Large certificate for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, issued on 8 March 1948 to Private Sergey Samorodov.
The document is enclosed in 8 ½ " by 12" leatherette folder with gold impression "To Hero of the Soviet Union" on the cover. The internal pages contain a citation from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet "For your act of heroism performed while executing the tasks given by the command on the front of struggle against German invaders"
The document shows that the title of Hero was bestowed upon Samorodov on 15 January 1944. The date of issue of the certificate, 8 March 1948, is near the bottom, just above the certificate serial number 4398 (as it was often the case, it took quite a long time between the award decree and the official award ceremony in Kremlin when the medal and certificate were issued to the Hero). The right side of the same page is hand-signed by Shvernik, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (nominally, the head of state) and Aleksandr Gorkin, Secretary of the Presidium.
The certificate is in very good to excellent condition. There is minor wear to the corners of the folder, but the binding is tight and the leatherette cover fully retains its vivid red color. The gold impression is completely intact and bright. The silk backing of the hard folder has minor spots that are not detractive, free of tears or significant soiling. The internal pages show normal age toning without mildew, water stains or finger prints. The pages are without damages to the edges aside from some tiny (no more than 5 mm) tears along the fold at the top and bottom from the silk retaining tape. The red retaining tape is present and firmly attached on both ends unlike many other Hero documents where it is torn or completely missing. The printed and hand-written text as well as the gold impression of the Soviet state emblem are bold and clear. Overall, this is a very attractive Hero document.
Sergey Samorodov was born in 1912 to a peasant family in the Tambov Region of Russia. Prior to the war, he worked as a foreman of agricultural team in a collective farm. In November 1941, he joined the Red Army and was immediately sent to the front. He took part in the Battle of Stalingrad and although already a seasoned soldier, still had a rank of private in September 1943. While serving as a sapper in the 321st Novgorod Combat Engineer Battalion, 63rd Army, Central Front, Samorodov distinguished himself in building bridges over the Desna River under enemy fire. According to the subsequent award recommendation, Private Samorodov literally set an example to all his comrades. On one occasion, he kept on working even when the construction area came under attack by some infiltrating German submachine gunners. In another case, he worked without a break for 52 hours straight under rain and artillery barrage to ensure the timely completion of a bridge. On 21 September, he was recommended for his first decoration, a Medal for Valor. The award was bestowed upon Samorodov on 30 September 1943 by a 65th Army decree.
Samorodov soon showed such extraordinary feats in building bridges that on 5 October 1943 he was recommended for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union by his battalion commander. Among the examples of his heroism cited in the recommendation was his contribution in the crossing of the Sev River. When the 63rd Army reached the city of Sevsk, he spent 9 hours in the water laying the supports for the bridge under enemy fire. Like on the other occasions, his example encouraged the other soldiers of his unit.
When building a bridge of the Sozh River near the village of Novo Tereshkovka in the Gomel Region, Samorodov was on a raft used for driving piles into the riverbed. The raft received a direct hit of a German artillery shell throwing him into the water and killing many of his teammates. Undeterred, Samorodov went on to lead the remaining sappers in repairing the damaged pile and completed the bridge on time.
Within two days of the initial recommendation for the Title of Hero it had been approved by the 65th Army Chief of Engineers as well as Commander of the 65th Army Lt. General Batov. In less than two months, it had gone through the entire military chain of command and received the signature of Rokossovsky, Commander of the Belorussian Front. On 15 January 1944, the title of Hero was bestowed upon Samorodov by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR - one of the relatively few Titles of Hero awarded to combat engineers for crossing rivers other than Dnieper.
Research Materials: photocopy of the award commendations for the Title of Hero of the Soviet Union and Medal for Valor; Xerox copy and English translation of the article about Samorodov in the official catalog "Heroes of the Soviet Union" (contains his photo).