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Portrait of a Soldier

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, Vietnam War

Students will:
• Conduct interviews.
• Analyze the challenges of a service member.

Medal of Honor Focus: Leo K. Thorsness, Major, U.S. Air Force 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron

For the Teacher:
In this lesson, students will read the Leo K. Thorsness profile. After viewing his vignette, students will learn
about his Medal of Honor citation and the history and challenges he faced as a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War.
Students will discuss his critical life and death decisions.

After this activity, students will interview a soldier currently enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. The
students will identify the military values and characteristics, along with the emotional and physical strength
needed to survive on a mission the same as the Wild Weasel Squadron in the Vietnam War. Make contact
with a local military branch to find a veteran/active duty service member who will visit the classroom.

Day 1
Introductory Activity
Students will read the citation of Leo K. Thorsness and view the vignette based on his story.

Whole Group Activity:
Students will create questions to ask a veteran or service member based on who, what, when, where, and
why questions. They will write insightful questions to help them learn more about life in a time of war.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Students will work in small groups to discuss their questions for a veteran or service member. They will provide
feedback and decide if the questions are appropriate.

Concluding Activity:
Students will prepare the questions for an interview with a veteran or service member.

Day 2
Whole Group Activity

When a service member has agreed to visit the classroom, students will listen to the veteran or service member
tell his or her story based on military duties. The students will ask the veteran or service member questions based
on their preparation on Day 1.

Concluding Activity:
Students will write a reflection on the veteran or service member's visit.

Day 3
Concluding Activity:

After discussing the visit, the class will discuss the similarities and connections between the Medal of Honor
profile and the guest speaker.

The students will write thank you cards to the veteran or service member for bravery and dedication to our country.

List of questions for interview, reflection, letter of thanks to the veteran or service member.

Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.

Quote: "...I believe in liberty and justice and will fight to defend the dignity of man." - Richard K. Sorenson, Marine Corps-World War II

In Their Own Words - Leo Thorsness