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Interview with Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr. [2/18/2004]

Michael Willie:

Today is Wednesday, February 18th, 2004, and this is the beginning of an interview with Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr., at the Erlanger HealthLink Plus office, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Dowdy was born on August 21st, 1930, and is now 73 years old. My name is Michael Willie, and I'll conduct this interview. Mr. Dowdy, could you state for the name your -- for the recording your name, please.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I am Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And during which war did you serve, Mr. Dowdy?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I served in the Korean War.

Michael Willie:

And in which branch of the service?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I was in the Army.

Michael Willie:

And what was your highest rank?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

My highest rank was corporal.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Where were you born, Mr. Dowdy?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I was born in Osceola, Arkansas, in 1930.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Where is that again?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Osceola.

Michael Willie:

Osceola.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

O-S-C-E-O-L-A.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And whereabouts is Osceola, Arkansas?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I've been there once since I became an adult.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But I don't know where it is. I don't know -- I don't know where. But it's a little, small town. My parents moved from Osceola, Arkansas, to Michigan.

Michael Willie:

Jobs?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Jobs and sharecropping. It was bad in those -- in those days. So we moved there. Came there in 1932.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And my family, there was nine of us kids.

Michael Willie:

Wow.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

There would be nine of us kids after we got to Benton -- Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And we was raised in Benton Harbor.

Michael Willie:

All right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Went to grade school there and junior high and high school.

Michael Willie:

And where were you -- where do you fit in? You said there were nine brothers and sisters.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I'm -- I'm -- it was -- I'm the -- my mother had children -- had children in threes. Three girls, three boys, and three girls. I was -- I'm the oldest boy out of ___+.

Michael Willie:

Six sisters?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah, six sisters, yes.

Michael Willie:

Wait a minute. There's ____, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And they spoiled -- they spoiled us boys. We were spoiled, yeah. {Laughter.} And we had -- we had a good childhood. My mom didn't work. My daddy worked. He worked WPA. We picked fruit in the -- in the -- during the summer. Summer vacation, I don't know what that was. But we picked fruit, and we gave the money to our mom. But we always had plenty to eat.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I didn't know that I was poor until they told me I was poor because we had plenty to eat.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

We played games, and we rolled tires. We made carts out of skate wheels and stuff. We had a grand time. We played ball.

Michael Willie:

I mean, really, nobody knew what--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No, I wasn't -- I wasn't poor. I wasn't poor, no. And we had a grand time. My parents said we had to finish high school. No ifs, ands, or butts. We had to. Now, all nine of us finished high school in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Several of us went to college. I went to college.

Michael Willie:

Where did you go to school?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I went to Western Michigan University.

Michael Willie:

Western Michigan?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

They've got a pretty good basketball team.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Sure have. I started junior college. That was after I got out of the military.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But during -- I graduated Benton Harbor High School in 1948.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Me and two other buddies, we were going to -- because we were going to be doctors. And -- but during this time, if you can remember historically, Eisenhower was talking about universal military training.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So we said we don't want to go and get into medical school, get into college and drop out a couple years to go in the military, so we said we'd enlist. My two friends--

Michael Willie:

Get your term over.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yes.

Michael Willie:

And did it, right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

My two friends enlisted before I did. I was a -- I was a hold out. So they went in before I did, but I finally enlisted, and I told my -- told my parents, and my father and mom, oh, it broke their heart. They was crying and crying and crying, but I went in.

Michael Willie:

But did they understand the reasoning, the logic behind it?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

And Korea was -- I mean, we had already fought the war to end all wars, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Sure, that's right.

Michael Willie:

There wasn't going to be anymore wars.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And November 1948 I enlisted.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And they shipped me off to Fort Riley, Kansas, Camp Funston.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

The reason I remember it so well, my father was in World War I. He went into the military from Mississippi, World War I. He took his basic training guess where? Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah. And he had a -- he had a picture of him in his britches like thing with his campaign hat on, you know.

Michael Willie:

____+.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And, yeah, it was really great. And so we went there, and so after that -- after that I finished basic training. They didn't ship me out. They kept me back for cadre for the next people because I had passed the army ____ test.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I was going to Officer Candidate School. So we--

Michael Willie:

Explain what cadre is too just in case anybody--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Cadre are the ones who train the recruits who come in.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

We are the sergeants and the corporals to take care of the new recruits. Okay. We help -- we help the sergeants and the other higher-ups--

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

--to train the new -- the new -- the new recruits.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So we -- well, there was two groups came in. I still hadn't gotten my orders for OCS, Officer Candidate School. Then they shipped me out to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Command and General Staff College. So I was there, so I started cooking now. I cooked in the -- for the officers at the Command and General Staff College.

Michael Willie:

And are you waiting for an opening at OCS?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I'm waiting for officer -- orders, yes. We was up there, and officers from all over the -- all over the world came to be trained there. So my orders still hadn't came. So the next thing, they shipped me out, and I got orders to go to -- to go to FECOM. FECOM is Far East Command.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And where is that?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That was in -- it was either in Japan or the small islands. Iwo Jima. One of those small islands over there. Guam. One of those small islands.

Michael Willie:

Right. At this time, let me ask you, when you signed up, when you enlisted in the service, what kind of commitment were we talking about at that time, two years?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Three years.

Michael Willie:

Three years.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Three years.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Three years.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But now when I got in and started reading about the Army, I wanted to be an officer. I wanted to spend at least six years in the military.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

At least six I wanted to.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But if I would be an officer, I would make it a career.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I wanted -- I wanted to be an officer badly, so I was on that track. But when I got to Camp Stoneman, we got shipped off to California, and my duty station was Japan. We left February 14th.

Michael Willie:

February 14th.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

1950.

Michael Willie:

1950.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh. Going to Japan.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And this is before the Korean War?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Before the Korean War.

Michael Willie:

Right, right. Shortly before, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

And at that time there were -- was there advisors in Korea? Well, I guess--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I don't know anything about that. But then all my time from 1948 to February 1950, I'm just bopping around, bopping around doing nothing. Here a little, here a little. No orders.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

When I finally got to Japan February -- February 28th, 14 days on a merchant marine ship called the Daniel I. Sultan, we went over there, and I got settled in Camp Gifu.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Let me ask you this real quick before we get there. Had you ever been on the ocean before that day?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No. A little -- a little country boy from Benton Harbor, Michigan. Where I had been, I had been to Chicago because my older sister went to Chicago, and we went to visit her. But I hadn't been on a ship.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I saw ships because they were in Lake Michigan.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

They had the ocean liners come in, and they -- but I never got on one of them. I was a fisherman and a hunter with my daddy, and we had gardens, you know, a small-town kid.

Michael Willie:

Right. Did you get seasick?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Did I. Oh, my goodness, I got seasick. And I was wondering why those older guys were seasick too. Those guys older than me were seasick.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But I got over it. And got a -- when we crossed the international date line, we got initiated.

Michael Willie:

I want to hear about that. Talk about that.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Into the domain of the golden dragon. We got a certificate. They would throw us over the -- over the side of the ship and drag us for about two yards in the ship, yeah, initiation. And you would go to bed on Wednesday night and wake up Wednesday morning, you lose -- you lose time.

Michael Willie:

Right. Did you have to -- did you have to kiss a nasty fish?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah. We did all that kind of stuff. We did that stuff. But it was -- it was -- we didn't get it real -- we was miles -- the only hard thing, they throw you in the ocean and drag you. Talk about screaming, oh my goodness.

Michael Willie:

And the good thing is, you only had to do it once.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Once. Just once, uh-huh. I was getting initiated into the domain of the golden dragon.

Michael Willie:

Isn't that great.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh. So we did that, got to Japan, and, man, I've never been in a foreign country before. The smells, the noises. I know when we get off the ship, went to the train station, and I saw a guy urinating, Japanese urinating right there in the street. Nobody walked by -- and walked by him.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And I says, my Lord. And I was a scared little boy, man.

Michael Willie:

It is a different world.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

It sure is different. And I -- they gave us a book, a phrase book in Japan, a Japanese phrase book, so I learned some phrases. Got to our duty station, and they got me cooking again now at this Camp Gifu in Naka in Japan, N-A-K-A, Japan.

Michael Willie:

And is this an American base?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yes, a U.S. Army base.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So my orders finally came. My orders -- this is February, March, April my orders came for Officer Candidate School. I had to take another physical. I was under orders to leave Japan in September 1950, come back to the United States, go to Fort Benning for OCS. I was going to be a 90-day wonder, man, yeah. And so I took my physical and passed my physical and everything, and I was on orders for September 1950. You know when the war started? June 25, 1950. And they called me in Japan. And, man, we were on alert, and I've never been on alert before. And we had blackouts, and I had to stand duty in the mess hall because I was one of the cooks. And they didn't give us any -- and when we finally got on alert to go over -- to go over to Korea, they issued us live ammunition and combat gear. We had to sleep in our clothes ready with our packs in front of our beds and ready for combat any time. Be ready to go any time. During this time an earthquake hit our camp, and that was a different story. I fell out of bed, and the building was shaking. I thought we got a bomb, but it was an earthquake, you know, I had never been in an earthquake before.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah. So we got ___+. No one was hurt, just a tremor. But, man, when you see beds and beds moving, man, that's something for a little guy like myself.

Michael Willie:

Right, right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I was -- and I was 19 years old. I had never -- I had never -- I wasn't 20. I was 20 -- would be 20 in August of 1950. And at 19 I knew everything.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I knew everything. Nobody could tell me nothing. I knew it. I knew everything.

Michael Willie:

That's what you call a malady -- is that what you call the malady--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah, the malady of youth. So when I -- but the thing about it, when I got in combat, now, my daddy was in World War I. He never told me anything about combat. He was over in Europe. He got gassed over there. And -- but when I got in combat by the sergeant -- the Sergeant Laday (ph), the first sergeant, back at the base he told me in Japan, he said, well, Dowdy, he said, you in Officer Candidate School. He said, we don't need cooks in Korea, we need soldiers, so we going to give you a choice of a machine gun or a radio. And in basic training I learned that machine guns -- machine guns don't last long in combat. I took a radio. Forward observer, you know, with a radio on your back. So I took that. So they -- I learned that quickly. But you know what now, some strange things happened. When I was in Camp Gifu before we went on to Korea, we had white officers. When we got on alert to go to Korea, they changed to all black officers.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yes. I went in combat.

Michael Willie:

This was early on in Korea--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yes.

Michael Willie:

--especially.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No, no. This is early.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I went in combat with an all-black outfit.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Black officers, everything black. But in Japan we had white officers. We had a white Captain, white warrant officers, and everything. My first sergeant was a black man, Sergeant Laday. He got killed in Korea. But I thought about that because I thought the Army was -- wasn't segregated. I thought Truman had fixed that up.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But in basic training at Fort Riley I was in an all-black outfit too. So I thought about that because I read. I read a lot.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And so when I got in -- but then I was with the 24th Infantry Regiment. And reading history, 24th Infantry Regiment, I learned that 25th Division, 24th Infantry Regiment, I learned that the 24th Infantry Regiment, an all-black outfit, ran off and left their colors during World War II, and they were banned from coming to the United States, coming back to this country as a unit.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That's what I--

Michael Willie:

See, I heard that was a misunderstanding.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But, I mean, that's what I heard. Now, I didn't -- so then -- so then we went in there, and I was given a assignment to go over there and see what was doing over there, you know.

Michael Willie:

Now, at this point with your rattle -- I mean, is this -- are you walking out into a position where you're ready to go into combat?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yes. I'm loaded. I got combat everything. I got ammunition, I got a radio, and I'm ready to go, and I got a man with me.

Michael Willie:

Well, you think you're ready to go, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah. They told me I'm ready to go, I got to go.

Michael Willie:

I mean, are you scared, though?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I'm scared. Oh, man, you talking about scared. Anybody going into combat say they're not scared, they're crazy. You hear bullets, you hear bombs falling, you hear airplanes flying overhead, you hear everything, you hear groaning, you see your friends get -- it's a mess out there.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So my first duty in a Jeep and we were going forward, and we got under attack, and we started moving back, and I -- I says, Captain, why aren't we going to stay and fight? Because I want to shoot. I want to shoot, you know.

Michael Willie:

Right. A kid.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

He looked at me and said, man, the American Army never retreats. This is strategic withdrawal, he told me, so I kept quiet.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

We came back in the staging area, and said -- the company command post, we got a mortar -- mortar barrage, and everybody was digging their holes, and I'm trying to string wire for my company position down to the mortar position. We got to throw them back at them.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I came down near a guy named McGruder (ph). I came down the hill. I looked around like this. Bam. Everything was black. I felt something running down my face. I said, McGruder, McGruder. Hey, Dowdy. I said, Man, I'm hit, I'm hit. And I didn't see nothing, and I passed out. I didn't know nothing. I didn't know nothing.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

When I came to, I was on the airplane going to Japan. I got to Japan, and at the hospital in Japan -- Army hospital in Japan.

Michael Willie:

Now, do you remember trying to figure out what was wrong with you, feeling--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Only thing I remember is bam, bam, everything went black, and I felt something rolling down my face. I don't know nothing else. I don't know nothing. And when I got to Japan, the doctors came in and told me, Do this, soldier {making facial expression}, and I said, No, my teeth ain't clean. And they said, I understand, soldier. And so Eisenhower -- I mean, MacArthur came. He shook my -- I shook his hand there, and this was -- I got hurt July 26th, 1950. I'm going ____. But we hit -- we hit the front July 4th, 1950.

Michael Willie:

Man, so you were--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

The war started July 25th. And the 24th Regiment -- 25th Regiment was first under General Dean. 24th, we were second, the second outfit there. And we were on the 30th parallel where they didn't know nothing about it because they were coming in. We were fighting the Koreans, not the North Koreans, not the Chinese.

Michael Willie:

Right. Right. The Chinese didn't come in until--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

They're later, way later. And so I got hurt July 26th, 1950.

Michael Willie:

Man alive, early on.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Right. And then I went to -- I get out of the hospital, and I was taking shots and stuff, and then they shipped me from there to -- I was getting penicillin shots every four hours, doom, doom, in the butt and in my arms. I came to Fort Sam Houston, Brooks Army Hospital. I stayed there 11 months. Shrapnel -- shrapnel went in my left eye, took the lid off, went across my nose and messed up my sinuses, and messed this right eye up. This eye was turned down, and I still got the shrapnel in the head now.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

They wouldn't take it out because it would have paralyzed me if they would take it out.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So what they did, and I'm in the hospital for 11 months, they made me a new eyelid. They took skin from here and made me a new -- a new eyelid. This eye was turned down. I had to do like that to see. So they tied the two nerves together. My records say the medial rectus and superior oblique. They tethered those together. Now my eye will move left and right but won't move left -- I mean up or down vertically but horizontally, so that's why I got to wear two pair of glasses to read or to think.

Michael Willie:

Right. What kind of a vision loss is there?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

This is nothing here. This is corrected to 20/30 or something like that. It's not 20/20. It will never be 20/20, 20/20. But I had -- I remember in the hospital I had headaches. Oh, man, I was going through -- going through headaches. They put me in straight jackets.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Because I was thrashing, thrashing, thrashing, thrashing, thrashing. They put me in a straight jacket. They gave me shots to calm me down because the shrapnel was, oh, it was killing me.

Michael Willie:

And there's nothing they could do.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Nothing they could do until the doctor -- they had to grow -- it was being ____. Grows -- your body -- your body will protect. It grows -- grows around it so it won't move.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And my parents came down to see me from Michigan. They came down to San Antonio to see me. And I met a man, another soldier in the hospital, named Ollie Douglas. He was in the Korean War too, and he had -- his right side was blown off, and we -- he was in the same neurosurgery ward. He had lost his eye. We got to know -- I got to know him. And I was in such bad shape, I wasn't eating. So he came to see me and we'd talk. And when my mother came, he met my mother and my sisters and my brothers. And so mama would go back to the guesthouse and sleep and rest and she'd say, Now Ollie, you watch him, you watch him and tell me -- tell me if he's not eating, you know, so he'd watch, he'd watch. We got to be really good friends. When I got up to go around, we'd go out and ____ together and pal around together. And so I got discharged before he did, so we exchanged addresses, you know. And so I'm going ahead. I'll get back to that. But what happened, I got discharged in 1951. I had a girlfriend, my girl, and we finally got married and in 19 -- June 8th, 1952. So as life goes on, I finished college and started my profession. I was an international educator at a college in Michigan, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. And he wrote me a letter. He said, Walt, he said -- Ollie Douglas -- and he said, Man, send me $300. So I hadn't heard from him, you know, since -- since I got discharged from -- in 1951.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And so I didn't send anything to him. He was in Brownsville, Tennessee. So some friends of ours lived in Brownsville. She was going on vacation, so I said look up Ollie Douglas. She did and came back and said he was the town drunk.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And so I didn't send him any money.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So as time went on, time went on, and we had a family. The Lord gave us five children. I retired from the college, and then I -- they called me to another college in Indianapolis, the Dean of students of the Bible College in Indianapolis, and then they called me down here to Tennessee, to Chattanooga for the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home, and we ministered to children out on Lee Highway. So my mother called me. She said, Bubba -- because I'm Bubba -- Bubba, you remember Ollie? And I said, Yeah. She said, Here's his phone number. And I said, oh, my goodness. So I called him. He lived in Memphis. I called him, and he said, Man, how you doing? I said, I'm doing all right. I said, How you doing? He said, I've been trying to get in touch with you for years. I tried to call the VA and find out -- find out where you at. And I said, Well, how did you get my mama? He said there was a funeral at his church in Memphis. He heard there was folks from Benton Harbor, Michigan, talking about Benton Harbor. He went on there talking to the pastor. He said, Do you know Walter Dowdy? They said, No, I know Orla (ph) Dowdy. He said, That's his mama. That's how I got in touch with him. Fifty years. And so -- and so I went to see him, man.

Michael Willie:

Did he straighten up?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Oh, he straightened up. He's a deacon in the church.

Michael Willie:

Really?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

We knew each other, and, man, we hugged each other. I get so emotional because it's been such a long time.

Michael Willie:

That's right, it is, but, you know, you go through something like that.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But -- but his wife is not doing good. She's sickly, and so we've been -- since '99 we go there at least every three or four months to see him. He can't drive here because he can't leave his wife. His wife is on dialysis. But that's my only Army buddy, you know, the only one, you know, and he's a friend.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

He's a dear friend, man, you know. The only one of all those guys, only that one.

Michael Willie:

But you think about the fact that you guys are trying to recover together.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

And not just physical.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

I mean, you're trying to recover together, and you're trying to -- this is a tough part in your life, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah. It was -- it was -- it was -- it was -- it was -- it was -- it was -- it was bad. It was -- it was -- it was bad when you think about it. In college, my wife was going to school, I was going to school. When I graduated from the community college, our son was -- he was -- he was born in '53, and I graduated in '55, and when I walked across to get my diploma from the community college, he's a daddy, you know, you know. Everybody laughed, you know. And so it was hard. And then we was having babies every two years like Planned Parenthood, you know, and she was in school, and I was in school. And so it was -- it was -- it was a hard time, but it was a good time looking -- looking back. And I'm a Christian. I've been a Christian a long time, and I've seen God's hand on my life and our life because the doctor says if the shrapnel had of came out, I was gone {snapping fingers}. If it come out, I was gone, you know. And he said anybody else got a injury like I got injured, they'd be gone {snapping fingers}.

Michael Willie:

Can you hold on for one sec? [Interruption in interview.]

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Okay. Yeah, while I was in the hospital down in San Antonio, Texas, I always came home. I came home for the holidays. I came home for Christmas in December 1950. I mean 1951. And I had got the train out of San Antonio, Texas. Now, I'm in uniform. I always kept myself neat. When I got on the train, a black porter put me behind a curtain, yes. I rolled behind a curtain from San Antonio, Texas, to St. Louis, Missouri. I'm not kidding you. And I got off -- I got off of the train to get a train coming to Chicago, and the MPs were walking around in the station. They wrote me a citation because I was clean. The other guys got wrote up because they were raggedy and crumpled up. I kept myself neat all the time. But see now, they really hurt me because now I'm hurt, I was looking like this at people from fighting a war, for me in a war.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And I was sitting behind a curtain.

Michael Willie:

Well, and what really gets me is that you basically sacrificed--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

--everything.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That's right. That's right.

Michael Willie:

You did. You sacrificed your future.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That's right.

Michael Willie:

And it really did. It ended up sacrificing your future.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But I think that I didn't get angry. I could have been a radical, a what you want to call it, a radical or whatever, and marched all around and give all vitriolic speeches, but I didn't do that. I went back to school and made sure, made sure I got what was due me. And I got what was due me by what the Lord had me to do. Get my education, my demeanor. We were taught to do your best, be your best. Be your best. Treat other folks nice, and you'll be treated nice, you know. We wasn't taught to hate or what -- there were injustices -- injustices. We wasn't taught that from my parents.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

We knew they were there. We didn't hide our head from them. We knew. But we knew that our character would take us where we wanted to go.

Michael Willie:

Right. But, still, and there is a difference between being bitter and just really resenting. I mean, you have to resent--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I mean, hey, when I'm saying bitter, when I mean bitter, I mean bitter like those guys in the 50s and 60s, H. Rap Brown, or Muhammad Ali, he's a big boxer, and he's a bitter man. When you listen to Al Sharpton, he's a bitter man. Look at -- I'm naming names. I'm going to tell you, but I'm naming names. When you listen to Jesse Jackson, he's a bitter man, or Farrakhan. These are bitter folks, you see. I'm not bitter, but I know, I know I resent it greatly. Okay. But I said my character, my individual character will carry me. Case in point. When I finished college in Michigan and I couldn't get a job in my field. They wasn't hiring black folks. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, they weren't hiring. So I took a job as a ____ Nurse B at Fort Custer State Home for the Mentally Retarded. Okay. When I took the test for the civil service guy in Michigan, I passed it. They didn't hire me. They said I'm physically handicapped. Okay. So what I did, I appealed. I went to Lansing on an appeal, and it just so happened that my appointment in Lansing was during the week of hiring the handicap week. {Laughter.} So I went up there. They looked at me, and my wife was pregnant. They looked right at me, and they said, okay, we'll get you a job at the home for the mentally retarded, work for the home for the mentally ill. So they said on account of your -- on your blind side, so they gave me a job there, so I worked there. Then in Kalamazoo they had a opening for a job at the juvenile detention home, a superintendent. The superintendent, a white man, didn't have his degree. I'm degreed.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So they didn't hire me for that. They hired me as -- I quit my job at the state home to take a job at the juvenile home as an attendant. Then that job come up for a ____ superintendent. I applied for that. And the board for the juvenile detention home had put in the paper a white male. Okay. This is '55, '56, '57. And so I said, I got my credentials, and I -- and the NAACP during those days was marching and everything, everything was -- I didn't go in the NAACP. I got my credentials. I made an appointment with the probate judge, Judge Ivan Wheeler (ph). I made an appointment with him, I talked to him, I said, Judge, I want the job down there at the juvenile home. You have an opening there for a ____ superintendent. I said, Man, I want that job, I said, and I'm qualified. He said, Oh, are you? I said, yes. And I reached in my pocket, gave him my credentials. He got up and walked around his desk and looked out the window. He said -- I said, man, the job -- the job says a white man. I said, man, that's not right. I'm not going to stand for that, Judge, and I'm going to tell you straight up. He said, Well, Walt, the job is yours. I said, Now, there was a stipulation there there's some money for a live-in, and I said, I want the money paid to me and Sarah. I got to live. I got a house.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Well, I got nothing. No, no, Judge. Now, look at now. I said, No, no. I said, Now, look at, I want it in my salary, Judge. He said, well, Okay, we'll do that, you know, so I got it. I worked at that place until -- from 1960, 1960 as ____ superintendent. Then the judge called me down there, down to the office again. He wanted me to come down to the courthouse to be a juvenile probation officer. I was the first black juvenile probation officer in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.

Michael Willie:

Really.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I worked in -- and I worked myself up to case worker supervisor. I had seven case workers under me. The only black now, okay. Then what happened when I went to the -- the county was campaigning to set up a community college, and my name had got around because I was -- I was -- I worked hard with juveniles. I worked hard. It was my love because my kids were juveniles too, you know. So what I did, the community college board wanted to recruit students for the college to open in September of 1970, uh-huh, so what I did -- so what they did, they come to me and wanted me to recruit students for them. So they called me down to the college office and recruit students. And I said, now, what kind of records do you want, you know. And they paid me good money to recruit students. So they said there wasn't any records, Walt. We know you'll do a good job, so I said they're not going to pay me money for nothing. So I would call students, my former juveniles, I would call them, and I would go by, I'd see them any time and I'd make up a card, their name, address, where I saw them, you know. And I said, well, the college opened in September of 1970. And so what happened, they -- the president had all the black students come to his office and asked them why did they choose to come to this community college, and they said, Mr. Dowdy told me to come, Mr. Dowdy told me to come. {Laughter.} So he told me this, and he offered me a job. And I said, well -- his name was Dr. Dale B. Lake -- and I said, Well, I'll think about it. So I went back to my judge at the juvenile -- at the probate court and told him about it. He said, Well, I thought it was something like this. So I said, Man, I'm not doing anything behind your back. I want you to know, you know. So he said, Okay, keep me posted. So we bantered back and forth salary and stuff, and I told the president, I said -- he wanted to pay me the same I'm making at the college, and I said, no, no, look at. I'm this kind of guy, man. I either move up or move back. I don't want to make no lateral move, man, no, no, no, no, no. So he called me -- he called me New Year's Eve and made me an offer. My stomach was just rolling, and I had said, let me think about this for a while, you know, and I hang up the phone, and the kids, everybody, oh, oh, oh, oh. I made him sweat a couple days at the holiday. I made him sweat, and I took -- I took the job. Now, look at this now. This is black history month. It's all coming out. I was -- I was the only black administrator at this college. This is Michigan. This is not the south. This is Michigan. Kalamazoo, Michigan. I wasn't the Dean or a professor. I was a director. Director of special programs. Okay. Special programs. What's that? Okay. I'm the eyes and the ears of the president in the community. Okay. I'd write programs to get the college out in the community. The college way out in the boonies and the community is here.

Michael Willie:

For recruiting, right?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

For recruiting, yeah. And I would go to high schools recruiting, and I would give out financial aid. Okay. So I'd look at that, and I said, now, Dr. Lake, I said, this sounds good, I said, but look here, man, I'm not a super nigger. He said, What? I said, you heard me, man, you know. I said, Some of this stuff got to go.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And so he said, Okay, you won't go to high schools. Okay. I said, Okay, I'll try this. So I reported right to the president. And some guys didn't like that. There was a white administrator. I only got a bachelors degree. The other guys were doctors, you know. I had a grand time sitting in the meetings, got a lot of things done, but what happened, they brought another guy in, and what they did, they took the community stuff from me and gave it to him. He was -- he was a former president of a college up in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, and brought him down and made him the director because he's a doctor.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So I worked with him, so he was over me now. So I worked with him. But then they were giving me more financial aid stuff, so I stopped doing this job all together and concentrated on financial aid. Okay. Now, again, but then they add another one. They want me to go to high schools now, want me to counsel incoming students now. Okay. But then they brought in another guy to take over financial aid that I had built up because they had no financial aid.

Michael Willie:

Let you develop it.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

While I did that, then they had foreign students, so they wanted me to work with foreign students and go out to high schools. Okay. So what I did, I built the foreign student program up so big, I quit going to high schools. I was the only black man in community college work that worked with foreign students in this United States. I worked at bringing them up so great, man, so great, and look how the Lord did that now. Look what God did in my life.

Michael Willie:

Now, I don't mean to get away from that, but you had told me that you were in the ministry. And was that--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Wait now. I'm a Christian. I'm not in the ministry yet.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I'm not in ministry yet.

Michael Willie:

Okay. But, obviously, it plays an important part.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

It does. It's a very important part. Now, during all this time now, look what God did. He sent me and my wife and daughter overseas on an expense account. I've been to Egypt. I've been to Kuwait. I've been to Greece. I've been to Nigeria. I've been to Switzerland. I've been to Japan. I've been to Venezuela on an expense account recruiting students.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

While I'm recruiting students, I'm giving the gospel out because I'm a Gideon.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I'm giving the gospel out all over. Okay. I brought students back. You know what else happened? With the foreign student organizations in this country, I was a consultant to them. They paid me to consult them. I consulted colleges on foreign student programs. I trained folks. I gave training speeches all over. And all over this country where they met, they called me the guru -- the guru because, hey, I studied, I studied, I studied. I published. I wrote a book with other guys about the educational system in Kuwait before the Saddam thing.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

See, I went there and wrote a guideline for transferring their work to our work. I evaluated foreign credentials from these countries I've been for other colleges. They sent them to me and I evaluated them and sent them back. I did that, and I retired from that after being there 22 years. Then I went full-time ministry. Okay. That was in 1989 I retired from the Kalamazoo Community College. Okay. Then I went to full-time ministry.

Michael Willie:

And when you say full-time ministry, in what capacity are you talking at that time in 1989?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Okay. I'm not a pastor, not a pastor. I was at Bible Baptist Church, Kalamazoo. I worked full-time at the church. I wasn't salaried. I was a deacon. I was a teacher. I was missions persons. Okay. I did that. Then in 1992 a college -- a Baptist bible college at Indianapolis called me and wanted me to come because we had been praying about full-time mission, my wife and I, because our kids are gone now, they all adults, are gone. And so we had been praying about that. So this man called me one -- this particular morning, my wife and I had a very good devotion, so she went out, and I'm sitting at table drinking coffee just having -- you remember that devotion we had together? The phone rang. He said, Walter Dowdy? I said, Yes. He said, This is Dr. Ware (ph), president of Baptist Bible College in Indianapolis, and I heard about you, and I want your resume. I said, Wait a minute, man, I said, I'm retired. He said, I want -- I want to see your resume. We need you down here. And I thought about it. I've been praying about this. I started crying on the phone. And he said, Brother, you all right? I said, I've been praying for this for three years. I said, Let me get myself together, so I got myself together. I sent my resume, went down to Indianapolis. No salary at this community Baptist -- at this Baptist bible college, and we put our house up for sale, but we leased it. We gave stuff away, moved -- with a truck, moved down there. And I was the Dean of students of the college down there. We got the college up on its feet.

Michael Willie:

Really.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

The college going grand now. We stayed there for seven years at this college, got it going. It wasn't accredited. We got it accredited. It's doing fine. So then my secretary I had at the college -- at Kalamazoo Community College, her and her husband moved to Tennessee to work in -- he was working with the federal government in chickens. He was an inspector. She got a job at the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home down there on Lee Highway. Her name was Ann, and she was my secretary. So she called me and said, Mr. Dowdy, I want you to see this place, you know, I'm in Indianapolis. So she -- so we stopped by ____+ because I'm going to travel now, man. I'm retired. Yeah.

Michael Willie:

Go more places.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So we stopped by here to see her. She toured us -- gave us a tour of the children's home out on Lee Highway. And we need you here, Mr. Dowdy, and I said, no, I'm retired now, Ann. I'm going to do my thing, I'm going to teach at the Bible college and stuff. So I was looking at going to Columbia, South Carolina. They got a bible college there, and I wanted to teach at that bible college. Dr. Seegers (ph), the director of this place, called me when I got back home. Walt, we sure need you here in the ____+. I said, Man, no, no. Well, listen, I'm going to send you an application. And I said, oh, my goodness, Lord, what you saying to me? So we started praying about it, and we end up here. {Laughter.} So we -- man, we moved from there, here. We gave all our stuff away again, and we moved here in a U-Haul and a car. And you know what the Lord did? Boy, the Lord is something, something different. We stayed there three years. So we bought a house. The Lord filled that house up for us. We didn't have nothing.

Michael Willie:

I tell you what--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

He filled it up, man, and we got more stuff now than we ever needed. We gave stuff away. We don't need it. We just -- he just -- he just -- he just -- he's just awesome, man. See what the Lord do for you. I got a license to preach in Indianapolis. I finally-- {Emotional.} I _____+.

Michael Willie:

You're fine. You are fine. You are absolutely fine. Don't even worry about it.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But I actually called it preaching in Indianapolis. I've been preaching ever since. My gifts are teaching and preaching and evangelism. That's my spiritual gift. My wife's gift is teaching and speaking, and her and I just like that, you know. The Lord put us together, man, and we've been married June 8th -- we've been married 52 years on June 8th. The Lord gave us five children, and I'm going to boo-hoo again. My oldest boy, Terry, man, he died June 6th this year, and I'm not over it yet. Good boy. He was on vacation in Florida with his family and broke his ankle and had a blood clot and died, man. He had worked at a company 28 years in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was too young to retire. He had five more years to work to retire at full benefits, 33 years with the company. He left two older children, and he left a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old. And, man, it's been -- it's been bad, but his funeral was something. He was a Christian. His funeral was something really, really, really awesome. When his wife called us and we went to Michigan to be with her when they got back, and I went to the barbershop the Saturday before. His funeral was on Tuesday. I was there and about four or five days before, and I went to the barbershop, and I met a man in the barbershop through the Lord. {Emotional.} And if Terry hadn't had died, that man wouldn't have got saved. I wouldn't have been in Kalamazoo, see. At his funeral -- at his funeral two more folks got saved at his funeral. So it's awesome. I had -- last Friday was bad for my wife and I, you know. My mom died November 20th, but she was a hundred years old and six months, and it's different because she had been sick off and on.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And it's different from your son -- from your kid because my will -- in our will Terry was -- Terry is supposed to be the executor of our will.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And kids don't bury -- I mean, parents don't bury kids.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

You know. So -- but it's -- it was hard, hard, hard. He had a good home going. It was good. He was -- he made 50 September 6th of last year, and we made a book, you know, a big book of his 50 years with his baby pictures, you know, and we gave it to him. We had a nice vacation. I mean, nice birthday party down at his house in Michigan. And so that's -- that's the hard part of being a parent.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

My other kids are doing fine. Kevin, his other brother, he's in Ohio, and he was in Desert Storm. My oldest daughter--

Michael Willie:

He retired, right? Did he retire from the service?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No, he didn't retire. He got out and wasn't going back to Desert Storm. He didn't want to go back to Desert Storm because he was going to -- when the scud hit Iraq--

Michael Willie:

Oh, really.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

--he was in Iraq. He was -- he was an x-ray technician, and he was in Iraq. He said, dad, I'm not going back. He didn't take all them pills they told him to take either.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

So he didn't get sick, you know.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

My oldest -- my oldest daughter is married. She's an orthopedic nurse, and she's doing fine.

Michael Willie:

Where is she?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

In Benton Harbor.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

She's -- her husband is the director of the Habitat for Humanity program there.

Michael Willie:

Really.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And my other daughter, her husband is leaving Thursday going to Minnesota, Camp McCoy up in Minnesota to go over to Iraq or Afghanistan, one or the two. She's a -- she's a teacher in Detroit, and he's a teacher in Detroit, but he's in the -- he's the Navy or something in the reserves, so he's going. My youngest daughter is in Ann Arbor. They all -- they all doing, doing, doing, doing fine.

Michael Willie:

It sounds like it. It sounds like it. Do you get together a lot? I mean, do you see them often?

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I see them, uh-huh. I see them as often as I can, but we got ourselves busy here--

Michael Willie:

I know.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

--in our church -- in our church. Now, today, every Wednesday we go down to St. Elmo's Gospel Mission, and we serve there from nine to one every Wednesday. My wife helps in the offices, and I do the witnessing for the folks coming in for food and clothing. And at my church, I'm the deacon at my church, and I teach at our church, and so that's how we spend our time.

Michael Willie:

Well, it sounds like you are more busy after you retired.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Yeah, but it's good. But let me tell you something more about the military thing. I didn't claim my benefits until I got to -- until I retired in Indianapolis. I was working and making good money, and I didn't -- I didn't go to the doctor for nothing. I went to see them doctors and I paid my way because I had good insurance. And when I got to Indianapolis and retired, and I went to the VA hospital, the Robert Bush Hospital VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, and they told me, Where you been? I said, What do you mean where I been? They said, You should have been here a long time ago. You're entitled to this. Entitled to what? To all your benefits, you know. I said, oh, my Lord, you know. So I've been getting my benefits from -- from -- from -- from all this, you know. And then I -- as I go to my appointments and sit there, a lot of veterans just complain, complain, and a lot of veterans give those workers and doctors and the nurses a hard time. And I'm a veteran. I'm thankful for the benefits from being in the military -- in the service. The hurt now is behind, you know. I'm over the hurt, you know, although it is forever near me, you know, but I'm enjoying -- I'm enjoying my benefits. I'm enjoying life now, you know.

Michael Willie:

But you know what, I don't think it's too much to ask that you be recognized for your service.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Well--

Michael Willie:

That's -- that's one thing--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Okay.

Michael Willie:

--people -- even the people who are not bitter and resentful, you know, I don't think it's too much to ask that we recognize and honor them for -- for making a selfless sacrifice. I mean, that's a very selfless -- it's a sacrifice.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Well, let me tell you something about me. I'm the kind of guy, I don't take -- I don't take compliments too well. I shrink, I shrink, you know, but I accept them. And our church on Veterans Day, he asked all the veterans to stand, and they pray. They call us all down in front and they pray for us. Man, that's a moving service.

Michael Willie:

Sure.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And they have the flags come in and stuff. And, now, my hate, my deep hate, on that Super Bowl I saw a guy come through with the flag on. You don't do that. And my government, I'm sorry to say, my government, the Supreme Court hasn't got guts enough to put stringent penalties on folks who desecrate our flag. I wouldn't buy a shirt half flag. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I wouldn't do that. And I don't know why our courts don't do that. A man come up there and have a flag hanging over on his shirt, man, that -- it just ain't right.

Michael Willie:

You're right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

And I don't appreciate that. I don't like that.

Michael Willie:

And what I respect so much is you have a right to say that.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That's right.

Michael Willie:

You have a right to say that, and a lot of other veterans -- I think a lot of other people feel like they don't have a right to say it and--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No, no.

Michael Willie:

--and you have a right to make that.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But, you know, and I -- and what's so sad, though, look at the rights. Everybody got rights. Everybody got rights. But where are rights' rights? You know what I'm saying? {Laughter.}

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Like the homosexuals got a right to get married. That's a bunch of -- okay, stuff. Okay. Now, somebody told me my rights end where your nose begins. {Laughter.} Right? Okay. So, you know, I don't know. But my military time, I would -- if I had to do my military time again, you know, you obviously say you know what you know now, I would -- I would shake people on my orders to get to Officer Candidate School.

Michael Willie:

I agree. And that's -- that's one thing that I look back, and that obviously has a lot to do with the time.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

And with your skin color.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Right.

Michael Willie:

And that's why I say even though you -- being bitter really doesn't make a difference and being resentful.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

No.

Michael Willie:

But you know what? You have a right. You have a right. You had every right. And I know it wasn't done at the time, but it just -- it would make me so angry.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But maybe, maybe, because God knows everything -- he knows the beginning, the middle, and the ending -- maybe if I had got to be an officer, I would have got killed.

Michael Willie:

Yeah.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

I don't know.

Michael Willie:

Well, obviously, it would not have turned out exactly the way it did because that's-- My son always asks me -- asks me if I would change anything, and I said no. I would never change -- I would not change anything in my life because you might not be here.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

That's right. The first lieutenants usually got right up to the front. I mean, the second lieutenants on their orders. Up to the front.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

But I'm thankful, I'm thankful, I'm thankful, I'm thankful, I'm thankful I have -- I have -- I got -- say I got a regret and boo-hoo over it, but I don't have any regrets. I don't have any at all.

Michael Willie:

Well, you have obviously shaped and changed lives and that's--

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Well, we try. That's what we're here for. God kept me here for a reason, and I'm trying to work out the reason with my hand in his hand, and we can do it, uh-huh.

Michael Willie:

Listen, I want to thank you for taking the time to come down here.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

Oh, you are mighty, mighty welcome. I'm sorry I -- see, those are really touchy things in my life. My son is really -- is really, really, really, my oldest son Terry, my heart, man. He and I went deer hunting together. We killed our first deer with him, and I'll see him again when I get to heaven. I'll see him.

Michael Willie:

Thank you for coming in.

Walter Lee Dowdy, Jr.:

You're welcome. [END OF INTERVIEW.]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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