May 18, 2004
Collier County, FL. SO Deputy Killed in Iraq
Officer Down: CPL. Henry "Hank" Doll III - [Naples, Florida]
He was confident, experienced and ready for adventure.
Three months ago, he left behind the comforts of his family and his country for the unknowns of Iraq.
Cpl. Henry A. "Hank" Doll III, 56, a veteran Collier County sheriff's deputy, died Thursday morning in a vehicle accident outside Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
In his own words, Doll, an experienced SWAT team member and bailiff, explained why he wanted to travel across the world and work for a private contractor to help Iraqis build a police force. He left in February for a year-long mission.
"I feel this opportunity to serve my country would benefit (the Sheriff's Office) upon my return," he wrote to Sheriff Don Hunter last July when he requested a leave of absence. "Dealing with terrorism issues overseas would give me firsthand experience, which would be invaluable to the agency."
At home on Thursday, the deputy was remembered for his stand-up attitude, revered for his confronting and conquering a powerful, corrupt and feared deputy gone bad and saving the lives of three emaciated children in Immokalee. He was remembered for his calm, cool demeanor which showed in the toughest of places and worst of times.
Doll was working for DynCorp International, which was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of State to provide experienced police officers and former military officers to help train Iraqis and field a local police force. Doll, who worked in plainclothes and carried a weapon, was an international police liaison officer.
Doll and Jesse Gentry, 61, of Sanford, N.C., another liaison officer, were driving with a U.S. military convoy when the accident happened. But officials from DynCorp said it was believed to be an accident.
Sheriff's officials said they had been told that a taxi swerved into the path of the vehicle Doll was inside. The driver of that vehicle and the taxi were not hurt.
The black bands already in place for National Law Enforcement Memorial Week, a time to remember officers who have fallen in the line of duty, will stay on the deputies' uniforms a little longer as they grieve Doll.
Hunter said he had notified and broke the news to Doll's youngest son, Alex, also a Collier deputy and who works as an investigator in the anti-crime unit. His other son, Henry, is a Maryland state trooper.
"It was a tough day," Hunter said.
As word spread throughout the law enforcement community in the Naples area, Doll's fellow deputies were shocked and saddened.
Doll was a member of the Army Reserves and the National Guard of Pennsylvania between 1966 and 1971. He worked for the Pennsylvania state police between 1970 and 1991 and then the York County Sheriff's Department in Pennsylvania for two years. He left that agency for the Collier County Sheriff's Office in 1994.
Doll worked in patrol in the Immokalee and Marco Island districts and was also a member of the field force team.
Cpl. Rick Roman's eyes were at the brink of tears as he thought about his friend and fellow bailiff.
"Everything he did came from the heart," Roman said. "He was a man of principle, a man of dedication."
He said Doll cared for the other deputies, "the troops," as officers call their counterparts on the force.
"He was the man," Roman said. "You could see it in his presence, in his demeanor."
Sgt. Bob Lewis, a supervisor on the SWAT team, said he can't recall a situation where he wasn't happy that Doll was beside him. He was a true professional, Lewis recalled. The two men had been on many search warrant operations together.
"I was just glad that he was there," Lewis said.
Doll drew on his experience in law enforcement to bring a level-headed, practical view of situations to the less experienced around him.
"He spent 20 years with one agency, then comes back to law enforcement and then goes to work in Iraq," he said. "That's dedication. That's a great role model."
Roman said it was tough news to hear.
"We all know the violence is all around. You never think it's something that would come so close to home," Roman said.
Doll's personnel file is full of commendations from protecting people in courtrooms, preventing the escape of a prisoner who became out of control and combative and using his medical training to save lives.
Hunter remembered his deputy for his courageous stand against a corrupt fellow deputy who was later convicted and is behind federal bars.
Former Collier County sheriff's deputy, Glendell Edison, who is now serving time in federal prison, covered up a 1994 child abuse case involving a family he knew in Immokalee, where he was working at the time, internal investigators found. After a truck driver reported seeing three children tied up behind a meat slicer at a store, Edison tried to keep other deputies from investigating the report and tried to extort $10,000 from the kids' father.
Edison didn't check on the children, instead talking to the parents, making a deal that would pay Edison $10,000 and keep the kids' father out of jail.
Other deputies, including Doll, who weren't convinced that the children were safe, went to the store a short time later — without Edison — to check on them. They would find three children, ages, 5, 4 and 2, malnourished in the store. Each child weighed about 20 pounds and they were so emaciated they could hardly move. Their parents and a store employee were later convicted of child abuse and Edison was found to have lied under oath, saying the children were OK.
Doll earned the Command Recognition award for his actions.
"He was a champion," Hunter said. "He was a bona fide hero. And those three children he rescued live today because of Henry Doll."
Hunter said with everything he knew about Doll, it didn't surprise him when he asked for the leave to go to Iraq.
"He seemed to be an ideal candidate for them," Hunter said.
Hunter said Doll had the special commitment needed to do that job in a dangerous place.
"He was compassionate, tempered with fairness and a sense of justice," the sheriff said.
Roman, who worked with him at the courthouse, said going to Iraq was something Doll really wanted to do.
"We missed him the day he left," Roman said. "We're going to miss him for a long time."
Arrangements for Doll's services have not yet been finalized.