During World War II, John A. DeLance, who was deaf,
and in fact, attended Gallaudet for a year, served
as a first lieutenant with eight soldiers serving
When war broke out, he tried to enlist but was turned
down. Going through the back door he signed up as a
civilian worker with a Navy Salvage Corps repair
ship. One thing led to another and he became friends
with a major of an Army military scout group in Alaska.
This major sidestepped the normal military
enlistment procedures and had John enlisted as a
soldier with the Intelligence Headquarters. He
rose to the ranks as first lieutenant, and no one
knew he was deaf until months later!
When the war ended, he returned to civilian life
and married a deaf woman, never telling her about
his World War II experience. When he died, his
wife found out and needed paperwork assistance
to qualify for widow’s military pension.