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Heikki Nykänen (1920-2011)

Nykänen's passing leaves only one surviving Knight of the Mannerheim Cross

Heikki Nykänen (1920-2011) Heikki Nykänen (1920-2011)
Heikki Nykänen (1920-2011)
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Major Kaarlo Heikki Nykänen, a Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, died early on Wednesday morning at his home in Pori. Born on September 19th 1920 in Helsinki, Nykänen was 91 years old.
      Nykänen fought in the Continuation War (1941-1944) between Finland and the Soviet Union as the leader of a special commando unit, conducting reconnaissance and assaults on military targets behind the enemy lines. By 1943, the number of his commando excursions was already around 100.
In August 1943, Heikki Nykänen was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross, the most distinguished military award in Finland.
      After the Continuation War, Nykänen also fought in the Lapland War, a conflict between Finland and Nazi Germany between September 1944 and April 1945, in which the Finns, as directed under the terms of the armistice with the Soviet Union, sought to eject remaining German troops from Finnish soil.
Throughout most of his post-war career, Nykänen worked for Rauma-Repola. From 1958 to 1972 Nykänen served as a production manager and technical director in the company’s mechanical engineering division in Pori. From 1972 to 1981, Nykänen held the position of Investment Director in the same division. He retired in 1981.
The Mannerheim Cross 2nd Class, instituted as the universal award for extraordinary bravery in action, for the achievement of extraordinarily important objectives by combat, or for especially well conducted operations, has been awarded to a total of 191 persons since it was introduced after the Winter War.
      Holders of the decoration are referred to as "Knights of the Mannerheim Cross", and - like holders of the Victoria Cross in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, or winners of the Medal of Honor in the United States - the soldiers (it was awarded to all ranks of serviceman) bearing this decoration are reserved a very special place in Finnish hearts.
      After Nykänen's passing, there is now only one surviving Knight of the Mannerheim Cross. He is Captain Tuomas Gerdt, aged 89, who is the chairman of the Foundation of the Knights of the Mannerheim Cross.

  Mannerheim Cross (Wikipedia)
  Continuation War (Wikipedia)
  Battle of Ilomantsi (Wikipedia)

Helsingin Sanomat

  8.12.2011 - TODAY
 Heikki Nykänen (1920-2011)

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