Doctors: Spare Time in Viet Nam

In the operating room at Danang East, two green-gowned Navy surgeons wielded their scalpels as Medical Corps technicians hovered around the table. But the patient was not one of the U.S. Marines for whose after-battle care the big Navy hospital was primarily in tended. She was Hoi Pham Tri, a tiny, frail Vietnamese girl of 13.

For four hours Neurosurgeon Paul Pitlyk and Orthopedist Kenneth Spence worked on the prone patient's cervical spine. They cut under the spinal cord, removed the tooth-shaped projection that hooks the second vertebra into the first just below the skull, and then deliberately fractured the...

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