Retired Lt. Col. James M. Thorson, 64, a combat veteran of World War II who spent nearly 30 years with the Air Force, then worked for the State Department before retiring a second time in April 1982, died of cancer June 5 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He lived in Arlington.

Col. Thorson was a native of Illinois. He was a graduate of Illinois State University and earned a master's degree in business administration at the University of Illinois.

He joined the Army Air Forces during World War II, and was stationed in Great Britain. He flew 10 missions in B-17 (Flying Fortress) bombers before he was shot down over Nazi-occupied Europe. He made his way back to Allied lines with the help of the underground.

His later post-war military career included tours with the Strategic Air Command (SAC), and the Air Force's auditor general's office, before retiring in 1970. He spent the next 12 years as a foreign service inspector and auditor with the State Department before retiring a second time.

Survivors include his wife, Elsie L. of Arlington; a son, William C., also of Arlington; a daughter, Jo Ann Andrews of Virginia Beach; a brother, Glenn of Michigan; a sister, June Miller of Springfield, and one grandchild.