May 21, 2004 by

Richard Hock


Categories: Medicine, Military

Richard Hock saved many lives during his 34 months as a combat medic in Vietnam. But one patient stuck with him — an infant Vietnamese girl who was brought into his field hospital in May 1969.
Suffering from severe shrapnel wounds, she was left for dead in her mother’s arms — the only survivor of a Viet Cong attack that wiped out her village. With the help of his unit’s chief nurse, Donna Rowe, Hock rushed the four-month-old child into surgery and watched over her recovery. He also had the baby baptized Catholic so she could be accepted into a Catholic orphanage in Vietnam. Hock and Rowe served as her godparents.
The fighting in Vietnam continued, and other patients soon needed Hock’s aid. He and Rowe lost touch with each other after the war, and with the little girl they saved. When they returned to their respective Georgia homes, Rowe worked in real estate and Hock became a firefighter and paramedic with the Fulton County Fire Department.
An American family adopted the orphan, who was named Kathleen Epps. She grew up to become a wife and a mother of three children in California. Curious about her past, Epps spent more than a decade searching for her godparents. With the help of people she met on the Internet and producers working on the Vietnam documentary, “In the Shadow of the Blade,” Epps finally found Hock and Rowe in 2003. The trio were reunited by the filmmakers last April in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Their story was then featured on the CBS broadcast of “The Early Show.”
“It just does my heart good to know that we did this and that she made it and you know, turning into the beautiful woman that she is, has a beautiful family, beautiful children. It makes it all worthwhile,” Hock once said. In the past year, he and Epps became close friends. Hock even gave her his Combat Medic Badge, which he received for doing three tours in Vietnam.
Hock died on May 11 of a heart attack. He was 54.

2 Responses to Richard Hock

  1. Kathleen

    Richard was truly one of a kind. For the short time ( 14 mo) I got to know him I know he was sent to me for a special reason and God chose the right person to be my Godfather. I miss him every day and wish he was still with us but I also know he’s in a better place. My thoughts and prayers go out especially to his close friends and family. Rest in peace Richard and I’ll see you again some day.
    Your Goddaughter, Kathleen

  2. Debbie Hock-Wright

    I was 10 years old in ’69 – I was proud of my brother then – I missed him so much when he joined the Army. He came home another person, so damaged by the things he saw. After many years he was able to find peace. Thank you to everyone who helped a wonderful man find what he had been searching for.
    Richard’s Little Sister

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