it was another bombing mission. We thought people would forget about it by now,” Thatcher said in a Missoulian interview in March.

Thatcher was awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service to the country during WWII.

After the war, Thatcher studied forestry at the University of Montana and eventually worked for the United States Postal Service.

Ed Saylor, 91, is another Doolittle Raid survivor who grew up in Montana but now lives in Puyallup, Wash.

“The Doolittle Raiders volunteered knowing they faced uncertain fates,” Tester said in the press release. “Their courage and heroism represents the best of our Greatest Generation. Honoring their bravery and that of other veterans ensures that we never forget their immense sacrifices.”