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:
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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.
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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 »