Adam Maley of Windham has held a lifelong dream of making a career in the U.S. Armed Forces and that desire is about to become a reality.
“Since about the age of 10, I've always had this itch…this monkey on my back trying to pull me in the direction of military service,” said Maley, a 2016 graduate of Windham High School.
However, as a teenager, Maley didn’t expect to see his dream come to fruition. While growing up and in school, he was often restless, easily distracted and had trouble focusing on assignments and classwork. He was identified as having ADHD and placed in special education classes. Although he didn’t expect much of himself once separated from the traditional education path, he states there was no official diagnosis to explain his inattentiveness. He said it was just a part of his teenage experience and was not an indication of his intelligence.
“I showed no real clear signs of ADHD,” Maley said. “I just felt the educational material and the way it was being presented to me was dry and hard to engage in. It was a time when I was going through that teenage nervous wreck phase – and like all teenagers – I was self-conscious about how I looked and what people thought of me. Being in those special education classes made me feel less than my peers. I felt labeled and believed others looked down on me. I didn't think I would be much of anything after high school.”
Believing that the military was now out of his reach, Maley decided during his junior year of high school to learn a technical trade to prepare for his future. But what Maley didn’t know - it was this choice that would shift a belief in himself and set the course for his future.
“The one thing that helped me find myself in the midst of high school was going to Westbrook Regional Vocational Center,” Maley said. “I was training as a heavy equipment operator in the field of construction and our instructors aimed to give us the tools and knowledge to land high paying jobs and be successful doing the trades we loved. It was here that my confidence grew. I no longer felt as if I was failing.”
Maley decided to move forward on his longtime dream of joining the military, but he couldn't decide which branch he wanted to enlist.
“It wasn’t until one day, a recruiter for the Navy called and asked if I would like to visit them and see what they had to offer,” Maley said “And the rest is history.”
Seamen Recruit Maley’s career in the Navy is now in full swing. After a brief visit with his family, SR Maley left Windham this past Sunday, June 6 and is now in Yokosuka, Japan to board the USS Benfold (DDG-65), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (which, ironically, was built at Bath Iron Works in Brunswick).
“This ship will be my home for the next four years, and I would not change the experience – my dream - for anything in the world.”
SR Maley said the Navy has completely changed him in terms of confidence and physical health and in the process has instilled the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment. “I feel forever changed in the way I see day to day life - always looking with a positive attitude no matter what the situation brings.”
His goal is to achieve the rank of Petty Officer Second Class and work as an RP (Religious Program) Specialist with the Navy’s chaplains.
SR Maley’s parents, George Maley and Melissa Harmon who have encouraged and supported their son to beat the odds, are very happy that he is accomplishing his dream.
“Adam was four years old and his brother, Andrew, was three when I became a single dad 24/7,” Adam’s father George Maley said. “It wasn’t easy to be both mom and dad, but I am honored to have witnessed my sons grow into the people they are today. It is true that Adam had always wanted to be in the military. When we would go shopping for school, Adam immediately ran to the camouflage clothes. This is all he wanted to wear. What I admire the most about Adam is that he never would give in or give up. He was a determined person who never used the words, ‘I can’t.’ I could not be prouder of Adam and the choice he has made to serve his country and protect our freedom.”
Melissa Harmon-Maley also feels honored to have been a part of SR Maley’s life. “As his stepmom I always had the confidence in Adam’s capabilities, but to see him grow over the years and watch him gain confidence in HIMSELF is incredible to see,” she said. “I’m BEYOND proud of him!”
For the 2021 WHS students who will be graduating this Sunday, SR Maley offers the following guidance; “My advice for current graduates and high school students is just because you find yourself in a specific class or given a label by your peers or others - or even if you are told you won’t be able to accomplish something – their opinion about you doesn't have to be your reality,” he said. <