Speaking of moving, where are we moving to?
by Circe Woessner, Executive Director , MAMF
August is proving to be busy for Operation Footlocker. MAMF board members Ole and Joan took the footlockers on the road to the Overseas Brats Reunion in Daytona Beach, FL, and Director Circe took a footlocker to a Military Family event at the Word of Life Church in El Paso, TX. At the end of August, Operation Footlocker will be at the Albuquerque VA Medical Center as part of its Diversity Day celebrations.
As part of the annual Overseas Brats Reunion, held this year in Daytona Beach, Ole and Joan were keynote speakers. They told the audience of Brats–some who attended DoD schools as long ago as the1940′s to more recently–about the Museum of the American Military Family and its mission and vision. They set up the Footlocker in the hospitality suite of the hosting hotel and spent many pleasurable hours sharing memories and stories about growing up as “Overseas Brats”.
Several Brats contributed items for the footlocker– University of Maryland, Munich T-shirts, a Lakenheath letter jacket, several hand written stories and an assortment of small items.
Stanley and Stella also accompanied Ole and Joan on this trip and they got their photos taken with some reunion attendees.
The Word of Life Church in El Paso invited Operation Footlocker down to its Military Family Fair. Pastor Sonia Brown is an Army Brat and attended school in Karlsruhe, Germany as well as in Fts Polk, and Leonard Wood. Many of the parishioners are active duty as well as retired military.
There were vendors from faith-based mental health groups, from the VA, as well as representatives from law enforcement agencies and colleges. There were chair massages, home made baked goods, and lots of entertainment.
And what excellent entertainment there was! There was a band, a dance troop and a couple guys doing stand up comedy…There were several solo acts, and lots of people stopped by our Operation Footlocker table to learn about the museum.
Ole and Joan attended the Tijeras Town festival and Caroline and I were at the Albuquerque VA for Diversity Day, where we unveiled our Postcard Project: Military Life in 9-99.
The Postcard Project needs donations of postcards from any place in the world. These cards can be new or vintage. We estimate needing 500-600 cards over the next 4 months…We also would like YOU to submit your short memory on a card–see the instructions and mailing address below.
Subject: Military Family Fair – August 10, 2013
At Word of Life Church we appreciate the sacrifices of service members and their families.
We are blessed to have active and retired military and their families as members, friends and partners of our church. On August 10th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., we will have a community outreach to recognize and support military families by holding our first Military Family Fair at 11675 Pratt Avenue.
This Military Family Fair will include:
· A representative from The Museum of the American Military Family
· An opportunity to submit items to the museum repository
(stories, letters, documents, and photos of military members throughout our nation’s history.)
o Information on their LearningCenter and other resources
o An inspiring Flat Stanley/Stella Project for children/youth
· Merchants/businesses with special programs, products and financing for military
· Organizations in the community with programs, resources and ministries to help military families face life’s everyday challenges
· Live entertainment, face painting
· Drawings for prizes
The fair is open to all military families and admission is free. We encourage you to participate in this fair and help make it a very great event for the El Paso community’s military families. Also, feel free to copy and distribute the attached flyer
Pastor Julie Clements is our contact for the fair and can be reached at (915) 383-0875 for any questions and to reserve a table/display area for your organization.
I would say that I have been a member of the military community since 1990. I was six years old at the time and my mother had accepted a job working as a DOD civilian at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Flash forward twenty –two years (ok you can do the math, I’m 28!) and here I sit in military quarters on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
I grew up amongst other children whose parents served in the military. I, never being exposed to military terms and titles, had no idea what the difference between varying ranks were. Being that my family was labeled “civilian” on a military base, we were always the family to be left behind while others moved on to new assignments. However, we did our fair share of moves, the most notable being to The Netherlands when I was eight years old. I can remember running along the canals of Holland as small child and speaking in broken Dutch when trying to purchase Gouda cheese. Another significant move in my childhood was when we relocated to Belgium, where my mother worked on the NATO base. It was there that I spent the remainder of my childhood, where I grew up in essence, living in the company of Belgian neighbors with their fabulous frites and waffles. I also met my husband while attending high school there. Read the rest of this entry »
WORKSHOP FOR MILITARY PARENTS & CHILDREN
November 10, 2012
The Museum of the American Military Family and Brats without Borders will present “A Life in Transit: Growing Up Military,” a workshop for military parents and their children, age 12 and up, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Kirtland AFB Chapel. For more information, call Circe Olson Woessner, executive director of the Museum of the American Military Family, at (505) 504-6830.
Another session of this workshop will be at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, Albuquerque at 1:45-3:00 November 10th.
BRATS, OUR JOURNEY HOME
November 11, 2012
In recognition of this national holiday honoring military veterans, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will be offering screenings of the film “Brats: Our Journey Home” on Sunday, November 11, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with a visit by filmmaker Donna Musil between the two showings. All service members, past and present, who show military identification will receive free admission. This day is co-hosted by http://www.museumoftheamericanmilitaryfamily.org/ 601 Eubank SE; 505-245-2137; http://www.nuclearmuseum.org
Joe Condrill has been called a lot of names.
But he never thought he would pick up the nickname, ‘Bratman’ and be recognized as a leader among millions of military and overseas dependents, affectionately known as ‘Brats.’
As the son of a career Army officer, Joe would see 21 homes in 19 years. He attended 12 schools in 12 years including two elementary schools in Germany and France and three high schools in Hawaii, Thailand and Iran, where he graduated from the Tehran American School in 1973.
Returning to the U.S. for college in San Francisco and San Antonio, Joe experienced what many Military or Overseas ‘Brats’ felt: out of place. So when he heard that some from his Tehran American School were planning a reunion in Houston in 1982, Joe jumped at the opportunity and he went on to create the Tehran American School Association. He also reconnected with some classmates of his from the International School of Bangkok, which is now known as the ISB Network. Yet another door would open for Joe.
“One day in the Fall of 1985, I got a letter (in the days they use to send letters) from someone named David Thatcher, who attended one of the schools I attended, in Orleans, France. Dave was starting something called, the Overseas Schools Combined Alumni Registry or OSCAR. He had a vision of entering in any person who had gone to an overseas school. I loved the idea and responded to him. But soon he became overwhelmed with the response and his job wouldn’t permit him to pursue it further.”
OK…what to do now with that kind of interest?
”Some of the contacts on Dave’s list and I corresponded. They shared their unique stories about climbing Mount Fujiyama in Japan, cruising down the Rhine River on Hitler’s barge, and having their proms in the Eiffel Tower. As a writer and publicist I said, “Wow! Maybe the military trade press will be interested in our stories.” As it turned out they weren’t.”
So this prompted Joe to send out a memo to the dozen or so contacts of other overseas schools. It was dated April 8, 1986 — now the anniversary date of the founding of the OVERSEAS BRATS organization. Joe continued sharing.
”All I shared was they (the military trade press) weren’t interested in our stories, and maybe we should start our own publication. Within three or four months I received about 150 calls or letters asking to be put on that mailing list.” Joe laughed.
”THEN the Life & Times section of the Army Times Publishing Company contacted me. They heard about this new organization I was developing called OVERSEAS BRATS. They wanted to do a story about it. That article appeared in a September 1986 edition of the ARMY, NAVY, MARINE, COAST GUARD and AIR FORCE TIMES.”
Over 300 ‘Brats’ responded. They wanted to join and get the publication and become part of an organization of Brats. Among those who responded was a woman who had graduated from Karlsruhe (Germany) American High School in 1979 and attended the University of Maryland-Munich Campus between 1979 and 1981: Circe Olson Woessner!
As with any new organization, there were exciting things happening. But there was a personal cost, too.
”Membership expanded to 1,000 by 1988. The publication expanded into three – 20+ pages published annually. We were starting host regional get-together’s and an annual national convention. With my other full-time job and a romance (that lead to an engagement), I was burning the candle from three ends. While OVERSEAS BRATS would continue to thrive, I lost the relationship with a wonderful, loving ‘Brat’ who had gone to school in Italy and Germany.”
In October 1990 there was enough financial support to allow Joe to leave his job of 11 years as an advertising services/meeting planner for a resilient floor covering company to devote to OVERSEAS BRATS.
Over the years, thousands of ‘Brats’ have been reconnected through OVERSEAS BRATS. Several hundred alumni groups or reunions found help, too.
As Brat liaison, Joe will be providing updates on ‘Brat’ reunions and OVERSEAS BRATS functions, writing for our Quarterly, and he will play an instrumental role in helping the Military Family Museum create an annual national convention.
Over the past few months, we’ve introduced you to our board members. This month, meet Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director.
Circe Olson was born in Evreux, France to American parents teaching at the US School on Dreux Air Force Base. When she was four, her parents moved to Karlsruhe, Germany, where her mother, Joan, got a job teaching first grade and her father, Allen, worked for the Directorate USDESEA.
Circe learned from her friends what it meant to be a military child, “Although I never physically moved, my friends did, and so I was always saying goodbye to someone—and as their dads continued trough their assignments, I welcomed my same friends back three or four years later. Many of my friends had German moms, and their dads came back to Germany so they could be close to their mom’s families for a tour. So I’d catch up with my elementary friends in junior high and then in late high school.”
That must have been foreshadowing …
“I met my husband, Bill, while attending the University of Maryland, Munich Campus, and we married at the end of our sophomore year. Our wedding was a curious blending of cultures and customs. Our invitations were in three languages to reflect the nationalities of our guests, and our wedding celebrations were in two countries. We had our civil wedding in Karlsruhe (Germany) and the church wedding was in Wissembourg (France).”
The newlyweds completed their schooling at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia, and moved out to southern Indiana and started a family.
“Both Bill and I missed Europe,” Circe admits, “And it seemed the only way to get back there was for Bill to join the Army.” So in 1987, Bill shipped off to Basic Training and Officer’s Candidate School, and Circe and their young son, Erik, went to stay with Circe’s parents who were living in Heidelberg, Germany.
Circe and Erik joined Bill at his OCS graduation, and they started their Army Career at Ft. Sill, OK.
“I remember going to classes to learn how to be a good officer’s wife—how to host a tea, dress properly and be a good support for my husband. It was so strange for me at the time—especially since I didn’t really like to do any of the things that I was told officers’ wives ‘do’.”
There was also a learning curve. “Once, I parked in a ‘General Officers’ parking space. I figured that as a 2LT, Bill was about the most general of all the officers—it wasn’t like he was anything important…” She was soon told of her error and after that stayed clear of the prime parking spots.
The Woessners soon moved back to Germany, to the 3/11 ACR based in Bad Hersfeld, near the East German border. It was a hard but great tour. The troops were in the field 280 days of the year, but the Cav wives were a tough and resilient bunch.
Circe and her neighbor, Laura, would pack up their kids-Laura had two girls—and they’d explore the back roads and small towns around Hessen. It was a great experience for all.
The Iron Curtain crumbled in 1989 and East Germans streamed across the border. “It was great to be part of history,” Circe recalls. “I taught English to eastern European immigrants, and at the same time, did some PR work—undoing years of Soviet brainwashing about how horrible Americans were.”
After Germany, the Woessners—now with baby Iain—moved to Redstone Arsenal (AL), Ft. Jackson (SC) and Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
“Up until Puerto Rico, I had never had a full-time job. I’d worked as a substitute teacher or part-time for the youth center or library on post, but I finally got a job teaching for the Defense Department school on Roosevelt Roads Naval Station.”
Life in the tropics was interesting—the Woessners survived hurricanes—one of which, Georges—left them without power, water or phone for six weeks, a bout of denge fever, and wild lizards and huge spiders roaming through the house.
“Puerto Rico was great-we went snorkeling and scuba diving, we bought a condo on the beach and a motor boat. We cruised to all the islands and we loved the island life.”
Bill got transferred to the Washington DC area, and the family enjoyed living in southern Maryland, soaking in US history and enjoying the Chesapeake Bay.
In 2001,The family moved to Kirtland Air Force Base where Bill assumed command of the 21st EOD detachment. Circe got a job with the Department of Air Force (thanks, in part, to Spouse Preference). Bill declared that he was done moving—New Mexico was THE Place to retire.
In 2008, son Erik, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Army and within a year, shipped off to Iraq.
“It was while he was overseas, I got the idea to start the Museum of the American Military Family. It’s a lifestyle, a calling –service, actually–that is hard to describe and for non-military people to understand. Military families are a unique, proud group and their stories should be told. Because in reality—Service members and their families serve together.”
July was very productive for the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). Members of the board met for a third time with Albuquerque city officials regarding building a permanent structure in the metro area, and two firms sent in proposals for the museum building, one of which is shown here.
Operation Footlocker made several appearances throughout Albuquerque– at the VA Cooperative Studies Center, JRs BBQ, American Legion Post 49 and at the Route 66 Festival. Operation Footlocker also made its way up to Denver, Colorado to the 24th annual DODDS Reunion.
Everywhere we went, we got an enthusiastic welcome…none more so than the group staffing the footlocker at the Route 66 Festival in the Nob Hill section of historic Route 66, a.k.a Central Avenue.
I was not there, but Allen, Rachael, Wanda, Jude and their significant others assure me that after spending hours next to the Techno booth next to them, they went home with permanent “dub step” pounding in their brains—and not to mention—temporary deafness and mild sunburn.
What we do to carry out our Museum’s mission: “celebrating over two centuries of our military families’ remarkable contributions…together they serve…”!
I was up in Denver and had very productive meetings with the board of the American Overseas Schools Historic Society (AOSHS) and with Donna Musil, Founder of Brats without Borders. We agreed to collaborate on some interesting initiatives in the coming months.
Our planning committee continued to fine-tune our strategic plan and to develop a robust marketing strategy.
We kicked off our logo contest, asking people from the community to submit ideas for our museum’s logo, and a few submissions have come in. We, in the interim, have selected a design to use for merchandise.
On July 28th at our quarterly meeting, we said farewell to two board members, Julianna Sutherland, Marketing Director, and Bill Armstrong, Secretary of Public Affairs—after two years of service. We appreciate all they did (and continue to do) for the museum. We elected Polly H. Mclaughlin, Marketing Director and welcomed Rachael Cleveland to her new position as Education and Social Media Programs Director. We voted to further restructure and expand the board, and are actively recruiting for several board positions. (See our website for details)
We continue to fund-raise, as we haven’t quite met our goal for this quarter. Our supporters have been generous in this poor economy, and we thank them for their trust and confidence in us.
What’s next for MAMF?
We are partnering with the Bataan Military Academy and the Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science in Albuquerque this school year. We will be working with the Sea Cadets and Civil Air Patrol programs.
We continue to work with the National Nuclear Museum and our other local and national partners in building our exhibit for the fall.
We continue to gather the stories and memories of the American Military Family—if you have items to donate or stories to share, please email us at email@example.com .
We continue to develop our podcast, “Schooling With Uncle Sam” and will add another, “Together We Serve”. We plan to add a book review to our blogs. We will begin redesigning and migrating our website to another platform.
Over the next few weeks, we will feature the stories of our board members here, so you learn of their military story and better appreciate why they want to represent the Museum of the American Military Family.
We thank you for your continued support…as we support and honor the American Military Family.
Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director, MAMF