On March 8, 1965, the first American combat troops waded ashore at China Beach, north of Da Nang. Armed with M-14s and patriotism, the soldiers made their way into unforgiving enemy territory, vowing to end the reign of the North Vietnamese Army.
From these historic and trying moments came incredible stories. Samuel Axelrad, who was the commander of a medical company in the First Calvary Division, has a remarkable tale of human compassion that proves kind deeds are never forgotten no matter the distance or time apart.
As commander, Dr. Axelrad was in charge of over 250 military physicians, who would care for wounded soldiers on base in Vietnam during the war. He made a pledge to care for anyone who was in need of attention regardless of the person’s origin or creed. When a wounded Viet Cong guerilla fighter arrived, he was treated immediately with the best of care. Unfortunately, his right arm had to be amputated, but the team of medics was able to save the young man’s life. The bones of the man’s arm were reassembled and given to Dr. Axelrad due to him playing a key role in saving him. The medics named the man “Charlie” and over the years they accepted Charlie as one of their own despite being on opposite ends of the war.
Dr. Axelrad returned home in 1967 and brought the arm bones of Charlie with him. It seemed like this was goodbye forever between the two friends. However, over 45 years later in 2012, Dr. Axelrad returned to Vietnam, and with the help of a journalist, Charlie was found in the same town where Dr. Axelrad left him.
Dr. Axelrad also returned to Vietnam in 2013 where he brought along the bones of Charlie’s arm that he had kept over the years. They were the “Peaceful Bones.”
Discover the journey through Vietnam in search of one man only known by the name of “Charlie,” and how the power of friendship can last a lifetime.
To Learn more about Dr. Axelrad’s journey, please visit
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