Vietnam veteran reunited with his long lost arm

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vietnamese arm1In October of 1966, Dr. Sam Axelrad amputated the gangrene infected arm of a Vietcong soldier by the name of Nguyen Quang Hung. Hung had been ambushed by American troops in Binh Dinh Province and took a bullet to his right arm, collapsing and later “floating along a river and eating rice left over in abandoned rice fields and wild leaves” for days until an American helicopter found and took him to Camp Radcliff in Phu Cat, where he was brought in “in critical condition”.

Dr. Axelrad had kept the bones of the Hung’s arm as a reminder of the good deed he had performed by treating an enemy soldier.

“The words ‘enemy soldier’ was never in mind… my rule was to take care of everyone brought in by the helicopters, whoever they were,” said Dr. Axelrad

In 2012, a Vietnamese journalist wrote an article in a newspaper about Dr. Axelrad’s search for Hung. Hung’s brother in law happened to come across the article, and sought to contact the editors of the newspaper.

“When I amputated his arm [in 1966], our medics took the arm, took the flesh off it, put it back together perfectly with wires, and then they gave it to me,” Dr. Axelrad said.

“When I left the country six months later, I didn’t want to throw it away, I put it in my trunk and brought it home, and all these years it has been in my house,”

Fast forward to Monday July 1, 2013, in the town of An Keh, Gia Lai province of Vietnam – a now 74 year old father of seven, Hung met with Dr. Axelrad, who returned him his arm bone.

“I can’t believe that an American doctor took my infected arm, got rid of the flesh, dried it, took it home and kept it for more than 40 years,” Hung said.

The two met each other’s children and grandchildren, exchanged gifts, and joked about which one of them looked more handsome back in the day when a war had defined them as enemies.Hung said he hoped to use both the arm bone and Dr. Axelrad as a witness to prove that he was injured during wartime and claim a state pension.

“All my army files were lost so I have not been considered a war invalid. I hope that this arm bone will help me benefit from official support for war veterans,” Hung said.

Hung stated, when the time comes, he will be buried with his arm bone, stating he was “very lucky” compared to his fallen comrades in the war.

“I am so grateful for all that he has done for me, saving my life and now traveling all the way to give my arm back,” said Hung. He said it was proof that human kindness crosses all barriers, even those created by war.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In October of 1966, Dr. Sam Axelrad amputated the gangrene infected arm of a Vietcong soldier by the name of Nguyen Quang Hung. Hung had been ambushed by American troops in Binh Dinh Province and took a bullet to his right arm, collapsing and later “floating along a river and eating rice left over in abandoned rice fields and wild leaves” for days until an American helicopter found and took him to Camp Radcliff in Phu Cat, where he was brought in “in critical condition”.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vietnamese arm1In October of 1966, Dr. Sam Axelrad amputated the gangrene infected arm of a Vietcong soldier by the name of Nguyen Quang Hung. Hung had been ambushed by American troops in Binh Dinh Province and took a bullet to his right arm, collapsing and later “floating along a river and eating rice left over in abandoned rice fields and wild leaves” for days until an American helicopter found and took him to Camp Radcliff in Phu Cat, where he was brought in “in critical condition”.

Dr. Axelrad had kept the bones of the Hung’s arm as a reminder of the good deed he had performed by treating an enemy soldier.

“The words ‘enemy soldier’ was never in mind… my rule was to take care of everyone brought in by the helicopters, whoever they were,” said Dr. Axelrad

In 2012, a Vietnamese journalist wrote an article in a newspaper about Dr. Axelrad’s search for Hung. Hung’s brother in law happened to come across the article, and sought to contact the editors of the newspaper.

“When I amputated his arm [in 1966], our medics took the arm, took the flesh off it, put it back together perfectly with wires, and then they gave it to me,” Dr. Axelrad said.

“When I left the country six months later, I didn’t want to throw it away, I put it in my trunk and brought it home, and all these years it has been in my house,”

Fast forward to Monday July 1, 2013, in the town of An Keh, Gia Lai province of Vietnam – a now 74 year old father of seven, Hung met with Dr. Axelrad, who returned him his arm bone.

“I can’t believe that an American doctor took my infected arm, got rid of the flesh, dried it, took it home and kept it for more than 40 years,” Hung said.

The two met each other’s children and grandchildren, exchanged gifts, and joked about which one of them looked more handsome back in the day when a war had defined them as enemies.Hung said he hoped to use both the arm bone and Dr. Axelrad as a witness to prove that he was injured during wartime and claim a state pension.

“All my army files were lost so I have not been considered a war invalid. I hope that this arm bone will help me benefit from official support for war veterans,” Hung said.

Hung stated, when the time comes, he will be buried with his arm bone, stating he was “very lucky” compared to his fallen comrades in the war.

“I am so grateful for all that he has done for me, saving my life and now traveling all the way to give my arm back,” said Hung. He said it was proof that human kindness crosses all barriers, even those created by war.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid