Japanese troops march towards Nomonhan. They lacked motor transport.
Japanese medal issued to
soldiers who participated in
the Nomonhan Incident
On The Road to Khalkin Gol (Nomonhan)
- Part Two -
by Henry Sakaida
Justin Taylan and I walked from our hotel to the bridge over the Khalka River. Along the way, we passed a herdsman’s ger (tent). Justin’s eagle eyes spotted something familiar - a Soviet helmet in a pile of junk by a fence! On the way back to our hotel, we saw the owner and pointed to the helmet; he gave us a friendly
This little Mongolian boy
shows off his Japanese helmet
We examined the rusted relic. There was a nice round bullet hole in it. The poor Soviet soldier had received a bullet right through his forehead. The herdsman’s son must have wondered why we were so excited. He suddenly left and then returned with a Japanese helmet! The old man pointed across the river and indicated that there were plenty more where these came from. Our enthusiasm soared to Alpine heights!
Justin Taylan wearing a Soviet helmet. Note the bullet hole
We hurried back to the hotel, piled into our SUV, and headed out to the old battlefields.
Huge craters from Soviet artillery
still scar the landscape
We stopped off at a military checkpoint and learned that we needed another permit to go forward. Justin was eager to explore, so we dropped him off and told him that we would come back for him in an hour. He had his handheld GPS unit and promised not to get lost. Chinzorig and I drove back into town.
Unidentified fragmentation shell
Justin found in the sand.
Justin found a rusted food tin and
human remains on his solo trek.
I wanted to test the postal system from the ends of the earth, so we went to the post office. I had seven letters containing phony land deeds from a fictitious Mongolian real estate company, entitling my buddies to choice river front property on the Khalkin Gol. The postmaster came and said that she had lost the key, and asked if we could break in!
Chinzorig breaks into the Khalkin Gol
Post Office; postmaster on the left.
The author with phony land deeds
in the post office/convenience store.
Chinzor asked me if I would assist, but I politely declined. “I’m a white collar criminal; breaking and entering is below my dignity!” I snorted. He finally accomplished the task and I mailed my letters. Believe it or not, all the letters arrived back in the US within 21 days!!!
Mongolian bureaucratic red tape is exactly the same as the Russian kind. We wound up cooling our enthusiasm for an hour and a half at the military headquarters! By the time we got back, Justin was nowhere to be found. He knew exactly where he was, but we didn’t! After two hours of searching, we were afraid that he had stepped on an old land mine or was injured somewhere.