Skip to comments.North Texas Teen Racing Against Time to Interview War Heroes
Posted on 06/17/2017 5:24:10 PM PDT by nickcarraway
We are losing World War II veterans at an alarming rate. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of more than 370 World War II veterans die every day.
But, 17-year-old Andy Fancher is dedicated to keeping their legacy alive and he's racing against life's clock to tell their stories.
"I would see this man just sitting in his wheelchair with no one to talk to," Fancher recalled.
He was only 12-years-old when he met that gentleman, and it was then that he realized someone had to record the story of those veterans.
He decided to use his camera lens to listen to their stories. It's quite a task for a teenager.
"I realized that I didn't have much of a strong stomach," he said. "I've teared up a lot behind the camera."
"I've captured roughly 40 veteran's stories," Fancher said.
He helps the veterans navigate their narrative before that pass away.
"This generation is not going to be here for much longer and someone needs to capture their stories," he said. "It's just something that needs to be done."
His parents still drive him to his interviews and they've watched him grow up learning from the veterans.
"It really sank in with me when he lost his first veteran," his father, Robert Fancher, said.
"His name was John Ferris," Andy recalled. "He was the third interviewee of mine who 15 days after passed away."
"You know we all get a little shaken up over it," Robert Fancher said. "To have a 90-year-old man who has befriended your 17-year-old son and they are both thick as thieves so to speak. We cry."
As a young man, Ferris helped to change the world and in his last days of life, he changed Andy. The loss was hard on the teenager, but it punctuated the importance of the project.
"Three interviewees in particular that have been very close to me have passed on," he said. "And I was the last person to capture their stories."
There are moments that will stick with him forever.
"Those horrific images are still so sharp in their minds," he said. "The dates, the names and it makes my hair stand up talking about it."
"There are a few veterans in particular whose stories play on repeat in my head," he added.
Those stories are now chronicled for generations to come all because a teenager took to the time to listen and help veterans polish up the bad parts of their lives and find beauty for ashes.
My Mother used to dress us up, boys w bow ties, girls in skirts and fancy shoes (Our Church Attire)and take us to old folks homes, once we got there we would sing and harmonize old songs from my mothers youth and then they just just turn us loose and the residents and staff just let us happen.
I was the oldest of 6 kids so I was probably 9 or 10 and I was big into Roy Rogers, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett etc ... and them old guys would tell long stories about everything from Jesse James to Billy the Kid (just making everything up, but I didn’t know any better) my younger siblings weren’t into the stories etc, but they got lots of hugs and kisses.
Mom died more than 30 years ago and I am now considered a Senior Citizen... My kids long grown up and gone and I never took them to an old folks home.
That is on me.
When I was in HS in the mid-80s I was president of our Aviation/Astronomy club and was responsible for lining up a speaker or program for our club period every other week. My dad is a USAG vet and a member of the American Legion so it was pretty easy to line up folks. Even in our relatively small town in Western PA there were people with all kinds of stories and my only regret is that I didn’t have them videotaped. We had a rear seat gunner for a Dauntless diver bomber who basically fought the war across the Pacific facing backwards, a B-17 waist gunner who was shot down over Germany and spent part of the war as a POW, a fighter jock who was in during the transition to the jet age and flew F-84s and later F-86s in Korea among many others. Heroes all, to the man.
*Should read, “my dad is a USAF vet”
My Dad was an Army Air Corps bombardier in a B-24 in the Pacific Theater and was in the reserves when it became the USAF. He had a lot of harrowing stories about the war that he finally shared with me late in his life. He died in 1988. He would have turned 100 this July.
My mom did a variation on that - taking us to see the elderly. But none of us could sing, so that was out.
Check out my son’s similar effort. Witnesstoinfamy.com
Good for him.
An Army brat I grew up surrounded by WWII vets. I never heard them talk about their service much when I was growing up, I don’t think it ever occurred to them. In more recent years my elderly father began to reminisce about his WWII years, for which I’m grateful. It’s listening to history.
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