Imatra-based war veteran Otto Virkki, 96, will lay a wreath on Saturday at the tomb of Tuomas Gerdt, the last knight of the Mannerheim Cross, in Lappeenranta.

Both Virkki and Gerdt served in the 7th Infantry Regiment, the famous Tyrjä Regiment, in the Continuation War.

Virkin asked for the honorary position of the regiment's tradition committee.

- Of course, the request was surprising, although it was not the first time.

I have previously been a number of such events department, says Virkki.

  • Read more: Live broadcast on Saturday at 12 noon: Tuomas Gerdt, the last knight of the Mannerheim Cross, is put to rest in the tomb - this is how the funeral progresses

He didn’t know Gerd personally, even though the men were sometimes at the same veteran events.

Back in the autumn, Virkki saw Gerdt at the Oulunkylä Rehabilitation Hospital, but he could no longer discuss it.

Due to the more warlike, Virkkiä, who suffers from balance problems, is excited at the funeral mainly to read the texts of the wreath ribbons.

One of her daughters will come to the funeral to assist and take photos.

Otto Virkki was born in 1924 in the village of Saarenpää on Koivusaari in the Gulf of Finland, which is located in front of Koivisto, or Primorsk, which now belongs to Russia.

War injury causes pain and balance problems for Otto Virki, but he has not allowed it to prevent exercise. Photo: Ari Nakari

The crew was severely wounded in a major Soviet attack in the summer of 1944 on the Ohta block near Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.

The officer had turned 20 on May 30, and on June 10 he was wounded.

- There were no birthday parties.

The recollection still remembers the young Russian soldier who threw a grenade in front of him.

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 There’s still stuff in the head, but not so much that a junk dealer would want them.

- I tried to throw a grenade myself, but I slipped on hilly terrain.

Fortunately, not all of the fragments came to me.

Otherwise, my name could be in the hero’s grave, even if there was nothing else there.

The crochet received a total of 13 fragments of grenades in the head area, some of which have still not been removed.

- There is still stuff in the head, but not so much that the junk dealer would like them, he jokes.

- There is not a day that there is no pain in the head.

If all the painkillers I’ve used over 70 years were to be scored together, it would be quite a sack.

Virkki spent his career in Helsinki as an elevator repairman.

The first marriage ended in divorce and the second in the death of the spouse.

The unions gave birth to two sons and three daughters.

Virkki retired prematurely due to injuries caused by the injury.

25 years ago, during her vacation at the Imatra spa, she met a “lovely Imatra woman” and moved from Helsinki to Imatra.

Kyllikki's spouse died in 2017.

The Defense Forces mourned the last knight of the Mannerheim Cross in memory of Tuomas Gerdt at the General Staff in Helsinki on November 2, 2020. Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The refreshment has not allowed pains and balance problems to be discouraged.

He was passionate about volleyball in the Cigar Stage team of the late President Mauno Koivisto, among others.

With Koivisto, he went on four trips abroad as well.

- For me, Koivisto was a completely insignificant president.

Repeat has not been so good.

He always fundraised before saying anything.

Volleyball has now changed to bowling.

The crochet bowls at least twice a week in a group of seniors, although from his point of view there are young people.

- My peers are not really there, and I want to arouse the wonder that I am still going there to throw.

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 I’m not bitter or bitter that the Russian tried to kill me - that’s what I tried to kill him too.

Virkki has visited Koivisto, his former homeland belonging to Russia, a total of 12 times.

The last time he was there was five years ago, but after his wife’s illness and death, the trips were delayed.

The post does not carry resentment from the war, and he has welcomed the large number of Russian shopping and other tourists who had traveled to Imatra before the corona.

Otto Virkki, born in Koivisto, Karelia, who was behind the border and had a career in Helsinki, has lived in Imatra for the last 25 years. Photo: Ari Nakari

- I saw that the local business community would benefit from it.

- I'm not bitter or bitter that the Russian tried to kill me - that's what I tried to kill him too.

He just had time a little earlier.

They fought for their own idea and their country and we fought for our own country.

Virkki gives one instruction to the editor:

- Don't damn it then make me a hero!

  • Thomas Gerdt was wounded three times in battle, but did not allow the mockery of enemies - this is how the knight of the Mannerheim Cross recalled the soldier's feelings on the front