ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A St. Louis World War II veteran is trying to figure out just what it will take to prove to the VA that he served in the military. Apparently his purple heart medal isn’t enough.
Emil Limpert was wounded in combat while fighting in the Philippines in 1944. He was taking cover from a Japanese attack in a foxhole.
“There were four guys in there, and two guys got killed,” he said. “And then the other guy, he got his leg, oh hell I guess he lost his leg. It was slit in four places where a grenade hit between us and I got one in my leg.”
He was patched up in a jungle tent and sent back to his unit. It wasn’t until a few years later, after the war had ended, that he found out he was still carrying some of that mortar. He’d gone to the VA hospital here in St. Louis.
“I went up on Grand Avenue and they said well, you got a piece of shrapnel in your leg. I said well can I get it took out, yeah. And they sent me to Jefferson Barracks.”
He had most of the metal removed and didn’t think anything more of it. He never applied for benefits he now believes he may be eligible for.
“I thought well, as long as I’m working I’ll pay for it myself rather than argue with ‘em. Well now I’ve got nothing left,” he says.
He’s referring to he and his wife of seventy years, who are now running out of money and trying to remain in an assisted living facility in Arnold. Both are now in their 90’s.
“We got rid of our car, we got rid of our house. I got rid of money I had in bonds and stocks and now I need help. “
He received help from a veterans group and was able to provide plenty of documentation. Limpert, a bit of a packrat, saved all his old paperwork. He had his discharge papers, a roster of those injured in the attack, and the X-ray taken of his leg after he returned home. On top of that he had the two bronze stars and the purple heart he earned in combat.
All that information was, with the help of a veterans service group called AMVETS, was sent to the Veteran’s Administration to apply for benefits. After two months of waiting he received a letter from the VA saying he needed to provide more proof.
“I get this letter says we can’t accept it because we’ve got no record of you being in the service,” he said, incredulously.
His son, Terry, was baffled.
“Their answer that they need to find more evidence, that’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Everything’s here that they should be able to at least make some kind of decision and say this is what you can do this is what you can’t do.”
The letter asks for more information, including affidavits from fellow service members, most of whom are dead, or location of the hospital where he was originally treated. There wasn’t one.
“There ain’t no hospital. We were in the jungles!”
We asked the VA in Washington to comment for this story and they sent us some forms, saying Mr. Limpert needs to sign them before they can research his case and discuss it with us.
Mr. Limpert, meanwhile, has reached out to Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office seeking help in resolving the issue.