A mighty spirit: Dad remembered for amazing strength in face of complications from Agent Orange exposure

You could tell Leo was surrounded by love by watching the smiles on his children’s faces at In Memory Day on June 17, 2017. His three daughters stood next to each other, faces beaming with pride. They were in Washington, D.C. to induct their dad into the In Memory Honor Roll and would say his name on the National Mall, a tribute to his sacrifice after the Vietnam War ended.

“We are honoring our father Leo Dozier, who passed away in February of 2017 from complications of Agent Orange,” his daughter Cordelia Bostic said.

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Left to right: Cordelia Bostic, Carolyn Dozier, Lynette Smith and her husband James Smith

Leo Dozier was born on September 23, 1940 in Mobile, Alabama. He attended Mobile County Training School, where he played three sports: football, baseball and track. Leo excelled in these three sports and holds sports records in the state of Alabama. His incredible speed would eventually lead him to be contender for the Olympics in track. If this miraculous ability wasn’t enough, Leo was later asked to try out for the Chicago Bears but as a result of a knee injury, he was unable able to pursue the opportunity.

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Leo Dozier

Leo attended Texas College and later transferred to Texas Southern University. Shortly after, he joined the U.S. Army. He served in the Army for six years. During this time, he traveled and played football. Once he was assigned to the 1st Air Calvary Division, he was sent to Vietnam for combat and special assignment in the Vietnam War.

While still in the Army, Leo met his soul mate Louvinia Williams. They were married on September 12, 1967. He was in Vietnam for approximately three years and as a result of his Agent Orange exposure, he was honorably discharged with a rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG).

In 1969, Leo and Louvinia moved to Westbury, New York where they lived for 38 years. Leo worked at the United States Post Office and retired after 36 years.

A man with a mighty spirit, Leo was also a devoted family man who loved his children immensely.

“My family was very close,” his daughter Carolyn Dozier said. Carolyn and her twin sister Cordelia are the youngest of seven siblings. Both were born after he returned from Vietnam.

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Leo Dozier with daughters Lynette and Carolyn

“We have 5 other brothers and sisters,” she added, from their mother’s previous relationships. Leo considered all of the children his family which was one of the greatest things about him. “We all had a great relationship with my Dad. He was a very loving person.”

One of Carolyn’s favorite memories of her father was his love for the holidays. “Christmas was a really big holiday for us along with Thanksgiving,” she said. The family found out that when he was in the military, he made a promise that if he made it home safely, he would make sure the holidays were worthwhile for his family. “They always were, right until the year he died,” Carolyn remembered. “He definitely kept that promise!”

In 2007, Leo and Louvinia decided to move to Townsend, Delaware. In 2013, his loving wife Louvinia passed away and he was left to cherish her memory.

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Leo Dozier and his wife Louvinia

Years after he returned from Vietnam, Leo suffered many ailments at the hand of his Agent Orange exposure including: diabetes, renal failure, circulation issues and neuropathy. Carolyn admits this exposure deeply affected the rest of his life.

On February 2, 2017 Leo passed away and he was reunited with his wife.

Standing on the grass of the East Knoll of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. four months later, three of his children were standing side by side to make sure no one forgot his sacrifice. They talked about how much it meant to them to be connected with so many other families who lost a loved one, and how important it was to remember the man who always put them first.

“We want to make sure we came out today so…we can try to keep all kinds of family things together so we can always remember him. This was one of our final wishes,” his daughter Lynette said.

Leo is remembered by his seven children: Yusuf Hasan, Laura Charles, Alfred Williams, Lynette Smith, Vincent Williams Sr., Cordelia Bostic, and Carolyn Dozier. Leo also has six grandchildren: Gerard Charles, Monique Charles, Michael Williams, Krystal Charles, Vincent Williams Jr., and Jazmine Young. He also leaves behind a host of many other family and friends.

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Leo Dozier with his children and grandchildren

Carolyn reflects on how strong her dad was and how much of an honor it was for him to be remembered at the In Memory Day ceremony. “All of the honorees are so deserving because of their sacrifice to this country,” she said to VVMF.

Leo was very proud to have served this country. No matter what was going on around him, he always showed amazing strength. “During surgeries, amputations, dialysis, anything. He was a strong man,” Carolyn added.

When asked how she wanted her father to be remembered by those who heard his story, Carolyn said it would be enough if one person can relate to what he went through.

“He told us a few years ago that when he first came home, that he was not considered a hero because of the controversy about the war,” Carolyn said. “But during the last few years that all changed for him.”

Leo loved life and just wanted to live and be happy. Carolyn prays that he knows how much he is missed by his family, children and grandchildren. A hero in the eyes of his country, he was also her father. “I hope he feels like a true hero,” Carolyn added, “because he was.”

To learn more about the In Memory program and to honor a loved one for the In Memory program in 2019, click here.

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