Sacred Honor: Police Officer, Soldier, Patriot
By Vincent J. Bove, CPP
"Mom, I have no delusions that reading or even hearing this letter read can fill my absence. Please forgive me for not being able to be there; but also remember that my leaving was in the service of something that we loved, and that most people can't comprehend its scope. Cherish in your heart that it wasn't done for any abstract reason like a flag or a foreign government's success, but our sacred honor."
Lt. Mark H. Dooley, in a letter to be opened only upon his death
As I read the words of Lt. Mark Dooley's letter to be opened only after his death, I was moved to tears and a deep reflection of the true meaning of honor, character and service. The letter, which was given to me by Mark's mother Marion, is a shining example of one young man's courage in the face of a mission which might mean his giving his life. Mark was a devoted son and brother. His desire to preserve the principals of freedom that America stands for led him to careers in law enforcement and the military. I realized that the true meaning of honor, character, and service was personified by the life and death of Lt. Mark H. Dooley.
On Friday July 13, 2007, I was privileged to attend the full military interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery of Army 1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley, 27, who was killed in Iraq on September 19, 2005.
Lt. Mark Dooley was from Wallkill, New York and was assigned to the
3d Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), 42nd Infantry Division,
Vermont Army National Guard, Jericho, Vermont.
Mark would have celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday, July 15, 2007, a day after his remains were honored at Arlington.
I was invited to this solemn event by his parents, Marion and Peter Dooley. I met Marion Dooley at a school violence prevention presentation for the Wallkill School District in New York on November 22, 2006. Because I honor American Military personnel at each of my presentations, Marion shared with me the story of her military sons.
The ceremony was profoundly inspirational thanks to the devotion and presence of his parents, his brother Charlie – who also serves in the U.S. Army – and the many family members, friends, educators and military personnel (including the honor guard) who came to honor Mark Dooley and remember him as a man of commitment, courage and patriotism. Although there are many vignettes that can be used to capture the event, I will never forget the expressive faces of those who honored Mark and the "clip-clop" of horse hooves in soothing cadence as they transported the caisson that carried Mark's remains. It was the perfect orchestration of nature and emotions during the one mile procession to Marks final resting place, as though even the horses understood, honored and sympathized with the gravity of the interment.
After the interment ceremony in section 60, I had the opportunity to speak with Mark's family and friends about the life of this outstanding police officer, soldier and patriot.
Peter Dooley, Mark's Father
Served in the U.S. Air Force
"My son Mark was dedicated to the service of his country and to giving the Iraqi people the opportunity to experience the freedom and liberty which we are so privileged to have.
"Mark was an example of the values of our society which need to be resurfaced; character, honor, truthfulness, family, virtue, service, discipline and valor were very real to him. It is my hope that his life and death, along with all whom have given the ultimate sacrifice to our nation, can inspire the return of these values to our country."
Major Jason Pelletier,
Mark's Commanding Officer in Iraq
"In Iraq, there were 163 personnel under my command but when I think of Mark Dooley, the qualities of courage, candor and honor immediately come to mind. I was privileged to have him as one of my lieutenants and he is truly the example of everything that is best about the United States Military. Obviously, many other individuals felt the same way about Mark based on the extraordinary presence here at Arlington of those who have come from so far to honor him."
Mark's Track Coach
attended the ceremony with his wife and 4 young children
"Mark always had his eyes on achieving goals and was dedicated to persevering in anything he set out to accomplish. He was a long distance runner for me in high school who competed in the one and two mile events which exemplify stamina, perseverance and confidence. These are the same qualities he had in everyday life especially in his service to his country."
Mark's friend since 2002
"I first met Mark when we were both working as substitute teachers and we quickly became friends. He was a person fully dedicated to very high personal standards of character and service to others. Mark was full of pride and honor and he carried himself with a sense of dignity. I learned from Mark, like I never learned before from anyone, what it was to love your country, to respect the flag and to defend all that America stands for.
"Mark would come to my school and speak to my athletes and students. I was always proud to introduce him as a police officer and a member of the U.S. Army. He inspired students and encouraged them to step out of their personal shadows and to shine for others. As he always inspired me, Mark inspired these students to have a new sense of pride and appreciation for their country. One particular student, Zachary Henke, was inspired by Mark so much that he will attend Virginia Military Institute on a scholarship in the name of Lt. Mark H. Dooley."
Police Officer, Wilmington, Vermont
Served with Mark, Windham County Sheriff's Department
Mark's friend since 1998
"Mark and I became friends through my brother who is also on the Wilmington Police Department. We developed a bond through our law enforcement careers and our military training at Norwich University.
"He had a natural ability to be a friend, a dedicated family man, a police officer and a soldier. He was always unquestionably committed to anything he chose to do. When duty called, Mark Dooley served and he never second guessed the importance of serving friends, family, his law enforcement career or his country. Although he is gone, his memory will serve as a lifetime of inspiration to many people."
Police Officer, Hartford, Vermont
Mark's friend Since 2002
"Mark and I became friends in 2002 when I first started my law enforcement career as a cop. He had a special gift of always giving people a chance. Mark never judged anyone or looked down on someone. He was one of the greatest people that I have ever met and he touched so many lives in law enforcement, family, community and the military.
"When I was 19 years old, I met Mark at the police academy. He was always surrounded by people of the highest caliber and he believed this was important to build positive energy and attitude. One time, while on military duty, Mark was involved with setting up building clearing drills at Camp Johnson in Vermont. He encouraged his military superiors to allow a joint training initiative with law enforcement from throughout Vermont. Due to his leadership, over fifty law enforcement professionals from all over Vermont joined in the training. He was all about partnerships, community and teamwork.
"My uncle, NYPD Sgt. John Coughlin, was killed while on Emergency Services Unit detail on 9/11. He inspired me to become a cop. Mark continued this inspiration with his character and I hope that I can have the positive influence on others through my lifetime that he did."
U.S Navy Supply Officer,
Mark's friend Since 2000
"Little did I know that one of the competitors who I raced against in High School would become one of my best friends. It happened in 1998 while we were both attending Norwich Military College in Vermont. From the first day that we met, I knew that Mark represented character, honor, leadership, courage and friendship.
"During a difficult day in my life (after losing a scholarship because I was color blind) I was very low and, although it was Thanksgiving Day and Mark was with his family, he dropped everything to come to see me. My world was crashing in on me and he encouraged me to remain positive, courageous, and to believe in myself despite my distress. I will never forget him. When he was killed in Iraq, I remember telling my dad that I had two best friends in life, my dad and Mark Dooley and now I had lost one of them. I hope that I never have to experience that feeling again."
Undoubtedly, the most important reflections shared about Mark come from the heart of his mother. She told me how Mark was always concerned about others and shared with me the letter to opened only upon his death.
"Mark had a unique sense of dedication, care and responsibility toward his family, friends, his military companions and his country. I remember the sensitivity in which he gave me a sealed envelope prior to his deployment to Iraq and his request that I promise not to open it unless he did not return. As promised, this document was only opened after his death and I am confident that sharing it will allow everyone to have the insight into the remarkable person who was my son."
Tomb of the Unknowns
Lt. Mark H. Dooley's Letter
Vincent J. Bove, CPP
is a Board Certified Protection Professional, Board Certified Crime Prevention Specialist,
Certified Law Enforcement Instructor and U.S. Department of Justice Certified Community
Anti-Terrorism Awareness Trainer.
He is the 2007 New Jersey recipient of the prestigious
FBI Director's Community Leadership Award
and was hand-selected to serve as a facilitator and mentor for the 2007
National Conference on Ethics in America
and speaker for the 2008 conference at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"Vincent J. Bove is considered one of the foremost
national experts on school and workplace violence
prevention, specializing in facility protection,
evacuations, terrorism prevention and leadership
training." -- U.S. Senate
You can visit Mr. Bove's website at
or email him at