Emmet County

Pfc. John F. Thorson

Medal of Honor



Mr. and Mrs. John F. Thorson of Armstrong, formerly of Bode, have received word that their son, Pfc. John F. Thorson, Jr., was killed in action on Leyte Island of the Philippines on October 29, 1944.

Source: Humboldt Republican, December 19, 1944


Estherville, Ia.
At Armstrong, memorial services for Pfc. John F. Thorson, so of Mr. and Mrs. John Thorson of Armstrong, was held Sunday. Pfc. Thorson was killed on Leyte, on October 29, 1944, in the occupation of that island by American forces. He was a member of the Seventh division.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, April 9, 1945

4th Iowan Wins Medal of Honor

Jolley, (AP)—Mr. and Mrs. John F. Thorson, Sr., who live on a farm near Jolley will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded posthumously Wednesday to their son, Pfc. John F. Thorson, 24, Armstrong, Iowa, who threw his body upon a Japanese hand grenade to save the lives of three other American soldiers.

Thorson, who was serving with the 7th division on Leyte, was killed in the heroic action last Oct. 29.

The nation’s highest honor was presented by Gen. Joseph Stilwell on Okinawa to a member of Thorson’s regiment for delivery to his parents, who live with their daughter, Mrs. John Swenson.

He was the 4th Iowan to win the Medal of Honor in this war. Two other awards—those to Lt. Dale Christensen, Gray; and Capt. Darrel R. Lindsey, Fort Dodge—also were posthumous. The 3rd winner was Staff Sgt. Herschel F. Briles, Colfax, who received the medal last Sunday.

Thorson was graduated from the Armstrong high school in 1941 and helped his father on their farm near Armstrong until he entered the Army April 19, 1942. He served in Alaska, on Attu and Kiska, in the Hawaiian Islands and in the invasion of Marshall and Philippine islands.

His parents learned of his death last Dec. 4.

The War Department described the action for which he was decorated as follows:

Thorson and 3 other soldiers were advancing on a Japanese pillbox, with the Iowan in the lead. They took the pillbox and Thorson went in first. As he entered, a Jap rose up and threw a hand grendade at the Americans. The Iowan cast his body upon the grenade, sacrificing his life but saving his companions.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, July 5, 1945


The Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Pfc. John F. Thorson, jr., will be presented to his father, John F. Thorson of Ida Grove at Fort Crook, Sunday. The Iowa soldier was awarded the highest decoration for conspicuous gallantry at Dagmai, Leyte, and Philippines, Aug. 28, 1944.

Source: Council Bluffs Nonpareil, September 14, 1945

U. S. Navy Names Cargo Ship for John F. Thorson

A cargo ship recently commissioned by the United States Navy, has been named in honor of John F. Thorson, Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who entered military service from Armstrong, Iowa. John was one of the 22 men who received the award during the recent war.

Source: Estherville Enterprise, November 27, 1947 (photo included)

96 Iowans Aboard The Dalton Victory

Washington, D. C.—A total of 96 Iowans who lost their lives during World War II are being returned to the United States from the Pacific area aboard the United States Army transport Dalton Victory, the department of the army announced Saturday.

Under the program for final burial of World War II dead, the next of kin may elect to have remains returned to the United States for burial in a private or national cemetery, or may request interment in a permanent American military cemetery overseas or a private cemetery in a foreign country which is the home land of the deceased or next of kin.

Following is a list of deceased Iowans being returned to the United States and their next of kin residing in the North Iowa area:
(Note: Other names on the list have been omitted in this article.)

Pfc. John F. Thorson; (father) John F. Thorson, Eagle Grove

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, August 16, 1948

Pfc. John F. Thorson, Jr.

Born May 10, 1920
Died October 29, 1944
Buried: Keokuk National Cemetery, Keokuk, Iowa