While serving as a physician in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, Dooley began to be recognized for his humanitarian work in Vietnam, Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia—efforts chronicled in his books Deliver Us From Evil, The Edge of Tomorrow, and The Night They Burned the Mountain.
In 1956, the same year Deliver Us from Evil was released to great acclaim, Dooley was investigated by the Navy for being a homosexual and was forced to resign his commission. But he remained in the region, tending to the forgotten victims of war and building hospitals through the Medical International Cooperation Organization (MEDICO).
Though Dooley died tragically of cancer at age 34, his legacy was enshrined by President John F. Kennedy, who cited Dooley’s example when he launched the Peace Corps. (Dooley was also awarded a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal.) Today, the Dooley Foundation-Intermed International provides medical care to refugees, children and villagers in the Third World.