T-28 Trojan Foundation

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In 1961 shortly after Dr. Tom Dooley's death, Dr. Verne Chaney took over his medical clinics worldwide but needed volunteers to help staff them.  AirIntermed was created with the help of Pan American Airways to allow airline stewardesses to volunteer at these clinics including Laos, Nepal, India, Vietnam and Cambodia which Dr. Chaney later expanded to other countries. They became affectionately known as "Dooley's Dollies."  231 stewardess volunteered from 31 different international airlines over the course of AirIntermed's early history.  
"Who said war is hell?"  Photograph & caption  from Raven Ed Gunter collection.  Dooley's Dollies
at Ban Houei Sai Laos.  Ed was based at Luang Prabang, royal capital of Laos in Military Region 1.
Photograph from Don Harp collection.  Newly arrived "Dollies" on their way to Khong Island Laos.
 The story of how the Dooley AirIntermed program began written in 2002 by Dr. Verne Chaney

                                               In memory and tribute to Marleane Thompson Mitchell
                                               AIRINTERMED - Volunteer Airline Stewardess Program

When one is a young, idealistic, adventuresome surgeon without much business sense, as is true of most doctors, decisions are usually made decisively and facilely, but unfortunately not always wisely. Be that as it may, indecision to such a person is most often an uncomfortable anathema.

It was September 1961, Dr. Tom Dooley had died 8 months earlier and his organization MEDICO, soon died after him, absent his extraordinary popularity and fundraising talents. A decision had to be made, as Dr. Chaney, then the Medical Director for Dr. Dooley's organization MEDICO, had just returned from consulting on projects in Afghanistan, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. No question about it, the time had come to move on. The dilemma - - do I, a) close and forget the Tom Dooley projects & go back to private practice in Monterey California or b) start a new organization to continue where MEDICO left off.

Chaney chose the latter, fitting into the above described pattern, - - an impulsive facile decision but one of questionable wisdom. Hey! A really quixotic idea, Chaney - - go right ahead, you have no money, no office, no staff, no Board and you know nothing about fundraising - - lot's of luck doctor!

At the program sites Tom set-up, he made many extravagant promises and hundreds of villagers and refugees were dependent upon his projects for their only medical care. This new organization to be setup, and to naturally to be called The Dooley Foundation, was going to have to provide staff, supplies and medicines to 5 hospitals and an orphanage in Saigon. The major expense would be expatriate staff salaries and transportation - - medicines and supplies were usually donated. This undertaking was getting to be more and more a very lonely idea fraught with dyspepsia and sleeplessness. The thought then occurred to me that perhaps volunteers could be drafted for overseas duty in the projects since they probably wouldn't be much of an expense. But on reflection, not likely, I thought - - too many problems, and besides, there's a war going on. In the course of talking over this problem with a friend, Marleane Thompson, who happened to be a Pan Am stewardess, she offered up a possible remedy - - Marleane's thought was to use airline stewardesses to work in the programs - - as they can usually get time off from work and can use their airline passes to fly free to wherever - - many were nurses, teachers, or social workers and most had college degrees. All had been well trained by their airline to work under difficult circumstances with every kind of passenger, that came abroad. Most of them, she surmised, would be willing to work in a Dooley project perhaps for as much as three months without pay provided they didn't lose seniority with their airline.

I was surprised and certainly pleased with her idea and especially when she offered to be the first to go, provided I was really serious about this crazy idea. Well, I was, albeit with a fair measure of hesitation as to the practicality of it all. For starters, the existing Dooley program with Tibetan refugees in India seemed to me to be a reasonable place to 'give the idea a trial run, which at the time, I was reasonably sure would be a short one. Fortunately, I had a Tibetan friend in Darjeeling India, Larry Lawang, who was the superintendent of schools there, as well as in Kalimpong, India. After several phone calls and letters, Larry was finally persuaded to cooperate and to allow Marleane to work as a volunteer with his young students at the Darjeeling Elementary School for a limited time.

Within a short time after her arrival, it was apparent Marleane was a natural for her new assignment - - teaching English, - - making sure the children had weekly showers, - - that they were checked regularly for lice - - a facility resembling a first aid station was set-up, - - advice on cleanliness and good nutrition was preached - - local merchants were cajoled into providing adequate clothing and bedding - - not bad for a remarkable lady who is neither a nurse, a teacher nor a mother.
(click here for Dr. Chaney's obituary)

click  on 5 photo's below to enlarge
Most of the recruitment was word of mouth within each airline, since it was competitive to be selected.  At times the Dooley Foundation placed ads in major newspapers.  They also used former volunteers to promote the program in speaking engagements across the US.

1980 Recruitment Fact Sheet:
AirIntermed is open to all airline employees 22 years of age or older.  Applicants must have at least 2 years seniority with the airline and be able to obtain a 3 month leave of absence in conjunction with 2 weeks official payroll time off (such as vacation or company assigned time) to qualify for “pass” travel during the week prior to and following the 90 days of assigned service.

Backgrounds in teaching, nursing or other specialties are helpful but not required for a successful application.  Previous volunteer involvement or overseas experience is taken into consideration.

Applicants are carefully screened through references and personal interviews.  Once selected the participant must arrange for a leave of absence without pay.  Considering the relatively short term assignment, it is not practical for Dooley/Intermed to engage in a costly training program for new volunteers.  Selected informational material is provided and selectees are referred to past participants for additional insight into the experience. 

AirIntermed serves four distinct purposes:

1.  To assist Dooley/Intermed medical teams by providing essential volunteer help for it’s social welfare programs.
2.  To foster a greater awareness of Asia and its people.
3.  To promote international understanding and friendship.
4. To encourage public support for Dooley/Intermed overseas medical programs.

The program has served as a positive force in strengthening the bond of brotherhood between the peoples of Asia and the Western World.

Dr. Tom Dooley documentary:
click on Tani's photo cover to view album photos 

Tani was an airline stewardess for Pan American World Airways based in San Francisco, California, locaton of the original Dooley Foundation headquarters. 
After serving three months volunteering at Champassak Laos, she found the country and the Lao people so enduring, she returned each year to visit until 1975 when the country fell to the communist.
​traveling the world and help in humanitarian efforts.  In 2015 the program was revived, combined with Airline Ambassadors International to assist Nepal after the great earthquake.  By the time I reached out to Dr. Chaney he had long retired and was in a rehab facility, he later passed away February 12, 2018.  Rosemarie Hammond of the Dooley Foundation helped me by providing a list of the surviving volunteers.  The first one I reached out to was Polly Berent, one of my Raven friends told me she had married one of his best friends, Mark Berent (fighter pilot and author of Rolling Thunder fame - download his free ebook here) and put me in touch with him.  As I was gathering all of Polly's information she so generously shared, I was sidelined with cancer and put my research on hold until recently I felt it was time to write their story or better yet have them tell their stories!  I looked at the list Rosemarie had sent me years earlier and lo and behold a name stood out with an address in the same city I live in so I immediately called and we have been working together since to reach out to the others to gather their stories.  I am grateful for Tani's help!  One of the things I have learned and respect is the ladies don't especially like the nickname "Dooley's Dollies."  I am not sure exactly who came up with it but I believe it goes back to the "Donut Dollies" history which is very similar.  While the term "Dollie"  may sound derogatory by today's standards, it was not thought that way at all in WWI or WWII when our service men looked forward to the Donut Dollies presence to boast morale during war time, their nickname was born from affection and patriotism.  The Raven's referred to the Dooley's Dollies possibly as a call sign like their own "Raven" to hide their true identity since US military were not suppose to be in Laos at the time and like the service men of earlier wars, they too were happy to have the ladies there and made sure they were safe from the NVA and Pathet Lao enemy.   The Dooley Foundation was allowed in Laos through the mutual agreement of the Laos & US governments through the USAID program, providing medical and educational assistance.  This page serves as an introduction to their story as I work on their book to be published soon. - Helen Murphy 
​2009-2021  Helen Murphy © All Rights Reserved
Preface to this story.  When I started my research on the T-28's warbird history, specifically in SE Asia and getting to know the Ravens, USAF Forward Air Controllers who served in covert operations in Laos, they shared stories and photographs of their experiences, several caught my attention that had young American ladies in the photos.  I was told they were "Dooley's Dollies" that volunteered at his medical clinics in Laos.  I wanted to know more about these brave young ladies who left the safety of their comfortable homes in the US to come to a foreign land in the midst of a terrible war.  Who were these Dooley's Dollies! So my research expanded to include their little known story.  I can't say enough about my admiration for them and hope their story will inspire other young people to be adventurous