Subject: 1960
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2008 15:23:24 -0500
From: Sandy Kassis <>
To: <>


I'm trying to locate a friend that I have lost touch with over the years.  I knkow she attended Verdun American High School in 1959/1960, but am not sure if she graduated  from there or not.  In 1959/1960, she would have been a sophmore and would have been scheduled to graduate in 1962.  Her name (maiden) was Jean Johnson.  that may be a common name??  Please let me know if you have any knowledge of her. 

Thank you,

Sandy Kassis
Terre Haute, Indiana

Subject: also a former army brat
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2008 11:00:43 EST

My sister graduated from high school in Verdun. In the theatre.  We returned to the states in 1966. But we lived there for almost 5 years.  Friday nights we would take a bus to Marville to use the indoor swimming pool. We did not live far from the AYA.  My family spent a lot of time at the Red Cross Center.  My father would run the projector with movies. Sort of like on M.A.S.H., when they would run movies. We would watch McHale's Navy, Wagon Train, I Love Lucy, Travelogues, and even training films. This one film was about how to survive if your plane ditches in the ocean. Very interesting.

We did some touring with the Red Cross Center.  Myself I was born in 1955 so I was just a kid when we were there. I attended school on the post.  It was attatched to the hospital.  Anyway, it was nice to read some of the letters.

Thank you


Valerie (Elston) Eastman,
Daughter of Staff SGT Darrel O. Elston.

Subject: 1963-1964 Dorm Student
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 16:30:44 -0500
From: Tom James <>
To: <>

My name is Tom James (I am in the 1964 Verdun year book as Thomas G. James Jr).

I attended Verdun my 11th grade … School year 1963 - 1964.  I wasn’t by any means the  best student there, but I had some really great times there in the dorms .

At the time it did not seem great.  I lived in Brienne-Le Chateau … (Army base) and those bus rides up on Sunday and back on Friday were something else. My room mate was Johnny Roberts (also from Brienne), he was nick named Alabama, shot pool allot ..

My steady was Christine Banks, young hearts … heard she married my roomy Johnny later… Her brother Warren attended for a while and dropped out toward the end of the year.  Just wondering what ever happened to the gang

Had great friends at Chaumont (the air force base) …

We all were prime Vietnam bait …

Tom James

Senior Software Engineer (eMTS)


From: Jerry Block []
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 11:29 AM
Subject: American high school Verdun

John or Bill,
Just saw the picture of the high school in 61' with all the barb wire around it. After I did the year book photos the Ambassador of Luxemburg who was the guaduation class speaker and saw the yearbook picture in her lap and ordered the barb wire fence taken down.  DOWN IT CAME. It was still down when I rotated out in 63'.  I was perm CQ at the BOQ's and the exchange club photo instructor.
Jerry Block


Jerry, The evolution of the boy's and girl's dormitory was interesting.  I was there in 1958 when the school first opened ( Actually I arrived in October).  The caveat is the raging hormones of teenagers and how the Army interpreted them.  All of the construction of the "barriers" always took place when we were on long school breaks (Christmas, semester, and summer).  In the beginning, there were no locks on any doors except for the front, dorm rooms, and entrances to the school from both outside and inside. Also I remember the first student assembly with the Army and school staff on the stage, each made a few comments and sat down.  Last to speak was the principal, Bernard Spiegel.  Basically he said that if we did something that broke unknown rules, a rule would be made so we wouldn't do it again without punishment.

As we had an incident, the Army reacted!  First thing that I remember was screens being put on all of the windows in the girl's dorm.  None on the boy's dorm.  Because boys and girls were leaving their rooms and going into the first floor rooms through the windows sort of free will until they were caught. From here it just cascaded with more incidents and the Army reacting!  I'll recount the incidents and the Army's reaction.
There were doors at either end of both dorms under the stairwells that lead to the central heating system.  Once in the basement, all it took was to walk from one end to the boy' dorm to the other end of the girl's dorm.  Free access to the dorms from either door access until caught.  Army replaced the wooden doors with steel doors and triple locks.
During summer recess a fence surrounding the girl's dorm was built. It literally surrounded the dorm and had a gate at the end of the dorm to access the lounge.  Just around the girl's dorm.
Next semester, there were too many girls and not enough room to house them.  Where they could fit 3 to a room, it was done.  One of the lounges was converted in to dorm housing.  But more girls were arriving, and they created another living area in an area above the foyer where the entrance to the school, boy's dorm, and the girl's dorm met.  This was a big make out area for saying good bye to your boy/girl friends before we had to go in for the evening for studying and bed.  The girls living there discovered that they could enter the boy dorm at will and did so.  But you could not go into the new living area from the boys dorm.  The girls dorm counselors discovered this after hearing lots of screaming and yelling from that area.  The Army transferred a lot of fathers to the Verdun area so their daughters would be day students.
We always went up the corridor from the boys/girl's dorm to the cafeteria for breakfast and dinner.  Once in the corridor the rest of the school was easily accessible, especially the teacher lounges on the 1st and 2nd floors.  These were great make out places (rugs, couches, and plush chairs).  The other make out place was the kindergarten Quonset huts (rugs, couches, and plush chairs) on the elementary school side.  Teachers used to go back to their homes when the school bell rang for the last time that day.  I think some teachers knew what was going on, but remember they were only a few years older than us and really did not care.  Anyway this was discovered and the Army put up big fire doors on the first and second floor hallways and they were to be locked after school ended.  If you were caught in the lock down, you could still get into the main corridor to get to the cafeteria or dorm.
Smoking was a problem solved by allowing students to have access to the outside after breakfast, lunch, dinner.  Parents were not always aware that their children smoked.  After parents complained that their sons/daughters were smoking without their permission, the school staff issued pink smoking cards to those students whose parents signed letters giving them permission to smoke on school property.  What a joke!   Pink cards were passed around behind the backs of the students to show the teachers wanting to check who could or couldn't.  Smokers ended up with 5 to 10 cigarettes in each hand as the non-smokers got rid of their smokes.
Teachers often stood at the door leading to the outside and checked for the pink cards to keep those without inside. Little did they realize that there was more than one door leading outside.  
School ended for the year and summer recess was a busy construction period for the boy's dorm.  When we arrived back from the summer, there was a a huge fence surrounding the boy's dorm with a gate at the end for access to lounge. We had found a way to interact with each other and this solved the problem the old Army way.
During the break between the fall and spring semesters, the Army implemented a guard patrolling the fence perimeter of the girl's dorm.  This was from the end of school until the next mornings start of scholl.  This was to keep everyone in that belonged in and everyone that did not belong out.  This only lasted for one semester because the girls were teasing the sentries with shadow or real strip teases.  Some of the sentries climbed the fence in the wee hours of the morning and interacted with some of the girls.
Hence the picture you saw with the barbed wire on both the boys and girl's fences.  During the summer break the Army was busy again with that piece of construction.  At that time I graduated from Verdun and went on my quest to see all of Europe on 5 cents a day.  At the different reunions that we have had over the course of the last 22 years, I have often been accused of ruining it for the others that came behind us.  I was not personally responsible for any of the shenanigans that other students pursued.  I may have been a participant but was never caught.  There are other escapades that we went on and caused some ruckus among the Army and school staff.
As I tell my kids, when I arrived in Europe and found what a glorious place it was to be, it was like my father gave me a briefcase with 10 million dollars in it and told me not to spend it all in the same place. 

Thank you Army!