Mikko Pöllä (September 16, 1916 - April 28, 1994)
Mikko Pöllä was an Ingrian Finn born in Valkeasaari, an area that came under Soviet rule after the fall of the Russian Empire.
Pöllä’s father was deported as a kulak to Siberia in 1932, and his family was evicted from their estate. Pöllä escaped Stalin’s regime in July, 1933 by swimming across the Sestra River to Finland. He worked as a construction worker, lumberjack, and bricklayer before being enlisted by the Finnish Army in 1939, as a scout for his fluency in Russian
Pöllä performed 13 reconnaissance patrols during the Winter War and took part in the Battle of Kollaa.
During the Continuation War, Pöllä served as a long-range reconnaissance man, and was a patrol leader in the 4th Detached Battalion, Department Kuismanen. He conducted over 30 long-range reconnaissance patrols that consisted of destroying enemy bases, supply trains and the famous attack at the Petrovski Jam supply base.
For meritorious deeds and successful raids on the enemy rear, Pöllä was awarded with the 2nd class Mannerheim Cross, number 120, on August 1, 1943. Pöllä was one of the two people to be awarded with the Mannerheim Cross, that were citizens of the Soviet Union.
In 1946, Pöllä was interrogated by the Soviet influenced State Police in Finland and thus escaped overseas in fear of being transported back to the Soviet Union. First Pöllä ran to Sweden where he worked as a forestry worker, until he was driven out of the country along with other Finnish military refugees. After that, Pöllä moved to Venezuela where he sold icons and worked as a waiter in the Swedish embassy, farmer, and as an independent building contractor.
Pöllä returned to Finland in 1964 and passed away in 1994.