George Atherton Thatcher, Jr. is a native of Brockton, Massachusetts. He was born on 18 February 1895, the oldest of three children of George and Lena Thatcher. He graduated from Brockton High School, Brockton, Massachusetts and entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1914 with the class of 1918. George was the President of the freshman class, a member of Theta Chi fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC Program while a student at RISC.
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in WW I. George, like so many of his classmates, left college before he graduated and enlisted in the American Field Service, American Expeditionary Force on 18 June 1917 and sailed for France. The American Field Service was a group of young men serving the French Army in the Great War. It was a volunteer force of Americans who enlisted in 1915, 1916, and 1917 and pledged themselves to the French Army during the war.
George was involved in combat support operations throughout his assignment. On 22 May 1918, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre with star for valor during the period 25-26 April 1918 for displaying courage and calmness while evacuating many wounded during an artillery bombardment. In a letter home to his parents after receiving the award, he penned, “Talk about a solemn ceremony. Of course, I was so nervous that I didn’t know what the officer said who decorated me. I was glad he didn’t kiss me on both cheeks. I think I would have caved in.”
George returned home to Brockton, Massachusetts after the war. In 1940, he moved to Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico where he lived until his death on 3 November 1966 at the age of 71. Private George Atherton Thatcher, Jr., US Army answered the call to serve America with courage and honor during World War I.