Wilson, Judy: Naples Memory

Talk about coincidences. In 1973 my husband, Tom Wilson, was vice principal of Forrest Sherman High School in Naples. Fast forward to 2024 and his granddaughter is graduating with the class of 2024 from the newer school, Naples Middle High School. A Brat, she has spent 5 of her school years in Naples. Today a photo is found in her graduation yearbook of people previously associated with the school and there is her grandfather, Tom. A correction is in order as he is listed as the principal in 1973 when it was actually Dr. Walsh. If I didn’t know better, I would say Tom somehow managed to sneak into Mac’s yearbook.

Sweeney, Jim: Panama Canal Zone teacher, later DoDDS-Panama teacher: 1972–1999.

The school system in Panama was originally run by the Panama Canal Division of Schools, a branch of the Canal Zone Government. Prior to that, the tiny number of dependent American students attended makeshift schools during the early construction days.

By 1942, Balboa High School had a beautiful tile-roofed campus, a stadium, and a gym. Later, more buildings were added to include a shop, science and ROTC buildings, an auditorium, and a junior college wing, which later reverted back to the high school when the junior college moved to a new location in La Boca at a former Latin American employee dependents’ school.


Shirley Benedict Albert: Vicenza, Italy

I lived in the dorm in Vicenza, Italy for school year 1970-71 as a junior. My father was stationed at Brindisi, Italy. At Brindisi, all high schoolers were sent to Vicenza for school. Dorms were not coed back then and female teachers were the House Mothers. On weekends there were planned events or day trips that we could sign up for.

Gen. Westmoreland came to the base for an IG inspection and wanted to visit the dorms. He and his entourage stopped by my room. He asked me a few questions about life in the dorm. We had a couple of laughs and he wished me well in my studies.

Hope, Sandra: Asmara American High School, Asmara, Eritrea: 1971-1973

I had heard about the high school at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Ethiopia, at an NSF Math Institute in Frankfurt during the summer of 1970. I applied, and received a phone call offering me the position while practicing for graduation at Lakenheath—a two-piano duet instead of the high school band. It took me five seconds to accept. I received my orders at the end of June—I shipped my vehicle at my own expense because London CPO said I wasn’t eligible (I was, and in the end, they paid.)


Smalls, Deirde: Erlangen Elementary: 1969-1972

It was October of 1969 when we arrived in Erlangen Germany and I was in the middle of my 3rd Grade year. If memory serves me correctly, Erlangen elementary was located outside of the back gate of Ferris Barracks. I remember the bus going through the Post gates from the housing area and out the back gate to arrive at school. The school was an old, white one-story structure with lots of windows in the classrooms. The scenery would sometimes prove to be a welcomed distraction at times.


Barnett, Sam: Kwajalein: 1969-1972, 1974-1977

At Kwajalein, we went barefoot into the classrooms. We lined our flip flops up on the sidewalk outside the classroom. All kids either walked or rode their bike to school. There were no buses and very few cars. The school was like a two-story cinderblock hotel with exterior hallways. As any red-blooded male child in a tropical paradise, all I remember thinking about at school was getting out of school. I left Kwaj as an eight-year-old and that was a while ago.

Trecosta, Gail D.: Ekali Elementary School, Ekali, Greece

In 1973 our family moved to Greece from Rota, Spain. After a short time in temporary quarters in Glyfada we moved into a house in Ekali that had beautiful rose bushes and numerous fig trees. Ekali was a suburb of Athens and was also where the K-8 th grade DODDS Ekali Elementary School was located. My sister Lauren and I attended this school for the 1973-1974 school year and our dad, Rocco Trecosta, was an elementary school teacher.


Culp, Zena M.: 6th Grade, Pforzheim, Germany: 1974

6th Grade Matters

It was the Autumn of 1974 and I was just starting  6th grade at Pforzheim Elementary School in Pforzheim, Germany.  It was the fifth elementary school I had attended in five years.  As a child in a military family, it was not unusual for me to change schools, but it was very unusual to find myself in a tiny school sharing a teacher and a classroom with 4th and 5th graders.  I wondered, “What am I going to learn with 4th and 5th graders in my class?”  I was not happy.  As a result, I had a terrible attitude, and I was rude to my classmates and my teacher.   I remember frequently interrupting my teacher during class by blurting out “I already learned that!”, “I already know that” and “I learned that when I was 5 years old.” Finally, my teacher, Ms. Joan Maas, gently pulled me aside and said three things to me:   1) “You’re smart, but you’re not smarter than me” 2) “I can teach you” and 3) “You’re making the other children feel bad.”  I went home and cried because it had never occurred to me that my words were hurtful, or that I made the other students feel bad.


Sullivan, John: Subic Bay, Philippines

The “Itty Bitty Cake Sale”…Well how do I begin this?…Ok.. 1969-70 school year Subic Bay Philippines. Our GDHS junior class was holding bake sales on Saturdays to raise money for our Senior/Junior Prom (we did the prom for both classes together because we didn’t have a ton of seniors). Anyway, my buddies, Ed and Ron, and I thought it was better time spent going to the beach on Saturdays waterskiing all day. Well, one day, we were informed that if we didn’t contribute money to the prom committee, we weren’t going to be allowed to attend the prom! (more…)

Santos, Maria: George Cannon School, Midway Island: 1970–1972

I am a baby boomer born in 1960 and my father was stationed at Midway Island from 1970 to 1972. I tell everyone those were my best years growing up there.  Life was soooo carefree for a 10 year old, myself, and my little brother, 8 years old. We made many friends and all the kids played together, all the time and anytime (if we weren’t in school or church) and everywhere.  I don’t remember much staying in the house. There was only tv in the evening with 1 channel and no kid shows. No worries about kidnapping and crimes! My own children never had this experience, sad to say. (more…)

Jansen, Reni: Izmir, Turkey

Memories of Izmir

I have more memories packed into my short senior year in Izmir than I have of my 3 previous years. To be fair to me, I went to 4 different high schools, as some other of my classmates probably did.

I loved the school. The teachers were all very cool as I remember. Mr. Gahan, who taught English and SS, was a hoot. He would call the girls Miss, then their last name, and the boys Master, then last name. Imagine the giggles that erupted every time he called on Master Bates (Richard Bates)!!! Now, fully grown, I’m pretty sure he was just a mischievous person. He kept us entertained! (more…)

Jones, John Paul, PhD: Kaiserslautern High School, Germany: 1970’s

I Understood

While we were stationed at Ramstein AFB, and I was attending Kaiserslautern American High School, I was recommended by my teachers for a tutoring job at Landstuhl Hospital. The patient (student?), was a young boy, about middle-school age, however his curriculum was definitely high school. I taught him algebra, geometry, US History, US Government, German and Spanish, Chemistry (minus the lab) and English (I provided books and we discussed them). I met three times a week. He had a badly broken femur and some internal injuries; his older brother and father were also there but were hurt much worse. (more…)

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Kubasaki High, Okinawa: 1975-1977

When I transferred from Pacific Middle to Kubasaki High in 1975, I had to adjust to teaching juniors and seniors after six years teaching young teens, grades 7 to 9. It was a refreshing change to work with near adults requiring less constant supervision and guidance.

Junior and Senior English involved composition writing and study of literature. Each Wednesday, the entire English department observed Sustained Silent Reading for the entire period. Students could bring any book or magazine of their choice and most not only made good choices but honestly appreciated the time for uninterrupted reading. The philosophy was that reading enhanced spelling and grammar skills as well as reasoning skills.  (more…)

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Pacific Middle School, Okinawa: 1972-1975

Just three months before I arrived in Okinawa, the American Occupation officially ended and the island government reverted to Japanese control. Instead of dollars, people used yen. Americans lived under Japanese law, signing rental contracts that conformed to Japanese custom and registering our cars paying the Japanese a tax and using Japanese license plates. We did, however, have special privileges under the new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) regarding importing of American products to the exchanges and commissaries, and nearly another 20 years would pass before the switch was made from driving on the right to the left side of the road in accord with mainland Japan. 

When I reported to teach in 1972, Pacific Middle School was in the initial transition phase from a junior high to a middle school under the leadership of Principal Don Taylor and Vice-Principal Dorothy Weihe. Faculty members planned units of study together, combining, for example, history study with English composition and literature.  (more…)

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Ansbach Jr. High, Germany: 1970 – 1971

Photo of Ansbach Jr. HighWhen I arrived for the first time in Europe, vaguely retaining some high school German, I felt much relief to be passed along to my destination by veteran DoDDS teachers through their amazing relay system. A fellow teacher met my plane at Rhein-Main AFB and registered me at the military lodge. The next morning, another teacher delivered me to the Frankfurt Main Train Station with instructions to get off the train when it stopped at noon, for that would be Nürnberg. Someone from the Nürnberg faculty settled me, jet-lagged, into the American Hotel across the street for the weekend, and on the following Monday, he sent me by train on the last leg of the trip to Ansbach.

My first impression of the Ansbach Junior High was that it looked like a Girl Scout cabin in the woods. “L-shaped,” all the rooms opened to an outside covered walkway while the library and principal’s office was in the corner. We were a small faculty—I can only recall five or six of us—because we only taught grades 7-9, each our own department head.  (more…)

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada: 1969 – 1970

In an “ice-olated” location like the Strategic Air Command (SAC) base at Goose Bay, Labrador, the arrival of a planeload of new teachers was a Big Occasion. The airport lobby was packed with parents, children, and a few single Air Force officers looking over the mostly single women hired by DoDDS. Our appointed sponsors waved signs with our names and greetings of welcome.

By evening, we were unpacking in the single rooms assigned to us in two long green barracks and getting acquainted like the college freshmen we had once  been. The Officers’ Club where we would take most of our meals was a short walk across the street. But we rode buses to and from the high school, even before the snow began to fall—180 inches worth that winter.  (more…)

Burdette-Dragoo, Anita: Inçirlik AFB, Adana: 1971-72

When I arrived at Inçirlik AFB in 1971, the elementary students met in a regular school building, but the junior high, which consisted of grade 7-8-9, met in about a dozen quonset huts on the periphery of a large grassy field, while grades 10-11-12 students boarded at Karamursal near Istanbul, returning to their parents at holidays. 

Those quonsets were primitive compared to DoDDS school quonsets elsewhere, such as Pacific Middle in Okinawa. The curvature of the building began at ground level, so we lost considerable stand-up space around the outer walls. Many of the floor tiles were cracked so I pulled grass from time to time and I would hear the scurry of mice when I opened the door in the morning.  The quonsets were heated with coal oil furnaces which we teachers lit on chilly days, igniting a wad of paper jabbed onto a wire coat hanger with a match, then inserting it into the furnace. 


Weihe, Dorothy C: 1955 – 1979

August 17,1955 was my date to leave for DEG schools in France. I was certain that I would find my assignment to be one of the isolated one or two-teacher schools that Charlie Tinder repeatedly mentioned while he interviewed me at the University of Minnesota. After our flight, via Flying Tigers to Paris, I was pleasantly surprised to be assigned to Verdun, France. Four of us that met at the Litre Hotel, were to leave by train the next morning. They were Margaret O’Hare, Marion Sather, Marian Carmody and myself. Also on the same train were Robert Miller and another fellow whose name I’ve forgotten. He was transferred out of Verdun early in the year.

Meinke, Erna: 1950 – 1977


It has been a great experience, my twenty-seven years with the DOD Schools overseas. My only regret is that I didn’t get into the program sooner. Teaching is teaching wherever one is but this was also an adventure. I applied for an overseas teaching position while I was teaching in Seattle, Washington. I was accepted and left for Germany in August, 1950.

My first assignment was in Bad Wildungen as a first and second grade teacher. Subsequent assignments in Germany were Hochest am Main and Wiesbaden. I spent two years at each location before I was finally given an assignment in Sevilla, Spain. (more…)

Carr, Mary E.: 1952 – 1978

I was with the DOD schools only one year of this first ten year period I had been teaching at a Methodist Mission School in Palembung, Indonesia so I hadn’t even heard about the military overseas schools until I came home to Fairfax, Virginia in 1953. If I hadn’t made this trip to Indonesia I would most likely never have had the nerve to go to all the strange places that came later.

I think I was quite timid about doing anything on my own at that time but Indonesia changed all that! This was brought about when friends of mine were going to Indonesia to start a business. They asked me if I would like to go with them and teach there. They always declared that my answer was “Sure, where is it!”. I think they may have figured they might need me to teach their kids too. Their eight year old had been in my first grade class in Fairfax. (more…)

Cabana, Jewel: 1956 – 1974

My U.S. Federal Government Civil Service Career with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools began September 1941, when I was a young girl. I was hired and traveled from Ohio to Washington, D.C. to work for the Navy Department. Soon after World War II ended, I transferred in 1946 to the Island of Guam in the Pacific where I continued working for the Navy Department for 10 years.

In April 1956 I transferred back to Washington D.C. with the U.S. Air Force Overseas Dependents Schools Office where I began recruiting, selecting, and assigning school teachers to teach the children of our military serving at overseas military bases located around the world. Sometime later, the recruitment of schoolteachers for all branches of the military, the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and others, all merged their recruitment offices, and became known as Department of Defense Dependents Schools System. (more…)

Larner, Thomas M.: 1954 – 1990

I retired in 1990, but I frequently visit the Oslo American School. OAS will terminate this June as NATO is moving mostly to England and a smaller group will move to Stavanger. There will be a farewell dinner 27 May and I will give a speech, being the oldest long time teacher of over 37 years.

OAS was started up in the fall of 1954. Before that it was privately run by the Embassy. I was a substitute teacher in 1953 while attending the Oslo University and was offered a job in 1954. Two rooms in a hotel and a private home a mile away from the hotel was the best the Embassy could obtain. When the military took over, a former German barracks in Smestad was made available and there was just enough room for eight grades. (more…)

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