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James Lee Dozier (born April 10, 1931) is a retired US Army general officer. In December 1981, he was kidnapped by the leftist Italian Red Brigades Marxist terrorist group. He was rescued by NOCS, an 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 to have been captured by a terrorist group.
Brigadier General 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, 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 avoid severe diplomatic problems originating from the capture of several foreign armed mercenaries on its sovereign homeland 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 (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 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 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).