Kirkpatrick, Robert, W.: Europe, North Africa: 1954 – 1956

The period of 1954 through 1956 will only include two years of my sojourn with the Dependent School system, and will only include Air Force Schools.

In 1953, I was Supt. of Schools in Rockford, Washington and my High School Principal, Ray Reistad, had applied for a position with the Air Force Dependents Schools in Europe, and had received notice to appear for interview with Mr. Robinson (to be referred to as Robie from here on). A position with the Dependent School System sounded good to me, and I asked Ray about the possibility of my also getting an interview with Robie. Ray and I found a telephone number on the application form and called. I was also given permission to come for an interview. We talked with Robie and later received notification that both of our names had been put on an alternate list. Continue reading

Simpson, Ida: Germany: 1955 – 1956: Regensburg

Reminiscences of my first year teaching with the dependent schools was in, 1955 and 1956 in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, a former capital city, rich in history, culture and location. It was a wonderful background setting for me to teach a combination of grades two and three.

My sister Nancy was assigned to teach grade one. Six grades were taught in a former shoe factory by a faculty that represented several States, as did the military personnel. The relationship and cooperation of the military families was great for a successful academic year.

Besides teaching, I studied German to add to my list of languages which I used in singing lessons. I gave a fine recital in one of the oldest Stathalle’s of the city that spring. Continue reading

Lieber, Llewellyn, : Libya: 1953 – 1955: Wheelus Air Force Base

Life begins at 40″ was not the lure which prompted me to ask the St. Louis Board of Education for a “Leave of Absence” in mid-term from my top-pay position as a 19-year-veteran earning $5000.00 yearly. Rather it inspired me to attempt a whole new way of life when the death of my mother severed filial ties, even though it meant nearly a $1,000.00 cut in salary. (I figured transportation and lodging, less income tax would make up the difference.)

Having decided to go, I had to research, “Where is Tripoli?” since all I knew was the song, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli” and the library didn’t yield much more information! I received instructions to bring “lots of formals and swim clothes,” which meant a frenetic shopping spree in mid-winter since it was January when I received confirmation of my acceptance. Continue reading

Steffen, Joseph, : Japan: 1964: Yamato


In August 1964, I landed at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Meeting the plane was Joe Blackstead, Superintendent of Schools. It was then that I learned that I was assigned to Yamato High School. I was told by Principal Olan Knight that I would be teaching social studies, physical education and coaching football, basketball and baseball. This was the year of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The USA basketball team needed a gym in which to hold secret workouts. Coach Iba picked our gym at Tachikawa for these workouts. I volunteered my services to Coach Iba and I was asked to run the shooting charts during the Games. Some of the players on the team were Bill Bradley, Walt Hazzard, Mel Counts and Larry Brown.

The USA team defeated the Russians in the Championship game in Tokyo 73 to 59. This was the sports highlight of my 25-year career in DODDS.

However, this was not my first visit to Tachikawa Air Base. In December 1945, I landed at Tachikawa in a B-25. When World War II ended, I was stationed at Buckner Bay in Okinawa. I had gone through the Battle of Okinawa as a Navy Mo.M. 3/c. After landing, I needed a ride to Tokyo to meet a friend. So I caught a train at the Tachi train station for U.S. military personnel only. However, I made sure no Japanese civilians got in back of me at the train station. I had gone through too many Kamikaze attacks and had been shot at too many times at the Okinawa Battle. I just didn’t trust our former enemy. Tokyo, I found to be devastated by B-29’s. The firebombs had done their job. However, I did notice the only thing left in many of the burned homes was a safe. I never saw so many safes in my life. After a five-day leave, I returned to my base in Okinawa.

Sincerely, Joseph Steffen

P.S. I hope you can use the above for The Early Days Book” for the period 1956-1966. (Report written January 9, 1999.)

Copyright 2004 American Overseas Schools Historical Society

Espinoza, Marie, O.: Morocco: 1954 – 1955

Memories of Elite First Decade DODDS Teachers”

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. Continue reading

St. George, Betty, L.: Japan: 1950 – 1952

Gathering thoughts for a trip down memory lane that occurred 44 years ago was an experience in itself. My mind was flooded with flashes of people, places and events. I realized my interpretation of these thoughts had been tempered by the passage of time and my own maturation process. The greatest revelation was the role that the years 1950 – 1952 played on the rest of my life.

Becoming a Department of the Army civilian or DAC, all began one foggy February morning in 1950. Arriving at school, my Principal greeted me saying she wanted me to be sure and read what she had just posted on the bulletin board. It was a very official looking letter from the Department of the Army (DOA) announcing the recruitment of teachers for the Overseas Dependent Schools. Continue reading

Fertik, LouCelle, : Japan, Germany: 1952 – 1958

Narimasu (Grant Heights) High School, Japan 1952-1954

Heidelberg American High School, Germany 1954-1958

After teaching in Iowa for eight years, I applied for a music position with the Army School for Dependent’s children, hoping that I would be assigned in Europe. After filling out many forms, I finally had a personal interview in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where approximately 25 other music teachers were interviewed that same day. The interview went extremely well and I was pleased with it, but didn’t expect to get accepted. However, on May 5, 1952 I received a letter stating that I had been accepted … but for Japan. I knew so little about Japan, only three words: Mt. Fuji, geisha, Ginza. This was not the time for me to say no” to learn more about another part of our world so I sent a telegram saying that I accepted the position … somewhere in Japan. (One was never given a final assignment until you were actually in the country). Continue reading

Lindsay, Alice, A.: Philippines: 1955 – 1956: Clark Air Force Base

My assignment as PI/Business and Social Studies Teacher at Clark AFB was my one and only overseas teaching assignment. On December 6,1956, I married Lieutenant Herbert N. Lindsay, Jr., who retired from the Air Force in 1974 as a Lieutenant Colonel. In December, 1994, we will be married 38 years. We have two sons: Herbert N. Lindsay, III, and Scott D. Lindsay, plus one grandson, Scott D. Lindsay, Jr.

My year in the Philippines was a memorable one: I made many wonderful friends and traveled to places I had only dreamed of. I remember that neither the living quarters nor the school was air-conditioned; in order to avoid the afternoon heat, our school day was from 7:10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. I sponsored the newspaper and the cheerleaders, and wrote the lyrics to some of the Wurtsmith High School songs. Continue reading

Marcotte, Mabel, F.: Germany: 1952 – 1958

As I write, the headlines in today’s NEW YORK TIMES are no different from those that have captured our attention for many months about the battles in Yugoslavia. Yet when I think of the Yugoslavia of 1957, my recollection is of two verbal disputes. One confrontation was with a border guard and the second with a trio of Communist officials in Niska Banja about obtaining lodging. Oh yes, there was also a tussle with bedbugs.

There was no conflict in my mind about wanting to teach overseas. I just needed a little shove. During my first two years of teaching third grade in North Plainfield, New Jersey, I eagerly corresponded with a friend who went to Japan. The following two years I taught in Clearwater, Florida and met another teacher who had taught in the Panama Canal Zone. She gave me the encouragement I needed to send in my application. Nine months later I was aboard an Army transport, the Darby, bound for Europe. Continue reading

McDonald, Jean, : Guam: 1954 – 1955



It was 1954 and the U.S. was at war in Korea. My husband had been called into the Navy the year before, and after training in San Diego, California was sent to Guam M.I. (Marianas Islands). Luckily I was able to join him, and arrived a few months later with my six-month-old son. I was in for a shock.

The housing available to us consisted of a room with two cots and a crib. The bathrooms were shared by many families as were the cooking and washing facilities. With luck and ingenuity we soon found a nice little house of our own and were happily settled. Continue reading