Funeral held in Rutland for National Guardsman Mark Dooley

10/01/05 12:00AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) First Lieutenant Mark Dooley was honored with a military funeral in Rutland Friday. The 27-year-old Vermont National Guardsman was killed September 19th by an explosion in the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

VPR's Susan Keese was at the service.

(Keese) A riderless horse led the flag-draped casket in a procession down Route 7 from the funeral home to Christ the King Church.

National Guardsmen and police units from all over Vermont and as far away as Boston and New Hampshire fell in behind the casket.

Dooley was born and raised in Wallkill, New York, but he was a graduate of Norwich Academy. And he was working as a police officer in Wilmington before his deployment last January with the third Batallion 172 Mountain Infantry Regiment out of Jericho.

Lt. Veronica Saffo is a public affairs officer for the Vermont National Guard. She said she counted Dooley as a friend.

(Saffo) "And he was the kind of guy who you just respected him for his ability to put 110 percent in everything. And quite frankly every time I encountered Dooley, as I called him, I would think, he's the kind of man that I want my son to grow up to be like. He was that kind of guy just athletic and personable and sweet and genuine."

(Keese) Speakers at the funeral said that Dooley was known as 'Captain America' because of his passion for his country.

Chief Joseph Szarejko of the Wilmington police recalled that Dooley told him when Szareko hired him that he might be called up at any time. Szareko said, "You really want to go don't you?" And Dooley said, "I do."

Lt. Colonel Jack Mosher of the 172 Mountain Infantry read a letter from Dooley's commanding officer in Iraq. He said that Dooley was a gifted officer and an even better person, always ready to take on the most difficult assignments. He said that people were drawn to him because of his wisdom, leadership and charisma.

Dooley's father, Peter C. Dooley, is a retired lieutenant colonel with the New York Air Force Reserve. Dressed in military blue, he saluted his son's casket before addressing overflowing church. He read a letter that his son had written, to be opened in the event of his death.

In it Dooley thanked his family for the guidance and love they'd given him. He told his mother, 'Don't be angry or let sadness dominate your heart. Be proud.'

For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Susan Keese.
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