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Benjamin Kam, MD

Dr. Benjamin Kam, Jr., who was born and raised in Hawaii, recently returned from a six-month deployment to Camp Salerno, a forward operating base near the city of Khost in Afghanistan. As an orthopaedic surgeon, he found the most heart-wrenching cases were those involving children. Dr. Kam chronicled some of their traumas and recoveries in a blog he kept about his experiences. Now at home with his wife and three children in Colorado, he serves as a staff orthopaedic surgeon at the U.S. Air Force Academy and also as the team physician for the Air Force Falcons basketball team.

First Steps, First Smile

11 x 14 in.

Photograph


This eight-year-old boy was among three children injured after an improvised explosive device exploded on Sept. 11, 2009. According to Dr. Kam, an Al Qaeda operative hid the device in a fruit basket, which he gave to the children to carry to a local military commander’s home. After more than a week of recovery from horrendous lower extremity injuries, including a large thigh wound, he stood up to walk for the first time. “The smile on his face, and everyone else’s, tells it all,” Dr. Kam says.

 

Clubfoot Casting: Labor of Love

11 x 14 in.

Photograph


An Afghan military physician learns how to treat children with clubfoot using serial casting. He received this training as part of a surgical internship program for Afghan National Army and Khost Provincial Force physicians that was started at the Salerno base. The internship includes lectures, hands-on trauma surgery and outpatient training.

 

Sunset at Salerno

11 x 14 in.

Photograph


Dr. Kam took this photo on the roof of the base’s hospital, where he and other medics often gathered after dinner to talk as they watched helicopters take off in search of insurgents. “Despite the violence, trauma and hard work each day brought, we did have time to notice some of God’s beauty around us,” he says. “The colors set off as the sun set were always breathtaking.”