HomeResearch PartnersCreditsSponsors Exhibits
  Previous Artist  |  Next Artist

Stephen Candela, MD

Dr. Stephen J. Candela had a talent for languages and planned to become a diplomat or teacher. But he joined the U.S. Army first – serving in Vietnam and Cambodia as a combat platoon leader in the 25th Infantry Division. That service, which lasted two years and earned him a Bronze Star for heroism in combat, changed everything. The bloodshed and terror he witnessed motivated him to study medicine and to relieve as much suffering as he could, a story he recounts in his memoir, Veteran of a Foreign War: From Foxhole to Physician. Of 600 men who rotated through the combat platoons of his company, 98 were killed in action and roughly 70 percent were wounded. “Many of those later died from their wounds,” Dr. Candela says. “I wished I could have done more.”

Arrival and Departure

9 x 12 in.

Oil on Canvas

This oil painting recreates one of the first images Dr. Candela saw upon arriving at Bien Hoa Airport in Vietnam in early 1970 – people being ferried from an ambulance bus to a transport plane. “I thought they were unloading wounded servicemen. I snapped a picture and sent it home for developing. I never saw the developed pictures until I returned home and realized that they were coffins and not patients,” Dr. Candela says. “We were arriving. They were departing.”