Salo has suffered for the whole war, because he has wanted to be brave and manly and heroic, but has never had the courage. Instead the others have mocked him for being naive and boastful and believing the war propaganda. During the retreat he tries to shoot down an Il-2 Shturmovik with his rifle. He loses his leg for it. But this act of Heroic Resolve makes such an impression on the others, that they forget entirely their previous opinions of him. It's said that they never saw him again, but when they ever remembered him, they remembered him as a brave man.
The men usually keep their boisterous,masculine mask and avoid showing any deeper emotion,tenderness or seriousness of affection. But in the occupied Petrozavodsk, Hietanen falls for a local civilian woman, Vera. When the others tease him about it, he tries to pretend it's nothing to him and claims noisily he's a just your regular carefree lad that doesn't care about women beyond the superficial and the carnal. But later on he sings to himself a romantic song, and a year later he takes out the memento she gave him, recalling back to her. When he dies, trying to save the others during his own last minutes, the narrator references back to this, describing him with the same terms he described himself when he tried to pretend he's just as tough and uncaring as the next guy.
Vanhala is wounded and has to spend some time in hospital. During his absence the others come to realize just how much that silent giggling boy means to them. When they see from the window that he's coming back, everyone runs out to meet him with cries of welcome.
Rokka and Susi are covering for the others as they retreat hastily across a river, after the Soviets blew up the bridge they were supposed to use for their escape. Rokka tells Susi it's time for them to go too, but Susi is shot and falls down. Despite the enemy fire, and despite Susi trying to tell Rokka to leave him, Rokka lifts Susi on his shoulders and laboriously carries him across the flowing river. As they are already about to get to the other side, Rokka is shot at and wounded too. Still, they make it.