If pilot Russ Gilmore hadn’t pointed it out you probably wouldn’t have seen it, and even if you had, you surely wouldn’t have known its significance. Scrawled in indelible marker on the olive drab interior of a bomb-bay door on the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber named “Maid In the Shade,” was the signature of David Thatcher.
There were lots of other names, too, of folks who manned and built these big, beautiful birds during World War II. Still, Thatcher’s connection to B-25s was special, he being the crew chief of “The Ruptured Duck,” one of the legendary Doolittle raiders whose 1942 heroics rallied American spirits in the darkest days of the war.
The true story of Thatcher, plus the rest of Capt. Ted Lawson’s air crew on that historic attack on Japan, also made for a legendary book and movie, “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.” In flying the “Maid” to Muncie, Ind., on Monday, the 65-year-old Gilmore — recently retired as an airline pilot with more than 30,000 hours in the air — was keeping the memory of those brave and aging guys like Thatcher alive, which is the reason for the Commemorative Air Force’s existence.
For the complete story by John Carlson of The (Muncie) Star Press, click here.
Photo by Airbase Arizona, Commemorative Air Force