Veterans Clinic Renamed after Missoula’s Own Doolittle Raider
On Thursday morning, politicians, veterans, community and family members crowded into a narrow hallway to rename the Missoula Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic after the late Sergeant David A. Thatcher.
Thatcher, Missoula’s own Doolittle Raider, was part of the daring sea based bombing mission on Tokyo, Japan during World War II.
Thatcher’s son Jeffrey first thanked Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Representative Greg Gianforte for sponsoring the bill renaming the clinic after his father, and then added these words.
“If my dad were here today, he would really appreciate this gesture, but he would quietly defer the recognition to others in his gentle and humble manner,” said Thatcher. “Although many describe my father as a hero, he did not see himself as one. Instead, he would often say that he was just doing his job, and the guys who did not make it back, like his closest friend on the Doolittle raid, 20 year-old Corporal Leland Faktor, killed while bailing out over China, were the real heroes.”
After relating his father’s part in the successful Doolittle raid, Thatcher honored all the veterans of that Greatest Generation.
“As we are gathered here today for this event, our family is very grateful that my father’s name will grace this facility that provides care to Montana veterans who have so selflessly served our country,” he said. “We hope that for future generations it will be a reminder of the sacrifices and contributions that my father and other members of that generation during a frightening time of uncertainty and great challenges of our nation’s history.”
Senator Jon Tester then spoke of the bipartisan effort to rename the facility after Sergeant Thatcher.
“It is our bipartisan responsibility to care for every man and woman who serves this nation,” said Tester, the ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. “Davis represents the very best of our nation, and now, we need to work together to make sure that every new generation of veterans has the proper recognition the healthcare and benefits that they’ve earned at clinics like this one that we’re at here today.”
Sergeant Thatcher retired to Missoula and worked at the U.S. Post Office until his retirement in 1980.
Jon Tester remarked that most of the people Sergeant Thatcher served by delivering their mail had no idea he was Missoula's own Doolittle Raider.
Thatcher passed away in 2016.