US army doctor returns arm to Vietnamese soldier fifty years after he took it as a souvenir
Mr Hung was stunned that someone had kept his bones for so long, but happy that when the time comes, they will be buried with him
An American army doctor who served in the Vietnam War has returned an arm he amputated to its owner, a Vietnamese soldier, 47 years after taking it.
Dr Sam Axelrad, who flew to Vietnam to meet the amputee, took the arm bones home to Houston from Vietnam in 1966 after his colleagues boiled the flesh and reconstructed the bones to give him as a souvenir.
The owner of the arm, Mr Hung, 73, said American troops shot him in the arm in October 1966 during an ambush near An Khe, the town where he now lives.
After floating down a stream to escape a firefight and then sheltering in a rice warehouse for three days, the Viet Cong fighter was evacuated by a US helicopter to a no-frills military hospital in Phu Cat, in central Binh Dinh province.
"When I was captured by the American forces, I was like a fish on a chopping-board," he said. "They could have either killed or spared me."
After surgery, he spent eight months recovering and another six assisting American military doctors. He spent the rest of the war offering private medical services in the town, and later served in local government for a decade before retiring on his rice farm.
"He probably thought we were going to put him in some prisoner-of-war camp," said Dr Axelrad, a now-retired civilian doctor. "Surely he was totally surprised when we just took care of him."
Dr Axelrad amputated the arm and said he kept the arm bones as a reminder of doing a good deed. The men were reunited at Mr Hung's home in central Vietnam.
They met each other's children, and grandchildren, and joked about which of them had been better looking back when war had made them enemies.
Mr Hung was stunned that someone had kept his bones for so long, but happy that when the time comes, they will be buried with him.
Additional reporting from Associated Press
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
The Silicon Valley awards which treat scientists like rockstars
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
North Korea: First Kim Jong-un orders execution of uncle - now it emerges that victim's wife was involved in decision to execute him
Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 2 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 3 Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
£24000 - £24250 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£800 - £875 per day: Harrington Starr: Programme Manager, (OTC Trading, CMMI, ...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 teacher (2 terms)Rand...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: KS2 Primary TeacherRandstad Ed...