How many wars could one man fight, and under how many flags does he need to carry throughout his life before we could say that he’s fought enough? The imaginary other half of this conversation answers “one,” but not if you’ll ask Lauri Törni, Larry Lane, or Larry Thorne, who all happened to be the same person. In his lifetime, he fought multiple wars under three different flags: Finnish, Nazis, and the American.

Lauri Torni

Lauri Allan Torni was born in Finland, in Viipuri, Viipuri Province. His father was ship captain Jalmari Torni, and his mother was named Rosa. He had two sisters named Salme Kyllikki and Kaija Iris. He was athletic as a youth before he attended business school and served with the Civil Guard. He was 19 when the Winter War broke in November 1939, and he enlisted and fought against the Soviet Union. His impressive ability during combat allowed him to rise quickly to the rank of captain. He took command of a group of ski troops, skiing their way into battle against the Soviet forces.

Pictured on the left is Captain Railio JR 33, in the middle is the Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, Lieutenant Törni, Commander of the Jääkäri Company, and on the right, Lieutenant Pitkänen of the previous Adjutant. (SA-kuva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1942, he was severely wounded after accidentally skiing over a mine. That, of course, didn’t slow him down. During the Continuation War in 1944, he again fought and led a light infantry battalion and was even awarded the Mannerheim Cross, the equivalent of the Medal of Honor.

Finland signed the Moscow Armistice in September 1944. One of the agreements was that Finland would expel all German forces in their country. They did so, and the nation that was once their ally against the Soviets now became their enemy in what was known as the Lapland War. Unfortunately, the agreement also required Finland to demobilize its military. This left Torni unemployed in November 1944, leaving only a few left to deal with and fight against the Germans.