Four Niskayuna Class of 1962 gradutes worked together on a documentary featuring 25 classmates for their 50th reunion. From back left is Bob Van Degna, Donald Wilcock and Randy Johnson and in the front is Anna VA Polesny.
continued Crewmembers traveled from California to Massachusetts, down to Florida and up to Oregon. Wilcock, a contributing music writer to The Saratogian and Troy Record, said the team visited six states and 23 different locations.
“I won’t say I was totally blindsided by it, but I was surprised in that we ended up spending probably 10 times the amount of time I figured I would spend,” Wilcock said. “It was probably the most exciting project I have ever done, and I have done some pretty exciting projects.”
As a music reporter, he has hung out at The Royal Albert Hall in London with Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, but he thinks his class documentary was still the best experience.
“It changed my whole idea about what others in my generation are doing, have done and continue to do,” Wilcock said. “I’m looking forward to changing the perceptions drastically of most of the people I think are going to attend.”
Polesny said every young man was affected or worried about serving in the Vietnam War. She said the search to help share Cragin’s story is an important aspect of the film.
Wilcock, a Vietnam veteran, ended up interviewing John Iannucci, who served alongside Cragin in his final battle at the Tet Offensive in the Mekong Delta. Around 130 men were airlifted into a rice patty and a 36-hour firefight followed, Wilcock said. Only 26 walked away from the battlefield.
“It changed me to do this and to recognize that we as a society have not learned our lesson,” Wilcock said. The film is dedicated to veterans of the Vietnam War.
Other important issues are also touched on in the documentary, such as the feminist movement and views on homosexuality, alongside the tragic experience of losing a child.
“We are trying to advance some of the complex issues of the last 50 years,” Polesny said.
Polesny said the film also served as an opportunity to get to know some of her classmates more than she ever did in school. She only spent the last two years of high school in Niskayuna after moving to the area.
“For me, it was an opportunity to get to know mythological figures in high school,” she said.