THORNE, LARRY ALAN
Remains Found 1999
Name: Larry Alan Thorne
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: HQ MACV SD5891
Date of Birth: 28 May 1919
(Viipuru, Finland - military records - correct spelling is Viipuri)
Home City of Record: Norwalk CT
Loss Date: 18 October 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 152558N 1074744E (YC895105)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: none missing, all others, remains recovered
Source: Compiled in 1989 from one or more of the following: raw data from
U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.
SYNOPSIS: Larry Alan Thorne was born Lauri Allan Torni on May 28, 1919. As an
adult in Finland, he joined the Finnish army where he attained the rank of
Captain. His valor earned him the equivalent of the Congressional Medal of
Honor, the Mannerheim Medal. He was so successful as a ski troop commander that
the unit patch carried his initial "T" with a lightning bolt through it.
At the end of the Winter War, Torni joined the German "SS" to fight the
Russians. When the Continuation War began, he returned to Finland and again
commanded his ski troops.
Following Finland's second defeat to the Russians, Torni was imprisoned by the
communists as a war criminal. He escaped prison three times and made his way to
the United States where he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private.
Throughout the late 1950's, the budding U.S. Army Special Forces had been
building a controversial force to conduct unconventional warefare. These
unconventional warfare warriors had to be able to master critical military
skills needed to train and lead guerrilla warriors, to be inserted anywhere in
the world by any means of transportation, to survive the most hostile
environment, and to take care of themselves and others under the pressures of
harsh combat conditions and isolation. At the same time, these individuals had
to be independent thinkers, able to grasp opportunities and innovate with the
materials at hand. In order to control and lead irregular fighters, they had to
understand people, languages, and foreign cultures. Most important, the Special
Forces warriors had to posses the intelligence, knowledge, tact, and acumen to
successfully transform ordinary civilians into an effective military threat to
a strong and cunning occupation army.
In addition to recruiting rugged individuals possessing these attributes from
regular army formations, the Special Forces attracted a proven lot of hardy,
versatile volunteers from Finland and other European countries through the
Lodge Act, Public Law 957 of the 81st Congress, sponsored by Henry Cabot Lodge,
Jr. Regardless of his background, each SF volunteer underwent strenuous
physical conditioning, including paratrooper training, and was extensively
tested to determine his best skills and abilities. He then received
comprehensive instruction in his specialty area.
Thorne was selected for the Special Forces and ultimately led an important
mountain rescue mission to a crashed USAF plane in the middle east. The plane
was carrying classified equipment and three earlier attempts to reach it had
failed. Next, he went to Vietnam, he and his 7th Special Forces A-734
established the camp at Tinh Bien in April 1964 near the Delta's Seven
Mountains area, which bushwacked so many Viet Cong that it became a serious
thorn to the VC lifeline into Cambodia.
In a second tour of Vietnam, attached to Headquarters Company, MACV, Special
Detachment 5891, the Vietnamese Air Force CH34 helicopter on which Thorne was a
passenger crashed about 25 miles southwest of Da Nang. When rescue workers went
to the site, they recovered the remains of the Vietnamese crew, but found no
sign of Larry Thorne. He had simply disappeared.
Thorne's photo is maintained in a pre-capture photo group shown to defectors
for POW/MIA identifications purposes, yet Thorne was classified killed in
action the day after the crash. His remains were never found. Men who served
with him believe that Larry is still alive. They gather to toast his health
every year. No one, they say, is better equipped to survive than Larry Thorne.
In Finland, Lauri Torni is a national hero. In the United Sates, Larry Thorne
is forgotten by all but a few. His family believes he is still alive, even
considering he was 70 years old this year (1989). Lauri Torni hated the
threat of communism so much that he was willing to join any army to fight it.
We must never forget men like Thorne. It is to them that we owe our freedom. We
also owe them theirs.
In June of 1998, the book THE SOLDIER UNDER THREE FLAGS was made available
by Pathfinder publishing. The author, H.A. Gill, III is a graduate of the
Citadel. He served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and currently
works for an aerospace corporation. The book about Larry Thorne has 208
pages and 37 photographs, and is available for 14.95.
ISBN : 0-934793-65-4
458 Dorothy Avenue
Ventura, CA 93003
Subject: Re: Major Larry A. Thorne - Deceased - 18 Oct.'65
In a message dated 6/6/03 4:02:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
Gentlemen: Great News. FINALLY after 37+ years - CLOSURE. The USG has
finally closed the case on Larry A. Thorne. Needless to say - it has been a
long struggle for the past few years.
Larry will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on 26 June 2003,
reportedly scheduled for 0900 hours commencing at the ANC Administration
Building. Tentatively plans for a memorial service are also scheduled
for the evening of 25 June. Time and Location as yet to be determined.
As many of you are aware Larry was lost in the clouds on 18 Oct.'65 on a
CH-34 "KINGBEE" helicopter from the 219th Vietnamese Air Force Squadron
while performing a C&C mission out of Kham Duc for the very first OP-35
cross-border reconnaissance mission (RT Iowa) being conducted by Charles
"Slats" Petry, Willie Card and four "little people" and never seen again.
"Slats" and his RT were able to infiltrate the AO via another "KINGBEE",
but, almost immediately following insertion the weather turned to shit.
John Voter was in another "KINGBEE", acting as "Chase". Due to the same
miserable bad weather in the area that Larry got caught up in, John was
forced to land at an emergency site and fortunately was able to return to
Kham Duc the next day. "Slats" and his RT conducted a successful mission
and returned to Kham Duc at a later date.
In 1999 a US/VN JTF/FA conducted an excavation of a CH-34 KINGBEE crash
site and recovered several fragments of bones, miscellaneous equipment
and a Swedish "K" SMG. Based on that limited evidence coupled with a
series of forensic and DNA tests, it has taken the USG till now to arrive
at a conclusive decision that this was in fact Larry's ill-fated
Juha Rajala, Larry's nephew has scheduled a Press Release for 10 June in
Finland announcing the decision by the USG as it relates to Larry.
However, a close family friend, Ilkka Nieminen has secured permission
from Juha for an early release of this information in order to permit
Larry's American friends sufficient time to coordinate travel and
accommodation arrangements in the event they desire to attend the
Memorial Service (25 Jun) and Interment (26 Jun) at Arlington National
Cemetery. A number of Finnish dignitaries including Juha (representing
the Thorne family) will be in attendance at both services. If anyone
plans on attending - request you advise me and I will be pleased to pass
it on to the family. I will also secure a name and address in Finland for
anyone desiring to dispatch a card to Juha and/or Salme, the last
surviving sister of Larry.
That is it for now. Does anyone know how to get in touch with John
Clyde J. Sincere, Jr.
11722 Lariat Lane
Oakton, Virginia 22124-2323
Legendary Finnish war hero Lauri T”rni (Larry Thorne) to get final resting
place in Arlington National Cemetery
Remains of victims of 1965 helicopter crash will be interred simultaneously
The last picture of Larry Thorne was taken three days before he disappeared.
The Finnish-American war hero is on the left in the picture with some
American and South Vietnamese brothers in arms.
Foreign - Tuesday 17.6.2003
By Asko Temmes
Lauri T”rni (1919-1965) was a World War II hero and a recipient of the
Mannerheim Cross - the highest award for gallantry on the field - in his
native Finland. After the end of hostilities, the fiercely anti-Communist
T”rni found life at home difficult, and he emigrated to the United States.
There he entered the U.S. military and became a decorated and much-revered
Vietnam War hero in Special Forces. T”rni, by now better known to his
colleagues as Larry Thorne, disappeared after the helicopter he was in went
down close to the Laos border in 1965. At long last, his remains have been
formally identified, and he will be laid to rest in the Arlington National
Cemetery on June 26 of this year. T”rni's remains will be buried in the same
coffin with those of three other victims of the same helicopter crash.
When the crash site was finally located four years ago, the U.S. military
made inquiries concerning T”rni's final resting place. In Finland, hopes
were raised for the national hero's possible burial in his home country.
Separating the remains of the crash victims, however, turned out to be an
impossible task, which led to a pragmatic decision to organise a joint
burial at Arlington. "A traditional American military officer's burial is to
be expected, with trumpets and salutes", says T”rni's nephew Juha Rajala,
who is also the Vice President of the Lauri T”rni Tradition Guild in
Finland. The Tradition Guild will send representatives to the funeral, and
the Finnish Defence Forces will decide on their participation next week. It
is likely that the representation from the U.S. Army will be at the level of
a General. T”rni still enjoys an awesome reputation amongst military men
even today, nearly 40 years after his demise.
The Arlington National Cemetery is in Virginia, across the Potomac River
from the nation's capital, Washington DC. Arlington Cemetery contains about
270,000 graves, most of them belonging to individuals who served in the U.S.
armed forces. Arlington's most famous grave, accompanied by an eternal
flame, is that of President John F. Kennedy. The day before the interment, a
memorial service will be arranged. Larry A. Thorne, the name by which T”rni
is remembered in the United States, was a captain and a Green Beret in the
U.S. Special Forces. Special Forces will also organize a tribute to their
hero. After T”rni's status was changed from "missing in action" to
"presumably killed in action", a memorial service was already organized in
Helsinki back in 1967.
Excavation at the crash site in Vietnam was launched four years ago. The
helicopter crashed on a mountain-top in a severe thuderstorm. Three South
Vietnamese soldiers had accompanied T”rni on the ill-fated helicopter
flight, returning from a secret mission, probably in Laos. Two of the South
Vietnamese lieutenants were identified from DNA samples. The third soldier,
a machine-gunner, was recognised from his identification tag. T”rni's fate
was finally confirmed, not by a DNA sample, but from his dental records.
T”rni had a dental crown on his tooth number 18.
Even before the medical confirmation, two pieces of evidence pointed
strongly to the final outcome: the serial number found on the helicopter's
rotor blade and the Swedish-made machine pistol that T”rni had taken with
him, which was found nearby. The Lauri T”rni Tradition Guild has planned a
trip to Vietnam, to the site of their hero's death. Thirty of the Finnish
Army infantrymen who accompanied T”rni on numerous dangerous missions in
World War II are still alive, among them Finland's former President Mauno
Koivisto. Next year Lauri T”rni would have celebrated his 85th birthday.
More on this subject:
Legendary Finnish war hero Lauri T”rni (Larry Thorne) to get final resting
place in Arlington National Cemetery
BACKGROUND: War hero's unbelievable life in the service of two countries
Previously in HS International Edition:
DNA testing to resolve the fate of Larry Thorne (14.9.1999)
T”rni was not the only Finnish soldier to serve under more than one flag,
as this article indicates: Finnish officer becomes legend in US Army
In your web site I see one mistake.
U.S. Army MAJ Larry Allain Thorn alias Lauri Alain T”rni
Did not serves two countries, he served three country's Armys.
First in Finland (Division T”rni[T”rnis Privates])
Then after German(Ss Norland Division)
Then after USA (Special Forces)
Three countries! Here is the official internet page that
T”rni's relative keep http://turuntori.com/kotisivut/?id=1034
Brigade Of Poris Headquader
Timo Markus Laine