A British World War II veteran’s cremation revealed he had been carrying around six ounces of metal shrapnel in his leg since 1944, ABC News reports. Although 94-year-old Ronald Brown had several pieces of a land mine stuck in his body for over 60 years, most people didn’t realize that his “bad knee” was actually an old war injury.
After stepping on a land mine in 1944, Brown crawled nearly two miles for help. Since the shrapnel was too close to an artery for doctors to remove, they simply stitched the soldier up and sent him on his way. From that day forward, Brown carried six ounces of metal with him wherever he went.
Jane Madden, the wounded World War II veteran’s daughter, said that her father’s injury was a testament to the man’s bravery. “We were told he just had a bullet in his leg, because he would tell us: ‘Careful with me bullet, it hurts,’ ” she explained to the BBC. “It sounds macabre, but, after he died, we asked for what we thought was the bullet because my three daughters asked if we could just keep it as memento. We then got handed this bag of stuff.”
Although this may sound like an extraordinary case, the amount of veterans walking around with shrapnel in their bodies is surprisingly common. Dr. Michael Sise, trauma medical director of Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, explained to ABC News that this sort of thing is definitely not unheard of.
“Plenty of American veterans of modern wars are carrying around shrapnel,” Dr. Sise said. “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.”