May 1, 2005 by

Jack Delmage


Categories: Military

John Houston Delmage, a war hero who had to wait more than five decades to receive his medals, died on April 10. Cause of death was not released. He was 86.
Born in Manitoba, Canada, Delmage was just a child when his family relocated to Indiana. Four years after graduating from high school, he wed Bette Wilson Delmage and enlisted in the service. During World War II, Delmage served as an Army paratrooper with the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion.
Fighting in Europe was difficult and harrowing. Of the 839 men from his unit who went into the Battle of the Bulge, only 110 survived. Delmage was wounded in the battle and later struggled with the horror of killing an enemy soldier and then finding a picture of the German’s wife and child on the body. When he returned to Indiana, Delmage raised a family and spent the next 47 years working as a crane operator in the steel industry.
Delmage never talked about his time in the service, and he didn’t received any recognition for the injuries he suffered or the bravery he exhibited. Then in 2002, his niece, Rhonda Delmage Nelson, took it upon herself to find out if Delmage deserved to be honored for his actions.
Although his brothers-in-arms thought he was killed in the war, and the Army lost his paperwork, the United States eventually awarded Delmage two Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars and two Presidential Unit Citations. He also received letters from President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, three former presidents, a congressman, two U.S. senators and former California Gov. Gray Davis.

4 Responses to Jack Delmage

  1. Debbie Ray

    Jack Delmage was my Grandmother’s Brother. Every year I remember Uncle Jack at this important time in our country’s history. Thank you for the clock you made for me. I still have it and will always cherish it. But most of all I cherish the freedom you fought so valiantly for. Thanks again Uncle Jack! Love Debbie and Family

  2. Cynthia Delmage Putnam

    My Dad and truly a one-of-kind man. He loved nature, life and living things. There was one saying that my dad had about human beings “If bullshit was music, you would be a brass band.” Well I find this to be true about Rhonda Nelson. Rhonda ran into an classmate of mine, he recognized the name Delmage, and being in the Army they talked they talked about my Dad. He took it upon himself (not Rhonda) to find out about the medals my Dad earned. Rhonda Nelson did not even give my mother a condolence when my father passed. Shame on you Rhonda Nelson, you “brass band” you.

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