SO1 (Special Warfare Operator)“SEAL” Matthew John Leathers (KIT)
Killed in a diving accident at Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii, on February 19, 2013. He was not officially declared dead until February 27, 2013, and his body was never recovered.
Matt Leathers was born on October 4, 1979, in Woodland, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 25, 1997, and went on active duty to begin basic training on August 11, 2008. Leathers completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, in October 1998, and then attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, from November 1998 to March 1999. After leaving the program, Petty Officer Leathers attended Navy Sonar Technician A School at San Diego, California, from May to August 1999, and then served aboard the destroyer USS Kinkaid (DD-965) from August 1999 to October 2002. He was then given a second chance to attend BUD/S, and he graduated with his Class in September 2003. Petty Officer Leathers next attended Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training from October 2003 to March 2004, followed by service with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE at Pearl City, Hawaii, from March 2004 until he was killed in a diving accident at Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii, on February 19, 2013. He was not officially declared dead until February 27, 2013, and his body was never recovered from the Pacific Ocean. During his time with SDVT-1, Petty Officer Leathers deployed to Iraq in 2005 and to Afghanistan in 2005 and 2011. He has a cenotaph at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
His 1st Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious service as SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE Element Petty Officer assigned to Naval Special Warfare Unit THREE, Naval Special Warfare Task Unit-Central, and Naval Special Warfare Task Unit-Afghanistan from April to October 2005. Petty Officer Leathers demonstrated superior tactical prowess and exceptional attention-to-detail during sustained combat operations in Iraq. He conducted direct action, combat overwatch, and helicopter reconnaissance operations critical to the overall success of the task unit. Additionally, his efforts directly contributed to the capture of over 13 Anti-Iraqi personnel, recovery of $35.4M in Iraqi Dinar and disruption of Iraqi insurgent networks in Baghdad and Fallujah.
ONE VETERAN FAMILY AT A TIME, THE KIDS
Shane is now 10, he was named after Shane Patton, one of Matt’s best friends at the time. Shane Patton lost his life as part of Operation Red Wings. Shane plays hockey which is a huge sport out here in Alaska. Hockey is also a sport his dad played and loved growing up. We would take him ice skating in Hawaii (funny I know). There is one ice rink on Oahu.. I love that he has teammates and camaraderie and positive male coaches to look up to. It has helped him tremendously with his self-confidence over the years. When he grows up he wants to join the Naval Academy.
Abby is 7, she has dabbled in gymnastics. She was born while Matt was deployed. She currently takes piano lessons, and soccer. She will be starting cross country skiing in the winter. She is our social butterfly and full of sass, very outgoing. She want to be a police office when she gets older.
Andrea is 15, likes to draw, paint, play sports like field hockey – soccer and currently is a biomedical science program. Although the distance was far, she never lost contact with her dad. A proud daughter of her Navy SEAL father.
Cpl. Benjamin Desilets, USMC, Iraq – 1986-2007 KIA On May 22, 2007
On May 22, 2007 Ben was driving the lead vehicle returning from a mission at night. He drove over a pressure plate IED and he and another Marine were killed instantly. Ben was 21. He was a loving dad, brother, son and friend. His death left a hole in our lives that will never be filled. Ben lived every day of his life to the fullest and this is his legacy.
Ben was awarded a Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/combat Distinguishing Device, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Sea Service Deployment Medal (2). He was promoted to Corporal posthumously. He was scheduled to receive this promotion before he was killed but the ceremony wasn’t scheduled to take place until June 2, 2007.
ONE VETERAN FAMILY AT A TIME, THE KIDS
In February of his senior year of high school, Ben became a dad. Kyra was everything to him and he was a great dad. He worked at McDonald’s and then Home Depot full time his senior year of high school, never missing a day and always made time to spend with Kyra. By the middle of his senior year Ben had decided to become a Marine. He graduated high school in May of 2004. He was a Marine by December of the same year!
Kyra is now 14, she is full of life! Loves to support our veteran community. Can be seen on a motorcycle, joining the Patriot Guard Riders. Loves her sports like soccer, and has excelled at any challenges put before her.
Kyra is on the coed Wrestling Team at East Peoria High School. She is in Job’s Daughters, this year she is Chairman of Grand Representative; Supreme Representative to Nevada. As well as Past Honored Queen.
In The future she would like to be a doctor or lawyer.