Navy identifies SEAL lost at sea during Kaena Point training
By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: February 27, 2013
The Navy identified today the SEAL commando who was lost at sea last week during training off Kaena Point as Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Matthew John Leathers of Woodland, Calif.
The Coast Guard said it suspended its search for Leathers Sunday after “exhaustive efforts” to locate the 33-year-old, who went missing during an open-ocean training exercise Tuesday.
Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps crews worked with Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety to search an area covering more than 24,000 square miles using aircraft, cutters, small boats and shore personnel.
“In this case, I have the heartbreak of informing not only the family, but a close-knit military community, that a loved one could not be found,” Capt. Joanna Nunan, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, said Sunday in a news release.
Leathers had been with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 at Pearl Harbor since August of 2004, according to Naval Special Warfare Command.
His award and decorations included: the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Navy said.
The SEAL became separated from other members of his command during ocean swim training near Kaena Point on Tuesday afternoon. An official said 10 sailors were using two rigid-hull inflatable boats during the training.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the sailor’s family, friends and shipmates,” Agnes Tauyan, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawaii, said late last week.
The unmarried sailor's family had been notified on the mainland, the Navy said.
There were 8- to 9-foot seas and nearly 30 mph winds in the search area Thursday, according to the Coast Guard.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 is the main unit for the commandos in Hawaii, with about 100 SEALs.