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Highlighting the World Wars I & II Memorabilia Collection of Dave Sleeper

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Thorn, Richard C.


Rank: Seaman First Class
Serial Number: 06623117
Military Branch: USS Lexington, CV-16
Origin: California
Date of Death: 1944-11-5
Manila American Cemetery
Featured: No

 

Richard Carroll Thorn was born July 25, 1922 in San Francisco to his parents August C. and Mary Isabelle (Wilson). The 1940 census shows Richard living with his parents at 1028 Hudson Street in Redwood City, California. Richard attended Sequoia Union High School in Redwood City from 1937 to 1939. His profession at enlistment was welder. That census shows that he had 2 brothers, August (Jr.) and Donald. The census shows the last name spelled Thorne, but he is the one and same. Richard was inducted into the Naval Reserve on January 8, 1942 in Redwood City as Apprentice Seaman. As he was under 21, his father signed as well. He reported to the San Diego Naval Training Station on January 19, 1942. He went to Bremerton for a short time and then  reported aboard the Lexington in Boston on February 17, 1943 as Seaman 1st Class to which he advanced on November 1, 1942. Thorn was thus one of the commissioning crew.

Thorn was on the Lexington during all its engagements in the Pacific in 1943 and early 1944. He was killed in action when a Japanese suicide plane hit the deck near the ship's island on November 5, 1944 in a battle near Luzon Island, Philippines. He was among about 50 KIA that day. There were also about 180 wounded in that action. S1c Thorn's body was never recovered, so he was listed as missing in action.

The Lexington is now a museum ship moored at Corpus Christi. Panels in the ship list all of the casualties. S1c Thorn is not named on that list. However he is shown as one of 3 "unidentified" on the list. This research confirms that his name should be listed.

This is an extensive group consisting of Thorn's Type 3 officially engraved posthumous Purple Heart, undated posthumous Good Conduct medal, original Purple Heart Certificate and its mailing envelope, WW2 Presidential Accolade signed by Harry Truman, with its mailing tube, Equator Crossing Certificate named to Thorn. In addition, the following medals are included: Asiatic Pacific Campaign, American Campaign and WW2 Victory medal. Also included is a Purple Heart ribbon bar and a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon bar. 

Also included in the group is August's original two sided WW1 Discharge and a modern strike WW1 Victory medal. 

Pictures of the casualty panel at the ship museum are included. There is internet research and his National Archives file that includes a copy of a letter to the parents from the Captain of the Lexington.  Two rolled photos of Lexington crew members are also included.