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Lauri Törni

Lauri Törni (1919-1965) Finnish army captain who lead an infantry unit in Finnish wars and moved to USA after the war.

Lauri Allan Törni was born in Viipuri 1919 in a well-off family. He entered military service 1938 and continued his service in Reserve Under-Officers school in Hamina to the beginning of the Winter War.

Törni was originally assigned to supply troops but during the battles in Laatokka[?] he was transferred to the front line. He took part in the annihilation of the encircled Russian divisions in Lemetti[?]. After the war 1941 Törni was one of the men who were sent to Germany to train with Waffen-SS but he soon returned home.

Most of Törni’s reputation is based on his successful feats in the Continuation War. 1943 he was assigned to Detachment Törni, infantry unit that fought behind the enemy lines. One of his men was a future president Mauno Koivisto. Soviet Army had a bounty on Törni’s head equivalent to 3 million Finnish marks. He was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross July 9th 1944.

Törni was dissatisfied with the terms of the peace treaty and went to Germany 1945 for additional saboteur training. He surrendered to British troops in the last stages of the war and eventually returned to Finland. When he came back, ValPo (State Police) arrested him. He moved to USA 1949 after his pardon.

Törni joined US Army 1954 and took a name Larry Thorne. He ended up as an instructor in the Special Forces and taught skiing, survival, mountaineering and guerilla tactics[?]. In turn he learnt parachuting. 1958 – 1962 he served in 10th Special Forces unit in West Germany. November 1963 he joined a Special Forces unit A-734 in Vietnam and fought in Mekong Delta[?]. He was decorated twice.

In 1965 he had been transferred to MACVSOG training unit in Vietnam as a military advisor. October 18 1965 he left for clandestine mission and his helicopter crashed 25 miles from Da Nang. When the rescue squad arrived, they did not find his body. It is assumed that he either died in the crash or in battle in October 19th.

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