Retired General James Dozier is marking this Veterans Day by giving the keynote address to an event sponsored by the Salvation Army. Earlier, Dozier sat down with WINK News Senior Reporter Mike Walcher, for an interview.
"I am really honored to get the invitation to talk to the Salvation Army. That group has been a favorite of U.S. military people for many years. They are located in places around the world, where our service members are stationed," said Dozier.
He salutes the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. But has the highest praise for today's service men and women.
"They are not fighting a defined enemy, such as the Nazi's or the communists. Right now the enemy is amorphous, it's radical Islam, and it's spread across many countries," he told WINK.
Dozier fell victim to a different enemy, 30 years ago. He was stationed in Italy, and was kidnapped by the leftist group, the Red Brigade. He told WINK News about what happened.
"I answered a knock on the door at our apartment, my wife was home at the time, and these men burst in. One knocked me out, and they kidnapped me. They bound my wife and left her unharmed in the apartment. They took me to a building where I was left in a tent, chained by arm and leg to a bunk bed. They held me for 42 days. I was not prepared for this, as I had no training in being a prisoner or captive. But I had read books about the prisoners of war in World War II and Korea, so I knew to take things day by day. I reacted to things intuitively, and it worked out. I tried not to get ahead of myself, not to get too up or down. That was the best way to handle it," Dozier said.
The search for Dozier grew so intense in early 1982, that Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot send a secret team to Italy to help find Dozier. But before that team arrived, Italian commandos stormed the building where the kidnappers were holding Dozier. He said, at first, he didn't believe the masked men were police officers.
"I looked at one of them and I just didn't think he was an officer. Finally he took off his mask and I felt his flak vest, and I realized, he was probably an officer, as he said!" Dozier told WINK.
"I was very fortunate, and I give all credit to the Italian authorities. At one time, they had 6,000 people out looking for me," he said.
Freedom for Dozier meant a whirlwind of speeches and appearances back in the U.S. Later he retired from the Army, worked in the private sector, and retired in Fort Myers. Now he devotes his time to interviewing candidates for the service academies, and helping groups like the Salvation Army.
"We need that group and others like it, to fill the void for government cutbacks in social programs, to provide a safety net for the needy," Dozier said.