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About the Museum of the American Military Family


As the only museum in the country dedicated to collecting and preserving the stories, documents, photographs, and artifacts of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and spouses of those who serve and have served in America’s military, the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF)includes a permanent exhibition about the history of DoDEA since its founding and a collection of  teacher-collected artifacts from around the world.

Founded by former DoDEA teacher and student, Circe Olson Woessner is the daughter of long-time DoDEA staffer and WWII veteran and is a military wife and mother and brings a realistic and enriching perspective to the unique challenges and achievements of military families.

Besides presenting permanent and revolving exhibits about the life style of military family members and the educators who support them, MAMF conducts town hall meetings about military and military veteran issues and interacts with a world-wide audience through a variety of social media and through a series of audio and video podcasts.

MAMF has been recognized in each of the past three years with Awards of Excellence by the American Association of State and Local History including an Albert Corey Award for exceptionally distinguished programming. It is affiliated with the American Alliance of Museums, the New Mexico Association of Museums, and the Museum Collaborative Council of Albuquerque.

MAMF’s Operation Footlocker is a mini mobile museum treasure chest of memories donated by military families, military brats, and teachers from the overseas schools of the Defense Department. The fleet of eight footlockers travels around the USA – to brat functions, to schools, to libraries, to teacher and military reunions – anywhere people gather who want to learn more about the military family experience.

Dr. Woessner is now looking forward to next October and the 75th anniversary of the establishments of DoDEA schools around the world. She is planning to publish an anthology of stories by teachers, past and present, about their unique experiences teaching and working in civilian-type schools on military installations throughout the States and around the world. Through DoDEA and MAMF websites, she will issue a call for stories along with guidelines for submission in October 2020.

MAMF has already published a series of such anthologies: War Child, a collection of stories by adults who grew up as children in a war zone; Front Lines to the Homefront, stories by adults reflecting on their experiences in or around war; On Freedom’s Frontier: Life on the Fulda Gap, stories by veterans and family members who lived and worked along one of the world’s most sensitive potential battlegrounds.

Their anthology SHOUT! Sharing our Truth, by LGBT veterans and veteran family members about their service in the military before and after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, has been produced as a play performed in Richmond, Virginia, and scheduled for performances in San Francisco and Providence next year. MAMF has also turned the anthology into a documentary film.

Visit website to learn more about MAMF and what it is doing to honor military families and the schools that serve them and to provide a place for scholars to learn the history of the millions of families who have also “served” our country.

UMMC Campus Life


Student Dress Code

Back in the ’60’s, the U of M, Munich Campus had some very strict and strange rules, especially when you look back at them today. Well, one of the rules was that at dinner each night, all boys had to wear a coat and tie to eat at the “Meal Plan”. By the way, we were only fed during the week; not on weekends.
Well, all these strange rules would get to us after a while and we would rebel. The way we rebelled against these “Meal Plan” rules was having a “Tom Jones” night. This would only happen once or twice a semester. Word would be spread around the campus that a certain date would be a “Tom Jones” night. Many female students would not show up that night for dinner, and most male students would dress appropriately for the occasion. One roommate would wear an army jacket, no shirt except for the collar and a shoestring for a tie.
We would enter the “Meal Plan” that night and make sure we stocked up with throwable food items on our food trays. The food fight would not start until everybody had finished eating and then all Hell would break loose. Stephen Sirbaugh from Noch Eins.

UMMC Freshman Initiation Continues

Photo: Pat McCabe
The highlight of the evening was the traditional “Mooning over the Hofbrauhaus”. Several male students, very intoxicated, would try to climb the water fountain in the middle of HB Haus garden, always trying to get as high on the statue as possible and then drop their pants to the delight of all the students, and even the Germans, but definitely not the HB security guards. Of course, the students who accomplished this great feat were always admired by us students for the remainder of the semester, sort of like the “red badge of courage” HA! HA! Stephen Sirbaugh From Eins, Zwei G’Suffa

Andersen Elementary School

Kim Medders

A fun day in my classroom at Andersen Elementary School on Guam. I taught 5th grade there in 1983 for the Territorial Government. About 80% of the kids were Air Force as the school was just outside the back gate of the Air Force Base. At this time there were no DoDea schools on Guam so the military kids when to the Guamanian public schools or private schools on the island. The Guamanian kids from the village of Yigo were in the minority at the school, but great kids.

Fred Perez (pronounced Paris), holding up the blue star in front, really surprised me one day by bringing in a Japanese skull for show and tell. He and his father had been boonie stomping and found it along with a rusted out machine gun. I asked him if he was going to turn it over the Japanese Consulate, to which he replied, “Heck no Mr. Medders. It’s my skull, I found it!” I was a bit taken back by that at first, but the memories of what the Japanese did to Guamanians during the war was still pretty fresh at that time.  I couldn’t blame Fred from not wanting to help someone who might have murdered his grandpa.

The classroom was really old and falling apart. I spent my first week repairing desks, the sink in the classroom, and the wooden louvered slats in the windows. I “fixed” the chalkboard by putting a poster over the hole. Not a lot of fancy teacher supplies on the island, so I had to create a lot of my room decorations using construction paper. Books were old and outdated.  I did a lot of chalkboard teaching that year.   On any given day, all manner of creatures would scamper through the room, adding to the carnival of excitement my teaching bought these young minds!

All in all, my year on Guam was the most fun I had in my 27 years of teaching.  The kids were great, the challenges taught me self reliance, and I loved the island and people living on Guam.  My wife and I decided to leave because of pay.  The teachers there did not make much at the time, and I felt I needed more if I wanted to start a family.  Still, 38 years later, this small island in Micronesia still calls to me!

Freshmen 6 Weeks

There was the tradition of wearing a University of Maryland black/yellow beanie with a black “M” on the front for the first six weeks as an entering freshman. Well, at the end of the six weeks, the university would hold a Freshman Follies Party at the Perlacher American High School Gym. They would give awards out to certain freshmen for different categories of craziness (e.g., sloppy eaters, sloppy dressers, nastiest mouth, craziest hair, etc.) and also have a dance to end the celebrations. Stephen R. Sirbaugh, 1965-1967 from the book Eins, Zwei G’Suffa.

Photo: Pat McCabe

Freshman Follies-UMMC

Museum of the American Military Family’s Many Blogs and Podcasts

The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center, located in Tijeras, NM, just east of Albuquerque collects  stories in a variety of formats. Check us out, and if you’re interested, send us a story…or two…or three! We will accept short video or audio files, as well as written posts for our blogs. Query us or send a written story  to:

Our Podcast site is at

 Audio Podcasts: Together We Serve: “Service” stories from Brats, Vets, Spouses & Others, Schooling With Uncle Sam: Teachers & Students talk about their DOD school stories, America Remembers ‘Nam: Veterans and their families share their thoughts on Vietnam, Brat Time Stories: Can’t sleep? Check out our middle-of-the-night bedtime stories, written by, about and for the insomniac Brat

Video Podcasts:  One Takes: Like the name implies, people share their stories in a short, unedited format, Kitchen Table Convos: The best conversations happen around the kitchen table,  At Ease!  Arts, Entertainment, Literature & Travel-there’s a little something for everyone…

Our Blogs:

At Ease: Books & More for Brats and their families, We Served Too

Passports & Pedagogy: Schooling with Uncle Sam; The American Military Family

Letters Home, America Remembers ‘Nam, MAMF Projects