James Thorn, 74

Career Army sergeant

July 15, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

James Thorn, a retired career Army sergeant who was also an active member of the Buffalo Soldiers Ninth & Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association, died of lung cancer July 8 at his Hanover home. He was 74.

Mr. Thorn was born and raised in Milford, Del., and was a 1952 graduate of Milford High School.

He attended Delaware State College and earned a bachelor's degree in managerial studies from Columbia College in Columbia, Mo., in 1972.

Mr. Thorn served for 30 years in the Army and was a sergeant major at the time of his retirement in 1985.

He then went to work for the U.S. Postal Service's incoming mail facility in Gaithersburg and later Linthicum, from which he retired in 1999. His wife of 39 years, the former Shirley Lake, died in 1998.

He was an active member of the Buffalo Soldiers Ninth & Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association. The organization composed of re-enactors recalls the historic contributions of former slaves, freemen and black Civil War veterans who made up the 9th and 10th Cavalry, two all African-American regiments, that were founded at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1866.

The first peacetime all-black regiment created by direct order of Congress took its name, some sources say, from the Cheyenne warriors who admired the unit's courage.

The Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Mexican campaign, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"They appeared in parades and went all over the country. His rank in the Buffalo Soldiers was the same one he had during his regular Army days," said his daughter, Karen M. Thorn of Hanover.

Mr. Thorn also was a founding member of the Fort Meade E-9 Association. He enjoyed golfing, vegetable gardening and building furniture. He was an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Funeral services will be held at noon tomorrow at the Argonne Hills Chapel Center, Rockenbach Road and Grandea Avenue at Fort Meade. Interment with military honors will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Also surviving are four sons, Anthony Thorn, Gordon Thorn and Maurice Thorn, all of Severn, and Randall Thorn of Harlem, Ga.; and five grandchildren.

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