Coast Guard deserter to be confined

Published On: May 21 2013 12:44:20 PM HST   Updated On: May 21 2013 03:07:26 PM HST

Russell Matthews


A military judge has ruled that a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who admitted he deserted his job in Hawaii to camp out in the mountains of Oahu for three months will be confined for more than 6 months and discharged with bad conduct.
Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews' October 2012 disappearance led to a massive, nearly four-day-long search that cost more than $1 million.
He was sentenced Tuesday during a special court-martial.  He must also forfeit $2,000 of pay per month for 12 months, which he can opt to have sent to his two children.  He'll also be downgraded to the third-lowest rank in the Coast Guard.
Matthews says he left the Coast Guard to escape the pain from losing his crewmembers in a 2008 helicopter crash and the suicide of his first wife. 

He says he left Air Station Barbers Point in October, went to pick up his children and got into an argument with his wife.  He walked on a beach and then camped in the mountains behind his kids' school.

He says he didn't intend to turn his back on the organization.


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