Written by Fakhrul Islam
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... ...
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 in 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 Continuation War broke out in Finland 1941, Lauri went back to command his ski troops.
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 countries have ever seen up to date. 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 as to offer including the Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, which is the equivalent of the American Congressional Medal of Honor.
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 Lieutenant-Colonel Fabritius by a German U-boat. The U-boat was loaded specifically for this operation. He then received 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 was dissatisfied and ordered him straight to the Berlin front, which Törni saw as 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 Pritz walk. 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.
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 the Finnish ambassador. With that ID Törni managed to travel back to Finland. He ended up to Helsinkiand he was living normal life a while. He worked as an electrician, in an 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.
In February 1949 Törni travelled to southern Sweden, 1950 to Venezuela and finally to USA. In August of 1953US 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.
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 CH-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. and 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.