Thomas Anthony Dooley III

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Thomas Anthony Dooley III
Thomas Anthony Dooley III, MD.jpg
Thomas A. Dooley, M.D.
Born(1927-01-17)January 17, 1927
DiedJanuary 18, 1961(1961-01-18) (aged 34)
OccupationPhysician, author

Thomas Anthony Dooley III (January 17, 1927 January 18, 1961) was an American physician who worked in Southeast Asia at the outset of American involvement in the Vietnam War. While serving as a physician in the United States Navy and afterwards, he became known for his humanitarian and anti-communist political activities up until his early death from cancer. After his death, the public learned that he had been recruited as an intelligence operative by the Central Intelligence Agency, and numerous descriptions of atrocities by the Viet Minh in his book Deliver Us From Evil had been fabricated.


Dooley has been called "a key agent in the first disinformation campaign of the Vietnam War," garnering support for the US government's growing involvement there. [1] Dooley, one critic said, is an example of "celebrity sainthood" and the "intersection of show business and mysticism occupied the space where Tom Dooley was perhaps most at home"; nevertheless, he "helped to pull American Catholicism away from its insular, angry anti-Communism" and he lived a life that does not "invite facile judgment." [2]

Dooley 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.

Early life

Dooley was born January 17, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in a prominent Roman Catholic Irish-American household. He attended St. Roch Catholic Elementary School and St. Louis University High School; at both he was a classmate of Michael Harrington. [3] He then went to college at the University of Notre Dame, but completed only five semesters of course work. [4] In 1944 he enlisted in the United States Navy's corpsman program, serving in a naval hospital in New York City. In 1946, he returned to Notre Dame, but left without receiving a degree. Later, in 1960, Notre Dame presented him with an honorary degree. [5] He entered the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. When he graduated in 1953, after repeating his final year of medical school, he re-enlisted 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. [6]

Humanitarian, author, and intelligence operative

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 he served as a French interpreter and medical officer for a Preventive 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. [6]

CIA recruitment and Deliver Us From Evil

Dooley was assigned to the medical intelligence task force sponsored by the Military Advisory Assistance Group, whose leader, Lt. Gen. John W. O'Daniel, was an active ally of Ngo Dinh Diem. His official duties involved collecting samples for epidemiological work, "but his primary role was as a liaison between the refugee campaign...Operation Passage to Freedom and American reporters and politicians with an interest in Southeast Asia." In return for his work as a "spokesman", the doctor was awarded the highest presidential honor by Diem. [4] During this period, he wrote numerous letters to his mother, many of which she shared with reporters; the letters were then printed in the local press, including the St. Louis Globe-Democrat . [7] Most of the letters exaggerated his personal contribution to the refugee work. [8] Despite his self-promotion, he "was indefatigable in taking care of his patients." [9] Concerning the "self-aggrandizement" aspect of his personality, he said that to be a humanitarian in the modern world "you've gotta run it like a business. You've gotta have Madison Avenue, press relations, TV, radio...and of course you get condemned for being a publicity seeker"; he argued that being able to care for 100 people per day, between 1954 and 1958, with MEDICO later treating 2,000 per day, justified this approach to humanitarianism. [10]

Dooley was soon recruited as an operative by Lieutenant Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, head of the CIA office in Saigon. He was chosen as a symbol of Vietnamese-American cooperation, and was encouraged to write about his experiences in the refugee camps. The CIA, USAID, and several other agencies "conducted fund-raising campaigns for the refugees" later described in his books. The Pentagon Papers would later note that he "significantly aided" in the gathering of intelligence information. [11]

William Lederer, author of The Ugly American , helped initiate this phase of Dooley's career. Lederer, who was at the time serving as a Navy press officer, attached to the admiralty, appreciated the eloquence of Dooley's situation reports, and suggested that he write a book. [12] After his first draft was complete, he and Lederer spent two weeks living together polishing the manuscript. [13] Lederer was also on "special assignment" for the CIA during this period. [14]

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. His vivid accounts of communist atrocities committed on Catholic refugees appear to have been either fabricated or exaggerated. It has been alleged that Dooley was passing along descriptions of events that had been created by Landsdale and his team. [15] In 1956, U.S. officials who were stationed in the Hanoi-Haiphong area during his tour of duty submitted a lengthy report to the U.S. Information Agency holding that Deliver Us from Evil was "not the truth" and that the accounts of Viet Minh atrocities were "nonfactual and exaggerated." However, the US government kept the report classified for nearly thirty years. [16] James Fisher allows that the U.S. Information Agency report was "valid," but he also argues it "must be viewed with some suspicion" because they were preparing to "discredit Dooley" as "an insurance policy against a renewed outbreak of anti-internationalism." [17]

Dooley's book featured exceptionally gory tales of religious persecution. The doctor claimed the Viet Minh jammed chopsticks into the ears of children to keep them from hearing the Lord's Prayer and regularly mutilated Catholic instructors. Most sensationally, he fabricated a story of the Viet Minh pounding nails into the head of a priest—"a communist version of the crown of thorns, once forced on the Savior of whom he preached." He also claimed that Ho Chi Minh's forces had "disemboweled more than 1,000 native women in Hanoi." Thirty years after his death, in response to a journalist's question, Lederer said that "the atrocities the doctor described 'never took place.'" [16] At the time, however, Lederer brokered a deal with Reader's Digest to publish Dooley's claims to their massive audience; [1] and, he used him as the "real-life model" for Father John Finian, a heroic character in The Ugly American. [18]

Commenting on these allegations, Seth Jacobs [19] wrote that although Dooley "may have exaggerated or fabricated", this was not done to make his book more sensational. Instead, these atrocity stories grew out of a period of immersion in the refugee drama, from September 1954 to May 1955, a period during which he drove himself so mercilessly that he went from 180 to 120 pounds, "nearly died of malarial fever, acquired four types of intestinal worms, and suffered so acutely from sleep deprivation that he frequently hallucinated." Jacobs speculated that something more than careerism or sentimentality, a "growing empathy", was motivating him, because before he had always avoided responsibility but now "he could not get enough of it": he was in charge of a network of clinics that treated up to 500 people per day; he regularly performed major surgery; he lobbied pharmaceutical companies for antibiotics; and, "in large part due to his vigilance, not a single epidemic broke out in Haiphong or on the ships leaving for Saigon." [20]

Dooley was on a promotional tour for this book when he was investigated for participating in homosexual activities. [21] It seems that what the Navy discovered about his private life resulted in a negotiated agreement that he would announce he was leaving the Navy in order to serve the people of Vietnam. [12]

After leaving the Navy, Dooley and three former Navy corpsmen established a hospital near Luang Namtha, Laos with the sponsorship of the International Rescue Committee. [22] At this time, the International Rescue Committee had a secret working relationship with the CIA in Southeast Asia, coordinated by Joseph Buttinger. [14] In an article entitled "Why I'm A Jungle Medic," printed in Think magazine, June 1958, he said they chose Laos because the country, with 3,000,000 people, had only one "bonafide" doctor. [6] 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." [23]

Dooley founded the Medical International Cooperation Organization (MEDICO) under the auspices of which he built hospitals at Nam Tha, Muong Sing (five miles south of the Chinese border), 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. [6] 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 further descriptions of atrocities he said were committed by communist soldiers. In the latter book, he voiced strong political opinions about the Laotian crisis of 1960, defending the right-wing coup led by "one of his closest friends," Phoumi Nosavan. He also wrote that the rigging of elections "cut through the red tape and kibbosh you get involved with in Asia," asserting that "Democracy, as championed in the US, does not translate well into Lao...Not yet." [24]

While Dooley was providing medical care to Lao refugees, he also collected intelligence for the CIA, tracking civilian movements, and he provided cover for US Special Forces medics who posed as civilian doctors. [11] [25] Dennis Shephard, a physician who worked with him, claimed that he would round up as many of his former patients as he could whenever potential sponsors came to tour the Vientiane clinic, giving the impression that he had a full and active clinic. Shephard remembered local CIA officers coming by often to find out if Dooley had picked up anything about the movement of Chinese troops, as well as to ensure that the weapons he had brought up with his medical supplies were well-hidden and secure. [12] Shephard helped him establish a clinic at Vang Vieng; [26] His obituary records that he was a guest when he was featured on This Is Your Life and that he traveled with him "from village to village, where they treated illness and injuries, and taught Laotians about sanitation and medication." [27] [28]

Televised Cancer Surgery, Death, and Peace Corps

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. [29] 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 him. [30] [29] In response to Smith's suggestion that his attitude toward his cancer was "blithe", he replied: "I'm scared to death of this thing becoming maudlin; I'm scared to death of somebody saying 'a clutching, agonizing sort of a thing'...I don't want anyone to get sloppy over this; I don't like anything that says 'a dying doctor's anguish bit'; that's stupid." He proceeded to say that he agreed to the televising of his surgery to help reduce American ignorance and fear of cancer, and so that he could promote Medico. [31] After the surgery was performed, he described it candidly and revealed that his prognosis was bad; he died less than a year later. [32]

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." [7] After his death, John F. Kennedy cited his example when he launched the Peace Corps. [33] [34] He was also awarded a Congressional Gold Medal after his death. [35] He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

Importance and legacy

A 1959 Gallup Poll named Dooley the 7th most admired man in the world according to the American public. But thereafter, his legacy became intertwined with the political controversy surrounding the Vietnam War. As a result, writers continue to struggle with the doctor's record of philanthropy and the later American war in Southeast Asia.

During the height of the Vietnam War, when attention began to be given to the propaganda aspect of Dooley's work, one journalist charged that he was responsible "for helping to create 'a climate of public misunderstanding that made the war in Vietnam possible.'" [36] More than a decade later, after examining more than 500 unclassified CIA documents, another writer argued that although he 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." [37]

Despite Dooley's problematic descriptions of Southeast Asia, Prince Souphan of Laos said that he was "known to his grateful Lao admirers as 'Thanh Mo America' (Dr. America)". [38] He himself was frequently critical of United States actions in the region. He observed: "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." [7] At the same time, he opposed concrete reforms to foreign aid in Laos when Congress proposed them, defending the "first-class administrators" at the US embassy. He also rejected all compromises with communists, even when the Laotian public supported them, going so far as calling the popular neutralist leader Kong Le "an idiot." [39] [40]

MEDICO depended primarily upon volunteers and private donations; by 1960 over 2000 physicians had applied to serve as volunteers, and new teams for medical assistance were established in Haiti, Cambodia, and Afghanistan. [41] According to Ted Hesburgh, Dooley refused Dwight D. Eisenhower's offer to use government funds to assist in his work. Eisenhower did, however, personally fundraise for MEDICO. After Dooley passed away, funds for MEDICO dried up and it was taken over by CARE. [42]

Dooley's principal biographer, James Fisher, wrote that he "tried never to forget what this man's toil and suffering meant to untold people of all backgrounds...that his spirit endures in acts of charity and mercy performed across the world by those he touched." [43] Nearly four years after his death, the New York Times wrote that his work was "more active than it was even at the time of his death." [44] Dr. Verne Chaney, a surgeon who worked with him, founded the Dooley Foundation-Intermed International Dooley Intermed International – Medical Aid Around the World, an organization that provides medical equipment, supplies, personnel and financial support for the improvement of health services in underdeveloped countries [45] Betty Tisdale, who met him and was inspired by his work, [46] founded H.A.L.O.(Helping And Loving Orphans). [47] [48] Just prior to the fall of Vietnam, she orchestrated the evacuation and adoption of 219 Vietnamese orphans to homes in the US. [49] Today, Betty Tisdale and H.A.L.O. continue his 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. [50] [51] [52] Teresa Gallagher, a volunteer who worked with him, along with his brother, Malcolm, established the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation 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 an affiliated program in Cameroon was among the "Ebola Fighters" named as the Time Person of the Year for 2014. [53] And Dr. Davida Coady, an activist pediatrician, who was also inspired by Dooley, devoted herself to caring for impoverished people in Africa, Central America, Asia; she was involved in the famine relief efforts in Biafra, the hunting down of the last smallpox cases in India, and the rebuilding of medical infrastructure in Nicaragua. [54] The Dr Tom Dooley Foundation has an endowed scholarship at the St. Louis University Medical School called the Dr. Tom Dooley Memorial Scholarship Program and is intended "to inspire students to follow the footsteps of Dr. Tom caring for thousands of refugees in Southeast Asia."Medical School Scholarships The Dr Tom Dooley Foundation also an endowed scholarship at the University of New Mexico, in the pediatric residency, to enable residents to travel to the Third World on missions.

The Dr. Tom Dooley Society of Notre Dame dooley-society, an organization for medical alumni of Notre Dame, describes its mission as dedication to education, mentorship and global service to humanity.

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. [55]

Dooley is memorialized at the University of Notre Dame's Grotto of Our Lady, with a statue as well as an engraved copy of a letter he wrote to former Notre Dame president Ted Hesburgh. [56] [5]


Media appearances


See also


  1. 1 2 Kinzer, Stephen (Oct 1, 2013). The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War. Macmillan. ISBN   9781429953528 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Google Books.
  2. New York Times book review, 1998-01-04
  3. 1 2 Christensen, Lawrence O.; Foley, William E.; Kremer, Gary (October 1999). Dictionary of Missouri Biography. University of Missouri Press. pp. 251–252. ISBN   9780826260161.
  4. 1 2 "Archives of the University of Notre Dame :: Dr. Tom Dooley's Letter". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5
  6. 1 2 3 O'Neil, Tim. "A Look Back • The jungle doctor, Tom Dooley, succumbs to cancer in 1961". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  7. McCallum, Jack Edward (2008). Military Medicine: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century. ABC-CLIO. p. 107. ISBN   9781851096930.
  8. d'Agnes, Thomas (2012-05-03). Dr. V: An Extraordinary Journey. ISBN   9781469745138.
  9. Fisher, James Terence (2001-02-01). The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962. ISBN   9780807849491.
  10. 1 2 Ph.D, Jan Goldman (Dec 14, 2015). The Central Intelligence Agency: An Encyclopedia of Covert Ops, Intelligence Gathering, and Spies [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of Covert Ops, Intelligence Gathering, and Spies. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781610690928 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Google Books.
  12. Klein, Christina (Mar 10, 2003). Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961. University of California Press. ISBN   9780520232303 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Google Books.
  13. 1 2 Wilford, Hugh (Jun 30, 2009). The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America . Harvard University Press. p.  173. ISBN   9780674026810 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Internet Archive. william lederer, cia, lansdale.
  14. "Excerpt: The Road Not Taken". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  15. 1 2 "Fighting words - BCM - Summer 2002". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  16. Fisher, James T (September 1998). Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961. ISBN   978-1558491540.
  17. Jacobs, Seth (2005-01-06). America's Miracle Man in Vietnam: Ngo Dinh Diem, Religion, Race, and U.S. Intervention in Southeast Asia. ISBN   978-0822386087.
  18. America's Miracle Man in Vietnam, pp. 149-151
  19. Jacobs, Seth (2005-01-06). America's Miracle Man in Vietnam: Ngo Dinh Diem, Religion, Race, and U.S. Intervention in Southeast Asia. ISBN   978-0822386087.
  20. Shilts, pp. 25—26
  21. Tucker, Spencer C. (May 20, 2011). The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History, 2nd Edition [4 volumes]: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781851099610 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Google Books.
  22. The Edge of Tomorrow p. 18
  23. Jacobs, Seth (May 1, 2012). The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos . Cornell University Press. p.  294. ISBN   9780801445477 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Internet Archive. edge of tomorrow, dooley, claims.
  24. "Dr. Joe F. Leeker, "Air America in Laos-Humanitarian Work, Part I" in The History of Air America, 2nd Edition of 24 August 2015" (PDF). Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  25. "Dr Tom Dooley at Thanksgiving 1956 in Vang Vieng" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  26. "Dennis Dwight Shephard". Santa Maria Times. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  27. "EyeWorld | Tribute to Dennis Shepard, MD". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  28. 1 2 "Before I Sleep The Last Days Of Dr Tom Dooley". Farrar, Straus And Cudahy. Aug 6, 1961. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Internet Archive.
  29. "Latter-Day Saints". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  30. "Doctor Tom Dooley" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  31. "January 19, 1961 – Passing Of A Humanitarian – Preparing For An..." Jan 19, 2017. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  32. "This Page Has Moved". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  33. "Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA | The American Presidency Project". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  34. "Presentation of the Thomas A. Dooley III Medal to Mrs. Agnes Dooley, 10:04AM | JFK Library". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  35. Fisher, James T (September 1998). Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961. ISBN   978-1558491540.
  36. "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,,20074218,00.html
  37. Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, p. 1
  38. Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, pp. 247-250
  39. Jacobs, Seth (May 1, 2012). The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos . Cornell University Press. p.  294. ISBN   9780801445477 . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via Internet Archive. Kong le idiot.
  40. "Dr. Tom Dooley Story- part 2 of 4 - Dooley-Intermed" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  41. O'Neil, Tim. "A Look Back • The jungle doctor, Tom Dooley, succumbs to cancer in 1961". Retrieved 2018-01-06.
  42. Fisher, James T (1999). "Author's Response". American Catholic Studies. 110: 102–106. JSTOR   44195584.
  43. "Tom Dooley's Heritage; Deprived Laotians Understand Best of U.S. Tradition Through His Work". Sep 27, 1964. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  44. [ dead link ]
  45. "Betty Tisdale, 'Angel' of Saigon orphan airlift, dies in Seattle". The Seattle Times. Oct 9, 2015. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  46. "Savior of Saigon" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  47. "The Angel of Saigon" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  48. "An Lac orphans reunite in Columbus after 35 years". Mar 27, 2010. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  49. "St. Louis Review | Archdiocese of St Louis". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  50. "'Angel of Saigon' makes life more than a dream for Vietnamese orphans". Northwest Asian Weekly. May 5, 2011. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  51. "The Pew Next to You". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  52. "The Dr Tom Dooley Foundation". Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  53. Sandomir, Richard (May 11, 2018). "Dr. Davida Coady, Medical Missionary, Is Dead at 80" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via
  54. "The Thomas A. Dooley Award | GALA-ND/SMC" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  55. Fisher, James. "Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley".
  56. "The Dr Tom Dooley Foundation presents The 1959 CC Criss Award" . Retrieved Aug 6, 2019 via

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<i>Dr. America</i>

Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961 is a book written by James T. Fisher, providing a historical discussion of Thomas Anthony Dooley III, an American medical missionary who worked in Vietnam and Laos in the 50s and early 60s. The book itself is viewed not only as a statement on Dooley’s "lives" as a medical missionary, but it is also a socially scientific analysis of his life. A central argument of the book is that Dooley’s work laid the ideological foundation for U.S. entry into Vietnam. Other important topics discussed are Dooley's personal journey towards becoming a "Jungle Doctor," Dooley's similarities and differences from Albert Schweitzer, Dooley as a contemporary Jesus or a redeemed man, and Dooley as a "historical bridge" between anticommunist McCarthyism and the President Kennedy's Vietnam policy. The biography is one volume of a series titled Culture, Politics, and the Cold War edited by Christian G. Appy.

<i>The Edge of Tomorrow</i> (Dooley book)

The Edge of Tomorrow is a 1958 book by American physician Thomas A. Dooley about his humanitarian mission Operation Laos in the country of Laos. Dooley wrote about the "shaky beginnings" of his team's formation in the Laotian capital of Vientiane and the team's trips to Vang Vieng and Nam Tha, from which he had a "triumphant departure". James T. Fisher, who published a biography about Dooley, said, "The Edge of Tomorrow was even more successful than [Dooley's previous book] Deliver Us from Evil; a best-seller, it also won virtually universal critical acclaim." Seth Jacobs, writing in a chapter of Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars, said, "The Edge of Tomorrow and [Dooley's other book] The Night They Burned the Mountain, attracted almost as wide a readership as Dooley's debut." The United States Information Agency distributed The Edge of Tomorrow globally "as part of its cultural diplomacy efforts".

Operation Momentum was a guerrilla training program during the Laotian Civil War. This Central Intelligence Agency operation raising a guerrilla force of Hmong hill-tribesmen in northeastern Laos was planned by James William Lair and carried out by the Thai Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit. Begun on 17 January 1961, the three-day Auto Defense Choc course graduated a clandestine guerrilla army of 5,000 warriors by 1 May, and of 9,000 by August. It scored its first success the day after the first ADC company graduated, on 21 January 1961, when 20 ADC troopers ambushed and killed 15 Pathet Lao.

The 1964 Laotian coups were two attempted coup d'etats against the Royal Lao Government. The 18 April 1964 coup was notable for being committed by the policemen of the Directorate of National Coordination. Although successful, it was overturned five days later by U.S. Ambassador Leonard Unger. In its wake, Neutralist Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma forged a fragile coalition with the Pathet Lao communists. On 4 August 1964, Defense Minister Phoumi Nosavan attempted to take over Vientiane with a training battalion. This coup was quickly crushed by the local Royal Lao Army troops, as the police sat out the conflict.

Operation Maeng Da was a Royal Lao Government military offensive aimed at disrupting the crucial communist supply route of the Second Indochina War, the Ho Chi Minh trail. Launched from a rendezvous point near Vang Tai, Laos, on 2 July 1970 as a three-battalion assault on the major People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) transshipment center at Tchepone, Laos, it ran into stiff resistance from the PAVN 9th Regiment from 11–15 July. An attempt on 16 July to reinforce the Royalist Blue, Black, and Mobile 1 battalions by White Battalion was thwarted by PAVN ground fire and hazardously heavy air traffic over the battlefield. On 17 July, the worst hit Royalist unit, Black Battalion, was airlifted back out of battle. The other two Royalist battalions exfiltrated away from the PAVN troops. In the process, the commander of Mobile 1 was killed; the battalion lost all combat discipline. Both retreating battalions regrouped at the operation's start point. Although ancillary follow-up operations occurred in the vicinity throughout September, the Maeng Da offensive would not resume. However, the Central Intelligence Agency, which had trained and supported the Royalist guerrilla battalions, prepared the Tchepone Operation to follow it.