James L. Dozier

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James Lee Dozier
James Lee Dozier.jpg
Born (1931-04-10) April 10, 1931 (age 90)
Arcadia, Florida, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army seal United States Army
Years of service1950–1985
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major general
Commands heldDeputy Chief of Staff at NATO's Southern European land forces
Battles/warsCold War

James Lee Dozier (born April 10, 1931) is a retired United States Army officer. In December 1981, he was kidnapped by the Italian Red Brigades Marxist terrorist group. He was rescued by NOCS, an Italian special force, with assistance from the Intelligence Support Activity's Operation Winter Harvest, after 42 days of captivity. General Dozier was the deputy Chief of Staff at NATO's Southern European land forces headquarters at Verona, Italy. The Red Brigades, in a statement to the press, stated the reason behind kidnapping an American general was that the US and Italian governments had enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations and that Dozier was an American soldier invited to work in Italy, which justified their abduction. To date, Dozier is the only American flag officer to have been captured by a violent non-state actor.[1]

Military career[edit]

Dozier was born in Arcadia, Florida.[2] Dozier was graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1956. He was a classmate of General Norman Schwarzkopf.[3] He went to the Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic and advanced training in armored warfare. He served in the Vietnam War with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1968-1969 [4] where he was awarded the Silver Star medal[5] and later served tours of duty at the Pentagon and in West Germany.


Dozier graduated from the U.S. Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. Later he earned a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona. Dozier attended the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.[6]


Then–Brigadier General Dozier was kidnapped from his apartment in Verona at approximately 6 pm on December 17, 1981, by four men posing as plumbers. It was later reported that as many as four additional terrorists provided support with multiple vehicles. His wife was not kidnapped, but was held at gunpoint briefly to coerce Dozier to comply and the terrorists left her bound and chained in their apartment.[7]

In Paul J. Smith's (National Security Affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College)[8] paper The Italian Red Brigades (1969–1984): Political Revolution and Threats to the State:

For more than a month, Dozier's right wrist and left ankle were chained to a steel cot, which was placed under a small tent. He was also forced to live under the "never-extinguished glare of an electric bulb." Dozier's captors also required him to wear earphones and listen to loud music. During Dozier's captivity, the Red Brigades issued various communiqués to the government and the public generally, describing their demands or complaints. They issued the first communiqué only days after the kidnapping; it was striking for its lack of any ransom demand. Instead it dwelled on international matters of interest to the Red Brigades, including a tribute to the German Red Army Faction. Subsequent communiqués also failed to mention ransom demands and even lacked any particular reference to Dozier. The fifth communiqué, retrieved from a trash can in downtown Rome, contained a number of anti-NATO and anti-American statements but did not make any specific demands for Dozier's release.[9]

The Red Brigades held Dozier for 42 days until January 28, 1982, when a team of NOCS (a special operations unit of the Italian police) successfully carried out his rescue from an apartment in Padua, without firing a shot, capturing the entire terrorist cell. The guard, Ugo Milani, assigned to kill Dozier in the event of a rescue attempt did not do so, and was overwhelmed by the rescuing force.

After Dozier’s return to the US Army in Vicenza, he was congratulated by telephone by President Reagan on regaining his freedom.[10]


Dozier was later promoted to major general and eventually retired from active military service.

Awards and decorations[edit]

During his military career he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star and Purple Heart (for actions during Vietnam War), Ranger Tab and Parachutist Badge.[11]

Ribbon bar[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Parachutist Badge Ranger tab
1st row Army Distinguished Service Medal
2nd row Silver Star Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit Bronze Star Medal w/ two OLCs and "V" Device
3rd row Purple Heart Meritorious Service Medal w/ OLC Air Medal w/ OLC Army Commendation Medal w/ OLC
4th row Army Good Conduct Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ service star Vietnam Service Medal w/ four service stars Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BBC ON THIS DAY | 28 | 1982: US general rescued from Red Brigade. BBC News (1986-01-28). Retrieved on 2011-08-28.
  2. ^ "Man in the News; A Battle-hardened General". New York Times. 1982-01-29. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  3. ^ "Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies". NBC2. 2012-12-27. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  4. ^ "Man in the News; A Battle-hardened General". New York Times. 1982-01-29. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  5. ^ "James L. Dozier". MilitaryTimes. Archived from the original on 2015-01-28. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  6. ^ "Man in the News; A Battle-hardened General". New York Times. 1982-01-29. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  7. ^ [1] Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2013-01-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Paul J. Smith. "The Italian Red Brigades (1969–1984): Political Revolution and Threats to the State".
  10. ^ Dozier, General James/Red Brigade Kidnapping Incident. Reagan.utexas.edu. Retrieved on 2011-08-28.
  11. ^ sptimes.com - Parade, service to honor veterans

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]