Haley Leaks is a Navy veteran who followed in her father Jeff’s footsteps, joining the Navy in delayed entry program during her senior year of high school. Raised in Dunkirk, Ohio, Haley excelled academically at Kenton High school, especially in the subject of mathematics. She was on the Honor Roll, sang in Choral choir, and was part of the senior Homecoming Court. She chose to go the military route versus studying at the University of Toledo as she was a “small town girl who needed to breathe” and wanted to see the world beyond Northwest Ohio.
Haley’s scores on the ASVAB allowed her to pick almost any training school. She was encouraged to accept a slot in the eighteen month long Nuclear Engineer training program. In July 2005 she arrived at the Great Lakes Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. After basic she transferred south to Goose Creek, South Carolina to begin her advanced training. Haley was one of 5 females in a 40-member class and she describes the training as “very intense with very little free-time.” At end of four months, after a long discussion with her commanding officer, they mutually agreed Haley needed to leave this school.
She was transferred to shipboard duty onboard the guided missile destroyer the USS Gonzalez where she was assigned as an electrician’s mate. It became her responsibility to learn, repair and maintain electrical panels, switchboards etc. Her main duty station was located in the “PIT”, the bowels of the ship where the gas turbines were located. She was the only female electrician on board.
While the “official” location of the Gonzalez was the port of Norfolk, it was anchored in the Gulf of Bahrain. The entire crew was airlifted to the ship. From there the ship would see action off the coast of Somalia when on March 18, 2006 it was attacked by Somali pirates. The battle was short lived and two of the pirates were captured and brought onboard.
After the crew’s tour was complete in the Persian Gulf and they were preparing to head home, the Gonzalez was boarded by the Commodore of the 5th fleet.
The 2006 War in Lebanon had broken out between Israel and Lebanon. Refugees were fleeing by the thousands from Lebanon aboard a modified cruise ship. The Gonzalez was now tasked to provide protection to the cruise ship as it loaded refugees in Beruit and transferred them to a safe port. This was a 24/7 mission that lasted over two weeks. Because the waters were to dangerous, supply ships could not bring food to the Gonzalez and the crew was down to eating chicken broth and rice the last few days.
While on deployment Haley had torn her knee meniscus. Once back in Norfolk she had surgery and was assigned to shore duty working with ComNav, handling all requisitions of Navy ships in the Atlantic theatre. Haley would test to cross train as an Operations Specialist. Here her path would cross with another sailor, Daniel Leaks, also training as an Op Specialist.
After a year of dating and rebuffing Daniel’s marriage proposals four times, on the fifth she relented and said yes. They were married at the Virginia Beach courthouse in November of 2008. They welcomed their first child, daughter Jada in 2009. Daniel left the Navy, becoming a stay at home dad, while Haley finished her enlistment.
Haley and Daniel would come to Ohio and set up a home in Findlay, close to her parents in Arcadia. They would both graduate from the University of Findlay, first Haley in 2013 with a double Accounting/Finance major degree. Daniel then graduated in 2014 with a Digital Arts degree. Haley currently is an accountant with a local firm and Daniel works at Marathon in the operations center.
During their time at UF the couple added a son, Walker to their family. These days the family is kept busy with school, dance and t-ball. They have a firm tradition that the family has dinner together each night with no electronics allowed. Haley makes sure the children have one special family outing a month to places like the Toledo Zoo or a movie night. The family attends the First Church of the Nazarene.
Haley and Daniel like spending quiet time together binge watching the Chicago first-responders trilogy and just hanging out.