Life of Service

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thomas Dozier stands outside his home in Libertyville Wednesday. Dozier, a Korean War vet, was one of the men behind the county’s veterans’ memorial.

Thomas Dozier stands outside his home in Libertyville Wednesday. Dozier, a Korean War vet, was one of the men behind the county’s veterans’ memorial.

Drafted during the Korean War, Dozier calls service ‘time of his life’

Being a soldier and a veteran is all about serving one’s fellow man.

And no one knows that lesson better than Thomas Dozier, a Korean War veteran and Libertyville resident.

You’ve probably never met Dozier, but odds are he’s touched your life in some way.

Stuck in the I-65 emergency lane between Birmingham and Atmore at some point? You can thank Dozier for helping lay the asphalt for that.

Ever spent a Friday night on the concrete seats in the Andalusia High School stadium?

Well, you can thank Dozier for that, too.

And if you’ve ever stood in humble silence at the Covington County Veteran’s Memorial, you can thank him for that, too.

“Now, I don’t think of myself as better than any one else,” said the 82-year-old, and that went for not only being drafted into the service and sent to an Austrian ordinance depot, but also for the contributions he’s made to society.

Dozier said the two years he spent in the Korean War were some of the most enjoyable of his life. It also served to educate him on what it means to serve one’s country. He said he probably would’ve made the military a career, but for a first sergeant with a serious attitude problem. And inside the depot, one could find at least one of everything that the U.S. Army owned. He was “on the receiving end” of things, and it was his job to make sure returned items were catalogued and stored correctly.

“One thing I remember is that we ate like kings,” Dozier said. “We didn’t have to fight. The war never came to us, but had it, we’d have fought just like we were trained to do, and that’s because we weren’t any better than any other soldier.”

When Dozier returned home, he worked for several years in the construction and road building industries. It was during that time he noticed how much time one of his bosses spent playing poker on the weekends at the local VFW. It wasn’t long before Dozier found himself in a group of likeminded people who wanted to create an alcohol and tobacco free VFW. One of those was fellow veteran Doyle Taylor of Gantt. The two began discussing the need for a local monument to commemorate veterans.

“The first thing was, we didn’t want anything shabby,” Dozier said. “We didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but before we knew it, and when word got out, it just got bigger and bigger. People made a real production out of it, and it tickled me to no end.”

The inscription on the multi-way memorial says, “To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those who returned, gratitude and peace; to those in service remember and hope.”

Located behind Andalusia City Hall, the 42-foot stainless steel obelisk is mounted on a black granite pedestal. It is the product of two years of work by the Covington County Veterans’ Memorial Committee and was dedicated on Veterans’ Day in 2004. The park and monument was funded entirely though contributions and the sale of bricks and cornerstones.

The pedestal is engraved with the names of soldiers who lost their lives defending the nation in various wars and conflicts.

“It’s a fine job,” Dozier said of the memorial. “Not too shabby if I do say so myself.”