WILMINGTON -- Lt. Mark Dooley was killed in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2005.
He had been riding in an armored vehicle when an improvised explosive device killed him and two other Army National Guard soldiers. Mark was 27 years old at the time.
Before going overseas, he wrote a letter to his mother, father and brother, Charlie. He had prophesied that he would not be returning but hoped it would not be true.
"Everywhere he went, everyone thought he was their personal friend and that he was always there for them," said Mark's mother, Marion Dooley. "Everybody thought he was their very best buddy and he was. It was amazing how many people he had in his short life that he was really close to."
Mark attended high school is Wallkill, N.Y., then went on to graduate from Norwich University in Vermont as well as the Vermont Police Academy.
Eventually, Mark found his place as an officer in the Wilmington Police Department. He was friends with fellow officers, Greg and Matt Murano. They considered Mark a brother.
On duty or off duty, Mark would stop for anyone. He would carry a rope and jumper cables at all times to assist people who went off the road or needed help with their vehicles.
Marion told the Reformer of a time when a deer was on a small bridge with people coming at it from both sides.
"He got on the middle of the bridge and patiently herded the deer to the side," she said.
While Mark's father was in Saudi Arabia, on full-time active duty as a National Guard pilot, Mark would drive three hours to plow his mother's driveway then drive back to Vermont to make it to work.
There was no limit to what Mark would do to help others. When he went overseas, he went out of a deep sense of purpose and desire to serve his country.
"He was so into it, so responsive. He was always right there," said Marion. "We never expected anything to happen to him."
Mark was killed on his day off. He had been traveling with two other men. Marion said those three soldiers were the type of people who wouldn't say no when called upon.
Mark was First Lieutenant with the Vermont Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 172nd Mountain Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division, of Jericho.
"Mark went because it was in his heart since he was 2 years old. He just loved the military and police -- anybody who did those kind of jobs. Not just the uniform but what they did -- the morals, ethics and values and eventually the camaraderie and support. That's really where he stood in life," said Marion.
The Dooley family decided that Mark should be buried at Arlington after part of his letter to his parents was read by President George W. Bush on Memorial Day in 2006.
"Remember that my leaving was in the service of something that we loved, and be proud. The best way to pay respect is to value why a sacrifice was made," wrote Mark.
There are two races in Mark's name. Both events go toward scholarships in his name for high school students who want to go into service work.
In March, there is a race in Wallkill, where he was a captain of his high school track team. He would also come back to assist with coaching on his days off from school.
The other race is in Wilmington, which is being held on Sept. 21. Marion told the Reformer that Wilmington had become Mark's hometown. She and his father, Peter, would visit him there. They still attend the Brattleboro July 4 parade each year in memory of Mark.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.