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Per Kirkhorn, 84; WWII Resistance Fighter in Norway

November 16, 2001|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Per Kirkhorn, 84, a Norwegian resistance fighter during World War II who was marked for death by the German Gestapo, died of cancer Nov. 7 at a veterans home in Livermore, Calif.

The Oslo-born Kirkhorn joined the Norwegian resistance after the Nazis overran his country in 1940. As a saboteur, he entered the holds of German cargo ships and changed the markings on cartons containing prefabricated buildings designed for military bases. Some bases received only roofs or south walls.

He escaped capture by skiing to Sweden with a fellow resistance fighter, then proceeded to the Soviet Union, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and finally England. He later served on two ships, both of which were sunk by the Germans. On V-J day, while he was saving an inebriated British sailor from drowning, Kirkhorn's legs were crushed against a dock by a moving ship.

He recovered and later moved to New York, where he joined the Air Force Reserve and later enlisted in the regular Air Force. He served in South Korea and Vietnam, and retired to the Bay Area in 1972 as a lieutenant colonel.

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