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Our History: Featured Alumni/ae: Dewey, Albert P., 1943

Over the decades our graduates have developed distinguished careers as justices, members of Congress, ambassadors, educators, business people, and community leaders in many fields. This site features some of those late graduates.

Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Albert Peter Dewey

Operative, Office of Strategic Services; First U.S. Casualty in French Indochina

Albert Dewey was born in Chicago and educated in Switzerland at Institut Le Rosey, St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, Yale University, and at the University of Virginia School of Law. His father was Congressman Charles S. Dewey. After his graduation from Yale in 1939, Dewey worked as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News in its Paris bureau. While reporting on the German invasion of France for the Daily News, Dewey became more directly involved in the war. In May 1940, during the Battle of France, Dewey enlisted as a lieutenant in the Polish Military Ambulance Corps with the Polish Army fighting in France. Following the defeat of the French army, Dewey escaped through Spain to Portugal, where he was interned for a short time.

On August 10, 1944, Lt. Col. Dewey parachuted into southern France as the leader of a team from the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Operating behind enemy lines for six weeks, he transmitted intelligence reports on German troop movements. For his service, General William Donovan personally awarded him the Legion of Merit and the French gave him the Legion of Honor and a second Croix de Guerre.

Dewey arrived on September 4, 1945 in Saigon to head a seven-man OSS team to collect intelligence for the United States government. Working with the Viet Minh, he arranged the repatriation of 4,549 Allied POWs, including 240 Americans, from two Japanese camps near Saigon. On September 26, 1945, shortly before his scheduled departure from Saigon, Dewey was shot by Viet Minh troops who mistook him for a Frenchman, thus becoming the first American fatality in French Indochina. Because the U.S. government marks the official beginning of the war in Vietnam as November 1, 1955, his name is not listed on the Vietnam War Memorial. However, Dewey is commemorated in a side chapel in Bayeux Cathedral and on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery.


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