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John F. Thorson
Born (1920-05-10)May 10, 1920
Died October 28, 1944(1944-10-28) (aged 24)
Place of birth Armstrong, Iowa
Place of death Dagami, Leyte, the Philippines
Place of burial Keokuk National Cemetery,
Keokuk, Iowa
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942 - 1944
Rank Private First Class
Unit 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

John F. Thorson (May 10, 1920 – October 28, 1944) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.


Thorson was the seventh of eight children born to Norwegian immigrants. He joined the Army from his birth city of Armstrong, Iowa in 1942,[1] and by October 28, 1944 was serving as a private first class in Company G, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On that day, in Dagami, Leyte province, in the Philippines, Thorson was wounded while single-handedly attacking an enemy trench, then smothered the blast of an enemy-thrown hand grenade with his body. He successfully protected his fellow soldiers from the blast, and was immediately killed. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor nine months later, on July 19, 1945.

Thorson, aged 24 at his death, was buried in Keokuk National Cemetery, Keokuk, Iowa.

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Private First Class Thorson's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

He was an automatic rifleman on 28 October 1944, in the attack on Dagami Leyte, Philippine Islands. A heavily fortified enemy position consisting of pillboxes and supporting trenches held up the advance of his company. His platoon was ordered to out-flank and neutralize the strongpoint. Voluntarily moving well out in front of his group, Pvt. Thorson came upon an enemy fire trench defended by several hostile riflemen and, disregarding the intense fire directed at him, attacked single-handed. He was seriously wounded and fell about 6 yards from the trench. Just as the remaining 20 members of the platoon reached him, 1 of the enemy threw a grenade into their midst. Shouting a warning and making a final effort, Pvt. Thorson rolled onto the grenade and smothered the explosion with his body. He was instantly killed, but his magnificent courage and supreme self-sacrifice prevented the injury and possible death of his comrades, and remain with them as a lasting inspiration.

Honored in ship namingEdit

The United States Army ship USAT Private John F. Thorson which served in the Pacific Ocean at the end of World War II was named in his honor.

See alsoEdit


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