Major General Frederick Thorlin, 7th Commander of
White Sands Proving Ground/Missile Range, the son of Mrs. Eva Johnson
Thorlin was born in Portland, Oregon, on 21 June 1910. Following graduation,
at the top of his high school class, he attended the U. S. Military Academy
at West Point, New York, from which he was graduated and was commissioned a
2nd Lieutenant of Artillery in June 1933. During his first six years of
military service, General Thorlin served in various Anti-Aircraft Artillery
Officer assignments in Virginia, Texas, California, and the Philippines (Corregidor).
He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, on 13 June 1936. Two years later,
1938-1939, General Thorlin attended the Coast Artillery School.
Soon after graduation from the Coast Artillery School,
June 1939, General Thorlin transferred to the Ordnance Corps, and, following
a short assignment as an Ordnance Proof Officer, attended the Ordnance
School, 1939-1940, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Upon Graduation,
General Thorlin reported to Watertown Arsenal, Massachusetts, where he
organized and established the Ordnance Civilian Inspector School. In January
1941, General Thorlin, then Captain -- he was promoted on 10 September 1940,
was transferred to the Pentagon where, until 1 July 1942, he was Chief
Military Training Branch Military Personnel and Training Division, Office,
Chief of Ordnance. General Thorlin was promoted to Major on 1 February 1942.
From 1 July until 31 December 1942, General Thorlin,
who was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 21 August 1942, as Chief, Military
Organization and Military, Publications Branch, Office, Chief of Ordnance,
was responsible for all Ordnance Troop units -- their composition,
equipment, and allocation to various wartime task forces -- and for the
preparation of all Ordnance military publications covering doctrine
materiel, and supply. From 1 January until 15 November 1943, General Thorlin
headed the Military Publications Section, Office, Chief of Ordnance only.
In February 1944, after a short course on Infantry
Division tactics at the Command General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, 16 November 1943 - 20 January 1944, General Thorlin became the Chief
of the Ground Ordnance Section of Fleet Admiral Nimitz's Joint Army-Navy
Staff at Pearl Harbor. In this capacity he integrated Army and Marine Corps
Ordnance activities, including the planning, allocation, and control of all
ground ammunition for combat operations in the Pacific Theater. For his
planning participation in the Marianas, Iwo Jima, Palau, Leyte, and Okinawa
campaigns, General Thorlin, who had been promoted to Colonel on 30 October
1944, was awarded the Navy's Gold and Bronze Stars.
Following World War II, General Thorlin attended first,
the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, 12 January - 4 June 1946,
where he completed the Command and Staff Course, and then the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology from which he was graduated on 14 July 1948 with a
Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. His thesis earned him
election into MIT's Sigma Xi honorary research fraternity.
General Thorlin's next two assignments were Chief,
Automotive Test Division, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 15 July 1948 -
14 February 1950, where he was in direct charge of the technical testing of
all tanks, trucks, and other automotive materiel for the Army, and then
Chief, Tank and Automotive Branch, Research and Development, Office, Chief
of Ordnance, February 1950 - 26 August 1953, where he supervised and
directed all Ordnance automotive research and development activities. Having
been reduced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 1 July 1947 -- Post War
reduction --, General Thorlin was again promoted to Colonel on 30 December
After attending the industrial College of the Armed
Forces 27 August 1953 - 7 June 1954, General Thorlin served in the European
Theater where for two years he was, in succession, the Commanding Officer of
the Ordnance Depot, the Schivaebish-Gmuend Ordnance Maintenance Depot, and
the Boebling Ordnance maintenance Depot. Following these assignments,
General Thorlin was designated the Chief, Materiel Branch, Ordnance Division
at Headquarters, United States Army, Europe. In the latter capacity, he
planned for and directed the repair and supply of all Ordnance materiel in
Germany and France.
Upon his return from Europe in June 1957, General
Thorlin was assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground where he was first Deputy
President, The Ordnance Board, and then Commanding Officer, and after his
promotion to Brigadier General on 25 January 1960, Commanding General of the
U. S. Army Ordnance Training Command. On 1 June 1960 General Thorlin was
designated Commanding General of the Ordnance Tank-Automotive Command in
Detroit, Michigan, and in October he was assigned the added duty, Executive
Director, Military Automotive Supply Agency, in which capacity he was
responsible for automotive supplies of not only the Army, but for the Air
Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps as Well.
General Thorlin was designated Commanding General of
the White Sands Missile Range in June 1962, to succeed Maj. Gen John G.
Shinkle who was reassigned to the European Theater on 11 June 1962. General
Thorlin assumed command of the White Sands Missile Range on 9 July 1962 and
was promoted to the rank of Major General on 1 August 1962.
In addition to Navy's Gold and Bronze Stars mentioned
above, General Thorlin has also been awarded the American Defense, American
Campaign Service, World War II Victory, and the Army of Occupation (Germany)
Medals, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. General Thorlin was married to
the former Miss Martha Morelock of Galveston, Texas, -- married in 1939 --
and had three children John F., III, born 12 August 1940; Lynn B., born 11
October 1943; and Geoffrey P., born 30 November 1947.