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Honoring Our Heroes

Sergeant First Class James Owen Dozier: Age 97

Sergeant First Class (SFC) James Owen Dozier served eight years in the United States Army including four years of active duty followed by four years in the U.S. Army Reserve. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Motor Pool driver and service person immediately and then as Cannon Crewman in combat. His military decorations, medals, badges, citations and campaign ribbons include

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (EAME) with one Bronze Star, WWII Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

SFC Dozier was born June 2, 1925 to his parents, William A. and Elizabeth Dozier in Elmore, AL, where he was reared. After graduation from Wetumpka High School in May 1943, he entered military service with the United States Army in January 1944. He went to Ft. McClellan, AL, for preinduction. He went to Ft. Bragg for 17 weeks of Basic Training. There he was assigned to the motor pool as a driver and service man. After training as a cannon crewman at Ft. Bragg, he went to Camp Kilmer, N.J., followed by deployment with 3000 troops on his ship with a convoy of 34 ships on a nine-day zig zag course across the North Atlantic Ocean to avoid being attacked by German U-boats. All personnel had to sleep in their life jackets each night listening to the depth charges. His ship and another ship hit each other during the zig zag maneuvers, but the ships were able to land safely at South Hampton, England, and then he landed on an English ship at Le Havre, France, August 10, 1944 to join the American Army’s liberation of Europe from the Germans. His field artillery assignment as a cannon crewman was to pull the cord that fired the 240mm Howitzer cannon with projectiles weighing 585 pounds. The 240 mm Howitzer was the most powerful weapon deployed by US field artillery units during World War II, and it was able to fire a 360 lb (160 kg) high explosive projectile 25,225 yards (23,066 m). He served in dangerous combat at the front lines all of the way across France and Germany crossing the Rhine River January 25, 1945. After the Germans surrendered in May 7, 1945, he remained for one year in Germany during the occupation, and he was then discharged July 1946. He reenlisted immediately in the U.S. Army Reserve and served four years being discharged in 1952.

SFC Dozier and his wife, Ovelle, were married 77 years before she passed away, and they had two daughters, five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Their first child was born while he was deployed during WWII, and he saw her for the first time when the child was one and one-half years old. He and his wife enjoyed traveling and visited 48 of the United States.

After discharge from the Army Reserve in 1952, he used the G.I. Bill and attended the University of AL in Montgomery and took courses in mathematics. He worked selling furniture at Sears Roebuck and at Matthews Furniture Company in Montgomery for one year. He went into the grocery store business with his brother in Elmore, AL, for one year. SFC Dozier worked at First National Bank in Wetumpka, AL, for 35 years retiring in 1994 as Senior Vice President. He has held memberships in the Wetumpka Kiwanis Club and the Civitan Club. He has membership in the Mt. Hebron West Baptist Church in Elmore, AL, where he has served as a Sunday School Teacher and as a deacon. He enjoyed playing the harmonica with the Elmore, AL, Back Porch Pickers for 20 years.

SFC Dozier’s conclusions about his military service are, “Everybody had to go. When a man turned 18 years old, every male who was in good health had to go. I was glad to have served. I did not help the situation much, but I was proud to have been there. I hope people will remember me as a being a pretty good fellow to stay around.”

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Army Specialist Dale Gamble: Age 67

Specialist (SPC) Dale Gamble served six years in the U. S. Army including three years on active duty and three years in the Reserve. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Personnel Records Clerk. He received the following decorations, awards and medals: National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter Badge M-16 and Good Conduct Medal.

SPC Gamble was born in Montgomery, AL, October 27, 1954 to his parents, Annie Mae Gamble and Nehemiah Jessie. He attended schools in Montgomery and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1973. After working in the dining hall at Maxwell Air Force Base during that summer, he volunteered to serve in the U. S. Army beginning October 29, 1973. He completed eight weeks of Basic Training at Fort Polk, LA, followed by three months at Army Individual Training at Fort Ord, CA. SPC Gamble was assigned to serve as a Personnel Records Clerk at Fort Campbell, KY, where he served until discharge October 27, 1976. He then served in the Army Reserve for two weekends each month and two weeks during the summers for three years until October 10, 1979.

SPC Gamble used the G.I. Bill to attend classes at the John M. Technical College in Montgomery, AL, earning diplomas in 1987 in repair of office machines such as typewriters, in computer operations using the IBM punch cards and in upholstery. While attending school, he became employed by the J. R. Smith Company that manufactured plumbing products, and he worked for this company for 34 years retiring April 30, 2021.

SPC Gamble is an active member of the St. Peters A.M.E. Church in Montgomery where he has served as a member and secretary of the Stewards Board for 41 years. He is a member of the American Legion Post 1918. He enjoys swimming and is interested in playing golf. He and his wife, Arwilda Gamble, have been married 15 years. He has one daughter and two granddaughters.

SPC Gamble’s conclusions about his military service are, “It was an honor to serve my country, and wherever the Army would have sent me, I would have gone.” He states that he would like future generations to remember him as being a good person who liked to help others especially elderly people as he states that he loves the Lord.

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Master Sergeant Ronald Lewis: Age 65

MSgt. Ronald Lewis served 24 years in the U.S. Marine Corps including 23 years on active duty and one year in the Marine Corps Reserve. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) included Baker (3311) for 16 years, Recruiter for three years, Food Service Specialist (3381) for three years and Substance Abuse Officer (SACO) for one year. His military decorations, awards and medals include: Good Conduct Medal with six stars, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with five stars, Navy Unit Commendation, Certificate of Commendation (16), Map Reading Certification Course, Navy Achievement Medal, Certificate of Merit and Letter of Commendation and Meritorius Mast (two) given for performance well above that usually expected of an individual commensurate with his or her grade and above that degree of excellence that can be appropriately reflected in an individual’s fitness report or performance. MSgt Lewis completed military training including: Sr. SNCO (Staff Non Commissioned Officer) Academy, SNCO Academy, NCO School, Baker School, Substance Abuse Training and Recruiter and Professional Sales School Training.

MSgt. Lewis was born October 19, 1956 in Hempstead, N.Y., to his parents, Willie Mack Lewis and Ruth Arlene Porter Lewis. His father was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force which resulted in his family’s frequent moves to other locations of Air Force bases. He lived in Minot, N.D., at the Minot Air Force Base (AFB) where he attended elementary school followed by his father’s transfer to Maine to Loring AFB. After his father retired from military service, his family moved to Georgiana, AL, where he completed grades four through 12 graduating from Georgiana High School in 1975.

MSgt. (E-8) volunteered to serve in the U. S. Marine Corps entering service May 29, 1975. He completed Basic Training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C., and after taking an aptitude test, he was selected to train for 11 weeks at a Baking School at Camp Gilbert H. Johnson, a satellite camp of the Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune at Jacksonville, N.C. His first assignments covering four years at Camp Lejeune were with the 8th Motor Transport Battalion, 2nd FAGP, 8th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp LeJeune and then with the Landing Support Battalion there. He got out of service for almost one year and worked in Greenville, AL, with Rheems Manufacturing Company in the insulation department with heating, air conditioning and painting. While working there, he used the G.I Bill and attended Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.

MSgt. Lewis re-entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps returning to the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was assigned to 2nd Supply Battalion serving in the Food Service field (Rations Company). MSgt. Lewis left Camp Lejeune for a tour of one year of duty in Okinawa, Japan, working in Food Service at Camp Hanson and returned to Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Supply Battalion (2nd FSSG) as Mess Hall Manager. MSgt. Lewis remained at Camp LeJeune for approximately four years before being assigned another one-year tour of duty to Okinawa, Japan at USMC Base Camp Kinser/Camp Smedley

D. Butler. After completing his tour of duty in Okinawa, Japan, MSgt Lewis was assigned to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) at Havelock, North Carolina, where he served three years in Food Service. He then received orders to attend Recruiting School where he successfully completed Recruiting School in San Diego, California at the MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot). MSgt Lewis was a Marine Corps Recruiter assigned to RSOKC (Recruiting Station Oklahoma City, Oklahoma- Substation Tulsa, Oklahoma). He was in his 6th floor Marine office at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on the day before the bombing on April 19, 1995. MSgt Lewis completed his final four years of active duty service with three years as Dining Facility Manager at Marine Corp Base (Edson Range) Camp Pendleton, California and one year as HeadQuarters Battalion 1st FSSG’s Substance Abuse Officer (SACO), where he was discharged April 29, 1998.

MSgt continued his education while serving on active duty. He attended the Coastal College of North Carolina while he was stationed at Camp LeJeune and received a two year Associate Degree in General Education in 1982. While serving at Okinawa, he was a student at an extension of L.A. Community College completing 30 hours in general studies. He received a B.S. Degree in Management from an extension of Park College in Park, MO, and a B.S. Degree in Management from an extension of Central Michigan University while serving at the Marine Base Camp Pendleton, CA. After retiring from active duty, MSgt. Lewis returned to AL where he used the G.I. Bill to enter an Alternative Master’s Degree Program at Alabama State University and received a Master of Science Degree in Secondary Education and a Teacher’s Certificate in 2001 with a specialty in Social Science. He has taught history, U.S. History, Economics and U.S. Government for 20 years at G.W. Carver High School in Montgomery, AL.

MSgt. has one daughter. He enjoys jogging and working out at a gym. He is an active member of Montgomery’s Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church where he has served as a trustee and as a member of the choir, the male chorus and the Brothers Keepers men’s ministry. MSgt Lewis is a member of the American Legion Post 1918 in Montgomery, AL.

MSgt Lewis in conclusion sums-up about what serving in the U.S. Marine Corps means to him saying, “It was a total life changing and strengthening experience. I would not give it up for anything. I learned so much, the motivation, togetherness, discipline, determination, sense of pride, the opportunity to serve with the world’s best and the esprit de corps. The sense of togetherness cannot be found outside of the Corps. It was a great experience earning the title: a U.S. Marine; The Corps helped to make me a mentally and physically better person with the respect gained and earned for self and from others. The label found on U.S. currency plus some U.S. Marine Corps slogans can help sum up my life as a U.S. Marine: ‘In God We Trust’; for God, Country and Corps.

‘Semper Fidelis’ Ooh Rah!”

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Private First Class Roy Franklin Stephens: Age 92

Private First Class (PFC) Roy Franklin Stephens served six years in the United States Army including two years on Active Duty and four years in the Army Reserve. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was lineman in communications. He received the Korean Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

PFC Stephens was born September 27,1929 in Ramer, AL, to his parents, Frank and Mollie Stephens. Stephens’ father served in the U.S. Army during WWI and married an English woman returning to live in Alabama after the war.

PFC Stephens was reared in Ramer. AL. After dropping out of school in the 11th grade, he worked for the Standard Roofing Company in Montgomery for two years. He then entered military service November 24,1950 completing Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C. followed by deployment to serve in combat in the Mortar Division in the Korean War. His assignment was stringing lines for communications and repairing cuts in the line which was a dangerous task during heavy mortar combat calling out the coordinates for the mortars on the front lines north of the 38th parallel. The mortars launched explosive shells in high arcing ballistic trajectories for close fire support. He then served in the Army Reserve and was discharged July 16, 1956 in Montgomery, AL.

After his discharge, PFC Stephens returned to living in Ramer, AL. Roy and his father Frank played in a local band on Friday and Saturday nights in an area near Luverne, AL. He was the guitarist for the band and Frank played the fiddle. It was on one of these occasions when he met his wife, the former Wanda Campbell of Honoraville.

PFC Stephens and his wife, Wanda, moved to Montgomery where Roy worked for Standard Roofing Company. At the same time, he worked as a Montgomery City firefighter. Roy worked for various roofing companies before he decided to open his own roofing company, Colonial Roofing Company, which he operated for more than 20 years, retiring in 1995.

The Stephens were members of Frazer Methodist Church and assisted in serving meals on Wednesday evenings at the Church. They also assisted with the Salvation Army kettle ministry during Christmas through Frazer. Roy also played in a band with other Frazer members entertaining at various assisted living and nursing homes. They enjoyed traveling and often took trips with the senior adults from the Church. Some of their travel included going to Niagara Falls, N.Y., Branson, MO, and Calloway Gardens, GA. Among their other travels was a trip to the United Kingdom where they visited Nelson, England, the birthplace of his mother, Mollie Brown Stephens, the British war bride.

In 1995, Roy and Wanda moved to their lake home at Parker’s Creek on Lake Martin where they enjoyed visiting with neighbors, riding in their pontoon boat, fishing, working in yard and growing plants and flowers. Roy and Wanda were season ticket holders for Auburn football for over thirty years never missing a game whether it was at Jordan Hare Stadium or an away game. Roy and Wanda were married for 62 years before she passed. They have two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Roy recently moved from Lake Martin to Pike Road where he lives with his daughter, Rhonda Black and her husband, Buddy. Today, Roy continues to enjoy working in the yard and is now learning the hobby of beekeeping where he assists his son-in-law, Buddy, in building beehives, checking swarm boxes and managing hives. Buddy states, “Roy is one of my best friends. He has a kind heart and is a person who cares about people. Roy may be the biggest Auburn fan that I know.”

PFC Stephens’ conclusions about his military service are, “I am glad that I served. I realized that it was an honor to serve. I tried to do the best that I could.”

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