Thomas Thorne was born in Savannah, GA, on July 17, 1918. He acquired his love of the military through his father, who was a major in the Georgia National Guard. He entered The Citadel in 1935, and a year after graduating, received a commission in November 1940 as a second lieutenant in the 76th Coast Artillery, a black unit with white officers. While on active duty he served for a time as the anti-aircraft officer for 16th Corps during the Battle of the Bulge when his commanding officer was relieved. For his service in WWII, he received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. Thorne recalls his decision to attend The Citadel and his thirty-five years in the Army Reserve. He discusses some memorable events of his service in WWII, including chance meetings with General Patton and with two armed SS men alone in the woods. After retiring from the Army Reserve in 1974, Thorne remained active in the Charleston, SC, community, serving as president of the Greater Charleston Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Charleston Development Board.
This interview is a part of the "Citadel WWII Alumni History Project." With generous support from the Humanities Council of South Carolina (http://www.schumanities.org/), the Citadel Oral History Program collected thirty interviews with Citadel alumni regarding their experiences during WWII. Journalist and historian Jack Bass conducted the interviews during the Fall of 2008.They serve as a powerful testament to the veterans' experiences and their critical contributions to the war effort. The digital recordings and transcripts are part of The Citadel Oral History Program Collection at The Citadel Archives & Museum.