CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — We all love our old family movies, but one that has a connection to our own NEWS10 history has also become a special memento for a Vietnam veteran and his family. During Christmas of 1967, Schenectady native Tommy McDermott was a long way from home.
The Airman First Class had enlisted in the Air Force and was serving in war-torn Vietnam at the time. News10’s Anya Tucker spoke with McDermott via Zoom. She had him think back over 50 years, and asked if he missed his family back home.
He answered, “Greatly.” But, that Christmas there was one big thing that delivered a bit of “home” to Tommy who was so far away.
It was a special, filmed message from his family. “I knew I wanted to come home. That’s probably the biggest thing.” He says the film gave him a “reason to live.” The surprise greeting was actually filmed in WTEN’s Studio B in Albany, New York.
Tommy’s sister-in-law says they were all invited to the station 54 years ago after she responded to an offer to film a season’s greeting by families of service members overseas. “Your relative was at war,” said Cathy. “It was a really ugly war. And it was just an opportunity. Because today you have facetime and iPads. Back then, no.”
Tommy says the film was mailed to his base in Vietnam and he watched it with other young men who were also longing for home. He kept the film for decades. Both Cathy and Tommy, who now live in Arizona, as that thanks to digital technology, it’s become a treasured family memento.
“At Christmastime, I watch it every year,” sad Tommy. “Both my parents are gone. My sister’s gone. And my brother Paul’s gone. It’s made me stronger.”