Azad Dodikian’s father, Armenak Hampartsoum Dodikian, fought in the defense of Van in 1896 and then joined a group of 800 Armenian soldiers, headed by Mkrditch Avedisian, to fight the Turkish armies. They were all killed at the St. Batholomeu monastery near Van, having fallen victim to empty promises by foreign ambassadors and the Turkish government.
Azad Dodikian was born six months after his father’s death. He and his brother, Vosdanik, worked in Van’s famed munitions factory. When the Turkish army attacked Van in 1915 Vosdanik participated in its defense. After some resistance and faced with much greater odds, all Armenians of Van, including the Dodikian family (his mother, brother, sister and himself) retreated to the Russian front. En route, Mr. Dodikian witnessed an Armenian police chief, by the name of Mkrditch Effendi, throw his daughter into a river to avoid her kidnapping by roving bandits.
Afraid of encountering sickness and epidemic, they headed straight to Tblisi instead of Yerevan. In Tblisi, Azad Dodikian graduated from the Nersessian school and joined the Armenian Volunteer Army, where he became an officer. After the communist take-over in 1922, the Dodikian family fled to Iran.