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Era Ends as Last of WWII Arms Concealers Dies

The last of a group of legendary Finnish military officers has died in the US. Antero Aakkula, who died in Colorado aged 97, was one of the officers who buried weapons around the country during World War Two in preparation for a feared Soviet takeover.

These officers were considered heroes by many Finns, but as war criminals by the USSR. After the war, the Soviets demanded that those involved in arms caching be tried -- but most had already fled to the west.

Aakkula was one of 21 Finnish officers recruited into the U.S. Army from a group led by Col. Alpo Marttinen. "Marttinen's Men" were renowned for their winter warfare tactics. In 1944, they concealed arms around Finland for possible use if the Soviets were to occupy Finland.

Aakkula lived in Sweden and Denmark before moving to the US. "Andy" Aakkula served the US Army in Korea and Vietnam. He retired in 1968 with the rank of full colonel.

In June 2005, Chief of Defence Juhani Kaskeala awarded him one of the country's highest military honours. Col. Hannu Hansen-Haug, Finland's Defense Attaché in Washington, presented Aakkula with the Military Medal of the Finnish Defence Forces, the highest honour the defence commander can award a Finnish citizen.

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