Tom Little (optometrist)

Last updated
Tom Little Tom Little optometrist.jpg
Tom Little

Thomas E. Little (March 20, 1949 – August 5, 2010) [1] was an American optometrist from Kinderhook, New York, [2] most widely known as the leader of an International Assistance Mission team that was killed in the 2010 Badakhshan massacre. [3] [4]


In 1978, Little traveled to Afghanistan. Although only intending to stay there for several months, Little ultimately spent the next 30 years building up the country's eye care services during successive regime changes. [5] Little spoke Dari fluently. [6]

In August 2010, Little's medical team was attacked by masked gunmen in the Kuran wa Munjan District of Badakhshan Province while returning from Nuristan to Kabul. The team had spent two weeks traveling between remote villages on foot and providing medical care. Ten members of the team, including six Americans, were murdered. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack. Little's body was found on August 7, 2010. [7]

Little was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on February 15, 2011. [8] [9] He was also posthumously recognized as the 2010 International Optometrist of the Year by the World Council of Optometrists. [2] [10]

The son of an ophthalmologist, Little attended Ichabod Crane High School in Valatie, New York, where he dated his future wife, Libby. The couple's three daughters were educated at Woodstock School in India. While most well known for his work in Afghanistan, Little was also an avid outdoorsman, equestrian, and environmentalist. [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Médecins Sans Frontières</span> International humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation

Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is a charity that provides humanitarian medical care. It is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases. The organisation provides care for diabetes, drug-resistant infections, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, tropical and neglected diseases, tuberculosis, vaccines and COVID-19. In 2019, the charity was active in 70 countries with over 35,000 personnel; mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers, and administrators. Private donors provide about 90% of the organisation's funding, while corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$1.63 billion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Operation Enduring Freedom</span> Official name for the USs war on terror

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was the official name used by the U.S. government for both the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021) and the larger-scale Global War on Terrorism. On 7 October 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced that airstrikes targeting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom primarily refers to the War in Afghanistan, but it was also affiliated with counterterrorism operations in other countries, such as OEF-Philippines and OEF-Trans Sahara.

Humanitarian aid workers belonging to United Nations organisations, PVOs / NGOs or the Red Cross / Red Crescent have traditionally enjoyed both international legal protection, and de facto immunity from attack by belligerent parties. However, ' attacks on humanitarian workers have occasionally occurred, and become more frequent since the 1990s and 2000s. In 2017, the Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD) documented 139 humanitarian workers killed in intentional attacks out of the estimated global population of 569,700 workers. In every year since 2013, more than 100 humanitarian workers were killed. This is attributed to a number of factors, including the increasing number of humanitarian workers deployed, the increasingly unstable environments in which they work, and the erosion of the perception of neutrality and independence. In 2012 road travel was seen to be the most dangerous context, with kidnappings of aid workers quadrupling in the last decade, reaching more aid workers victims than any other form of attack.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Provincial Reconstruction Team</span> 2002–2013 US military unit in unstable states

A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was a unit introduced by the United States government, consisting of military officers, diplomats, and reconstruction subject matter experts, working to support reconstruction efforts in unstable states. PRTs were first established in Afghanistan in early 2002, and were used in Iraq as well. While the concepts are similar, PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq had separate compositions and missions. Their common purpose, however, was to empower local governments to govern their constituents more effectively.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a US-based not-for-profit human rights NGO that uses medicine and science to document and advocate against mass atrocities and severe human rights violations around the world. PHR headquarters are in New York City, with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C. It was established in 1986 to use the unique skills and credibility of health professionals to advocate for persecuted health workers, prevent torture, document mass atrocities, and hold those who violate human rights accountable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taliban insurgency</span> Insurgency during the War in Afghanistan

The Taliban insurgency began after the group's fall from power during the 2001 War in Afghanistan. The Taliban forces fought against the Afghan government, led by President Hamid Karzai, and later by President Ashraf Ghani, and against a US-led coalition of forces that has included all members of NATO; the 2021 Taliban offensive resulted in the collapse of the government of Ashraf Ghani. The private sector in Pakistan extends financial aid to the Taliban, contributing to their financial sustenance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in Afghanistan</span>

Christians have historically comprised a small community in Afghanistan. The total number of Christians in Afghanistan is currently estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 according to International Christian Concern. Almost all Afghan Christians are converts from Islam. The Pew Research Center estimates that 40,000 Afghan Christians were living in Afghanistan in 2010. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan did not recognize any Afghan citizen as being a Christian, with the exception of many expatriates. Christians of Muslim background communities can be found in Afghanistan, estimated between 500-8,000, or between 10,000 to 12,000.

Lee Shapiro (1949–1987) was an American documentary filmmaker. His one feature-length film, Nicaragua Was Our Home, was released in 1986. It was filmed in Nicaragua among the Miskito Indians who were then fighting against Nicaraguan government forces. It features interviews with Miskito Indian people and some non-Miskito clergy who lived among them concerning actions of the government against them, including bombing of villages, shootings, and forced removal of people from their homes. The film was shown on some PBS stations and at the 1986 Sundance Film Festival.

The following lists events that happened during 2004 in Afghanistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tetsu Nakamura</span> Japanese physician (1946–2019)

Tetsu Nakamura, also known as Kaka Murad, , was a Japanese physician and honorary Afghan citizen who headed Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS), an aid group known as Peshawar-kai in Japanese.

The 2009 UN guest house attack happened in the early hours of October 28, 2009, in Kabul, Afghanistan. 3 Taliban attackers stormed a guest house used by the United Nations, killing five UN staff, two Afghan security personnel and an Afghan civilian.

The International Assistance Mission (IAM) is the longest continually serving non-profit organisation in Afghanistan. They are a well-respected NGO working to improve lives and build local capacity in health, development and education. They are a partnership between the people of Afghanistan and international Christian volunteers, who have been working together since 1966. IAM is registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and is the longest continuously serving NGO in Afghanistan, and only works in Afghanistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2010 Badakhshan massacre</span> 2010 killing of aid workers in Kuran wa Munjan District, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan

On 5 August 2010, ten members of International Assistance Mission (IAM) Nuristan Eye Camp team were killed in Kuran wa Munjan District of Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The team was attacked as it was returning from Nuristan to Kabul. One team member was spared while the rest of the team were killed immediately. Those killed were six Americans, two Afghans, one Briton and one German.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2012 in Afghanistan</span> List of events

Events from the year 2012 in Afghanistan.

On March 4, 2012, at least three avalanches struck the Badakhshan province of northeastern Afghanistan. One of those avalanches destroyed a small village of about 200 people. The name of the village is uncertain; some sources call it Dasty and locate it in Darzab District, and others call it Sherin Nazim and locate it in Shekay District. Two other villages were affected by the avalanche. At least 50 people were killed in the disaster.

The following lists events from 2014 in Afghanistan.

Syrian American Medical Society is a non-profit, non-political, professional organization representing thousands of Syrian-American medical professionals in the United States that provides humanitarian assistance to Syrians in need. Since the Syrian Conflict began, SAMS has supported field hospitals, clinics, and surgical centers in Syria while assisting Syrian doctors, nurses, and health workers by paying salaries and providing training.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Islamic Republic of Afghanistan</span> 2004–2021 government of Afghanistan

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was a presidential republic that ruled Afghanistan from 2004 to 2021. The state was established to replace the Afghan interim (2001–2002) and transitional (2002–2004) administrations, which were formed after the 2001 United States invasion of Afghanistan that had toppled the partially recognized Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. However, on 15 August 2021, the country was recaptured by the Taliban, which marked the end of the 2001–2021 war, the longest war in US history. This led to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, led by President Ashraf Ghani, and the reinstatement of the Islamic Emirate under the control of the Taliban. The United Nations still recognizes the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of Afghanistan instead of the Islamic Emirate, the de facto ruling government. The US–Taliban deal, signed on 29 February 2020 in Qatar, was one of the critical events that caused the collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Following the deal, the US dramatically reduced the number of air attacks and deprived the ANSF of a critical edge in fighting the Taliban insurgency, leading to the Taliban takeover of Kabul.


  1. "United States Social Security Death Index" database, 20 May 2014), Thomas E Little, 05 Aug 2010; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File).
  2. 1 2 2010 International Optometrist of the Year Archived 2016-11-24 at the Wayback Machine from
  3. Gannon, Kathy (8 August 2010). "British aid worker killed in massacre in Afghanistan". The Herald . Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  4. Nordland, Rod (7 August 2010). "10 Medical Aid Workers Are Found Slain in Afghanistan". The New York Times . Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  5. 1 2 Caruso, David B. (August 7, 2010). "Doctor from region slain in Afghanistan attack". Glens Falls Post-Star. Associated Press. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  6. "Slain NY doctor was in Afghanistan for 3 decades". Greenwich Time . 7 August 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Violent end to life of caring". Times Union. August 8, 2010.
  8. "President George H.W. Bush, 14 Others Receive Medal Of Freedom".
  9. "Announcing Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". November 17, 2010.
  10. Kenaston, Jim (December 25, 2017). Just a Thin Slice: A Family's Journey Through the American Landscape - 1623 to the Present. ISBN   9781387252008 via Google Books.