North Texas Teen Racing Against Time to Interview War Heroes | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

North Texas Teen Racing Against Time to Interview War Heroes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    17-year-old Andy Fancher is dedicated to keeping veterans' legacies alive and he's racing against life's clock to tell their stories.

    (Published Monday, June 19, 2017)

    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.

    Photo credit: NBC 5 News

    "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.

    See all of Andy's story: Andy Fancher Presents

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