Our founder, Ray Connell, served in the Korean War as an Air Sea Rescue. He was a crewmember aboard an old WWII Navy Flying Boat that was lent to the newly established Airforce. It was designed to land in the water to pick up American fighter pilots who were shot down in the Sea of Japan. Ray’s job was to fish the pilots out of the sea, put them in the flying boat, and get them to safety.
The plane had no hearing protection available to the crew. Worse was that in order to take off quickly and evade enemy fire, the plane had jet-assisted take-off engines bolted onto the fuselage. This increased the noise of the aircraft to dangerous levels.
Years later, Ray found that he was quickly losing his hearing. By the age of 70, the condition had grown chronic enough to limit his social activities as well as his ability to communicate with others. Ultimately it led to his decision to retire from Civil Service, working at Nellis Air Force Base.
During his 14 years of retirement, his hearing declined even further. Ray was always a very social person, the life of any party, and deeply enjoyed the company of others. The hearing loss frustrated people who attempted to interact with him to eventually isolate him at home alone with nothing but the TV with closed captioning for companionship.
When Ray finally learned the extent of aid he could have received for decades before some kind salesperson had finally shown him the light, he was furious. Even though he worked at an Air Force Base, no one there ever advised Ray to seek disability assistance.