The Missoula VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic at 2687 Palmer St. Suite C will hold a renaming ceremony in honor of David J. Thatcher February 21, 2019, at 10:15 am. Montana Congressional delegations who championed the bill to rename the clinic have been invited. Veterans, their families, and the general public are also invited to the renaming ceremony.
Mr. Thatcher was an outstanding Montanan. The humble circumstances of his upbringing in rural, eastern Montana helped him develop a strong work ethic, and in 1940, with war raging across Europe, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to serve as a tail gunner for a high-risk mission to attack targets deep within Japanese controlled territory. This counterattack would be known to history as the Doolittle Raid. After finishing the bombing mission and running low on fuel, his aircraft crash-landed near the coast of China. Mr. Thatcher was instrumental in helping the crew reach safety following the crash and for his actions during the Doolittle Raid, he was awarded the Silver Star. A few years later, the actor Robert Walker portrayed Corporal Thatcher on the silver screen in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.” After the war, Mr. Thatcher embarked on a career with the U.S. Postal Service and married his sweetheart, Dawn. Their marriage spanned seven decades until he passed away in June 2016 at the age of 94.
The Montana VA Health Care System serves over 47,000 enrolled Veterans across Montana—an area roughly 147,000 square miles in size. Veterans are cared for by a staff of nearly 1,200 (over a third are Veterans themselves) at 17 sites of care across the state.