Polous, Stacey: Lajes AFB, Terceira, Azores: 1978-1982

  • On January 1, 1980, an earthquake struck the island we were on.  It was a beautiful day and many people were outside.  Once the earthquake struck, many Portuguese people lost their lives, but the Americans at Lajes, banded together with their peers and families along with the surviving Portuguese to gather clothes, food and medical supplies.  It was a sad time but everyone joined together in brotherhood and sisterhood to help those in need.
  • Our family needed to get on base, so we began walking as dad was at work that night so he had the car.  The aftershokes were worse.  My mother and I took turns carrying my youngest brother.  On the way, a taxi driver stopped, picked us up and took us to the base.  He refused to take any money from us.  That memory has stayed with us for 40 years.

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Lajes, Azores: 1992-1993

Prior to 1992, the pleasure of an assignment to the Azores was a well-kept secret:   slow-paced, pastoral life-style with old-world European cultural charm, Portuguese architecture fronted by decorative sidewalks, friendly locals, small classes, yet with frequent space-available flights through Lajes AFB to the US or Europe. Teachers sent there chose to stay, some even buying homes on the island. 

All that changed in 1992 when the Portuguese government decided to enforce a little-known policy of limiting stays by foreign nationals to three years. The result for DoDDS meant a nearly-complete turnover in teaching staff. I was one of the lucky ones,  a CONUS re-hire after a 15-year hiatus spent teaching in the US public schools of Washington, Kansas, and California. And I must acknowledge that the new staff benefitted by wonderful packets detailing classes taught, activities established, as well as lists of favorite restaurants and local events from those who departed. 


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