Vet will return sword from Nagasaki

WWII Sword Man

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LANESBORO, Minn. — A sword taken by a World War II veteran while in Japan is going back home.

The story of the sword begins about seven decades ago and another chapter will be added this weekend in a special ceremony.

He describes it as one of a kind.

“The blade was so perfect; it’s a work of art. It happens to be one of the most famous, I guess, sword makers in Japan,” said Orval Amdahl of Lanesboro.

When he saw it while serving as a Marine captain in World War II, he knew he had to have it.

“It was on top, way up in the pile, I climbed on top of a bunch of swords and got up and got this one, it was the only one of its kind in the whole pile so I figured it was a Calvaryman’s sword,” Amdahl said.

Despite his love and care for the sword, he knew it was not where it belonged.

“I kept it polished and I kept it up, hoping that someday I could find the rightful owner,” Amdahl said.

Well that day has come. For years he tried to find the owner on his own, but it was not until Caren Stelson asked to interview him about a book she was writing on World War II that he got a solid lead.

Thanks to her connections to the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee, they found Tadahiro Motomura, the grandson of the Japanese military officer who owned the sword.

“It is an honor, it is to bring these two families together as an example of peace and reconciliation,” Stelson said.

The Motomuras will get the chance to meet Amdahl Friday over lunch. Saturday he will hand the sword back to the family it was made for.

“This sword has brought us together, but it’s not about the sword, it’s about the people, it’s about the families,” Stelson said.

Amdahl said he does not expect it to be a quiet lunch.

“He and I will have a lot to share because he does not know much about the sword,” Amdahl said.

It will be tough for him to get rid of something he has had for most of his life.

“I imagine, yes, I might miss it a little bit for a while, but the feeling of it is it’s going back to the rightful owner,” Amdahl said.

The ceremony will be taking place at the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. It is at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and is open to the public.

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