February 2002 Bulletin

AAOS plans D-Day project

Role of orthopaedic surgery in WWII battlefield medicine commemorated

Video will premier at Annual Meeting


(l to R) John Hayes, MD, George Boswell, MD, Sandra Gordon and Barry Freidman, MD, visited the surrender deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The orthopaedic surgeons gave interviews about their experiences during WWII in the place where the war began.

By Sandra Lee Breisch

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II. It also marked an important page in the history of orthopaedics, organized medicine and for all of humanity. During WWII, heroic orthopaedic deeds were performed on warships and airfields, as well as stateside. Orthopaedic surgeons’ selfless dedication saved lives, spared limbs, and treated fractures and multiple trauma victims.

What evolved from that experience were innovative treatments and advancements in trauma and musculoskeletal care. And, after managing heavy caseloads of injuries to hands, upper and lower extremities, as well as hips and knees, orthopaedists developed a growing interest in subspecialty care.

First film documentary

To commemorate the role orthopaedic surgeons played during the war, the Academy is pleased to announce the making of its first documentary film, Wounded in Action, Orthopaedic Surgeons in World War II. The documentary features gripping battle accounts of several orthopaedic surgeons who served in the war and includes interviews filmed at the site of the Battle of Normandy in France and in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at the final resting place for 1,102 crewmen of the U.S.S. Arizona who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.

Those interviewed for this documentary include Seymour M. Albert, Jr., MD, Chester K. Barta, MD, George M. Boswell, Jr., MD, Paul W. Brown, MD, Joseph C. Flynn, MD, Samuel H. Fraerman, MD, Zachary B. Friedenberg, MD, Barry Friedman, MD, John T. Hayes, MD, Eli M. Lippman, MD, Eugene Loopesko, MD, Paul R. Milligan, MD, Andrew C. Ruoff III, MD, and Marcus J. Stewart, MD.

A sneak preview of the documentary will be shown during the first-vice presidential address by incoming Academy president Vernon T. Tolo, MD, at the AAOS Annual Meeting in Dallas; the presentation will occur during the Ceremonial Meeting to be held on Friday, Feb. 15, 2002 at 8 a.m.


Paul W. Brown, MD, prepares to talk about his experiences before the documentary camera.

Wounded in Action will officially debut at The National D-Day Museum in New Orleans in conjunction with the 2003 AAOS Annual Meeting. The project is being underwritten by an unrestricted educational grant from Pharmacia Corporation in Peapack, N.J.

Project development

The concept for the D Day project grew out of a conversation between AAOS Executive Vice President Bill Tipton, MD, Deputy Executive Vice President Lawrence Rosenthal, PhD and author Stephen Ambrose, the founder of the D Day Museum. Ambrose, who is President Dwight Eisenhower’s biographer and a vigorous advocate for the so called "Greatest Generation," suggested that an exhibit memorializing the medical advancements arising from World War II would enhance his museum collection. Dr. Tipton and Dr. Rosenthal noted that orthopaedic surgeons played a significant role in treating battlefield injuries during WWII and that the subspecialty of hand surgery evolved from those experiences.


Zachary B. Friedenberg, ND, traveled to Normandy, France to recount his WWII experiences for the documentary. While there, he paid his respects to fallen camrades at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

Subsequently, Dr. Tipton, Dr. Rosenthal, AAOS past president Robert D’Ambrosia, AAOS Director of Public Education and Media Relations Sandra Gordon, and Krystyna Gurstelle of Pharmacia met with museum representatives to discuss the project. From that discussion, the concept for a film documentary, exhibit and several other related projects was developed. The first project to be produced is the film

The Academy’s Public Education and Media Relations Department is spearheading this project under the guidance of Sandra Gordon.

"To get us started with the film project, we spent a number of months transcribing the stories of orthopaedic surgeons involved in wartime medical care to show the impact this war had on the practice of orthopaedic surgery," she explains. "Then we selected a number of the more memorable stories and took the surgeons to Normandy and Pearl Harbor to film them telling their stories where events actually occurred. I think you will agree the results are both gripping and poignant."

In addition to production of the film, artifacts, photographs and other items of interest are being collected to develop a temporary showcase at the National D-Day Museum when the AAOS meets in New Orleans. According to Gordon, plans are also being considered for publishing a book of first-hand accounts from orthopaedists, developing a web site about orthopaedic veterans and possibly a traveling WWII exhibit available to museums, libraries, hospitals or other appropriate venues throughout the country.

"The D Day project reminds us all that today’s state of the art surgery and medicine were made possible in no small part because of the valor, skill and ingenuity of battlefield surgeons in World War II," said Michael Cunnington, Vice President, Arthritis & Pain, Pharmacia Corporation. "Pharmacia is proud to sponsor this historical project on behalf of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons."


Sam Fraerman, MD, was interviewed in a chateau once captured by German soldiers.


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