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I get to answer my own question. The reason I am seeing this happen is because I did not remove the volume before creating it again. It would be great if someone like @nllong could explain why this has to be done, but the basic gist of it for a lay person is that once a volume named osdata has been created a first time, it subsequently has to be removed before being recreated for new instances. (this feels a little like phlogiston reasoning, I'm sure it is not quite right).

To solve this problem, you have two options:

  1. change the name of the volume in your compose file and and all references to the volume in other files. This is a bit hard to do and is tedious. Lots of places. I had to make changes in docker-compose.deploy.up and circle.yml.
  2. do the following:

    docker-compose rm -f docker volume rm osdata docker volume create --name=osdata docker-compose up

That extra step to rm osdata is a clean up step. Either way, now my server on AWS is back in business! Thanks to Ry Horsey I think that is @rHorsey for helping me through this.