Thorsness, Leo

Public Information


Thorsness, Leo




(1932-2017) Born in Walnut Grove, Minnesota in 1932. Cited for action in the skies over North Vietnam.  While on a surface-to-air missile suppression mission, Colonel Thorsness wingman was shot down by intense antiaircraft fire with its 2 crewmembers abandoning their aircraft.  In spite of being a single aircraft with low fuel in an extremely hostile environment of surface-to-air missiles, antiaircraft defenses and enemy aircraft, Colonel Thorsness directed search and rescue forces to the downed crewmembers and provided top cover over the rescue area while destroying one MIG-17, damaging another and driving three others away.  Further, although critically short on fuel himself, Colonel Thorsness helped avert further possible loss of life and a friendly aircraft by electing to recover at a forward operating base, thereby allowing the other aircraft to receive much needed priority fuel from an airborne tanker aircraft.

Medal of Honor Recipient