Joshua Barney School
a DoDDS School located in
Gaeta, Italy

Its History...

Page last updated: 8 March, 2018

Joshua Barney School History
Flagships Served by Joshua Barney School
DoDDS Schools

Newspaper Articles


Who was Joshua Barney?

A brief history of “Joshua Barney School”

also known as the “Gaeta American School”
and the “Gaeta Elementary School”

The Joshua Barney School first opened in Gaeta, Italy in September 1967. Initially housed in an apartment building in Old Gaeta, it later moved to a building shared by the Navy offices, the base post office and a small Navy Exchange.

Ed. Note: Barbara Morgan (67-68) recalls: " recollection is that our school was initially located in an Italian elementary school, which we shared with the Italian students in shifts. They attended in the morning, then we came in around 1 PM and attended until 5-6 PM. This was the situation until the NSA building opened.)

JB School 1970's

In 1974 the students and staff relocated to a new three story building where the school remained until June 2006.
New Joshua Barney School

In June 2006, with an enrollment at less that 50 students, the school was relocated to Gaeta Navy Base on Monte Orlando.

In 2008 the Joshua Barney School closed its doors for the last time.

Flagships served by the Joshua Barney School

USS Little Rock CLG 4 / CG 4 USS Springfield CLG 7
USS Albany CG 10 USS Puget Sound AD 38
USS Coronado AGF 11 USS Belknap CG 26
USS La Salle AGF 3 USS Mount Whitney LCC 20 / JCC 20

DoDDS Schools

Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) schools serve dependents of US military as well as other non-US military personnel outside of the United States. The DoDDS school system is the 10th largest American school system and is wholly located outside of the US!

DoDDS started operating schools on 14 October 1946 with the intent of ensuring an American educational experience for the American student. Therefore the children, teachers, and educational program were and are American.

In 1946 there were 38 elementary schools and 5 high schools. In 2011 there were 130 schools. DoDDS range from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and some Universities are accredited by the Department of Defense.

Although the schools are primarily for dependents of military personnel, other U.S. government employees may enroll their children in the schools on a space-available basis. Local language and culture courses are offered as early as elementary school, and advanced language courses are offered throughout high school.

In the European branch of DoDDS, there are currently 5 districts with a total of 81 schools. The Pacific branch has 4 districts with a total of 45 schools.

The above was extracted in part from a Wikipedia article.

Newspaper Articles

Gaeta school celebrates 30th birthday

By Kendra Helmer
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 4, 2004

GAETA, Italy — Faculty members knew of the time capsule concealed in a Gaeta Elementary School wall. But they weren't sure of its contents.

The opening of the capsule was the highlight of the school’s 30th birthday celebration Wednesday.

About 180 kindergarten through eighth-grade pupils cheered when Principal Tim Erickson withdrew the capsule from a breadbox-sized cavity. The contents: about a dozen letters written by sixth-graders in 1976, apparently as part of a class project rather than the inauguration of the school.

“We’re two years too early,” Erickson said with a laugh.

The pupils of 28 years ago predicted a “Jetsons”-type future, in which anything could be done with the push of a button. One boy wrote that he liked to listen to the rock band KISS, while a sad boy named Marshal wrote, “Very few people like me.”

Most hoped for a peaceful future with no war.

Present-day pupils got a kick out of the letters.

“Those kids were smarter than us,” said Katrina Selby, 12. “We could never think of anything that good. Our report would be, like, one sentence.”

JB Students 1
JB Students 2

(From left) Fourth-graders Emma Reddy, Madison Reeves and Yael Little try to spot familiar faces in old photographs of students and teachers at Gaeta Elementary School.

Gaeta Elementary School pupils listen to faculty members talk about the school during a celebration marking its 30th birthday.

Photos by Kendra Helmer / S&S

Though much has changed since the ’70s, “kids are still kids,” said first-grade teacher Mary Tatta, who has taught for the U.S. military in Gaeta since 1970, when the school was located on Corso Italia. Originally named the Joshua Barney School, the school transferred to its current three-story building and opened June 12, 1974. It was renamed in the mid-1980s.

Tatta and other faculty members were reminiscing during the event. They told the crowd about days when students sported ball caps rather than cell phones.

Lt. CDR. Sarah Dachos, 33, who attended from 1983 to 1985, said cheeseburgers at the school's bowling alley taste exactly the same 20 years later.

“It [the school] doesn't look a thing different,” said Dachos, now living in Gaeta as the 6th Fleet protocol officer.

Though the school's future is uncertain as the Navy continues to study transformation possibilities, current students added to the capsule with something from each class, including book reviews, a D.A.R.E. anti-drug program pamphlet, Wednesday's Stars and Stripes and a peppermint-scented pen to see if the smell would change in 30 years.

Principal Erickson asked the unthinkable: whether the crowd of youngsters would return to school in 30 years for another opening of the time capsule.

His answer? A chorus of screeches and “No way!”

Navy closes Gaeta elementary school after 45 years

By Lisa M. Novak
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 8, 2008

GAETA, Italy — The last day of school is usually a happy time for students and faculty, as they look forward to summer vacation. But Friday at Gaeta Elementary School, the students and faculty were also looking back.

It was, literally, the last day of school for Gaeta, as the classroom doors shut for the last time.

The school closure was one of the final steps in downsizing the U.S. Navy’s presence in Gaeta. Some services moved from the hilltop base of Monte Orlando down to smaller, pier-side facilities to support the crew and staff of the 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney. Other base facilities, like the school, have been eliminated completely.

Gaeta Elementary, opened in 1970, was originally named the Joshua Barney School. It was renamed in the mid-1980s.

It was slated to close last year, but was granted a one year reprieve by Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe following a 2006 request from the Navy.

As the final day arrived, faculty, friends and parents of the remaining 18 students gathered to celebrate with music and an awards assembly. It was also a final chance to say good-bye.

"I’ll miss the base and my friends," said 9-year-old Victoria Moore, who just finished fourth grade. "It was a lot of fun here."

Friday's events marked a special milestone for Mary Tatta, a teacher of 45 years. She has taught at the school since it opened.

"It was a wonderful time," said Tatta, who is set to retire. "It's bittersweet. There were some rocky bumps along the way, but it was such a pleasure to have worked with the DoDDS children. They're the best."


Gaeta American School
By Mary Tatta

Originally named Joshua Barney School and then the Gaeta American School, Gaeta EMS was originally named for Commodore Joshua Barney who served as a Commodore first in the Royal French Navy and not long after that, for the new United States Navy.

The school opened its doors to students in the lovely seaside town of Gaeta, about half-way between Naples and Rome in September 1967. Initially housed in an apartment building in Old Gaeta, it later moved to a building shared by the Navy offices, the base post office and a small NES.

By 1970 the school had outgrown these quarters and it was decided to construct a school large enough to house the growing population. In 1974 students and staff moved into this new three story building where the school remained until June 2006.

By this time the enrollment had shrunk to less that 50 and the school was relocated to Gaeta Navy Base on Monte Orlando, a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the medieval center of Gaeta.

With staff reduced to four teachers and multilevel grades K through five, the school remained open until June, 2008 when it closed its doors for the last time thus ending an era in one of the most beautiful locations in DoDDS.

From The Overseas Teacher, October 2008, Volume 44 Number 1

Who was Joshua Barney?

Portrait of Joshua Barney

A United State Naval Officer

Born: July 6, 1759 in Baltimore, MD
Died: Dec. 1, 1818 in Pittsburgh, PA

Joshua Barney left his father's farm as a child to go to sea, and navigated a vessel when only sixteen years old. Barney served in the Continental Navy beginning in February 1776, as master's mate of HORNET where he took part in Commodore Esek Hopkins's raid on New Providence (Bahamas). He later served on the schooner WASP  and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant for gallantry in the action between the WASP and the British brig BETSEY. While serving on the brig ANDREW DORIA he took a prominent part in the defense of the Delaware River.

Barney was taken prisoner several times and several times exchanged. In 1779 he was again taken prisoner and was imprisoned in Old Mill Prison, at Plymouth, Devon, England until his escape in 1781.

In 1782, he was put in command of the Pennsylvania ship, HYDER ALLY, in which in April he captured HMS GENERAL MONK, a warship that was much more heavily armed than the HYDER ALLY.[ He was given command of the MONK and sailed for France with dispatches for Benjamin Franklin, returning with news that peace had been declared. (After the Revolution Barney joined the French Navy, where he was made commander of a squadron.)

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, after a successful but unprofitable privateering cruise as commander of the Baltimore schooner ROSSIE, Barney entered the US Navy as a captain, and commanded the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, a fleet of gunboats defending Chesapeake Bay. He authored the plan to defend the Chesapeake, which was submitted to Secretary of the Navy William Jones, and accepted on August 20, 1813. The plan consisted of using a flotilla of shallow-draft barges, each equipped with a large gun which would be used in large numbers to attack and annoy the invading British, then retreating to the safety of shoal waters abundant in the Chesapeake region.

On June 1, 1814, Barney's flotilla, led by his flagship, the 49 ft. sloop-rigged, self- propelled floating battery USS SCORPION, mounting two long guns and two carronades, were coming down Chesapeake Bay when they encountered the 12-gun schooner HMS ST. LAWRENCE  (the former Baltimore privateer ATLAS ), and boats from the 74-gun Third Rates HMS DRAGON and HMS ALBION near St. Jerome Creek. The flotilla pursued ST. LAWRENCE  and the boats until they could reach the protection of the two 74’s. The American flotilla then retreated into the Patuxent River where the British quickly blockaded it. The British outnumbered Barney by 7:1, forcing the flotilla on 7 June to retreat into St. Leonard's Creek. Two British frigates, the 38-gun HMS LOIRE and the 32-gun HMS NARCISSUS, plus the 18-gun sloop-of-war HMS JASSEUR blockaded the mouth of the creek. The creek was too shallow for the British warships to enter, and the flotilla outgunned and hence was able to fend off the boats from the British ships.

Battles continued through June 10. The British, frustrated by their inability to flush Barney out of his safe retreat, instituted a "campaign of terror," laying waste to "town and farm alike" and plundering and burning Calverton, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Benedict and Lower Marlboro.

On June 26, after the arrival of troops commanded by U.S. Army Colonel Decius Wadsworth, and U.S. Marine Captain Samuel Miller, Barney attempted a breakout. A simultaneous attack from land and sea on the blockading frigates at the mouth of St. Leonard's creek allowed the flotilla to move out of the creek and up-river to Benedict, Maryland, though Barney had to scuttle gunboats No. 137 and 138 in the creek. The British entered the then-abandoned creek and burned the town of St. Leonard, Maryland.

The British, under the command of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane then moved up the Patuxent, preparing for a landing at Benedict. Concerned that Barney's remarkable flotilla could fall into British hands, Secretary of the Navy Jones ordered Barney to take his squadron as far up the Patuxent as possible, to Queen Anne, and scuttle the squadron if the British appeared. Leaving his barges with a skeleton crew under the command of Lieutenant Solomon Kireo Frazier to handle any destruction of the craft, Barney took the majority of his men to join the American Army commanded by General William Henry Winder where they participated in the Battle of Bladensburg. Frazier scuttled all but one of the vessels, which the British captured, of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla.

During the Battle of Bladensburg, Barney and 500 Marines and flotillamen made a heroic defense of the national capital—fighting against the enemy hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes. The battle raged for four hours but eventually the British defeated the greatly outnumbered Americans. The defenders were forced to fall back after nearly being cut off, and the British went on to burn the Capitol and White House. Barney was severely wounded, receiving a bullet deep in his thigh that could never be removed.

During the battle President James Madison personally directed the marines led by Barney. (Prior to the battle, Madison had narrowly avoided capture.) This battle is one of only two instances of a sitting president exercising direct battlefield authority as Commander-in-Chief, the other having occurred when George Washington rode out and personally crushed the Whiskey rebellion.

Commodore Barney died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 10, 1818 enroute to Kentucky, from complications related to the wound he received at the Battle of Bladensburg.

*  Four US Navy ships were named for Joshua Barney:

         •  USS Commodore Barney, a Civil War ferryboat,

         •  USS Barney (TB-25), a torpedo boat built at the Bath Iron Works,
             Bath, Maine in 1900, 

         •  USS Barney (DD-149), a Wickes-class destroyer, built at Cramp Ship-
             building in Philadelphia,  PA in 1918,

         •  USS Barney (DDG-6), an Adams-class guided missile destroyer, built at New
             York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey, launched 10 Dec 1960.

*  Also, a replica of a gunboat of Barney's Chesapeake Bay Flotilla today sits in a waterside
    park in Bladensburg, MD.

*  A traffic circle on Pennsylvania Ave., SE, in Washington, D.C. is named for Joshua Barney.

*  A road, Commodore Joshua Barney Drive, NE, in Washington, D.C. is also named for him.

*  And of course there was the Joshua Barney School in Gaeta, Italy.

Commodor Barney

Commodore Barney

Joshua Barney School Main Page

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Joshua Barney School Final Goodbye Page

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