This is the challenge of winning a VA case when your records have been burned in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center. What should be open-and-shut gets complicated, fast.
Dencil Farris joined the Army in 1955 at the age of 16-years-old. He served in the 46thInfantry Armored Infantry Battalion, C Company, at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas in 1955 and 1956. He signed up at Mountain View,Arkansas at the courthouse. They put him on a bus to Little Rock, where he underwent a physical, spent the night at a YMCA, and then was packed off to Camp Chaffee.
At Camp Chaffee they cut his hair off and assigned him a barracks. He trained with an M1 Garand, a 30-caliber machine gun and howitzers. Dencil remembers that they did this without using any hearing protection, and his ears would ring all night. In addition, early during training he fell down a flight of stairs after staying out late and had to go to sick bay.
Dencil’s superior officers finally figured out he wasn’t even 17-years-old yet, so they handed him an honorable discharge and sent him home.
Mr.Farris asked the VA for benefits but they denied him, telling him he had no evidence of hearing loss, tinnitus or a back injury in service. The problem was that all his records had been burned in the St. Louis fire that destroyed 18 million files.
Mr. Farris now needs to prove to the VA’s satisfaction that his hearing was hurt and his back was injured, but he has no records to do it. He needs a witness.
Below are some photographs from the basic training year book that Mr. Farris kept with him. If anyone remembers Mr. Farris, please contact our office at 877.VET.WINS.