Missing Navy SEAL identified

Friends talk about Matthew John Leathers

Published  11:07 PM HST Feb 26, 2013
Matthew John Leathers

After the U.S. Navy released the name of the Navy SEAL, who went missing off Oahu a week, the friends of Matthew John Leathers talked about his extreme life.

Matt Leathers appeared on KITV last summer, during a running race around Diamond Head. It was held to honor sailors lost in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings.

Leathers won the race, but afterwards talked instead about the importance of remembering the sacrifice of others.

"When the time comes we have to never forget, and just remember them," said Leathers.

Leathers not only ran in road races like that one, he was also a member of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team or H.U.R.T. and took to the trails regularly according to a friend who trained with him, but did not want to be identified for this story.

"Sometimes he would get up at 3 a.m. and do 20 miles up on Tantalus."

Friends and competitors said Leathers excelled in extreme endurance conditions.

"He pushed himself to the limits."

But the Navy said Leathers disappeared during an open ocean training swim a week ago.

Navy and Coast Guard crews searched extensively off Oahu's West coast for days, but did not find any sign of the 33 year old.

PHOTOS: Remembering Navy SEAL Matt Leathers
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The U.S. Navy has identified the sailor missing in waters off Kaena Point as 33-year-old Matthew John Leathers of Woodland, Calif.  He was a SEAL team member based at Pearl Harbor.


Mobile users can click here to see a slideshow of Matthew Leathers.

Leathers joined the military in 1998 and joined SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One at Pearl Harbor in August of 2004.

While his friends said he was a fierce competitor on the trails, they add he was also someone with a lot of compassion for others.

"He would give you the shirt off his back. He was a good guy. He would do anything for you."

That is why Leather's friends said his disappearance has been so difficult, because they have been unable to anything for him.

"There's not enough good people in the world, and when you lose one of those good people, when someone like that goes -- it's hard."

Other endurance runners with H.U.R.T. said at their next race in April they will remember the impact Leathers had on their sport and their friendships.

They also hope to turn it into a fundraiser for Leathers' family.

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