They Don’t Call Him ‘The White Death’ for Nothin’

Since we like to celebrate acts of derring-do and uncommon toughness around here, I thought I’d bring attention to Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper who killed somewhere around 700 Russian soldiers in less than 100 days when the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1940:

Little was the operative word. Häyhä stood just 5 ft 3 in (1.6 m) tall, which was one basis for his choice of weapon, an M/28 or M28/30 Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle that suited his small frame. He also rejected a scoped rifle in favour of basic iron sights for other reasons: it meant he presented less of target as he could keep his head lower; it negated the risk of his position being exposed by sun glare in a telescopic lens; and lastly open sights were not prone to fogging up or breaking which was a concern in the snow and ice of the Winter War. Häyhä was a professional.

I think that makes him even more professional than this guy.

But hey! It’s a beautiful day in Oregon and Spring Break has started, so today’s post involving uncommon bad-assery is a two-fer!

You know all those stories about lone Japanese soldiers still fighting World War II decades after Japan surrendered? Yeah, those stories are about Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who lived in the jungles of the Philippines, carrying on the fight until 1974, when someone finally arranged for his last surviving commanding officer (for he would lay down his arms on the orders of no one else) to visit him and accept his surrender. At the time of his surrender, he still had his original uniform, a perfectly working WWII-era rifle, and several grenades.

Oh, and after emigrating to Brazil, he read a story in the 1980’s about some Japanese kid who killed his parents because he didn’t get into the school he wanted. So Onoda went back to Japan to establish an educational camp to toughen up Japanese youth:

When I was living in Brazil in the 1980s, I read that a 19-year-old Japanese man killed his parents after failing the university entrance exam. I was stunned. Why had he killed his parents instead of moving out? I guess he didn’t have enough confidence. I thought this was a sign that Japanese were getting too weak. I decided to move back to Japan to establish a nature school to give children more power.

Can you imagine going to summer camp and finding out that the scoutmaster lived in the jungles for 30 years after WWII?


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