World War II veteran Ronald Brown of Exeter, England, died last week at 94 and left behind a surprising war memento in his cremated remains: six ounces of metal shrapnel.
Brown was on a mission in France in 1944 when he stepped on a land mine and searing metal shrapnel became lodged in his leg, according to the BBC. The 21-year-old then crawled two miles to find help.
Though Brown carried the odd memento with him for nearly 70 years, he often just told people he had a “bad knee.”
“The medics just said it was too close to an artery and stitched him back up again,” Brown’s daughter,Jane Madden, 55, told the BBC.
It’s not unheard of for military veterans to carry unpleasant war mementos inside their bodies, according to Dr. Michael Sise, trauma medical director of Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.
“Plenty of American veterans of modern wars are carrying around shrapnel,” Sise, a retired Navy surgeon and Gulf War veteran, told ABC news.com. “People will survive with artillery rounds, small fragments, all sorts of things. It is not uncommon. Now, in the modern era, doing so many CAT scans, we find shrapnel all the time. We ask these patients: Were you in a war? And they often were.”
Removing shrapnel often causes more damage than leaving it in, Sise said, which means Brown’s doctors probably did the right thing in 1944.
h/t Rusty Anvil