Thomas Anthony Dooley III
|Thomas Anthony Dooley III|
Thomas A. Dooley, M.D.
January 17, 1927|
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||January 18, 1961(aged 34)|
Thomas Anthony Dooley III (January 17, 1927 – January 18, 1961) was an American who, while serving as a physician in the United States Navy and afterwards, became famous for his humanitarian and anti-communist political activities in South East Asia and the United States until his early death from cancer. He authored three popular books that described his activities in Vietnam and Laos: Deliver Us From Evil, The Edge of Tomorrow, and The Night They Burned the Mountain. These three were later collected into a single volume and published as "Dr. Tom Dooley's Three Great Books." The book jacket of "The Edge of Tomorrow" states that Dooley traveled "to a remote part of the world in order to combat the two greatest evils afflicting it: disease and Communism.
Thomas Anthony Dooley III was born January 17, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in a prominent Roman Catholic Irish-American household. He attended St. Roch Catholic School and St. Louis University High School, where he was a classmate (class of 1944) of Michael Harrington. He then went to college at the University of Notre Dame in 1944 and enlisted in the United States Navy's corpsman program, serving in a naval hospital in New York. In 1946, he returned to Notre Dame leaving without receiving a degree. In 1948, Dooley entered the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. When he graduated in 1953, after repeating his final year of medical school, he reenlisted in the navy. He completed his residency at Camp Pendleton, California, and then at Yokosuka, Japan. In 1954, he was assigned to the USS Montague which was traveling to Vietnam to evacuate refugees and transport them from communist-controlled North Vietnam to non-communist South Vietnam.
In May 1954, the Geneva Agreements divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel north into two political zones. People north of the 17th parallel lived under the Viet Minh government, and those south of the 17th parallel lived under the government of Ngo Dinh Diem. Hanoi and Haiphong remained free zones until May 1955. In August 1954, Dooley transferred to Task Force Ninety, a unit participating in the evacuation of over 600,000 North Vietnamese known as Operation Passage to Freedom. Here Dooley served as a French interpreter and medical officer for a Preventative Medicine Unit in Haiphong. He eventually oversaw the building and maintenance of refugee camps in Haiphong until May 1955, when the Viet Minh took over the city. 
While Dooley was working in refugee camps in Haiphong in 1954 and 1955, some have alleged that he came to the attention of Lieutenant Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, head of a CIA office in Saigon. According to these allegations, Dooley was chosen as a symbol of Vietnamese-American cooperation, and was encouraged to write about his experiences in the refugee camps. Father Maynard Kegler on researching Dooley's life for possible canonization received almost 500 CIA files through the Freedom of Information Act that showed Dooley had provided the CIA with information about the sentiments of villagers and movements of troops around his hospitals in Laos in the late 1950s. Kegler concluded that although Dooley did provide the CIA with some information, he never initiated contact with them, he took no money, his motivation was patriotism, and he hoped this would afford him "more freedom to do his work and a little less harassment." 
William Lederer, author of The Ugly American, helped initiate this phase of Dooley's career. Lederer, who was at the time serving as a press officer, attached to the admiralty, appreciated the eloquence of Dooley's situation reports, and suggested that he write a book.
In 1956, Dooley's book Deliver Us from Evil was released and became a best-seller, establishing him as an icon of American humanitarian and anti-communist activities abroad. Dooley's vivid accounts of communist atrocities committed on the refugees are not fully substantiated by other sources. According to journalist Randy Shilts, Dooley was on a promotional tour for this book when he was investigated for participating in homosexual activities. It seems that what the Navy discovered about Dooley's private life resulted in a negotiated agreement that he would announce he was leaving the Navy in order to serve the people of Vietnam.
After leaving the Navy, Dooley and three former Navy corpsmen, established a hospital near Luang Namtha, Laos. the hospital was five miles south of the Chinese border. In an article entitled "Why I'm A Jungle Medic," printed in Think magazine, June 1958, Dooley said they chose Laos because the country, with 3,000,000 people, had only one "bonafide" doctor.  Dooley went on to establish additional medical clinics and hospitals under the sponsorship of the International Rescue Committee. He explained to the Laotian Minister of Health that he wished to work in an area near the Chinese border because "there are sick people there and furthermore people who had been flooded with potent draughts of anti-Western propaganda from Red China." Dooley founded the Medical International Cooperation Organization (MEDICO) under the auspices of which he built hospitals at Nam Tha, Muong Sing, and Ban Houei Sa. The plan for MEDICO was that it would build, stock, supply, and train staff for small hospitals; after 16 months, MEDICO planned to turn over these hospitals to the host country's government.  During this same time period, he wrote two books, The Edge of Tomorrow and The Night They Burned the Mountain, about his experience in Laos, including descriptions of atrocities he said were committed by communist soldiers.
In 1959, Dooley returned to the United States for cancer treatment. He agreed to Fred W. Friendly's request that his melanoma surgery be the subject of a CBS News documentary.  On April 21, 1960, Biography of a Cancer was broadcast; it was hosted by Howard K. Smith and included the surgery and an interview with Dooley.   Dooley died less than a year later.
According to James Fisher's comprehensive biography, Dooley remained a devout Catholic until his death. At his funeral, U.S. Sen. Stuart Symington described him as “One of those rare Americans who is truly a citizen of the world.”  After his death, John F. Kennedy cited Dooley's example when he launched the Peace Corps. Dooley was also awarded a Congressional Gold Medal after his death. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
Importance and Legacy
At the time of his death, Dooley was proclaimed by a Gallup Poll to be for Americans the third most esteemed man in the world, following former president Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Pope. According to one source, however, he has since fallen from "celebrity sainthood" to obscurity. According to another source, despite his failings, he was dubbed in Laos "Thanh Mo America" ("Dr. America"); he also set personal high standards for MEDICO physicians, and sought to make his Operation Laos a people-to-people project.  James T. Fisher, author of "Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas Dooley, 1927-1961", while detailing Dooley hagiography, also pointed out that "those who sought to debunk Dooley's legend were no less prone to lapses in factuality."
Nicholas von Hoffman, in 1969, wrote that Dooley helped create "the climate of public misunderstanding that made the war in Vietnam possible" He depicted the complex issues of Southeast Asia as a simple conflict between good and evil. The disillusion of the American people with the Vietnam War caused Dooley's moralistic anti-communism to quickly fade out of fashion. But Dooley also warned against brute power: He said: “We are hated in most of the Orient. ... They think freedom means freedom of the capitalist to exploit the Oriental people. No Americans have ever gotten down to their level.”
Dooley's legacy continues through the work of several organizations, including some organizations founded by people who knew and worked with him. Dr. Verne Chaney, for example, a surgeon, who worked with Dooley in Cambodia, founded the Dooley Foundation-Intermed International, an organization that provides medical equipment, supplies, personnel and financial support for the improvement of health services in underdeveloped countries  Betty Tisdale, who met Dooley and was inspired by his work, founded H.A.L.O.(Helping And Loving Orphans).   Just prior to the fall of Vietnam, she orchestrated the evacuation and adoption of 219 Vietnamese orphans to homes in the US. Today, Betty Tisdale and H.A.L.O. continue Dooley's work around the world, with people of all religions, to help orphans and at-risk children not only in Vietnam, but also in Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia and Afghanistan.And, Teresa Gallagher, a volunteer who worked with Dooley, along with Dooley's brother, Malcolm, established the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation that is dedicated to delivering medical care to people of the Third World; Dr. Jerry Brown, a 2013 graduate of the Foundation's program in Cameroon was among the "Ebola Fighters" named as the Time Person of the Year for 2014.
The Dr. Tom Dooley Society of Notre Dame, an organization for medical alumni of Notre Dame, describes its mission as dedication to education, mentorship and global service to humanity. The Dooley Society awards current Notre Dame students and graduates stipends to participate in international medical mission trips. The St. Louis University Dr. Tom Dooley Memorial Scholarship Program also provides opportunities for medical students to enhance their understanding of medicine in less developed and underprivileged countries. The Gay and Lesbian Alumni of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College (GALA-ND/SMC) present a yearly Thomas A. Dooley Award to an individual who, through his or her faith-based background, have demonstrated personal courage, compassion and commitment to advance the human and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
- Congressional Gold Medal: On May 27, 1961, Congress authorized the issuance of a gold medal to honor Dooley and his work. President John F. Kennedy presented the medal to Dooley's mother, Agnes Dooley, at a White House ceremony on June 7, 1962. Kennedy commended Dooley for providing a model of American compassion before the rest of the world.
- Legion of Merit
- National Order of Vietnam, 4th Class (Degree of Officer)
- The Saint Francis Xavier Medal: Distinguished achievement award of Xavier University
- Key to the City of Mishawaka, IN,
- Rotary Club of Hong Kong Pennant
- Key to the City of South Bend, IN
- Key to the City of Baltimore, MD
- Key to the City of Worcester
- Christopher Award: 1958
- Christopher Award: 1961
- Mutual of Omaha-Criss Award - 1959: Dr Criss was the CEO of Mutual of Omaha from 1933 to 1953. When he retired Mutual of Omaha established an award in his honor. At the awards dinner in Omaha, the speakers were General James Doolittle, Fred Astaire, and Dr Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic. The awards ceremony was televised nationally by NBC and Dr Dooley was awarded $10,000.
- University of Notre Dame Plaque
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Award: Awarded by Midwood High
- Seal of Boston College, 4th Class (Degree of Officer)
- Canisius College - Medal of Honor: New York, March - 1961
- Very Important Person Award: Plaque, - 1960
- St. Louis College of Pharmacy & Allied Sciences
- Notre Dame Alumni Assoc. Distinguished Service Award
- Claude Bernard Medal
- The City of New York Medal: 1960
- Barat Hall - Man of the Year Award: 1970
- The Religious Heritage of America, Inc., Churchman of the Year:1960
- The Dr Tom Dooley Foundation:1960
- Tulsa Jr. Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Certificate
- Legion of Merit Citation
- St. Louis Medical Society Honorary Membership
- The Chesterton Club: Youngstown, Ohio, Honorary Membership
- Dr. Dooley Day Proclamation, St. Louis, MO: 1959
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, University of Notre Dame: Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN - 1960
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, Loyola U:1959
- Honorary Citizen Award; Nashville, TN: 1959
- Good Shipmate Certificate USS Montague: August, 1954. This award was given to the most valuable enlisted man of the month, and Dr Dooley is the only officer to ever have received this award.
- Honorary Membership, St. Louis Jr. Chamber of Commerce: 1958
- Honorary Citizen Award, Fort Worth, TX: 1958
- Catholic Physicians' Guild of Pittsburgh Recognition Award, 4th Class (Degree of Officer)
- Honorary Citizen Award, Lubbock, TX: 1958
- Lincoln, Indiana, Meritorious Service Citation: 1961
- Jr. Chamber International Senate Membership: 1960
- Jr. Chinese Catholic Club of Honolulu Honorary Membership: 1958
- National Order of Viet-Nam Conferral, Dept of Navy: 1960
- U.S. Navy; Honorable Discharge: 1956
- Allegheny County Council of AMVETS; Award: 1957
- St. Louis University; Honor Citation: 1959
- TWA Ambassadors Club Membership Certificate: 1959
- AMVETS; Certificate of Merit
- City of Worcester; Recognition Certificate: Oct 26, 1959
- National Press Club Certificate of Appreciation, Washington, D.C.: 1960
- National Order of Vietnam, 4th Class (Degree of Officer)
- On November 22, 1959, he was a guest on the long-running television program, What's My Line? where he was presented with a $5000 cheque by host John Daly on behalf of the Damon Runyon Foundation to support his work in Laos.
- He was also a guest on Jack Paar’s The Tonight Show, Ralph Edwards’ This Is Your Life, and Arthur Godfrey’s radio show.
- From 1959-1960, he hosted a weekly, Sunday night radio program, That Free Men May Live, for KMOX.
- He was profiled by Time magazine, Life magazine, and Look magazine.
- In about 1959, he was a guest on the Irv Kupcinet Interview Show broadcast in Chicago
- Dooley, Thomas A., Deliver Us from Evil: The Story of Vietnam’s Flight to Freedom (New York : Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1956)
- Dooley, Thomas A., The Edge of Tomorrow (New York, N.Y. : New American Library, 1958) ISBN 0-374-14648-9
- Dooley, Thomas A., The Night They Burned the Mountain (New York : Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960) ISBN 0-374-22212-6
- The Edge of Tomorrow book jacket, front flap
- DR. THOMAS A. DOOLEY BIOGRAPHY http://www.umsl.edu/~whmc/exhibits/dooley/dooleybio.htm
- "18 Years After Dr. Tom Dooley's Death, a Priest Insists He Was a Saint, Not a CIA Spook" by Rosemary Rawson, People Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 5, July 30, 1979 http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20074218,00.html
- Shilts, pp. 25—26
- The Edge of Tomorrow p. 18
- Jacobs, Seth (2004), America's Miracle Man in Vietnam, Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 138-139
- Jacobs, p. 140
- Fisher, James. "Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley".
- Barber, Melanie Gordon, The third anniversary : anatomy and progress : in memory of Doctor Thomas Anthony Dooley, January 17, 1927-January 18, 1961 (Taconic, CN : Bardon Press, 1965)
- Fisher, James T., Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961 (Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1997) ISBN 1-55849-067-1
- Gallagher, Teresa, Give joy to my youth; a memoir of Dr. Tom Dooley (New York, Farrar : Straus and Giroux, 1965)
- Monahan, James, Before I sleep; the last days of Dr. Tom Dooley (New York : Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961)
- Selsor, Lucille, "Sincerely, Tom Dooley" (New York : Twin Circle, 1969)
- Shilts, Randy (1993). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military Vietnam to the Persian Gulf. New York, St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-09261-X
- February 2000 Fisher, J.T. Dooley, Thomas Anthony, III. American National Biography Online
- Dooley Foundation, http://www.dooleyintermed.org
- Tom Dooley Exhibit - Western Historical Manuscript Collection (WHMC) at University of Missouri–St. Louis
- Dooley, Thomas A. - Papers 1932-1988 - Western Historical Manuscript Collection (WHMC) at University of Missouri–St. Louis
- Rhine, Earl (colleague of Dooley) - Papers 1958-2002 - Western Historical Manuscript Collection (WHMC) at University of Missouri–St. Louis
- Dr. Thomas A. Dooley Scrapbook Collection at Saint Louis University
- Thomas A. Dooley Collection at University of Notre Dame
- Excerpt from Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961 by James T. Fisher
- Book Review of Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961 by James T. Fisher (1998) written by Arthur C. Sippo
- Book Review of Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961 by James T. Fisher (1998) written by James Sullivan
- Dr. Tom Dooley The Legend and the Man Dooley Foundation
- Tom Dooley's appearance on What's My Line? on November 22, 1959.
- Tom Dooley's Time magazine obituary dated January 27, 1961.
- Dooley, a play based on the end of Tom Dooley's military career written by Harry C. Cronin was produced in 2003 by JSC/Alchemy Emerging Playwrights at Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts in San Francisco.
- Dooley, a play based on Dooley's life written by William di Canizio debuted in 2010 at Divisionary Theater in San Diego.