VIETNAM CHRONICLES

CAPTAIN RICHARD L. KLOPPENBURG

SHORT STORIES FROM 1966-1967 IN VIETNAM

BELOW ARE SOME TRUE BUT UNTOLD STORIES
VIETNAM WAS THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF MY GENERATION

NaTrang leprosy

Captain Gerry Carson and I were in NaTrang one day in 1966 when we were looking in the window of a retail Vietnamese store. It was just before dark when I felt someone tap on my shoulder. I turned to see who it was and saw a Vietnamese man holding his hand out and begging for money. This was an image of a person a person with advanced Leprosy. The first thing I noticed was that he had NO fingers. The fingers were gone and looked like gummy sores at the end of the stumps. I then looked up to see his face and saw a person that had no nose and no lips and teeth. There was a hole in his head that led to his throat. I took me several years to forget the face of that person. Carson and I left the area as fast as we could.

Leprosy disease is usually provoked by the bacteria named Mycobacterium leprae. It damages the body’s surface as well as the peripheral nervous system. The nerves in extremities are the target. Leprosy progresses smoothly. It may take up to 40 (!) years to release its full potential. The skin lesions become rather disfiguring. Usually, a person-to-person contact is the main channel of expansion. (Quoted from Wikipedia.)