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John F. "Jack" Thatcher, RM1c

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USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...John F. "Jack" Thatcher, RM1c

US FLAG John F. "Jack" Thatcher passed away June 15th, 2003

It is with sadness that I inform you of the passing of John F. (Jack) Thatcher, Life member of Sunnyvale VFW Post 1663 (now merged with Post 2421).

Jack served as Post 1663 Commander in 1998-99.

Jack served in the Navy during World War II on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY (CA25) as a Radioman. Jack's ship pulled into Pearl Harbor the evening of the Japanese attack and participated in some of the major battles in the Pacific.

Jack enjoyed volunteering with the Digital Clubhouse in the Sunnyvale Towncenter Mall helping students create digital stories about local Veterans. http://www.digiclub.org/


THATCHER, John F. (Jack) -- Passed away at home in Sunnyvale, June 15, 2003. Beloved husband of Margaret Thatcher of Sunnyvale. Dear brother of Warren Thatcher of Golden, CO and Wallace Thatcher of Gypsun, CO and predeceased by one brother and one sister; also survived by several nieces and nephews. A native of Colorado, age 82. A member and Past Master of Roller Masonic Lodge No. 346 of Palo Alto, York Rite, Past Commander of Sunnyvale V.F.W., Shriner's, Sunnyvale Elks Lodge, Past President of Los Altos Real Estate Board and Chairman of Digital Clubhouse. Friends are invited to attend Memorial Services Saturday, June 28, 2003 at 2:30 p.m. at the Palo Alto-Roller Lodge, 461 Florence Street, Palo Alto. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Asiya Shriners, 1925 Elkhorn Ct., San Mateo, CA 94403-1308 in memory of John F. Thatcher. Arrangements are by WYANT AND SMITH FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORY in Sunnyvale. Published in the San Jose Mercury News on 6/19/2003.

Mike Shaw

Jan. 19th, 2001

"A Baptism into War"

My name is Jack Thatcher, one of four brothers, raised on a ranch in Western Colorado in the 1930's. Our days were spent with ranch chores, when it didn't interfere with hunting, fishing or exploring the countryside. Following my father's sage advice that a war was imminent, after graduation from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Jan. of 1939 and military training commenced.

Picture yourself on a beautiful, sunshiny morning with a soft breeze blowing and several miles from the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

By this time, I'd become a Radioman 1c on the heavy cruiser, U.S.S SALT LAKE CITY, returning with a carrier Task Force, to Pearl Harbor to refuel after delivering planes to Wake Island. This was my Baptism into World War II on December 7, 1941 at approximately 8 a.m.

Sitting in the Radio shack, radio on, listening to a Honolulu music station, when suddenly, the Radio crackled and an excited voice loudly blurted out "THIS IS NO DRILL, THIS IS NO DRILL....PEARL HARBOR HAS BEEN BOMBED" he repeated time and again.

Startled disbelief....then a clear realization of the impact of the deed resulted when the Ship's Captain commanded "GENERAL QUARTERS", "GENERAL QUARTERS".

Our Task Force was alerted, a few scout planes were launched from the carrier and later, the full story trickled in....an eerie silence settled over the Task Force.

Thus started a long, long wait until nearly dusk when the Task Force, cautiously, entered Pearl Harbor. On the left side of the inlet channel was the battleship "NEVADA"... run aground. Slowly, the entire disaster unfolded before us.... amid smoke, flames, frantic activity and shock, the magnitude of the damage done began to sink in. A once proud battleship fleet, inoperable, and the airfield, a disaster. In need of major repairs and replenishment of flyable aircraft, rescue crews still searching, repair crews swarming. "This was our major base of Pacific Fleet Operations".

"The memory of that site of disaster lighted a fire in the belly of our Task Force crews and sharply focused our goal as full retaliation before those fiery flames were extinguished".

We selected a few, able survivors to round out our crew, refueled and departed at dawn on a search and destroy mission.

"Too much time had elapsed", however and the search was fruitless.

Later, in Feb., 1942, in "the Early Anxious months", the U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY was part of a Task Force that bombarded Wotje Island and later that month, with other ships, hammered the Japanese on Wake Island. Eight days later, she screened the carrier "ENTERPRISE" when their planes bombed Marcus Island.

Our ship was then assigned to a Task Force to escort the Carrier "HORNET", with Col. Doolittle's planes, to within 700 miles of Tokyo before takeoff from the carrier's deck.

In Aug. 1942, the U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY helped screen the carrier "WASP" off Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands and, in Sept., 1942, assisted in rescue of part of her crew when a torpedo sand the "WASP".

Off Cape Esperence, Solomon Islands, in Oct., 1942, our Task Force of cruisers and destroyers engaged in a fierce night battle using, for the first time, radar to detect and target the enemy.

This encounter resulted in sinking three enemy cruisers and five destroyers, and ended the "TOKYO EXPRESS" which was replenishing Japanese troops on Guadalcanal.

Damages from this fracas required our return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. We then learned of the "Coral Sea Battle" that was the first, major aircraft carrier versus aircraft carrier encounter and the results were terrific.

While the ship was under repair in late 1942, a new set of reassignment orders ended my U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY sea duty.

"Rope Yarn" Nov. 15, 1941
SLC Deck Log Feb. 1943

Article Index

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slc6-thatcher-2 John F. "Jack" Thatcher

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