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First Name: John

Last Name: Thorson

Birthplace: Armstrong, IA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Armstrong, IA
Middle Name: F.

Date of Birth: 10 May 1920

Date of Death: 29 October 1944

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942 - 1944
John F. Thorson

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John F. Thorson

Private First Class, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private First Class John F. Thorson (10 May 1920 - 29 October 1944) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.

John F. Thorson was born on 10 May 1920in Armstrong, IA; he also joined the Army from his birth city. On 28 October 1944, he was serving as a Private First Class in Company G, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. In a battle that day at Dagami, Leyte province, in the Philippines, Thorson was wounded while single-handedly attacking an enemy trench. He then covered the blast of an enemy-thrown hand grenade with his body. He successfully protected his fellow soldiers from the blast, but died of his injuries the next day. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic self-sacrifice.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company G, 17th Infantry, 7th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Dagami, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 28 October 1944.

Citation: 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-handedly. 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 remains with them as a lasting inspiration.


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.

Death and Burial

Private First Class John F. Thorson died on 29 October 1944 of wounds incurred in action the previous day. He is buried at Keokuk National Cemetery in Keokuk, IA, in Section D, Grave 71.

Honoree ID: 1672   Created by: MHOH




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