Larry Thorne was a hardcore cyclone of SMG-chunking bullet rage who served in the Special Forces of three different countries, led an elite detachment of badass Finnish ski troops on balls-out raids behind Soviet lines during the Winter War, commanded a Waffen-SS sabotage squad during World War II, and was an original United States Army Green Beret who commanded clandestine black ops in Iran and coordinated raids against the Ho Chi Minh trail in the opening years of the Vietnam War. He lived hard, shoved his knife in the faces of Commies from Helsinki to Hanoi, is a national hero in Finland and a legend in the U.S. Special Forces, and was so over-the-top hardcore that when he went Missing in Action somewhere in Laos everybody that knew him pretty much figured he’d finally become so awesome he literally morphed into a gigantic NVA-obliterating explosion.
Born in Finland in 1919, Lauri Torni (there are some umlauts and shit in there somewhere) was already a Captain in the Finnish Army Reserve in 1938 when Josef Stalin got a hard-on for hammer-humping Finland in the mouth with Bolshevism and sent like seventeen point five million Russians screaming into Scandinavia on a murderous rampage to seize all the valuable snow and ice resources Finland had to offer. Finland’s army, not really exactly expecting to go to war with Russia of all fucking things (they’d just signed a non-aggression pact with Stalin in 1932), was like holy shit we got like 300,000 guys and you’ve got a million dudes plus a bunch of those awesome new tanks everyone’s been talking about, but that of course didn’t stop them from grabbing every gun they could find and ripping the Red Army a new asshole with a never-ending stream of anti-communist bullets because OH YEAH here’s a picture of Lauri Torni’s ski warriors biathloning their shit with skis and machine guns and fucking gas masks:
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Fighting in the freezing cold of the winter alongside fellow badasses like ultrasniper Simo Hayha, Lauri Torni commanded and trained ski warfare teams designed to shred into the battlefield in the most totally xtreme to the max way possible, spray around enough lead to smelt into a half-pipe, then haul outta there and launch a sweet ski jump off a ramp while things explode behind them. These ice-cold killers launched guerilla attacks deep behind Red Army lines on dozens of occasions, disrupting their supply and communications, then peeling back to the front lines just in time to hold the line with the Regular Army against a ridiculously-terrifying human wave attack launched from a Communist force that outnumbered the Fins like five to one.
It helped that the Red Army was basically retarded after being utterly lobotomized during Stalin’s idiotic purges of the Russian military high command, but it’s not small fucking feat of amazerballs that Lauri Torni and his Olympic Bloodbathing gold medal team held back an all-out Soviet Union assault for several months. By the time the peace talks rolled around to end the war, the Reds had lost 323,000 men to the Fins’ 70,000 – a kill ratio that would make any CoD player rip off a righteous boner – and Lauri Torni had received every single medal for military badassitude offered by the government of Finland, ranging from the Mannerheim Cross (their Medal of Honor) all the way down to a hilariously-bad hand-fingerpainted coffee mug that said “World’s Greatest Dad #1 Love You Forever Daddy” in Finnish even though Torni didn’t even have kids or a girlfriend or a wife because he was MARRIED TO KICKING COMMIE ASS and it’s a cruel fucking mistress #1 forever.
Ok well the part that sucked for Torni was that the war was over and he couldn’t go around killing Russians anymore, and since he felt like he still had some vengeance he needed to unleash he was like hey, fuck it, these German dudes are still fighting Russia so imma get up on that. The Germans had been looking to recruit experienced fighters who had first-hand knowledge of the Soviet Army, and Torni and a few other Winter War vets were organized as a Finnish Waffen-SS battalion and unleashed on the Reds. He earned the Iron Cross after leading an MG34 machine gun team that charged into the middle of a firefight, guns blazing, and pulled a wounded company commander out of an enemy ambush, but stepped on a land mine after that and kind of got blown up a little bit.
A face full of shrapnel didn’t slow Torni down too bad, however, and by the time he was out of the hospital he was happy to learn that Finland had re-joined battle with the Soviet Union, allying with Germany and trying to re-take land that had been lost to the Russkies in the Winter War. Once again Torni went into battle at the head of the ski troops, this time personally leading a badass assault squad known as “Detachment Torni” that specialized in sabotage and recon. Comprised of 60-70 men (including a future President of Finland!), Detachment Torni went on countless raids against the Soviet Union, and he was such a royal pain in Stalin’s nutsack that the Soviet Union put a bounty on Torni’s head of 3 million Finnish Marks for anyone who would give him up.
It’s worth noting that there is no record of the Russians putting a bounty on the heads of any other Finnish commander in the war.
Torni is the one in the center.
Well, we all know how World War II shaped out, and as the Russians were pushing Germany back they forced Finland out of the war 1944. Torni jumped in a U-Boat and sailed to Berlin, where he was trained as a saboteur by the Kriegsmarines. He eventually returned to Finland and continued to resist the Soviets, a nice little move that got him arrested and declared an “enemy of the people.” Torni escaped prison three times, and the third time he managed to get in touch with the former director of the OSS and find asylum in the United States.
Lauri Torni changed his name to Larry Thorne and started working as a carpenter in Brooklyn, but war was in this dude’s blood and in 1954 he said fuck it an enlisted in the United States Army as a Private, even though he’d spent six years fighting World War II as an officer in two different military commands.
Obviously it didn’t take long for Thorne to prove his worth, and in his first ten years of military service to the United States government he trained NATO forces in West Germany, ran a sabotage and reconnaissance school for the 10th Special Warfare Group, and made a name for himself as one of the first – and most legendary – Green Berets in American history. His crowning achievement came in the late 50s, when he led a mission into the Middle East to recover bodies and classified data from a C-130 transport plane that had gone down in the largest mountain range in Iran, ditching atop a cliff just 20 miles from Tehran. Three missions had attempted to get to the crash site and failed, but Captain Larry Thorne grabbed his shit, parachuted in with a 12-man team, made his way up 14,000 feet of elevation deep in enemy territory, and somehow recovered the data and snuck out of there undetected.
Naturally, when the United States started getting involved in South Vietnam and needed some serious fucking badasses to roll in there and start preparing to kick Communist balls into proletarian jelly, Larry Thorne was all over it like stink on lutefisk.
Currently Listening To:
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Willy and the Poor Boys
Having now kicked ass in waist-deep sub-zero snow drifts, high-altitude Iranian steppe mountains, and hardcore mud-covered rain forest wilderness, Captain Larry Thorne doubled-down on asskicking and served two tours of duty in South Vietnam as part of the highly-classified, highly-awesome Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group – an elite unit of clandestine black ops asskickers known as MACV-SOG. Specializing in non-conventional warfare and shanking fuckers in the back of the neck until they barf out a Ka-Bar, Thorne and MACV-SOG spent several years running deep cover ops into Cambodia and Laos to track down the NVA supply network that eventually became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Rocking it old-school with a WWII-era Scandinavian-made Carl Gustav SMG, Captain Thorne planned missions by going on aerial recon himself in a UH-34D Seahorse chopper, figuring out the mission, then personally leading raids, attacks, intel gathering and sabotage missions. He was wounded twice, received a Bronze Star for bravery in combat, and was immediately recognized as one of the toughest sons-of-bitches in a military organization that prides itself on being able to kill people in their sleep.
MACV-SOG operatives in South Vietnam.
Thorne’s last mission took place on October 18, 1965, when he was leading an aerial insertion behind enemy lines, 20 miles across the Laotian border – a place the United States wasn’t even supposed to be. Continuing on despite bad weather, Thorne made sure that his teams hit the ground, and then, as he was circling back around, his helicopter went into some nasty-looking clouds and was never seen again. He was listed Missing in Action after a 28-year career of military service and never heard from again. The mission however, was a success – his men called in 51 air strikes against Ho Chi Minh Trail supply stations and made it out of there alive.
For the next 30 years there was a lot of speculation about what happened to Thorne. Some thought he walked away and survived, others suspected maybe the Russians finally got a hold of him and stuck him in a Gulag somewhere. His old buddies, knowing how tough this dude was, would make a toast to him “wherever he may be” every year on the anniversary of his disappearance, and a picture of him was shown to NVA defectors to see if maybe they recognized him.
Major Larry Thorne’s body was eventually found in the wreckage of a downed chopper in Laos in the 90s, and his body was relocated to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. Finnish diplomats were in attendance.
Nowadays the Larry Thorne Award is given by the U.S. Army Special Forces every year to honor the toughest detachment in the Green Berets. Which isn’t a bad way to be remembered.
Thorne, far left, taken just before his final mission.
Blackburn, Michael. US Army Special Forces Small Unit Tactics Handbook. Blacksmith, 2013.
Gill, Henry A. Soldier Under Three Flags. Pathfinder, 1998.
Gillespie, Robert M. Black Ops, Vietnam. Naval Institute, 2011.
Jowett, Philip. Finland at War 1939-45. Osprey, 2012.
Lembcke, Jerry. CNN’s Tailwind Tale. Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.