Doolittle Raiders mark on history needs to be remembered
Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher was a mailman in Missoula. More importantly, he was the engineer and top gunner on the Ruptured Duck, one of the B-25b Mitchells to take part in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. Their mission was to bomb Tokyo in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.
Spotted by a Japanese patrol boat, they were forced to takeoff earlier than planned from the carrier USS Hornet. They soon learned they did not have enough fuel to make it to the Chinese airfield for landing. To conserve fuel the planes had to lose weight by removing the two tail guns and replacing them with black broom handles as decoys. Eventually fuel was exhausted, forcing the planes to crash land.
Two years ago I had the amazing opportunity to talk with Mr. Thatcher on my 12th birthday. Mr. Thatcher did not want to talk about the mission, instead he wanted to talk about his life growing up in the Absarokee area.
Mr. Thatcher was a hero and an inspiration to me. He had done amazing things but to him, when we spoke, he said “I was just doing my job.”
Mr. Thatcher passed away on June 22, 2016.
The Doolittle Raiders have left a mark on history.
We cannot let that mark fade away.