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Doolittle Raider, David Thatcher Dies

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Jerry Kenney
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Just a few weeks ago, Doolittle Raider, David Thatcher passed away at his home in Montana. 

 

Thatcher was just 20 years old when he flew on the infamous bombing mission that is credited with changing the course of WWII for the Allies.

You can find details of that mission on our website WYSO.org, as well as the story of the Doolittle Raiders annual toast – a celebration and a memorial commemorating the young men who never returned from the mission, and of those who passed in the years after.

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Credit Jerry Kenney
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David Thatcher with his son Jeffrey at Wright-Patt in 2013

In 2013, three of the last four survivors the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders gathered at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They raised a final toast in honor of their accomplishment and to their comrades. They also spoke to reporters before the ceremony, recounting the details of their mission. 

In this WYSO Weekend excerpt, Thatcher, then 92, began by telling us how surprised he was that people still remembered and still held their mission in such high regard, and then talked about his experience.

 

Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher (left), Lt. Col. Edward Saylor (center) and Lt. Col. Richard Cole (right) stand at the Doolittle Raider Monument at Memorial Park in Dayton, Ohio.
Credit Jerry Kenney
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Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher (left), Lt. Col. Edward Saylor (center) and Lt. Col. Richard Cole (right) stand at the Doolittle Raider Monument at Memorial Park in Dayton, Ohio.

That day, we also spoke with Thatcher’s son Jeff about the American legacy his father was a part of. And finally, we offer some audio of the final toast that day from a report we filed for NPR.

With the passing of Doolittle Raider David Thatcher, there remains only one left – Lt. Col. Dick Cole who you heard make that final toast in 2013.  Cole is was able to make it to Thatcher’s memorial service in Montana.  He turns 101 in September.

 

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.