Leo Thorsness died of cancer at the age of 85 earlier this week. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for the actions he took on his 93rd Wild Weasel mission over North Vietnam. He tells the story of his Medal of Honor mission in the first chapter of Surviving Hell. Richard Goldstein also tells the story in his excellent New York Times obituary.
Eleven days after his Medal of Honor mission Leo was shot down over North Vietnam. He “survived hell” for six years as a prisoner of war. I highlighted Leo’s experience as a prisoner of war in my own comments remembering him.
Leo recounted his experiences several times in videos that are accessible on YouTube, all of which are worth watching. The American Legion recorded the video below (about 10 minutes). He speaks in telling detail about his work as a Wild Weasel pilot in the first of four videos of a speech posted here (highly recommended).
I thought readers who may not have heard Leo tell his own story, or who may want to take a few minutes to pause over it again, would appreciate this video. As you can see, he was a living example of character and courage combined with pride and modesty in just the right proportion.
Quotable quote: “It was just a full day’s work.”