In 1925, a seventeen year old Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for a year of mandatory service and achieved the rank of corporal. Eventually Simo Häyhä joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) similar to the National Guard of the United States prior to being entangled in the Winter War under the 6th Company’s banner. Simo responded to the aid of his country when the USSR invaded in November, three months after the eruption of WWII in 1939. While drifting through the tundra, Simo concealed himself by wearing white camouflage and refused to use a scope for he noted that the sun would reflect off the glass and give his position away. Another innovation he utilized was to put snow in his mouth in order to deny a foggy exhalation from escaping his lips. He took every precaution to avoid tipping off Russian counter-snipers of his location; soldiers bent on deposing their most feared adversary whom they dubbed “White Death.” Such a title was legitimized by his impressive five hundred and five head count. Using a Mosin-Nagant rifle which suited his short stature, Häyhä achieved the highest recorded number of confirmed sniper kills in any major war.
(An account of Simo Häyhä's background & military experience)
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