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    Army Reserve unit reaffirms values through speaker’s story

    Army Reserve unit reaffirms values through speaker’s story

    Courtesy Photo | Soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 361st Press Camp Headquarters received an...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 

    361st Press Camp Headquarters

    WHITESTONE, New York – Soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 361st Press Camp Headquarters received an unexpected gift during the unit’s holiday party Dec. 3 at American Legion Post #422 here.

    Dewey Bozella, who spent 26 years in prison before the N.Y. State Supreme Court ruled that he had been wrongfully convicted, shared how his values – and boxing – helped him survive a quarter-century behind bars.

    “I hope that something in my story hits home for each and every one of you,” said Bozella, who took up boxing in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, becoming the prison’s light-heavyweight boxing champion and eventually fighting one professional bout at the age of 52.

    Bozella, a New York native, found his way to the 361st through a chance meeting with Maj. Boyd Melson, a 361st PCH section chief and retired professional boxer who was known as “The Rainmaker” during his pro career.

    “I was at the Barclays Center to see some fights, and I ran into Dewey outside. He said, ‘I’ll come speak to you guys in a heartbeat, I would love to give back to the armed forces, and I’ll do it for free,’” Melson said, noting that Bozella is a highly sought-after speaker.

    Bozella’s journey began in 1983 when he was convicted of the 1977 murder of 92-year-old Emma Crapser of Poughkeepsie, New York. Bozella always maintained his innocence, and despite several opportunities to end his incarceration by admitting to the crime, he refused to compromise his values and chose to remain imprisoned.

    “I could have taken the deal and went home, but it wouldn’t have done me any good because I would have had this hanging over my head for the rest of my life,” Bozella explained. “I’d rather have died than tell them I did it.”

    “The courage that this man has,” Melson said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be locked away and given the chance where you’ll have your moment, but you’ll have to say something that goes against your values.”

    This type of dilemma is something to which all Soldiers can relate, as they are themselves bound by seven core Army Values – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Several of these Army Values could be applied directly to Bozella’s situation.

    “Dewey’s commitment to his value system and how his values commanded him, and how his character was a component of his values – that was his identity, it was who he was,” Melson said. “He was willing to suffer before he would sacrifice the only thing that we all really have at the end – ourselves.”

    Following Bozella’s release from prison in 2009, he was offered the chance to box professionally. In October 2011, Bozella won his one-and-only pro boxing match by unanimous decision, beating Larry Hopkins in the fourth round at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    “The fight was no longer about Dewey Bozella – the fight was about, ‘Don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t do, don’t let nobody kill your dreams,” Bozella said. “If this is what you really want to do, you give your all. God is going to give you your chance, but you’ve got to be ready.

    “The moral is this – I never gave up, even with the odds stacked against me,” he added.



    Date Taken: 12.03.2017
    Date Posted: 12.21.2017 13:12
    Story ID: 259872
    Location: WHITESTONE, NY, US 

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