Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are honoring the bravery and heroism of Missoula's David Thatcher and other members of the legendary "Doolittle Raiders" with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Doolittle Raid consisted of 16 Air Force bombers and 80 crewmen that attacked Japan on April 18, 1942. Led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, the bombers struck military targets in Japan before heading for China. Many crew members were killed or captured, but the raid served as an important American morale boost early in the war.
Tester and Baucus are introducing bipartisan legislation that will award raid members with the Congressional Gold Medal and commemorate the Doolittle crew for its "outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service." The measure also specifically honors Thatcher, a staff sergeant in World War II, and the raid's other three living members.
"The Doolittle Raiders volunteered knowing they faced uncertain fates," said Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "Their courage and heroism represents the best of our Greatest Generation. Honoring their bravery and that of other veterans ensures that we never forget their immense sacrifices."
"Giving the Doolittle Raiders the highest honor Congress can bestow is one more way we can remember and honor their bravery," said Baucus. "They are true American heroes that inspire us to honor the sacrifices of our military members of all generations."
The raid's 16 B-25 bombers launched from the USS Hornet early in the morning on April 18 after being spotted by a Japanese patrol boat. Due to their earlier than planned take-off, none of the planes reached their designated landing sites in China.
Tester and Baucus' bipartisan bill also recognizes the airmen for volunteering for an "extremely hazardous mission" without knowing the target, location, or assignment and willingly putting their lives in harm's way.