|SS-Untersturmführer Lauri Törni|
ϟϟ-Hauptsturmführer der Waffen-SS Törni, later Major Thorne U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Lauri Allan Törni (1919 – 1965) from Viborg, Finland fought the communists under three flags: The Blue Cross Flag (Finland), the Swastika (Third Reich) and the Stars and Stripes (USA). When the Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939 Törni took part in the annihilation of the encircled Russian divisions in Lemetti. In 1941 after the Winter War, Lieutenant Törni volunteered for the Waffen-SS in order to continue fighting the Soviet Union and served in SS-Freiwilligen-Battalion Nordost (Finnisches Freiwilligen-Bataillon der Waffen-SS). During the Continuation War (1941 – 1944) Törni´s unit penetrated deep behind Soviet lines for extended periods of time and enjoyed a reputation for its combat effectiveness. The Soviet Red Army placed a bounty on his head (3 million Finnish Marks, equivalent to 470.000 €). One of Törni's men was future President of Finland, Mauno Koivisto. Lauri Törni was awarded every Finnish medal of valor for bravery including the Mannerheim Cross, the highest Finnish military decoration. Captain Törni was dissatisfied with the terms of the Finnish peace treaty with the Soviets. In 1945 Törni returned to Germany to attend a Guerrila Warfare Course as part of the Werwulf Program and to organize resistance in case Finland was occupied by the Soviet Union. On April 15 1945 SS-Untersturmführer Törni was promoted SS-Hauptsturmführer. He ended up fighting the Soviets commanding a German unit formed of former naval personnel but managed to surrender to the Americans who turned him over to the British. SS-Hauptsturmführer Törni escaped the British POW camp but was arrested upon his return to Finland, and sentenced to 6 years in prison for treason and for having joined the German armed forces.
In 1949 Törni managed to escape with the help of a prison guard to Stockholm, Sweden, where he found protection and shelter with the Baroness von Essen, who harbored many fugitive Finnish officers following World War II. From Sweden he travelled disguised under an alias as a Swedish seaman aboard SS Bolivia, on destination Caracas, Venezuela. From Venezuela Törni was hired to a Swedish cargo ship MS Skagen, on destination United States. While in the Gulf of Mexico, near Mobile, Alabama, Törni jumped overboard and swam to shore. Törni was granted residence permit in the U.S. through an Act of Congress. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1954 and adopted the name Larry Alan Thorne. Private Thorne was soon selected for the Special Forces program where he quickly rose through the ranks. From 1958 to 1962 he served in 10th Special Forces Group in West Germany. While there he was second in command of a search and rescue mission in the Zagros mountains of Iran, gaining him a notable reputation in Special Forces. In 1963 Törni/Thorne joined the Special Forces unit A734 in Vietnam and fought in the Mekong Delta. In 1965, he was transferred to MACV-SOG in Vietnam as a military advisor. MACV-SOG was a joint service unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. On October 18 1965 Captain Thorne´s helicopter crashed in a mountainous area of Laos. His posthumous promotion to Major was approved in December 1965. Major Larry Alan Thorne's remains were found in 1999 and formally identified in 2003. He was buried with full American and Vietnamese honors at Arlington National Cemetery, section 60, tombstone 8136, on June 26 2003. His U.S. memorial is the Larry Thorne Headquarters Building, 10th SFG(A), Fort Carson, Colorado. Units: Infantry Regiment 12 (Finnish Army), SS-Freiwilligen-Bataillon Nordost (Waffen-SS) and 5th Special Forces Group Airborne (U.S. Army Special Forces). Awards among others: The Mannerheim Cross of Liberty, The Iron Cross 2nd Class, The Legion of Merit, The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart (twice), The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Presidential Unit Citation, The Army Commendation Medal. Source: A Soldier Under Three Flags: The Exploits of Special Forces' Captain Larry A. Thorne and Born a Soldier: The Times and Life of Larry A Thorne and Arlington National Cemetery. Image: Public domain.