Larry Thorne enlisted in the US Army as a private in 1954, but he was already a war hero. That’s because his real name was Lauri Törni, and he had been fighting the Soviets for much of his adult life.

Born in Finland in 1919, Törni enlisted at age 19 in his country’s army and fought against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-1940, according to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

He quickly rose to the rank of captain and took command of a group of ski troops, who quite literally skied into battle against enemy forces.

In 1942 he was severely wounded after he skied into a mine, but that didn’t slow him down. In 1944, during what the Finns called The Continuation War, he received Finland’s version of the Medal of Honor — the Mannerheim Cross — for his bravery while leading a light infantry battalion.