DODDS-Europe, 60-years of influence – Famous folks part of DODDS history

Dennis K. Bohannon
DODDS-Europe Public Affairs

In the 60 years since its doors opened, hundreds of thousands of American students have found themselves overseas, in the classrooms of Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

As DODDS-Europe officials celebrate its history, they reflect on some of the more famous students who have graced the halls.
Star of stage and screen Faye Dunaway is among them. She is the daughter of Sgt. John Dunaway, and was a student at Mannheim Junior High from 1953 to 1955. Dunaway performed opposite Susan Blakely in Towering Inferno. Ms. Blakely was born in Frankfurt − her father, a career Army officer. She attended Seoul American High School, was a cheerleader during her sophomore year, and graduated with the class of 1966.

Star Trek Voyager’s Jeri Ryan and Tim Russ were both DODDS-Europe students. Jeri Ryan, better known as “Seven of Nine” in the Star Trek series, was born in Munich to an Army master sergeant. Many of her military schoolmates knew her better as Jeri Lynn Zimmerman. She also attended DOD schools in Kansas, Maryland, Georgia and Texas. Tim Russ, who portrayed Lt. Tuvok on the same show and has gone on to direct a Star Trek sequel, was an Air Force dependent. “When I was growing up, I did not like moving from place to place on average every two years,” he said. “The constant making and losing of friends was sometimes very difficult.” But, he said, now he realizes how much he gained.

“As I look back, I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in different parts of the world,” said Mr. Russ, who attended school in Turkey.

Another student with fond memories of DODDS-Europe schools is Mitch Pileggi, best known as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the “X” Files.
“My years going to school in Ankara were the time of my life,” said Mr. Pileggi, who credits a teacher for his success.

“I give a huge part of the credit for my pursuing acting to Marilyn Brown, who made me get up in front of the music class, to the heckling of the rest of my football teammates and sing “Maria” from West Side Story,” Mr. Pileggi said. “We were all in chorus because we thought it would be an easy grade. But, it was a moment that opened the floodgates – letting loose the passion of my life. To this day I still have conversations with her about those times and give her my thanks for the push she gave me.”

Other famous students include football player Ronald George; basketball player Shaquille O’Neal; Priscilla Presley; and Olympians Debbie Sapenter and 1979 Kaiserslautern American High School graduate Alonzo Babers.

 “I loved the walk down in Wiesbaden, especially during Christmas when the little kiosks were out on the street and they had Glühwein, which I didn’t know was wine, and waffles with chocolate on them,” Mr. Babers said.