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Sept 21, 1984

Soc Trang: A Vietnamese Odyssey

Author Affiliations

USA Martin Army Medical Center Tacoma, Wash

JAMA. 1984;252(11):1474. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350110068035

This is an exciting story about an army physician's effort to win the "other war" in Vietnam. Stationed at a helicopter base in the Mekong Delta in the late 1960s, the author's activities went far beyond the assigned duty of caring for wounded troops. Venturing into hostile territory to visit an orphanage, he was appalled to find malnourished, diseased children two or three to a crib. The orphanage had been operated for 35 years by a French nun who struggled to care for dying infants without adequate food, medications, or even soap.

Rising to the task, Dr Bartecchi and his staff revolutionized the orphanage. After news of their effort reached stateside newspapers, they were deluged with literally tons of equipment and supplies. Soon the number of "orphans" began to rise the day before each weekly visit by the medical team. These babies were also treated, and the town of Soc