MISSOULA – A bill was passed in June to rename three Montana VA facilities to honor local war heroes.
One of those facilities was in Missoula and now a World War II hero’s name graces that facility. The late David Thatcher, wouldn’t call himself a hero, but his son says the family will always consider him one.
“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 Lelan Factor killed while bailing out over China, were the real heroes,” Jeff Thatcher said at the ceremony.
“But I believe that my dad was a hero in every sense of the word. 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 added.
Thatcher’s name will now grace the VA hospital here in Missoula. He was part of the Doolittle Raids which sent bombers over strategic targets in Japan in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was proof to the world that mainland Japan could be struck and gave the American people hope as they entered their World War II,
The renaming was a bipartisan effort from senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines as well as congressman Greg Gianforte.
Sen. Daines said that it was an easy bipartisan bill to work on because of Thatcher’s contributions to the US’s victory in WWII
For Sen. Tester — who is the ranking member on the Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs — he said passing the bill was an honor and that he hopes other Montana Veterans feel the same way
“Well hopefully they will be very honored, as I am honored to be a part of this celebration, but in the end, this is about making sure that the people who sacrificed so much for this country are recognized appropriately,” Sen. Tester said.
“And I think that his peers would appreciate that and do appreciate that. And making sure that the folks that are serving now that we don’t forget about them because that’s happened to in the past,” he added.
Thatcher’s contributions to the war didn’t end with raid as he continued his fight and also was a part of the first crew to drop bombs in Rome.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News