Jim Doody and his brother, Tommy
It had been 8-1/2 years since I first interviewed Jim Doody for my article in the May 2002 issue of The Beacon. The Denver Post (Feb. 18, 2002) had an article titled “Fruita Lands Vietnam-era Copter for Monument to 300,000 Vets” and I wanted to know more about it. I felt such a colossal undertaking as this would be tremendously interesting to readers. We met over coffee at Mesa Mall’s Wendy’s restaurant at a back table on Jim’s lunch hour. He talked about his deceased brother, Tommy, and Tommy’s best friend, Marshall Davis.
“Tommy was my older brother. He and Marshall belonged to the Civil Air Patrol at Walker Field while they attended Central High School. They had plans to be pilots together and start their own business ferrying wealthy clients back and forth from Aspen and Vail. They both graduated with degrees and pilots licenses from Northwest Community College in Rangely,” Jim explained, somberly.
Their plans were pretty impressive for two, young, small town kids, but the United States of America was waging war in Vietnam, so they put aside their plans and enlisted in the Army. Marshall was assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Tommy piloted the UH-1-C helicopter, nicknamed “the Huey.” Both were sent to Vietnam. Marshall Davis came back alive. Thomas Patrick Doody did not.
Tommy flew over 225 combat missions before his death on Feb. 8, 1971.
There were four men onboard that day. CW2 Paul C Stewart was the aircraft commander. W01 Tommy Doody was the pilot; Specialist 4 Charles G. Bobo was crew chief; PFC John W Robertson was the door gunner. North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners, with 23mm explosive shells, blasted the Huey’s tail boom and the drive shaft of the tail rotor severed and a portion broke off. A fatal out-of-balance condition sent it flipping, exploding on impact. Cobra recovery helicopter was sent out, but saw only smoke and burning wreckage. They radioed, “We’re Charlie Oscar (continuing on).”
“My mother insisted, against Army opposition, that his friend, Marshall Davis, be given leave to escort Tommy home. She won and Tommy was buried here on March 25, 1971. Marshall had to go back and finish his tour of duty. After the war, Marshall flew for helicopter companies in Utah, Texas, Colorado and Oregon. On Dec. 3, 1986, he safely transported a patient, nurse and paramedic to a Portland hospital but crashed in a dense fog a few miles outside Portland.
“Our father, Jerry Doody, was drafted at age 32 into the Army in WWII. The young soldiers called him ‘Dad.’ He fought in the Battle of Normandy and earned the Bronze Star. He died in 1958 in Chicago and was buried with full military honors on Tommy’s 10th birthday.”
“Our widowed mother, Thelma, moved our family to the Grand Valley since we had relatives here. Aunt Geraldine and Uncle Hal Ames owned the Blue Creek Ranch, 13 miles south of Gateway. This little town was a culture shock for seven big-city Chicago kids to live in Gateway, but we had great fun on their ranch. Later, we moved into Grand Junction where we attended school. We had the best aunt and uncle anybody could’ve ever had,” Jim bragged.
“I was age 18 and in high school when the Draft Board assigned me No. 11. Since my father and three brothers already served their country, my mother requested my deferment. In a way, I’m sorry I didn’t serve but I understand her reasoning,” Jim finished.
When Jim Doody started planning this memorial to honor his brother and all other Vietnam veterans, five years before they broke ground, he was employed fulltime. But with the help of some friends, was able to found, coordinate, and initiate required fundraising for this massive and worthy project, the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park. They broke ground in March 2002 and the project was completed on schedule for July 4, 2003.
Go to http://www.Field-of-Dreams.org and read how you can donate and have you or your veteran’s name inscribed on a plaque. It has been expanded to include everyone on the Western Slope who served in any of the five armed forces during the Vietnam War. It will list what proof is required to show that he/she served our country. It will give you the forms needed to donate to this remarkable project. You can see pictures of the Huey and read who is on the current Board of Directors. Jim Doody’s cell phone and e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org is listed, if you have questions after reading their website. Donations can be mailed to Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park, P.O. Box 340, Fruita, Colo., 81521-0340.
Many fund-raising events are held: “Our annual Adobe Creek Golf Tournament on June 12, 2010, was rained out, but we had a rain date and held it in July instead. It’s an annual June event and grows larger every year.”
On Nov. 12, 2010, there will be a dinner and Military Ball at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo., with Frank Bregar’s 12-piece band Big Band Sound providing the music. Tickets ($50) are available at City Market, Brown’s Shoes, and the VA Cemetery. It’s an annual social event with the money raised going to the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park, located directly across the parking lot from the Colorado Welcome Center, at the Fruita exit off I-70.
“The focus of this Memorial is to honor all those veterans who served from 1959 to 1975, including those who were killed, disabled and missing, regardless of whether they actually spent time in Vietnam,” Jim stated, proudly.
Every Nov. 11, Veterans Day, a ceremony honoring veterans is held at the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park. There will be military speakers and waving American flags. There will be bands playing and appreciative people clapping and singing. There will be “first-timers” and “regulars” present, those who stop routinely, locate their deceased relative’s name inscribed on a plaque, and perhaps say a silent prayer. It can be very emotional, as you may see sons remembering fathers they never got to meet.
Visiting the Memorial Park is a way for you to take time to honor every American veteran, both living and dead, who because of their valor, made it possible for us to live in peace in our glorious country. There has always been a controversy whether the helicopter mounted overhead is landing or taking off after picking up casualties to whisk back to the MASH station. You decide.
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