Duane Thorin passed away October 24, 2002. The following was written by shipmate Earl Lanning:
“Duane Thorin was born in the Chambers, Nebraska area to a Swedish immigrant family. Raised on a ranch, as a working cowboy, Duane learned early on how to cope with Mother Nature, and all the rigorous things that are involved with ranch life. On the Rochester, years later, he used to entertain we youngsters with rope tricks. Then, he would pick up a guitar and sing cowboy songs. The warmth of this man was beyond comprehension. We were all in awe of him. He never had to give an order. We all thought he could have flown off the fantail without the aid of a helicopter.
Thorin reported aboard the Rochester November 23, 1951. He was captured near Wonsan February 7, 1952. The Chinese interned him in Camp Annex #2 on the Yalu River. He was released in the summer of 1953. His next assignment was Washington, DC. He worked for the remainder of his naval career for the National Security Agency. LT Thorin was a great American and will be missed.”Duane joined the Navy in 1939. He intended to be a pilot and earned his wings in 1943 as a flying CPO. Thorin was proficient in every plane that the Navy flew in the Pacific Fleet during WWII. He was a test pilot and carrier-qualified. In 1949 he was designated Helicopter Pilot #216. He made more than 130 rescues in Korea.
LT Duane Thorin enlisted in the Navy as an Apprentice Seaman in 1939, aiming to earn his wings. Pilot training was available to a limited number of enlisted men with Aviation Ratings.
As test pilot in Carrier Aircraft Service Unit ONE, 1944-45, he flew all carrier aircraft in service at that time. After post-war duty in China flying R4D’s came two years as flight instructor in the N2S biplane and SNJ’s at Correy Field.
Designated Helicopter Pilot #216 in December, 1949, he made more than 130 rescues and evacuations from enemy territory in North Korea flying HO3’s.
Thorin reported aboard the USS Rochester, 23 November, 1951, at Yokosuka, Japan. During one rescue attempt, he fell captive on 8 February 1952. He escaped from a POW camp in July, 1952, but was recaptured. Repatriated in September, 1953, he was tasked by COMNAVAIRPAC to produce classified analysis of communist purposes and techniques in their treatment of POW’s and develop a training program for survival, escape and evasion, and resistance in event of capture.
Commissioned an Ensign in 1955, he served as analyst in the National Security Agency, developed materials for Naval leadership training, and reviewed training practices relating to the Code of Conduct for the Department of Defense. His novelized account of experiences while a POW titled “A Ride to Panmunjon” was used by the DoD in that regard.
After retirement in 1961, he provided studies and testimonies to the Senate Armed Forces Subcommittee and Judiciary Subcommittee on Internal Security. He has studied, lectured, and written extensively on military affairs; especially regarding misconduct thereof in Viet Nam. Architectural design, engineering and construction are also among his activities. He now travels widely from a home base in Bartlett, Nebraska.