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Don’t Miss: “52 years after Sioux City man vanished, family still yearns for answers,” an in-depth story written by Molly Montag and published in the Sioux City Journal on Jan. 11, 2013.
Thomas Myles Dougherty, a 45-year-old combat veteran who served in World War II as a Staff Sgt. with the U.S. Army, disappeared without a trace after leaving a Sioux City café on Thursday morning, January 12, 1961. Neither he nor his vehicle — a green 1954 Ford Tudor — has ever been located.
Dougherty paid a heavy price when injured during combat, losing both arms just below the elbows. As was customary, he was fitted with prosthetic devices — often called “hooks” — of metal on both arms.
Once sent home to the United States, Dougherty spent time in a Michigan veteran’s teaching hospital known for pioneering a program teaching handicapped WWII veterans how to drive again.
Dougherty excelled in the program, and the Michigan State Police certified him as a capable driver.
Based on that certification, when Dougherty finally returned to Sioux City, Iowa in 1945, the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s License Division approved Dougherty’s request to drive on Iowa roads.
Dougherty felt proud of his service to his country and never let it sway his decision to get involved in his community. The double amputee motored around Sioux City in his specially-equipped car, attended AMVETS meetings and regularly went out for breakfast with other vets and friends.
He also paid close attention to how he dressed. With metal hooks for hands, his presence was noted wherever he went. He represented sacrifices vets made while fighting for one’s country, and often wore a dark suit and tie along with his AMVETS hat. Other times one could find him dressed more casually but still quite esteemed in his attire: sweaters over buttoned-down shirts, gray slacks, black dress shoes, and a favorite gray hat.
Dougherty had chosen similar casual apparel on Thursday morning, January 12, 1961.
Dressed in gray pants, black shoes, his gray hat and a gray zippered jacket over his shirt, he got into his 1954 dark green Tudor Ford with the white sidewalls in front and black mud and snow grips on the rear, and drove to one of his favorite Sioux City diners — the Metropolitan Café (now the site of the Sioux City Convention Center) located at 801 Fourth St. — for his morning breakfast. He spoke with a few regulars, had his breakfast, and then walked out the door.
Neither he nor his car — Iowa license plate number 97-11426 — were ever seen again.
Law enforcement officials, along with family members and friends, conducted a ground search around the café as well as Dougherty’s home.
The Civil Air Patrol also did an aerial search, but found nothing indicating the missing vet’s whereabouts.
Hoping money might draw out those who knew something, family and friends decided to post two rewards.
The larger reward, $650.00, focused on finding Dougherty’s body or, at the very least, discovering what had happened to him. The reward poster stated:
IF THEN ALIVE, WHICH LEADS TO HIS SAFE RETURN HOME — OR IF NOT FOUND ALIVE AND A VICTIM OF FOUL PLAY THE SAID TOTAL SUM WILL BE PAID FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE APPREHENSION OF HIS ASSAILANT.
The second reward, $100.00, put emphasis on finding Dougherty’s vehicle and was directed toward tow truck businesses. It read:
FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE DISCOVERY OF MR. DOUGHERTY’S CAR — THE SERIAL NO.: U 4PG 133346. CHECK YOUR TOW-IN TICKETS.
Those with information were encouraged to contact Sioux City Chief of Police James O’Keefe or the Thomas Myles Dougherty Fund in rooms 323 or 334 in Sioux City’s Frances Building.
Offers for both rewards were set to expire and become void after February 1, 1962.
The date came and went. No rewards were ever paid out, nor was Mr. Dougherty’s body or his car ever recovered.
Fingerprint information is available elsewhere.
If you have any information about Thomas “Myles” Dougherty’s unsolved disappearance, please contact the Sioux City Police Department at 712-279-6960.