Doolittle Raider Thatcher Dies, One Remains

Former SSgt. David Thatcher, one of the last two surviving members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, died June 22 in Missoula, Mont., the Air Force announced. Thatcher, then a corporal, served as a B-25 gunner and engineer in crew No. 7 on the fabled April 18, 1942, mission to bomb mainland Japan in response to the Pearl Harbor attack. “(Thatcher’s) 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,’” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said on his Facebook page. “He inspired a nation and lived a life devoted to all we hold dear as airmen.” Thatcher’s death leaves one remaining Doolittle Raider, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, Doolittle’s co-pilot on crew No. 1. Thatcher received a Silver Star for his role in the raid. He helped rescue his injured crewmates after his aircraft crash landed onto a beach, and worked with friendly Chinese to take them to safety. Cole and Thatcher, last year, were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the 80 Raiders. (See also: Mission Accomplished from the February 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)