Peter Louis Thorsen, 87, highly decorated Army colonel

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Peter Louis Thorsen
Peter Louis Thorsen

WILMINGTON — Col. Peter L. Thorsen of Wilmington, North Carolina, passed away on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, at his home.

Peter was born on Dec. 22, 1928, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of the late Adolph G. Thorsen and Eleanore Karll Thorsen.

He was preceded in death by his sister, June Ellen Barlow, and his wife of 58 years, Nancy Page Henderson Thorsen.

He is survived by his four sons and their wives: Peter Jr. and Deborah of Kingston, Tennessee, David and Katalin Kluge of New York, New York, Mark and Kimberly of Houston, Texas, and John and Laura of Athens, Georgia. He was also the proud grandfather of Hunter, Benjamin, Harrison and Virginia.

He attended the Milwaukee Country Day School and was a 1951 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (B.S.) and later of Purdue University (M.S.). He became an assistant professor in Electrical Engineering at West Point during the early 1960s. Peter also graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College as well as from the U.S. Army War College.

He was a proud Redleg and was able to culminate his field artillery career by being given the opportunity to command the First Division’s 1st/5th Field Artillery Battalion (Republic of Vietnam), that included D Battery and Alexander Hamilton’s Cannoneers, the oldest continuous serving unit in the U.S. Military. He served over nine years behind the Iron Curtain as an Assistant Army Attache (1965-1967) in Moscow, USSR; as the Defense Attache (1971-1974) in Warsaw, Poland; and as the Chief of the Potsdam Military Liaison Mission (USMLM, 1974-1977) to the Commander in Chief group of Soviet Forces in Zossen-Wunsdorf, East Germany.

His qualifications included cold weather and military mountaineering, Airborne Ranger, and foreign area specialist. His decorations included the Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Service Medal.

He and his family moved to Wilmington after a 1979 medical retirement. He continued to be a history buff and an avid reader. He participated in the New Hanover Arboretum’s Master Gardener program, and was a loyal knight of the old Oleander Krispy Kreme roundtable.

Peter was thankful for the friendship of the entire staff at Jimbo’s Restaurant, where he was a “regular.” He enjoyed the comradeship of a wonderful and unforgettable group of gentlemen at the Wilmington Civitan Club (1980-2000) and was honored to serve as its president for one term. For decades, he looked forward to his regular lunch meetings with an exemplary group of old friends and their wives. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and former military colleagues.

A memorial service will take place at Andrews Mortuary Market Street Chapel on Nov. 26, 2016, at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at a later date at St. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.

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