From the AOSHS’ archive:
By Rob Ahrens, Berlin American High School, Class of 1987
The Berlin Brats are pleased to announce the acquisition of a section of the Berlin Wall… and¬ not just some piece of concrete that was scrounged from some construction site, slapped with a little paint, and sold for 10 Euros by a shady Romanian street vendor in Berlin; but an honest-to-goodness real-life section of the Wall itself!
How this came to pass is a tale of intrigue that crosses borders, nationalities, and history. Or so we like to think.
Everyone is (or should be) familiar with eBay, the online auction site where you can buy anything from jewelry to grilled cheese sandwiches bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. Not too long ago, an entire section of the Berlin Wall went up for auction on eBay, complete with photographs that appeared to be authentic.
This was brought to the attention of Jeri (Polansky) Glass ’72, the director of the Berlin Brats, by the President of the Stuttgart Alumni Association, Patricia Hein. Jeri thought this might be something that the ‘Brats’ would want to acquire, and threw the idea out to the Class Contacts. After some lively discussion via email, the consensus was, should the artifact prove to be authentic, purchasing the relic would be a good use of Berlin Brats funds. Further, everyone agreed we should donate it to the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) Archives & Museum, currently securing funds for construction in Wichita, Kansas.
A crack team of Historical Artifact Research, Acquisition and Study Specialists (HARASS) was assembled, led by the dashingly handsome Rob Ahrens ’87. The plan had a two-pronged approach: First, verify the authenticity of the section, and second, work with the seller on buying the piece and transferring it to ‘Brat’ control.
Carl Marvin ’87 was tapped to handle the eBay portion of the transaction, to include contacting the seller. Carl seemed appropriate because of his history of significant sales and purchases on eBay, and he looks really cool driving around in his armored Hummer. Carl contacted the seller, and got the story of this section of Berlin Wall.
Tom, the gentleman selling the piece, owned a health club in the Washington D.C. area in the early ’90’s. As many of us know, D.C. is a schmoozing, networking kind of town, and through his club, the Tom met many interesting characters. Among his clientele was a Russian Importer/ Exporter (cue spy music now). A friendship developed between the two. Somehow, the Russian (let’s call him Vladimir) managed to get his hands on 4 whole sections of the Wall. How he did this is anyone’s guess. For reasons unclear, Vladimir offered Tom one of the slabs, and Tom accepted.
Vladimir had the artifacts shipped over with other items he was importing… we’re not sure if those other items were vodka, stacking dolls, brides, or a combination of all three. Two of the four pieces were unfortunately destroyed in shipment, Vladimir kept one, and the fourth went to Tom. (A note that lends credibility to the story: due to high asbestos content of the concrete, Customs would not release the sections until they were sprayed with a concrete sealant, an issue that has been independently verified). Upon receipt of his section, Tom immediately put it in a public storage facility in Rockville, Maryland. Documentation provided by Tom has verified the date of the relic’s arrival at the storage center. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Allen Dale Olson
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY & LEARNING CENTER (MAMF) LOCATES AT BATAAN MILITARY ACADEMY (BMA)
Groups Call Move a “Good Fit”
Albuquerque, NM – An Albuquerque charter school has just joined forces with the only museum in the country dedicated to the collection and preservation of the stories, documents, and artifacts of America’s military families. Both the Bataan Military Academy Charter School (BMA) and the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) have moved into 5555 McLeod Boulevard NE, Albuquerque.
BMA serves grades nine through twelve, meets U.S. Navy standards in curriculum and in Naval sciences, including standards in physical fitness and in honoring traditional Naval standards. The school is in partnership with parents, teachers, military organizations, and with the military services. Principal, “Captain” Jan Zink, works closely with the Academy’s Board of Governors, chaired by Dr. Alan Holmquist.
BMA students are cadets grouped as in a military organization and follow the rank structure of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Corps (NJROTC). In addition to traditional high school activities and sports, BMA cadets also form color guards, drill teams, and rifle teams. The school is named for the 70,000 soldiers and sailors forced to surrender on Luzon in 1942, some 70,000 of whom died during the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Many of those who died were from New Mexico. Annually BMA cadets simulate that march in a 26-mile hike at White Sands Proving Grounds.
MAMF, founded four years ago by Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, a DoD “Brat,” an Army wife and an Army mother, has been active throughout Albuquerque– even without a facility– by presenting documentary film programs, stage performances, military ceremonies and major exhibits in various venues, including the National Nuclear Museum, the South Broadway Cultural Center, the International Balloon Museum, and the Wheels Museum.
MAMF’s volunteer Board of Directors includes an Artist-in-Residence, a Writer-in Residence, and liaison chairs to military spouses, military organizations, “Brats” and Veterans’ organizations. Its programs reach throughout the country through its Operation Footlocker, mobile exhibits which go to public schools, nursing homes, USO events, and to reunions of former students of Defense Department schools. MAMF is a 501 c 3 not for profit.
MAMF has a partnership with the American Overseas Schools Historical Society which represents thousands of former teachers and administrators in the Defense Department world-wide school system and with “Overseas Brats,” representing thousands of adult military “Brats.”
Till this semester, BMA had been on Mountain Road in Albuquerque, and MAMF existed as an on-line presence. In the McLeod facility, MAMF occupies the second floor; BMA the ground floor. Both Captain Zink and Executive Director Woessner believe the shared home makes a “good fit” for the school and the museum. They agree that the MAMF library, archives, exhibits, and historical folios of military family life are valuable resources for the cadets, who in turn, provide ceremonial support for MAMF programs.
The Museum is open by appointment only.
For additional information, visit:
### 30 ###
Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories for Military Families Who Were Stationed AbroadPosted: July 28, 2015
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Allen Dale Olson
Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories
for Military Families Who Were Stationed Abroad
ALBUQUERQUE, NM, July 27, 2015—A special exhibit at the Special Collections Library’s Botts Hall chronicles the experiences of families who were based in locations around the world: Military families whose children might attend five or more schools by the time they graduated from high school.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam,” is focused on the history of the 181 schools for military dependents located in the U.S. Spread from the Far and Middle East to Western Europe. Self-titled “Military BRATS,” the children of military families, from lowest to highest ranks, attend Department of Defense Education Agency Schools and build strong ties and cherished memories through their varied experiences.
The exhibit features comments from dozens of students, teachers and parents remarking on their experiences during various tours of duty—which involved the whole family. “Together We Serve” is the tagline of the Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center, an organization whose mission is to bring together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served–America’s Military Families. Artifacts from school experiences provided by those who attended or taught at DODEA schools bring the story home to the many retired military and BRATS who live in our area, as well as those who did not serve in the military, but want to learn more about the experience of those who do.
The new exhibit includes detailed information about the history and growth of the schools, anecdotes from students who attended them, and a host of artifacts that include: a 1948 report card; teachers’ guides; books on learning to speak, write and sing in the language of their new home; school flags and pennants; posters; school photos; yearbooks; athletic jackets and trophies; a high school diploma; a bison head that was worn by the varsity mascot at the Mannheim, Germany high school; a statement from General Colin Powell, US Army, Ret.; and much more. Many of the artifacts in the exhibit are provided by the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS), based in Wichita, Kansas.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam” is free to the public and available at the Special Collections Library, 423 Central Avenue NE (corner of Central and Edith). The library is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, except for Thursdays, when it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Please stop by and learn more about how children of military families received excellent education in places around the world thanks to “Uncle Sam.” To access the exhibit, please check in at the library’s Information Desk. The exhibition closes on August 22.
The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center (MAMF) collects and preserves the stories, experiences, documents, photos, and artifacts of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, siblings, and others who have loved and supported a member of America’s military services from Revolutionary War times to modern times. MAMF is an all-volunteer not-for-profit online entity in quest of a permanent home in Albuquerque and is launching a capital campaign to support that quest.
# # #
The Cadets of the Bataan Military Academy posted the colors proudly, and just as proudly, Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, founder and Executive Director of the Museum of the American Military Family, gave them the order to cut the ribbon and open “Schooling with Uncle Sam.”
Some 40 friends and supporters of the Museum rose to applaud the gesture, led by an enthusiastic Brigadier General Andrew Salas, Adjutant General of the New Mexico National Guard. They then spread out to look at artifact cases and displays and a series of exhibit panels telling the story of the elementary and secondary schools operated by the U.S. Defense Department around the world since the end of World War II. Read the rest of this entry »
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY TO SHOW THE STORY OF SCHOOLS ON U.S. BASES AROUND THE WORLDSpecial Exhibit Opens July 11 in Albuquerque
By Allen Dale Olson
Less than a third of one of America’s largest school systems is actually in the United States. Its 78,000 K-12 students attend 181 schools, 58 of which are in the States, the rest spread around the world from the Far and Middle East to Western Europe.
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the Defense Department (DoD), it has field offices in Peachtree, Georgia, and in Japan and Germany. The Department of Defense Education Agency (DoDEA) is a civilian educator agency serving the families of American military personnel.
The history, challenges, and achievements of this unique school system will be on display in the Main Reading Room of the Albuquerque Special Collections Library starting July 11 and running through August 22, with an opening ceremony on July 16 at 5:00 p.m.
An exhibit created by the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF),“Schooling with Uncle Sam” uses quotes, photos, documents, and artifacts gathered from around the world from former students, teachers, administrators, and military personnel and curated by MAMF volunteers with decades of experience in the DoD schools. MAMF is the only museum in the country dedicated exclusively to collecting and preserving the stories of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, and other relatives of uniformed personnel from our nation’s founding to the present. Read the rest of this entry »
After years of looking, the Museum of the American Military Family has found a great building in a perfect location in Albuquerque, NM.
It will cost around $220,000 to buy. With your support, we can create a physical museum and library dedicated to our unique culture.
Your tax deductible contribution in any amount will help us continue to:
Honor America’s Military Families
Share their stories
Preserve their legacies
Recognize the countless men, women and children who stand beside America’s Service Members
We are a 501c3 nonprofit with an all-volunteer Board. Your support will be acknowledged in the museum building.
It will take all of us to create this unique museum–we appreciate your support!
please donate here:
by Iain Woessner
Heidelberg, Germany lies on the river Neckar in the lush valley in the Odenwald, half a world away from Wichita Kansas. This city is home to a rich culture, a rich history and, until recently, it was also home to Heidelberg Army Base, and Heidelberg American Schools—schools that, although now closed, have managed to pass on their memories and memorabilia into safe keeping.
The back of the archive positively swells with a cavalcade of items and artifacts. Glass-framed collections of photographs, boxes full of trophies, autographed basket and volleyballs, and a great big time capsule that we have yet to open up yet.
It’s an impressive collection, and there’s plenty that we haven’t even gotten into, a lot of packages and brown paper and that magical sense of mystery is as thick in the air as the dust we kicked up bringing it in. Ron and our volunteer Myrna Margraf have been slowly disseminating the items and figuring out the best way to catalog them, and we are looking forward to their completed inventory.
In the meanwhile, we have had an outpouring of interest in these newest arrivals to our fair archive, and to all of those who have expressed concern or curiosity, let me be the first to say that the Heidelberg goods have arrived, they are in good condition, and we look forward to sharing them with the world as soon as possible
By Allen Dale Olson
Growing older and passing on are not strangers to AOSHS members. In fact, one service AOSHS provides is sharing information about our friends and colleagues over the years and in providing opportunities to remember them in print and memorials. Every issue of the Quarterly calls attention to some of us who have departed.
John Donne told us to not “to ask for whom the bell tolls” because in fact it tolls for each of us, all of us. Through various AOSHS alumni groups, individual networks, and submissions to the “Q,” we hear of these passings, each one a reminder of who we are, what we have done, and where we have been.
When I heard of the passing of Lou Hughes recently, those thoughts crossed my mind in a personal way. Lou and I, as the saying goes, “went to different schools together.” We grew up in the same area, were born in the same city at roughly the same time, served our Selective Service duties in much the same way, worked in neighboring school districts at the same time, and joined the Dependents Schools Program for similar reasons.
Interestingly, I didn’t know Lou until we met overseas, he as a school principal, I as an executive officer with the European Directorate. But our common heritage caused an immediate connection – because the Calumet Region of Northwest Indiana is not exactly an American garden spot. When we’d meet, I’d greet him with the word “Gary”; he would reply “Portage.” We would joke about East Chicago, the steel mills, and even the crime rate.
I write this in part because of our mutual connections but mostly because bondings such as this, these feelings about one another among those of us who spent much of our careers in the DoD schools are never ending. All of you know that when you meet a former colleague you haven’t seen for twenty or more years, it’s as if you never parted. Conversations resume, experiences re-live, and, yes, tears flow.
Soldiers bond in combat, athletes in competition, musicians in performance. Teachers bond in classrooms, but teachers who have been in USDESEA, PACAF, DoDDS, DoDEA, and whatever else the authorities named us, bond in very special ways. AOSHS is proof of that.
Lou, of course, is not the only lost comrade in my life, nor are the losses unique that each of you endure. But his coming from our common beginnings gave me a chance to reflect on the very special relationships formed among us from education’s proudest and most far-flung community.
We don’t do obituaries in the “Q,” but we do recognize a need to remind ourselves once in a while that we have all served our nation in a very special way. Thanks, Lou, not only for your achievements but also for enabling me to pay this tribute to the teachers and administrators who have helped keep America’s military strong.
When I was in college at New Mexico Highlands University, I’d hear “Far Away Places” and in my heart I knew that song contained a secret message for me. So I started pursuing my goal of “traveling in far-away places!” I think it meant Europe.
In 1954, by then a college grad and teacher in Albuquerque, I applied for a job as a DODDS teacher through Washington, D.C. from an article in the newspaper. Beautiful French Morocco, near Casablanca, was my first assignment. Aside from the washing machines in the BOQ’s and colorful Arabs everywhere I turned on base, it was very much like Albuquerque – warm weather, golden sunshine, and cactus plants.
Socially, I quickly graduated from airmen to officers. My social life was tremendous, and I had so much fun!
Salina Hantelmann, the only one with a car upon arrival, used to drive us around base and to historical sites in the country of Morocco. Emma Gilmetti, Betty Daughtridge, and Cathy (Butto) Weir were my co-workers and my traveling companions.
At school, the kids were super. I taught them commercial subjects with an assortment of antiquated equipment, but we managed.
For our Christmas vacation to Madrid, Spain, my friend, Eva, and I missed our flight the day before. So, Bob Weir drove us to the airport at six o’clock next morning! After our return, Eva found a picture of a medal in a magazine and we made a card with it to present to Bob for “services above and beyond the call of duty!”
That year I was so involved in TRAVELING within Morocco and to Europe that I did not have time to go to the States that summer.
In the fall of 1955, I was a teacher in the choice spot of Wiesbaden, Germany! My travels and my social life continued to improve further, and life was absolutely the greatest!
Because I joined the glorious program of DODDS in 1954, I attained the distinction of being a member of the ELITE FIRST DECADE DODDS TEACHERS!
Marie O. Espinoza, Morocco: 1954 – 1955
Copyright 2004 American Overseas Schools Historical Society