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U.S. Army Special Forces: "The Green Berets"

Special Forces Heroes: Captain Larry Thorne

Then there was Larry Thorne, one of Special Forces' more illustrious soldiers. He entered the Finnish Army in 1938. About a year later, he began a six-year period of continuous combat against the Soviets during World War II After various assignments with frontline infantry units, he volunteered for commando activities behind the Soviet lines. Lieutenant Thorne's most daring exploits began in 1942 as he conducted numerous deep penetration missions. On one, he personally led a small group of men behind Soviet lines, ambushing and destroying a Soviet convoy, killing over 300 of the enemy, and returning without a single casualty.

In June 1944, Thorne's unit was employed in the frontline role as the last reserve available. They conducted a counter-attack against the spearhead of an attempted enemy breakthrough operation. This action occurred only a few hours after his unit had returned from a mission behind Soviet lines. The commander of the particular sector described CPT Thorne's boldness during the attack, "My plan was to provide CPT Thorne with some artillery and mortar support which probably would have delayed the start of his counter-attack about an hour. However, CPT Thorne's plan was to attack immediately, before the Soviets had a chance to dig in. CPT Thorne counter-attacked in daylight through dense forest surprising the Soviets and resulting not only in destruction of a Soviet battalion, but also in saving the desperate situation."

CPT Thorne repeatedly exposed himself to extreme hazards; his leadership and heroism made him a national hero in Finland and earned him the Mannerheim Cross, Finland's highest military award, (equivalent to our Medal of Honor) in July 1944.

CPT Thorne joined the American Army after WWII, volunteered for Special Forces duty and was assigned to the 77th SFG and later transferred to the 10th Group. He received a direct commission as a 1LT in the Signal Corps. He was a HALO parachutist, SCUBA diver, mountaineer and skier. In 1962, as a CPT he led his Special Forces Detachment onto the highest mountain in Iran to recover the bodies of an American Army air crew lost in a plane crash, and secure the classified material they transported. After unsuccessful attempts by others, his detachment's success was largely attributed to CPT Thorne's superb leadership. He volunteered twice for Vietnam. On 18 October 1965, on his second tour with the Studies and Observations Group (SOG), he was declared Missing In Action.

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This page is an unofficial document and does not represent information endorsed by the United States Government, the United States Special Operations Command or the United States Army Special Operations Command. However, most information is derived from those sources and has been checked for accuracy. For comments, questions, and suggestions, please go to the Communications Center.

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