Lauri Törni – AKA Larry Thorn

One of the most interesting characters I discovered during my research for this book was Lauri Törni, aka Larry Thorn. As described in the book, Thorn was a Finnish national who fought the Soviets during WW2. Recall that Finland was at war with the Soviets and loosely allied with the Germans. In a strange turn of events, Törni was recruited by the German SS because he was such a skilled fighter. Törni ended up an officer in the SS and fought the Russians throughout the war. 

In the aftermath of WW2, the US took in many people who had useful skills despite their connections to Nazi Germany. Operation Paperclip was the project that brought over some of the best German rocket scientists, including Werner von Braun, to work for the American rocket program. There were also provisions made to allow the US military to recruit foreign nationals into our service. The Lodge-Philbin Act was passed by congress in 1952 and allowed men such as Törni to become US citizens in return for their military service.

Törni became Larry Thorn, a highly decorated special forces officer in the US Army. Thorn served with distinction until being killed in action in Viet Nam in 1965. There is a building named after him in Fort Carson, Colorado and there is an annual award of distinction to the best operational detachment that bears his name. He was posthumously inducted into the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Commando Hall of Honor.

The personality he displays in the book is entirely my own creation but is based on my perception of what it must have took for a man to contort himself into so many different guises. I imagined him with a unique world view and lots of experience. His hatred of the communists was a given, but his love of books made him a more interesting character and one that was not just a one-dimensional tough guy.