He 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 hi
Young Hero Umurdinov
The portrait of Umurdinov which Henry Sakaida found among a stack of Hero photos at a Las Vegas Militaria Show.
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:

"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 back!

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 that keepsake…" (continued)
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