Douglas Ramsey, a retired FSO and Vietnam prisoner of war, died in Boulder, Nevada on February 23. He graduated from high school at Wasatch Academy in Utah, and received a full scholarship to Occidental College in Los Angeles, graduating summa cum laude in 1956, and became the college’s Rhodes Scholar candidate. Following graduate work at Harvard, he served in the Air Force in Japan.
He entered the Foreign Service in 1956. After initial assignments, he volunteered for service in Vietnam, arriving there after language training in May 1963. His first job was as a branch public affairs officer II Corps. In 1964, Ramsey and another good Vietnamese speaker, USIA officer Frank Scotton, conducted an unprecedented field survey in bellwether Long An province on the status of pacification. Doug was later detailed to AID in war-torn Hau Nghia Province, working for celebrated AID officer John Paul Vann. Vann soon named Ramsey to replace him as chief provincial representative.
On January 17, 1966, while driving refugee supplies to a threatened hamlet, he was captured by VC guerrillas. He suffered from malaria, beriberi, scurvy and occasional starvation. “Seven years and several hundred attacks of malaria later,” he wrote, “I was released.” He was one of the last American prisoners to be freed. Frank Scotton, was first to greet him.
He later served as economic, commercial, and science officer in Taipei; assistant political officer in Beijing; and refugee officer in Kuala Lumpur and Manila. In 1988, he retired owing to disabilities, which included still more malaria. Doug was the recipient of two Superior Honor awards, the State Department award for Valor, and AFSA’s Harriman award for courage, creativity and disciplined dissent.
Following retirement to Nevada in 1988, he contributed to several books and wrote his memoirs. Ramsey wrote that he was “a life-long bachelor with no children (of whom I was aware)”. He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by a number of cousins and numerous friends.
Douglas Ramsey was recently accorded posthumous membership in DACOR. In accordance with his longtime wish, his ashes will be intered in the DACOR section of Washington’s Rock Creek Cemetery.
A public memorial service honoring Douglas Ramsey will be held at DACOR on Friday, October 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. Attendees are asked to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.