With Doolittle to Tokyo – Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher



In the early morning light of April 18, 1942, in heavy rain and strong seas, 16 B-25 bombers launched from an aircraft carrier in the western Pacific and headed for Japan. Their mission: to strike the Japanese homeland just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, by bombing Tokyo and four other cities with industrial/military targets. This was the famous Doolittle Raid, and in plane number 7 was a 20 year old volunteer from Montana’s Stillwater County, engineer and gunner Corporal David Thatcher, destined to have a major role in the drama that followed. Number 7’s pilot, Captain Ted LwsonLawson, authored the book “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”, recounting the story of the plane nick-named “the Ruptured Duck” and her heroic crew. An acclaimed movie of the same name released in 1944 starred Spencer Tracy as Doolittle, Van Johnson as Lawson and Robert Walker as Thatcher. Mr. Thatcher granted this interview for the Montana Military Museum in 2014 when he was 92 years old. David and his wife Dawn have been married for 68 years and live in Missoula, Montana.Thatcher passed in 2016.