Honoring the Veterans of WWII

Honoring  the Veterans of WW II

Two recent newspaper items caught my eye and I thought they would be of interest to you as well.

Former Army Air Force Staff Sergeant David Thatcher, who passed away this month at the age of 94, was one of only two remaining members of the Doolittle Raiders who staged the historic first strike on the Japanese mainland in World War ll.

Thatcher was the engineer-gunner on the seventh B-25 bomber to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, one of the most difficult and dangerous assignments of the war. Because the B-25s could not land on the Hornet, the plan was to continue on to China and land wherever possible.

After bombing its assigned targets, Thatcher's aircraft crash landed off the coast of China. The only crew member not seriously injured in the crash, Thatcher took charge of getting his fellow airmen medical attention. He then persuaded Chinese fishermen to carry the injured crew members to temporary safety and, in the process, saved the entire crew from capture. He was awarded the Silver Star for his leadership that day.

Lt. Col. Richard Cole is now the last living survivor of the Doolittle Raiders.

The second item involved Ocean City (NJ) resident Linda Harmon, who was honored locally for helping to start a petition online to have her mother-in-law, Elaine D. Harmon, buried in Arlington National Cemetery with other World War II veterans.  

Elaine D. Harmon was a member of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) which, among other things, ferried airplanes to Britain during World War II to help them attack the German homeland and ultimately defeat the enemy.

One of the group present when President Obama signed a law that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to WASP members in 2009, Harmon was the first WASP to be denied burial at Arlington after then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh rescinded the right of WASP members to be buried there. Dwindling space at the cemetery was the reason given.

As a result of the national campaign started by the Harmon family to change that law, on May 20 President Obama signed into law a bill that directs the Department of the Army to "ensure that the cremated remains of persons whose service has been determined to be active duty pursuant to the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 are eligible for above ground inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors."

These and other veterans should not be forgotten for what they did — and sacrificed — for our country.

Beau Weisman, Editor