James L. Dozier
James Lee Dozier is a retired US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 general officer. In December 1981, he was kidnapped by the leftist Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Red Brigades
Red Brigades
The Red Brigades was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organisation, based in Italy, which was responsible for numerous violent incidents, assassinations, and robberies during the so-called "Years of Lead"...

 Marxist terrorist group. He was rescued by Italian anti-terrorist forces 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 a United States general was that the Italian and US governments had enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations and the fact that Dozier was an American soldier invited to work in Italy justified their abduction. To date, General Dozier is the only American flag officer
Flag Officer
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark where the officer exercises command. The term usually refers to the senior officers in an English-speaking nation's navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks; in...

 to have been captured by a terrorist group.


Brigadier General
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 James L. 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 General Dozier to comply and the terrorists left her bound and chained in their apartment.

According to the book Secret Warriors, by terrorism expert Steven Emerson
Steven Emerson
Steven Emerson, is an American journalist and author, who writes about national security, terrorism, and Islamic extremism.Emerson is the author of six books, and co-author of two more. His television documentary Jihad in America won the 1994 George Polk Award for best Television Documentary, and...

, the Italian government did not want to mount the rescue operation initially and would not allow the US to rescue Gen. Dozier either. Mr. Emerson reports that President Reagan contacted H. Ross Perot and asked him to rescue General Dozier using his private forces. Perot gladly accepted the mission and while in the air between Texas and Italy the Italian government heard about the private rescue mission and was thereby convinced that in order to save face they would launch their own rescue mission.

The Red Brigades held Brigadier General Dozier for 42 days until January 28, 1982 when a team of NOCS
Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza
The Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza is a special operations division of the Italian state police.-History:In 1974 the Chief of the Polizia di Stato Anti-Terrorism Bureau, Emilio Santillo, announced the necessity to establish a tactical unit with the capability to arrest known terrorists and...

 (a special operations unit of the Italian police
Polizia di Stato
The Polizia di Stato is one of the national police forces of Italy.It is the main police force for providing police duties and it is also responsible for patrolling motorways , railways , airports , customs as well as certain waterways, and assisting the local police...

) successfully carried out his rescue from an apartment in Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, without firing a shot, capturing the entire terrorist cell. The guard assigned to kill General 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 via telephone by President Reagan on regaining his freedom.


Dozier was later promoted to Major General
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 and eventually retired from active military service. As a result of his kidnapping, all US military personnel are required to study his case for annual anti-terrorism training (see also Dozier Drill).

Further reading

  • Collin, Richard Oliver and Gordon L. Freedman. Winter of Fire
    Winter of Fire (non-fiction)
    Winter of Fire is a non-fiction book detailing the kidnapping of U.S. General James L. Dozier in Italy in 1981....

    , Dutton
    Dutton Penguin
    Dutton Penguin is an American book publisher, established in 1986 when its precursor E.P. Dutton was split by its owner the Penguin Group into Dutton Penguin and Dutton Children's Books.-Overview:...

    , 1990. ISBN 0-525-24880-3

External links

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