The Crazy Story Of Lauri Törni, Commando Who Fought With Finland, Nazi Germany, And US Special Forces

By Ethan Cole on
 June 11, 2021

U.S. Army private Larry Thorne may have been new to the United States military, but he was not new to service. In fact, he had been battling the Soviets for most of his life under the name Lauri Torni, a Finnish soldier.

Winter War

During the Winter War, Lauri Torni enlisted in Finland's army and fought the Soviet Union during the Winter War from 1939-1940. Rising through the ranks, he became a captain taking command of ski troops.

He skied into a mine in 1942, but he did not let his injury slow his career. During the Continuation War in 1944, he received the Mannerheim Cross, Finland's Medal of Honor, for bravery.

In 1944, Finland signed a ceasefire with the Soviets and gave them some territory. Torni did not want to surrender, so he joined the German SS in order to keep fighting the communists.

He was trained in Nazi Germany, but Germany fell too. Since he had been fighting for the SS, Torni was arrested by the British.

However, he escaped from their custody and went back to Finland. He went to prison for treason. The President of Finland pardoned him in 1948.

Coming to America

In 1950, the United States passed the Lodge-Philibin Act. It allowed people from other countries to come to the U.S. and receive citizenship, if they served honorably for at minimum five years.

Fort Bragg started the Special Forces unit in 1952. After the passing of the Act, 200 eastern Europeans joined the Special Forces. The Act expired in 1959.

This piece of legislation allowed Torni to become Larry Thorne, and become an Army legend.

Special Forces

Even though Thorne started as a private, he quickly became an instructor. He taught at the Special Warfare School in Fort Bragg on survival, guerrilla tactics and everything in between.

He became a second lieutenant and right before Vietnam, he became a captain. In 1962 he headed an important mission to get classified material from a plane that had crashed on the Iran-Soviet-Turkish border. Thornes team was the fourth to try to recover the documents, and they succeeded.

Thorne received a Bronze Star for heroism, plus five Purple Hearts during Vietnam for battle wounds. Even though he received wounds, he wanted to be back at the front, requesting command of a special operations base.

In October of 1965, he led the first MACV-SOG mission to Laos. Unfortunately, his helicopter crashed, and he was never recovered.

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13 comments on “The Crazy Story Of Lauri Törni, Commando Who Fought With Finland, Nazi Germany, And US Special Forces”

  1. Wow to be a Cpt. in one army & then down to private in another, a very humbling experience for sure. He was definitely in it to win it. Hard to find people like that now.

    1. He was an amazing man and I’m glad to read this post. I believe there are plenty of American men and women who are fighting and training now who will lead and excel. Our young will find their way…successfully.

  2. Great story about this remarkable soldier! Very interesting to say the least! Glad that we had him on our team!

  3. stories like this need to be told though MILTY service ORG. like V.F.W. D.A.V. American Legion and brought to attention on VETERAN'S DAY, MEMORIAL, P.O.W. M.I.A. DAY,S AND FLAG DAY 6/14 every YR. U.S. ARMY BIRTHDAY!

  4. I think we are going to need a lot of his type before Biden is kicked out. He will have destroyed America as we have known it in less than four years and the Democrats already have the Antifa and Black Lives Matter helping them destroy our country and no one is doing anything to stop them.

    1. Everyone is afraid to try to do anything because powers that be want to make examples of them. I often wonder what happened to the stamina, and "guts" that brought this country to be a leader, while 1 man can ruin it. Biden has dealings with China so he is not going to tell them NO! We now have people monitoring our phones, our computers, everything and we sit back and let them do whatever they want to this country. The vp puts up bail money for rioters we were told so, what can we expect in the next 5 years?

  5. What a amazing stories about this man, But what gets me the helicopter crash didn’t they try
    to look for any bodies of anything.

  6. DaVid There are still MIA's in Nam, and probably Korea and the European war. The military in Nam was getting not good things from the USA, remember how some of the ungrateful idiots spat on the soldiers when they came home? That was the start of the downfall of this country I think. I wish we could go back to the patriotism of WWII and Korea, where the military were respected and honored.

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