Jimmie Ray Dorsett

October 12, 1947 ~ March 20, 2020 (age 72)


The son of a World War II veteran, Jimmie Ray Dorsett was born to James C. Dorsett and Addie Grace Lowe on October 12, 1947, in Chicago, IL, and raised for a time in Winston-Salem, NC, before coming to Roanoke. At age 20, Jimmie enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 1968. After basic training at Camp Lejeune, NC, he was sent to Vietnam and assigned to the 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Marine Division posted near Dong Ha in South Vietnam. On March 24, 1969, Jimmie was riding atop a tank retriever in support of a tank column when it struck a mine that blew off a track, disabled the retriever and deafened Jimmie. As he was working on repairing the track, the retriever was ambushed by North Vietnamese troops. The hail of gunfire killed two of Jimmie’s comrades. Unarmed, Jimmie went to the aid of a third wounded comrade and brought him to cover under the retriever. A North Vietnamese soldier charged the retriever and unloaded a clip of AK-47 rounds at Jimmie and his wounded comrade, one of the rounds passing through Jimmie’s left arm rendering it useless. The Gunnery Sergeant atop the retriever single-handedly fought off the continued attacks saving Jimmie and his comrade. Jimmie, though wounded himself, assisted his comrade to a medevac helicopter and the two were taken to a hospital. After recovering from his injuries, Jimmie returned to Vietnam to take charge of a repair shop. He received a meritorious promotion to E-4 and a Purple Heart.
   After returning to the United States, Jimmie married Patsy Gail Arrington January 1, 1971, and had three children—one baby girl deceased, daughter Maria and son Nathan. He obtained his G.E.D. then graduated from Virginia Western Community College with a degree in Automotive Technology in 1972. Jimmie worked for Grumman Emergency Products welding fire trucks and retired from the U. S. Postal Service office in Roanoke. Jimmie and Patsy lived in Roanoke before building a home and settling in Hardy, VA. For seven years he bravely battled several types of leukemia from Agent Orange exposure—biphenotypic acute leukemia and CML blast crisis, acute myeloid leukemia, Philadelphia chromosome positive with a P190 mutant gene combined ALL and AML, Pht ALL and ALL, prostate cancer and failing organs longer than anyone thought possible. Jimmie loved to hike, fish, work on old cars in his garage, collect stamps and insects, watch movies especially Sci-Fi and Superheroes and could fix just about anything. He was everyone’s favorite singing and whistling handyman. A strong Christian man with an enduring faith in God, Jimmie attended First Free Will Baptist Church in Vinton. He is survived by his brothers Johnny and David and sister Sandra Neighbors; his wife of 49 years, portrait artist Patsy Arrington Dorsett; son Nathan; daughter Maria, son-in-law Patrick Schroeder and grandchildren Andrew James Robert Schroeder and Abigail Joanna Schroeder.

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