March 30, 2017
Special program brings veterans, from World War II to Iraq,
to Niskayuna High
School to share experiences with students
social studies department and patriot flight organize assembly,
They recalled the freezing temperatures of the winter of '44 in Europe, preparing to go to Southeast
Asia in the summer of '69, and will never forget their comrades who never
On Tuesday, March 28, upwards of three dozen veterans of wars dating back to
World War II visited Niskayuna High School to share their experiences with
the junior class.
In a panel presentation moderated by social studies teacher Stephen
Eichfeld, 10 of the special guests talked about what it was like to head off
to war, their greatest hardships, and the benefits of serving and what it
was like to not just witness history, but to shape it.
"I'm eternally grateful that I made the decision to join the military,"
said Betty Clark, a first lieutenant in the Medical Corps, who cared for
former senator Bob Dole, among many others, during World War II.
The program was organized by the High School Social Studies Department with
Patriot Flight Inc., an Albany-based organization works to give veterans the
opportunity to visit the monuments that have been established in their
honor, including bringing World War II veterans to Washington, D.C.
Scroll down for a video about the Patriot Flight Program and
The veterans also spoke about the realities of war and what they
Bill Leunig, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, shared a story about his
company being stopped by a man outside a cottage and being introduced to
Jewish family that he had protected. When the Americans came through, he
said it was the first time their young girl had been outside in years.
"These are some of the brave people that you hear about behind-the-scenes,"
"War is not fun and games," said Vietnam veteran Bruce Mendini at another
point in the discussion. "My best friend's name is on a wall in Washington."
Following the panel discussion, students had the opportunity to interact
with the veterans in three smaller groups.
The Social Studies Department worked with Frank DeSorbo and Joe Savoie of
Patriot Flight to plan the program. The purpose was to make direct
connection with what juniors learn in their United States Government and
"I very much was a part of history," said Sergeant First Class Penny
McGinnis, who served in the Gulf War and worked in military intelligence.
"And, I'm very proud of it."
Video about the patriot flight program
This video about the Patriot Flight organization was shown to students as
part of the March 28 assembly.
More Pictures from the March 28 Special Program with Veterans at nhs