congratulated me on my incredible find. In January 1998, he had authenticated
the medal and award booklet. When I got back home, I ordered a document
search through him which was successful.
On February 6, 2001, I decided to write a letter to the Hero from
an old address found on a copy of his military records. I was hoping
to make the medal "talk" and write an article for this website.
But I did not initially disclose that I had the medal and award booklet.
I enclosed a copy of his
military record, a short letter in English, and pasted a small photograph
of the Hero on the back of the envelope. I mailed the letter and promptly
forgot about it, never expecting a reply. A month later, a large envelope
arrived in my mailbox. It was from Uzbekistan! My letter had gotten
through. It contained two photographs. The letter, written by Mr.
Rakhmatzon Umurdinov, began:
portrait of Umurdinov which Henry Sakaida found among a stack
of Hero photos at a Las Vegas Militaria Show.
"Dear Mr. Sakaida,
In the first lines of my letter, I am going to tell you that we were
much surprised on receiving your letter! We had never imagined that
we would once correspond with a citizen of America. Upon reading your
letter we were very pleased that you were interested in our father
and wanted to write a story about him. We are very grateful to you
and we will tell you about our father's postwar activity with pleasure
After I wrote my article about Mookhudin Umurdinov, I sent a copy
to the Umurdinov family. I was unsure about their reaction, so I wrote
that a "friend" owned the medal. It was then that they learned
about the existence of their father's medal here in the US. More exchanges
of letters followed and with each letter, I learned more about the
family and their way of life. Then at the end of March 2002, I received
a request from the family. I spent several hours trying to translate
the letter with a Russian/English dictionary. In his letter, Mr. Umurdinov
explained the importance of his father's medal to their own family
history and for his children. And he made a proposal to buy the medal
That night, I went to bed very tired. But at 2:45am, I woke up after
having a dream about the Hero, Mookhudin Umurdinov! He spoke to me
in a friendly way, but I could not understand him. What a powerful
omen! It was then that I decided that the medal was going home.
"Thank you for your letter," I responded to Mr. Rakhmatzon
Umurdinov. "But the medal is not for sale. It can never be sold
ever. This medal does not belong to me. It has never belonged to me.
The medal belongs to your father. So, your offer to buy the medal
is respectfully declined. I have a better proposal. It would be a
great honor for me to return your father's medal and booklet at no
cost to you
Mr. Umurdinov responded with:
"Today, when I returned home from my work, I saw your letter
and it made me happy! Reading it gave me joy that cannot render in
words. One has to feel it. I felt as if it were not the letter in
my hand but the medal of my father. If you were in my place, you would
understand my state. After I came to know the loss of the medal, I
could not find any excuse for myself
I did not have any idea
that the medal was lost, while people in America could buy and possess