END OF "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" CAME TOO LATE
FOR TOM DOOLEY - FAMED JUNGLE DOCTOR AND
FORMER NAVY LIEUTENANT NABBED BY OFFICE OF
NAVAL INVESTIGATIONS (ONI) FOR HOMOSEXUAL
ACTIVITY - FORCED TO RESIGN HIS COMMISSION
MILITARYCORRUPTION.COM LEARNS 700-PAGE
INVESTIGATIVE FILE INCLUDED WIRETAPS AND
COMPROMISING PHOTOGRAPHS OF CATHOLIC
ICON - DOOLEY AVOIDS COURT-MARTIAL - RUNS
CIA-SPONSORED MEDICAL CLINICS IN LAOS
NAVY COVER-UP LASTED ALMOST FIFTY YEARS
© 2010 MilitaryCorruption.com
The imminent demise of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" came more than a half century too late for one of the most revered public figures of the 1950's. Dr. Tom Dooley, the devout Catholic and jungle doctor, was forced out of the Navy for homosexual activity. Except for journalist Randy Shilts and mention of Dooley's little-known predilections in a book biography on the St. Louis native in 1997, few to this day realize he would have been court-martialed if he had not resigned his commission on March 28, 1956.
Famed author of three books about his medical missionary work in Vietnam and Laos, the handsome young doctor was nabbed after ONI agents compiled a 700-page file on his sometimes flagrant sexual activities. We can report that file contains transcripts of wiretaps, compromising photographs, and copies of letters confirming Dooley was indeed "light in the loafers."
One of Dooley's favorite pick-up spots in mid-town New York was Times Square and the bar of the old Hotel Astor. From there, ONI agents trailed the Navy lieutenant to a room upstairs where he "entertained" his new male acquaintances. But it was in Yokosuka, Japan when Dooley allegedly seduced the son of a Navy admiral where the decision was made that, despite Dooley's fame and celebrity as the Naval doctor who helped thousands of North Vietnamese Catholics resettle in South Vietnam ("Operation Passage to Freedom"), he would have to go.
YOUNG BOYS AND DOOLEY AT THE ERAWAN HOTEL
The public never learned of the Dooley scandal back then because the Navy and CIA had other plans for the pious physician, who was a favorite of READERS DIGEST, Cardinal Francis Spellman (whose own liking for young boys was yet to be revealed) and powerful Catholic leaders in the United States.
The public image of young Tom was saint-like. And in fairness, he did many things that helped the disadvantaged and sick of Southeast Asia. But he also had his darker side, expressed whenever he frequented the second-floor of the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok. He wasn't there for female companionship, as at least one of the young men he recruited to help him in his medical mission stations soon found out.
Dooley did a magnificent job of re-inventing himself. A gifted public speaker and fund-raiser, he could bring a crowd to tears telling of the hardships and triumphs of his MEDICO project in the hills of Laos. His large ego and profligate spending habits with money supplied by the International Rescue Committee was never publicized.
WILLINGLY OR BLACK-MAILED,
DOOLEY WAS A VALUABLE CIA ASSET
But the CIA was well aware of Dooley's activities and used him as a highly-informed "asset" in an effort to find out what the Communists were up to. A look on the map shows his three main medical outposts were at Moung Sing, Nam Tha and Ban Houi Sai, all within spitting distance of the North Vietnamese and Red Chinese border. Refugees and local tribesmen were always seeking medical attention there, and the intelligence they provided on what was happening in the area was invaluable to the folks who debriefed Dooley on his periodic trips back to Bangkok.
Did they know about the young Thai boys that Dooley romped with? Of course. But the doctor's gay lifestyle was noted and overlooked by the spooks because Dooley was far more valuable as an intelligence source than someone forced to leave the Navy on morals charges. Was the secret well-kept? Absolutely. It had to be. As for Dooley's great service as a physician in a desperately poor and undeveloped part of the world, his value to the CIA was worth so much they made sure the real story didn't get out.
"Dr. America," as the worshipful Lao called Dooley, didn't have to worry about the truth being revealed in his lifetime. His years were sadly cut short by a malignant melanoma. The larger-than-life medical missionary breathed his last January 18, 1961. He was only 34 years old.