Medal of Honor recipient to speak at TROY commencement

Posted: Tuesday, 15 July 2014

TROY - A Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former prisoner of war will bring Troy University's keynote address on July 25 on the Troy Campus.

About 325 students from 20 U.S. states and nine nations outside the United States are expected to participate in summer commencement exercises that begin at 10 a.m. in Trojan Arena.

Leo Thorsness, a retired Air Force colonel and combat pilot from Minnesota, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on April 19, 1967 in the skies near Hanoi, Vietnam, flying his F105F into an enemy dogfight after destroying enemy surface-to-air missile sites. He was shot down 11 days later and survived six years in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp.

Col. Thorsness retired from the Air Force due to injuries sustained in his ejection and subsequent torture as a POW. He worked for the Litton Corp. for six years, and in 1986, he and his wife, Gaylee, moved to Seattle, Wash., where he served as a Washington State Senator from 1988 to 1992.

The couple now resides in Madison near their daughter and grandchildren, and Col. Thorsness serves as president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He earned a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California and the baccalaureate from South Dakota State College.

Donna Riley

Col. Leo Thorsness