Coast Guardsman admits desertion

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - A Coast Guard rescue swimmer in Hawaii whose months-long disappearance led to a massive search is admitting to desertion, saying he spent three months camping in the mountains of Oahu and didn't plan on ever returning to his job.

Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews pleaded guilty to desertion and using marijuana during a special court-martial in Honolulu on Tuesday.

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.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard launched a massive search.

He turned up at his wife's home in January.

In exchange for his guilty pleas, the Coast Guard is dismissing charges of being absent without leave and causing an unnecessary search.

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