HONOLULU — A Navy SEAL who went missing a week ago during an ocean training swim has been identified as Woodland resident Matthew John Leathers and has at least one family member in the Modesto area.
The 33-year-old was training off Oahu's Kaena Point on Feb. 19 when he became separated from his unit.
The Coast Guard, Honolulu lifeguards and firefighters, along with Navy and Marine Corps crews, searched more than 24,000 square miles using aircraft, cutters and small boats, but found no sign of Leathers.
The search was suspended Sunday.
Leathers has family throughout Northern California and the Central Valley. He has a sister, Lori Aikins, who lives in Modesto and works as a teacher in the Ceres Unified School District. Other siblings live in Woodland and other areas.
At Pearl Harbor
Leathers enlisted in the Navy on Aug. 11, 1998, and reported to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 at Pearl Harbor on Aug. 4, 2004. He was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 is the main unit for the commandos in Hawaii, with about 100 SEALs.
According to Sacramento TV station News10, the 33-year-old is married and has two young children.
Sister-in-law Gloria Leathers of Woodland told News10, "We are still hopeful, yes, we are. He's still not gone. We just hope he turns up safe and sound."
The Navy has flown members of Leathers' family to Hawaii to await news.
A report from KITV News in Hawaii said Leathers runs ultra-endurance races any distance longer than a 26.2- mile marathon and trail races. He is a member of the Hawaii Ultra Running Team.
Leathers spoke with the Hawaii news station last summer after winning a race held in honor of sailors lost in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings.
After winning, he told KITV, "When the time comes, you have to never forget, you know, and just remember them."