In August 1967, Ed Dougherty delivered his own draft notice to his childhood home in Marcus Hook, Penn. He had grown up playing baseball at St. James High School in Chester, Penn, with dreams of being a professional baseball player. He was set to continue his baseball career by starting Spring Training in Pittsburgh in 1968, however, his dream was put on hold after being drafted into the Army.
Dougherty served first in Vietnam near the Cambodia border in February 1968 at Kham Duc. His unit remained there until May 10-12, 1968, when it was attacked and overrun in an ambush. According to Dougherty, the Battle of Kham Duc lasted three days as soldiers were bombed every six hours without relent. In an escape attempt, Dougherty found a fallen sergeant and carried him on to an aircraft that was about to take off. The sergeant had been injured and without help, knew he would die. As the aircraft was taking off, it was hit by enemy fire and went into a spiral.
Dougherty miraculously got himself and the sergeant off and carried him across the runway while under enemy fire. Upon reaching the medic office, the sergeant was treated, and Dougherty suffered only minor injuries.
After the battle, Dougherty and the surviving soldiers were re-stationed at Landing Zone Ross (LZ Ross). He was nominated squadron leader and operated Gun 2 of his squadron. The squadron had been given 144 baseballs from the Boston Red Sox, so in between on-duty shifts, Dougherty and his team would pitch into ammo pits. He reignited his love for baseball when Chicago Clubs player Ernie Banks came to visit LZ Ross. One of the highlights of Dougherty’s service was playing catch with Banks. Dougherty did not experience any more major attacks after Kham Duc, only many sleepless nights until his honorable discharge in August 1969.
When Dougherty returned to the U.S., he was “thrilled to be home,” but was away in Vietnam for too long to return as a baseball prospect. Fortunately, a friend invited him for a round of golf at Edgmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. From there, he developed a passion for golf and began consistently training until he entered the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour. He played professionally from 1975-2008. In the PGA, the played in seven championships, five U.S. Opens and a Masters Tournament. He was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2012. He moved to Port St. Lucie in Florida with his wife in 1991, but later moved back to Pennsylvania for medical attention for illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
Throughout his life, one thing remained constant: a love for and collection of model trains. He learned about them from his mother, who was the youngest of 10 and never had them as a child. For all of Dougherty’s childhood, his mother would show off trainsets to him and his siblings. After his PGA career, he began a more intentional train collection until opening a model train shop in Garnet Valley, Penn., specializing in Lionel and American Flyer Trains. He often runs the largest set with his grandchildren, putting up to five trains on the 8×16 track. He also has an extensive collection of guitars and pinball machines.
Dougherty has since retired and now lives in his Pennsylvania home with his wife, Carolyn.
We honor his service.