Major General John F. Thorlin was born in Oregon on June 21, 1910 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1933.
His total contribution to the Ordnance Corps over a 32-year career is immeasurable. His first great challenge as an Ordnance Officer came about during World War II. Two major stumbling blocks for planning the ammunition logistics in the Pacific were the lack of 10,000-ton transport ships and the incredible lead-time of 11 months required for shipment of the ammunition up to 8,000 miles by freight ship. Accuracy in planning was imperative for each planned offensive campaign in order to assure no shortage of ammunition. To provide ammunition supplies for each campaign, ammunition was distributed on the basis of maximum utilization. Through his outstanding planning and managing, each offensive was provided with sufficient ammunition in a timely way.
From 1957 through 1959 as President of the Ordnance Board at Aberdeen Proving Ground, he organized his officers into commodity-oriented specialty groups to reduce duplication of effort and to ensure that even small items within each commodity received the proper attention.
Later, while he was Commander of White Sands Missile Range, he inaugurated the “off-range” firing of the long-range missiles. Through a massive effort and constant coordination with the Governors of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, the off-range launch program was approved and invaluable test information was (and still is) collected.
During his career, the Ordnance Corps began to grow rapidly, and in order to attract officers to the expanding Ordnance Corps, he proposed a scholarship program for ROTC cadets who were to be Ordnance officers. The program was finally adopted for all branches six years later. General Thorlin retired in 1965.