Thursday, April 21, 2011

Story about a Finnish war hero, who fought communism under three flags.

This time you will hear story about a Finnish war hero, who fought communism under three flags: Lauri Allan Törni aka Larry Thorne. I would like to apologize my inactive blogging rencently due to broken GPU. I have my new one up and running so everything is fine now. 

Lauri Törni, later Larry Thorne when he was serving in USA Special Ops, was a Finnish man, who fought communism under three flags: Finland 1939-1944 (FDF), German 1941-1945 (Waffen SS) and USA (Green Berets) 1953-1965. During 1945 - 1955  he managed to escape POW camp once and prison twice.

Lauri Allan Törni aka Larry Thorne.

His military career begin when Lauri joined the Finnish FDF in 1939 when Soviet Union attacked Finland. During the Winter War he developed, trained and commanded the Finnish ski troops. Under his  leadership, the ski troops fought Russians deep behind enemy lines for extended periods of time. When Winter War  ended May, 13, 1940, Törni didn't want to stop fighting even when Finland ceased all hostilities against the Soviets, so he joined the German Waffen SS and continued his war against the Soviets. When the The Continuation War broke out in Finland 1941, Lauri went back to command his ski troops.


Finnish Machinegun team during Winter War.

During Continuation War, Thornes unit inflicted such heavy casualties on Russian troops that the Soviet Army placed a bounty on his head for 3 million Finnish Marks, equivalent to 650,000 USD. He was the only Finnish officer to have had a bounty on his head.  The Continuation War was theatre for largest battles that nordic countires have ever seen up to date. For example: Battle of Tali-Ihantala.  Continuation War ended with a peace treaty with USSR in 1944. During Finland's wars against the former Soviet Union, Törni was awarded every medal for bravery, that Finland has to offer including the Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, which is the equivalent of the American Congressional Medal of Honor.


Finnish Troops at Tali-Ihantala.

Törni was dissatisfied with the terms of the peace treaty, which required Finland to take up arms against Germany in the Lapland War so he sneaked out of Finland back to Germany with Liutenant-Colonel Fabritius by a German U-boat. The U-boat was loaded specifically for this operation. He then recieved training from Germans Intelligence Agency  for sabotaging and gathering information. When he found out, that he would be deployed to carry out espionage and sabotage missions against Finland he firmly declined. German commander went apeshit and ordered him straight to the berlin front, which Törni saw as an another chance to fight against russians. He reported  to the headquarters of SS-Obergruppenführer (SS-General) Felix Steiner, who immediately promoted him to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) and issued him a military passport and command of 200-300 men. Soon afterwards General Steiner was discharged for disobeying Hitler's direct orders.
Törni and his men fought against Russians near town of Schwerin. At that time he witnessed/realized the total collapse of German army when Berlin with its nearest provinces were encircled by Russians. Törni and his men engaged enemy at small town of Pritzwalk. When they were near Hagenow,  surrounded by Russians,  they heard about Hitler's suicide. The group then fought their way through Russian lines and surrendered themselves to American paratroopers later that same day. Five days later, Germany surrender unconditionally. At the time of his surrender, he was decorated with both the highest German and Finnish Awards and had attained the rank of Captain in both armies.


Törni with his Finnish jaegers.

Americans gave Törni and his men to British, who escorted them to a prison camp of Oldenburg. He then wanted to join the British forces, but he was turned down because officially Finland and Britain were still in war against each other. The camp was very open and wasn't guarded very well, so Törni escaped. He ended up in Denmark where he got a fake ID from Finnish ambassador. With that ID Törni managed to travel back to Finland. He ended up to Helsinki and he was living normal life a while. He worked as an electrician, in a electrical supplies retailer firm, which were owned by couple of activists of  SS-conspiracy.  Törni was later arrested by ValPo (Finnish State Police)  and sentenced to 6 years in prison for treason, because he joined the German army after the peace treaty. He escaped twice and got caught both times but he got pardoned by the president in 1948.


Larry (middle) in his first tour in Vietnam.

In February 1949 Törni travelled to southern Sweden, 1950 to Venezuela and finally to USA. In August of 1953 US government made emergency law, which allowed former SS men to join US army. 1954, Larry A Thorne started his US military career as a recruit. Enlisting as a private his special skills were immediately apparent and he was promoted to sergeant and made an instructor in mountain and arctic warfare. This led to selection for the infant Special Forces (Green Berets) and promotion to Lieutenant in 1956. He was soon posted to the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in West Germany.  In 1962, after serving for a number of years in this special force, Thorne was made a Captain for the third time in his career and sent on a sensitive mission to recover classified documents and equipment from an air force C-130 that had crashed into an impassible mountainside in Iran. The mission had previously failed but Thorne's team was successful.

Thorne in Iran.
Last photo of Larry Thorne (left). It was taken 3 days before he went MIA.

With the Indochinese conflict beginning to boil, Captain Thorne was reassigned to the 7th SFG(A) in Vietnam in 1963. Seeing combat from isolated hilltop camps he earned a bronze star for valor as well as five purple hearts for wounds. Transferred to the 5th SFG(A) after his first tour ended he was later seconded to the cloak and dagger "Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group", better known by MACVSOG in 1965. He was part of a secret operation known as Shining Brass, which was the deniable infiltration of Laos by reconnaissance teams to find and locate Ho Chi Minh trail. On October 18, 1965 while flying into Laos to recover a team of eight Nung mercenaries in a South Vietnamese Air Force H-34 helicopter flied in thick clouds near the Laotian border and crashed into a mountaintop. The Searches of the rugged terrain found nothing. Thorne was declared killed in action by the Army in 1966 and posthumously promoted to Major, the highest rank he ever attained in any army. A joint U.S.Socialist Republic of Vietnam team found the helicopter wreckage in 1997, and the site was excavated in 1999. The remains were subsequently identified by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii in 2003.

He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, section 60, tombstone 8136, on 26 June 2003.







In the book The Green Berets by Robin Moore, the "Sven Kornie" main character in the first chapter was based on Larry Thorne. In America, posthumous fame arrived when he was portrayed by John Wayne in the film: The Green Berets, which based on the book. His U.S. memorial is the Larry Thorne Headquarters Building, 10th SFG(A), Fort Carson, Colorado.


Decorations (missing few):

The Bronze Star
The Purple Heart x5
The Legion of merit
The Distinguished Flying Cross
The Army Commendation Medal
Good Conduct Medal
National Defence Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Combat Infantry Bagde
Parachute Bagde (Master)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Knight of the Mannerheim Cross (Finnish equivalent to the Medal of Honor)
Medal of Freedom 1st Class
Medal of Freedom 2nd Class
Medal of Freedom 3rd Class
Medal of Freedom 4th Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
And few other German medals.





41 comments:

  1. Lauri sure kicked some commie ass. Maybe we should tip Renny Harlin about this guy so when he gets the Mannerheim film done (sure he will) he could do a movie about Lauri next.

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  2. This is deifnitely very heroic. Come check me out, alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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  3. Great man, though I respect Häyhä more.

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  4. Certainly an interesting story and such a hero.

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  5. so does that make him a traitor or a mercenary?

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    Replies
    1. Just a guy who's home was burnt and he fought so well that he had no choice but keep on fighting the evil.

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  6. That's crazy. Waffen SS working for the USA, not too hard to believe, just a bit out there. I thought most of them went to South America / Africa after the third Reich crumbled to dust.

    Learn something new every day.

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  7. Glorious Finlandia! I enjoyed reading this. Something you might be interested in, if you haven't heard of the White Death, look him up on Wiki.

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  8. 1: GPU issues suck ass.

    2: This guy was everywhere!

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  9. Those are some great pictures.

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  10. To be honest, I can't have too much respect for a guy that fought for the Nazis and fought against Vietnamese villagers. It's just not right.

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    Replies
    1. listen up there, he fought for the nazis against the communists to set the record straight

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  11. Fascinating read mate, interesting stuff

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  12. Wow, what a good read, I never heard of this guy before.

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  13. This was really a interesting read. I love stuff like this! :D

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  14. Night of the notables is coming up at my school, thanks for the ideas!

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  15. I enjoy your blog greatly and it is a very enjoyable read. Ive learned something new each and every time I visit. Keep it up and I look forward to your next entry.

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  16. They was a very enjoyable blog to read. Keep up the work!

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  17. quite a hero then, I enjoy your blog. Check out mine aswell brightblur.blogspot.com

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  18. I have never learnt so much about one country, within the space of the month, in my entire life. >.<

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  19. Amazing person. I've a book about him :)

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  20. Him and Simo Häyhä are the reasons why one should never ever mess with Finnish people.

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  21. he sure hated communists...

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  22. Very detailed resume, but I don't like how you just come to terms with his duty in Waffen SS. You know they we're Hitler's soldiers.

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    Replies
    1. Thorne didn't die fighting for nazi Germany. He died fighting for the USA

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  23. I actually learned something worthwhile today

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  24. in response to "drombo"...he was fighting AGAINST RUSSIAN COMMUNISTS...he just wanted to fight RUSSIANS...not FOR hitler...read the post again and THINK about it for a moment...soon as word of Hitlers suicide,and knowing the war was lost...he surrendered to the WEST,and tried to join the british army...when ordered to fight against FINLAND,he REFUSED...he didnt go down fighting to the death for Hitlers ideals.

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  25. also food for thought about "coming to terms with his duty in the waffen SS" in 41,when war between Russia and Finland broke out again,he RETURNED to Finland to continue to command his ski troops.

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  26. 'Finnish Rambo' is more like it.

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  27. Another person associated with Törni is Aito Keravuori. My father served with both men while in the Special Forces. In 1954 the 77th Special Forces were at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and corporal Thorne eventually was absorbed into the 77th. My father was a Special Forces sergeant first class at the time and "Thorne" was on his team. According to my father, Thorne could hardly speak any English;however, my father said very few people in SF, then, were native-English speakers.

    Thorne was able to join the army after Congress passed a law allowing Finish "Marttinen Men" to join. It did NOT allow "former Waffen-SS soldiers" to join. At this time Keravuori was an officer and he "mentored" Törni ... and suggested he join SF.

    My father later was commissioned and spent most of his career in Special Forces; his last US assignment was at Training Group as the Logistics Officer (S4); LTC Keravuori was the Executive Officer and came to our house a couple of times.

    I have some nice photos of Keravuori's last jump before he retired, and photos of his retirement ceremony.

    My father was very impressed with both Thorne and Keravuori.

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  29. "he was decorated with both the highest German and Finnish Awards" -- this is inaccurate, while the MC really is the highest Finnish military honor, the Iron Cross 2nd class was mundane in comparison -- four and a half million recipients during WW2.

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