USNA ‘97

Born May 5th, 1973, grew up in West Michigan and finished high school in DeLand, Florida. Enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1990 as an electronics repair technician, trained at MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, South Carolina, and MCAGCC 29 Palms, California, and served with B Co, 4th AABN in Jacksonville, Florida, while attending a semester at University of Florida, Gainesville.

After two previous unsuccessful applications to USNA, was finally given an assignment to the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island in 1992. Received SecNav nomination and appointment to USNA in 1993 and was inducted into the Class of ’97.

Leon Class of ‘97

Leon Class of ‘97

Leon and partner, Robert

Leon and partner, Robert

Majored first in Electrical Engineering, then changed majors to Computer Science. Sports and extracurricular activities included the Varsity Offshore Sailing Team – participated in the 1994 Newport-Bermuda race aboard the NA-11 SWIFT – and the USNA Jolly Rogers Silent Drill Team. After struggling academically, was afforded an extension of one year, and subsequently graduated with the Class of ’98 with a B.S. degree in Computer Science.

Was assigned TAD to Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, Virginia, with the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, awaiting training at The Basic School (TBS). Entered TBS with Fox Company (6-98) and graduated in March of 1999 with MOS assignment 3002 (Supply Officer).

Attended Ground Supply Officer Course at Camp Johnson, NC and was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 10th Marines as Battery SupO. During this tour was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and was also afforded the opportunity to attend Fleet Week 2000 in NYC and Boston aboard the USS JOHN F KENNEDY. Was transferred back to Marine Corps Recruiting Command in May, 2001 and assigned as Recruiting Operations Officer for Recruiting Station (RS) Little Rock, Arkansas. Was selected for and frocked to Captain in July 2001, and achieved 13 consecutive successful recruiting missions before RS Little Rock was decommissioned in June, 2002. Was reassigned as Recruiting Operations Officer of RS Dallas, TX in July, 2002.

In September, 2002, was investigated under DADT and was subsequently defrocked, served NJP, and given a General Discharge (under honorable conditions).

From Leon:

“To be completely honest, it’s been somewhat of a dark time since then. I quickly found work in the civilian sector and tried to move on with my life, but my attempt to establish a new career was cut short when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in June of 2003. I suffered through harsh chemotherapy treatment and eventually beat the cancer, but for a time I wasn't sure if I would live, and in the wake of my traumatic separation from the Marine Corps – the only life I had ever really known – I seriously began to question if my life would have been worth anything if it were to end so abruptly.

“Fortunately, it was during this time that I met my partner, Robert Royal, who has been the shining light in the darkness that has kept me going. We met in Provincetown, Massachusetts in September 2003, and were legally married there exactly three years later. We have since struggled through some very hard times, including the deaths of Robert’s mother and my father at the hands of cancer, struggles with careers and financial matters, and generally just trying to put the past to rest and forge a new life for ourselves. But we have done it all together, and that has seriously made all the difference.

“We finally settled in Ambler, Pennsylvania, and I am now in the process of establishing a career in the IT field. It was a long time before I was even able to bring myself to look back on my experience at the Naval Academy at all, but truthfully some of the fondest memories in my recollection are from my years by the bay, and I am determined not to close the door on them. I am still very proud of the years I served at the Naval Academy and in the Marine Corps, and they will always hold a very special place in my heart. I am slowly learning to reconnect with my past and put the painful parts to rest, and I am looking forward to being a part of the driving force that bridges the gap between the LGBT community and the U.S. Armed Services. I hope to see the day very soon that ALL Americans are afforded the opportunity to serve their country with pride while being true to themselves as well.”