Former U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant David Thatcher, one of the two remaining Doolittle Raiders, died Wednesday morning in Missoula, Montana.
The Doolittle Raid was an air raid led by pilot Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. Sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers carrying 80 crewmembers bombed military targets on the island of Honshu.
Thatcher was the engineer-gunner on the seventh B-25 to take off from the USS Hornet. After bombing its assigned targets, the aircraft crash landed off the coast of China. Thatcher was the only crewmember not seriously injured in the crash, so he took charge getting his fellow airmen medical attention. He persuaded Chinese fishermen to carry his injured crewmates to temporary safety. In doing so, he saved the entire crew from capture. For his leadership on this day, he was awarded the Silver Star.
Thatcher received an honorable discharge from the Army Air Forces in July 1945.
Fairchild Air Force Base held a commemorative event in April to honor the 74th anniversary of the raid.
“I hope that airman will continue to honor the raid and remember what was done,” Thatcher said, at the event.
Thatcher was recently VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay in honor of the raid’s anniversary.
Lt. Col Richard Cole is now the last surviving Doolittle Raider.