MSgt. D.S. Leak, III, USAF (Ret.)

Published 1:42 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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MSgt. D.S. Leak, III, USAF Retired, 82, of Riverview, Alabama passed away on August 11, 2023 at Bethany House in Auburn, Alabama.  His military family knew him as D.S. and his Riverview family and friends knew him as Sammy.  D.S. is survived by daughters Marie A. Leak and Lee Ann Leak, granddaughters Hannah Williams and Faith Williams, 1 great grandchild Colton Earl Holloway, 1 first cousin on the Leak side Mary Alice Leak Bledsoe and 4 first cousins on the Ware side Joe Ray Ware, Roy Ware, Wendy Ware Harman, and Jane Ware Ingram, along with a host of other cousins, nieces, and nephews.    

D.S. was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Ann Pike Leak, parents D.S. Leak, Jr. and Helen Ware Leak, brothers James Grover Leak and wife Cathy Leak of Kerrville, Texas, Douglas Paul Leak (Juanita) of Carrollton, Georgia, and George Wesley Leak and wife Doris Leak of Newnan, Georgia.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, August 16, 2023, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time at Friendship Christian Church in Riverview with Buddy Harris officiating.  D.S. will lie in state at the church for 1 hour prior to the service.  Graveside service with military honors will be held at Fairview Cemetery. Weather permitting, the Missing Man formation will be done over the cemetery by the RV-8 Team of Full Throttle Airshows at 1300.  If you knew D.S. and his dad, you know that “13” was their favorite number.

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D.S. was born on October 22, 1940, and was the first-born child of D. S. Leak, Jr. and Helen Ware Leak of Riverview.   D.S. had 3 brothers, Grover, Doug, and Wesley who were all born about 2 years apart.  D.S. worked as a Clerk in his Dad’s Western Auto Store in Fairfax and Fairview.  He also worked as a sweeper in the upper and lower weave shops of Riverview Mill. 

D.S. started reading at a very early age.   His Mother remembers him sitting at the kitchen table reading the cereal box while eating.   His teachers at Riverview School would let him sit at his desk and read.  One day his mother picked him up from Riverview School for a dental appointment and he had books stacked all around his desk.  The teacher told her that he could learn more from the books than what she was teaching him.  One of D.S.’s favorite teachers was his 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Irma Spears. Mrs. Spears told her students if they could learn to read, they could learn to do anything and that books could take them anywhere they wanted to go.  Before Mrs. Spears passed away, D.S. got the chance to thank her for instilling in him the love of reading. D.S.’s daughters often teased him about reading fictional books. He would frown and tell them to read non-fiction so they could learn something. While D.S. was stationed in Florida and worked as a librarian and editor. He enjoyed reading the Webster’s Dictionary and learning new words and using them in sentences. He retained information well and had a great use of the vocabulary.  When his daughters would ask him how to spell a word, he would reply, “Look it up!”. I bet Jesus has pulled out a bunch of Scrolls for D.S. to read.

D.S. liked to tinker with science projects and build electronic gadgets. When he was a young boy, he went to the Riverview Theater to watch the scary movie “The Thing”.  He was so scared after seeing it that he fixed up a special trip wire in the attic where he slept in case “The Thing” tried to get him at night.   As a student at Valley High School, he made a special security alarm for his car so if anyone tried to open the door, they would get a shock.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s he made 3 or 4 Zenith Heathkit computers from parts he would receive in the mail.   D.S. tried teaching Marie and Lee Ann about circuit boards, diodes, capacitors, and resistors but they weren’t able to grasp it.  

D.S. was baptized at Christian Service Camp in Oglethorpe, Georgia by Bro. Frank McKinney.  D.S. and his family were charter members of Friendship Christian Church which began in 1955 and D.S. and his family helped build the church.   D.S. has been very active in the churches he attended throughout his life and has helped influence others for Christ.  He flew friends to the Kiamichi Convention and took children and parents up for airplane rides after VBS events.  D.S. has served as a Sunday School teacher, Deacon and Elder. D.S. admired and respected Mr. Bernard Paschal and Mr. Curtis Underwood who served as Elders at Friendship Christian Church. When D.S. served as an Elder, he went to Mr. Paschal many times for guidance. Mr. Paschal told D.S. that when he served as an Elder he went to D.S.’s Dad for guidance.

D.S. graduated from Valley High School in 1958.   He attended Auburn University’s engineering school for a short while until the draft kicked in.  In June of 1959 D.S. joined the U.S. Air Force.  The Air Force afforded him the opportunity to travel.  Overseas, D.S. was stationed in Okinawa, Vietnam and Laos.  He also traveled through Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Nationalist China, and Spain.  In the United States, D.S. was stationed in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Utah, Alaska, North Carolina, Maryland, and Colorado. Lee Ann notes one of his V.A. doctors asked him of all the places he had been to, what was his favorite place. His answer was “Home”.

D.S. worked as an aircraft and missile ground support equipment repairman, nuclear weapons specialist, was skilled in land mine warfare, handling/storage/disposal of chemical agents, worked with the CIA, and was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal MasterBlaster and instructor.  D.S. disarmed bombs and pulled pilots out of wrecked airplanes. He also blew up the crashed airplanes afterwards so the bad guys wouldn’t get the airplanes.   While in Laos, he had to blow up the bad guys’ ammunition. If he would have been captured while in Laos, he could have been legally shot as a spy. D.S. also trained a bomb sniffing dog for the White House. 

When D.S.’s daughters asked him about hiding from the enemy in the war, D.S. said when people are shooting at you, you have to find the deepest hole you can and get in it.  When people are shooting at you, even the buttons on your clothes get in the way. D.S. was in combat in 1967, 1968, 1970, and 1971. D.S. lost some of his best friends in the Vietnam War.   Ralph Thomas Berry, Air Force, flew over to Vietnam with D.S. and was killed after being in Vietnam only 3 months.  D.S. ‘s other friends were John Robert Beck, Marines, William Leon Vick, Marines, James Walter Jones, Marines, Richard Dwayne Milton, Air Force, and James Dale Farmer, Air Force.  One night D.S. had been working all through the night so Marines Beck, Vick, and Jones let him sleep the next morning while they went out to the job. The 3 Marines were killed. D.S. would have been with the Marines if they hadn’t let him sleep. D.S. has always remembered them and has traced their names on The Wall in Washington, D.C.   

In 1977, D.S., Ann, Marie and Lee Ann moved from San Antonio, Texas to Huntsville, Alabama.   D.S. worked as an EOD instructor at Redstone Arsenal.  He caught some flak from supervisors when he wasn’t passing enough of his EOD students.   D.S. ‘s policy was if he wasn’t comfortable with the student working with him or one of his men, he wouldn’t pass them.   There’s no room for error in EOD.   D.S. retired from the Air Force in 1983 after 23 years of service.   The Air Force wanted D.S. and his family to move to Japan.  With D.S. and Ann’s families getting older they made the decision to remain in Alabama to be closer to family.  After retiring, D.S. worked with NASA, several engineering companies, and worked as a Warhead Engineer on a weapon used during the Persian Gulf War.  He also owned his own computer service company in Huntsville, Titus Computer Services.

D.S. was an accomplished mountain climber in his young days.   He did a lot of rock climbing while in Denver, Colorado, Seneca Rocks, Virginia, and Monument Valley, Utah.  He also climbed Torrey’s Peak in winter which is over 14,000 feet high.    D.S.’s favorite place to climb was Yosemite.   He climbed the Terrible Overhang on Okinawa and climbed Mt. Fuji and bivouacked near the top in a howling wind.   The next morning D.S. awoke to see the sun just coming up over Mt. Fuji and said it was beautiful.   D.S. had some of his mountain climbing articles published in The Summit magazine.  Back in the day D.S. and a friend climbed Stone Mountain and after hearing police on bullhorns shouting to “Come Down!” had to repel back down, that is, after they ate their sandwiches. 

Other than Ann, D.S.’s true love has always been flying.   He obtained his commercial pilot’s license, instrument rating, multi-engine rating, tail-wheel sign-off, seaplane license, and ski/wheels sign-off ratings.   D.S. was a bush pilot in Galena, Alaska and has lots of stories of flying people from place to place.   He loved Alaska and saw the Aurora Borealis several times.   D.S. also flew Marine parachute clubs to drop places and has a funny story of what he did after the Marine grabbed the key from the ignition of the airplane and jumped.

D.S. always wanted to re-enlist in a jet over the ocean.  A friend of his was a Captain at Langley AFB in Virginia.  So, in the 1970’s, the Captain flew down to New Hanover Airport in North Carolina in a T-33 jet. The Captain and D.S. flew over the Atlantic Ocean.  The Captain read D.S. the reenlistment oath and in true D.S. style, D.S. re-enlisted another 4 years upside down at 13,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.  D.S.’s blue eyes were always searching the sky for flying planes. At night he would step out on the front porch at home and gaze at the moon and billions of stars and remark at the Good Lord’s artistry work in creation.  He was always looking up.

D.S. ‘s daughters have told him many times the Good Lord has been busy watching over him through his life. D.S. said it’s because of Mama Rosa’s continuous prayers for him. 

From the Simplex Motorcycle & Greyhound bus wreck at age 15, to his mountain climbing days, to his airplane days, through combat in Vietnam, working with explosive devices, and his health problems, D.S. has led an adventurous life. When D.S. was asked about his most favorite accomplishment, he replied it was his wife, Ann, their daughters, Marie and Lee Ann, granddaughters, Hannah and Faith, and great grandchild, Colt.   D.S. had the honor of baptizing granddaughters Hannah and Faith in 2010. Hannah told Lee Ann she couldn’t understand why people were crying at church, especially her “Papa”. Hannah kept asking him if he was okay. D.S. considers that day the best day of his life.  

D.S.’s wife Ann had a sense of humor.   Ann took D.S. for a doctor’s appointment and the nurse asked her if she was D.S.’s caretaker.   Ann replied with a smile, “I’m his slave.”   D.S. then replied, “She’s my Everything.”    D.S. and Ann would be married 54 years in December of 2023.   D.S., Ann, Marie, and Lee Ann have always been a close-knit family. You might say they were all joined at the hip. It seems only fitting that D.S. and Ann moved to Heaven almost together.    D.S. and Ann’s faith has become their sight.   Their bodies and minds have been restored and they are reunited with family and friends.  D.S. and Ann are now able to sit and talk with all the people they learned about in the Bible and I’m sure D.S. and Rodney Mitchum are catching up on everything again. D.S. always credited Rodney with keeping him alive in Vietnam and watching out for the enemy.

On Friday, July 21, Lee Ann took D.S. for an MRI.  After the appointment, Lee Ann, D.S., and Marie went to Sonny’s and fixed plates to go.  They stopped by the Fairview Cemetery to visit family graves and then rode by the Riverview Boat Landing. D.S. always enjoyed riding through Fairview Cemetery and by the River.   That Friday night Marie saw him around 11 p.m. getting a cold lemonade out of the refrigerator.   The next morning at 6 a.m. Marie found him lying on the floor due to having a stroke during the night.   He had been on his way to the washing machine to wash clothes.  After Ann’s declining health, D.S. helped with the laundry, dishes, brought Ann’s coffee to her in the mornings, and did whatever he could to help his “Sweetheart”.  On July 22 D.S. was taken to EAMC in Opelika and then on to Baptist South in Montgomery for a procedure to remove a blood clot from his brain.   The stroke caused his lungs and heart to become weak along with neurological problems.   He moved to Bethany House and was surrounded by his family day and night telling stories and much laughter.   He always got a kick out of listening to Ann, Marie, Lee Ann, Hannah, and Faith tell funny stories and laughing. 

D.S. was a kind, patient, and generous person. Marie, Lee Ann, and Ann have never heard him say a curse word. He always maintained an even keel personality. He also maintained a low blood pressure through life due to his work in EOD. He respected his parents, loved his wife, loved his daughters, granddaughters, and great grandchild. He and Ann both encouraged and supported their daughters and granddaughters in everything they did. D.S. and Ann’s family were their pride and joy. Being able to babysit Hannah and Faith when they were little put a twinkle in D.S.’s eye. He would do anything and buy everything for them. D.S. loved the Lord all through his life and wanted to make sure his family loved the Lord. He taught his family about Jesus. If D.S. could talk to us from Heaven, he would tell us that he and Ann are in Heaven and it’s amazing and if we want to see them again, we need to point ourselves towards the Good Lord.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Friendship Christian Church, the Bethany House of Auburn, Alabama, or to your favorite charity.

Please visit D.S.’s Memorial Tribute page at to leave a kind message for his family, share a memory of D.S., or to light a Remembrance Candle in his memory.  Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home directing.