Estonian-American Special Forces legend Jyri Laats passed away in the US on Saturday, July 28 at Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Laats was 95. His friend Jüri Estam recounts the events of his long and eventful life – a man of many countries, as fate would have it.
Friends say Jyri experienced a peaceful ending to what had otherwise often been a tumultuous life. No one will ever know how Jyri’s life might have unfolded otherwise, had the Baltic States been left in peace eight decades ago, but fate intervened dramatically instead, early on in his long life and, launching ´him on a long and exotic, though not fully voluntary, “walkabout”.
Born on May 28, 1923 in Tartu in South Estonia to a Finnish father and an Estonian mother [note the Finnish spelling of his first name, as opposed to the more usual Estonian ‘Jüri’-ed.], Jyri Georg Laats grew up in the independent sovereign nation of Estonia, a situation that wasn’t destined to last for long, however.