Adam Hayley, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret)

My life started as an orphan in Seoul, South Korea where I lived with fellow children as wards of the state. At the age of three years old, I was fortunate enough to be adopted by a loving family and immigrated to the United States. My early years in America were marked by constant change as my parents moved from city to city, and from state to state, which placed a great deal of strain on the family and eventually led to my parents divorcing while I was in kindergarten. The divorce left my mother, who was then a single mother of two, in desperate financial circumstances and she was eventually forced to turn to welfare and charity from the church to make ends meet. Our financial situation eventually led our small family to settle down in Alaska where I found my great love of the outdoors and graduated high school.

After high school, I went off to college and attended the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado where two key events led to my service with the Marine Corps. It is not too often that one can look back and pinpoint the exact time and place that sets one’s life on one path versus another. Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 was just such a day. Although I did not immediately join military service, it was the catalyst for what would become tough, rewarding, and painful experiences that would characterize my time as a Force Reconnaissance Marine. The second event occurred the fall of my junior year in undergrad. It was then that I learned that my mother was battling an autoimmune disease that left her unable to financially provide for herself. I was eventually forced to leave school and care for her until she was able to manage her health and finances on her own. It was this leave of absence from school that allowed me to realize my desire to serve our nation and with this in mind I returned to school and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

I have been asked why I chose to enlist in the Marines rather than applying to become an officer. My philosophy has always been that one must learn to follow before one can lead. A college degree does not make one a leader and there is no substitute for experience. With this in mind, in May 2006, I started my career on the famous yellow footprints at the recruit depot in San Diego, California where I would earn a title of Marine. From there it was a whirlwind of schools and training. From Infantry School and the misery that was the Reconnaissance Indoctrination Program, to sniper school, combat dive, military free fall, and terminal air control interspersed with deployments and combat. It was experiences on these deployments that caused me to find my passion for medicine. So between and during training and deployments, I began the journey to pursue my passion, eventually earning the privilege to be a member of the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine.