Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US Air Force Deserter Found After Disappearing For 35 Years

US Air Force Deserter Found After Disappearing For 35 Years

Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI) arrested Captain William Howard Hughes, California after the officer went missing in 1983, according to U.S. Air Force officials.

William Howard Hughes Jr, who had top secret clearance while in the Air Force, was arrested without incident last week during a passport fraud investigation, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a statement.

At the time, Hughes was single and assigned to an Air Force center in New Mexico, where he had responsibilities including "classified planning and analysis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation command, control, and communications surveillance systems", the Air Force said.

Capt William Howard Hughes Jr, who had top-secret clearance, was last seen withdrawing $28,500 (£21,300) from his bank account at 19 different locations in New Mexico.

He told authorities after his capture that he was depressed about being in the Air Force and made a decision to leave. Hughes created a fake identity and lived under the pseudonym "Barry O'Beirne" for over three decades. He was apprehended June 6 by Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agents from Detachment 303, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where he's awaiting pre-trial confinement. He was expected to return to duty at Kirtland on August 1, 1983.

Investigators said this week that Hughes had returned to the United States and begun living under an assumed name.

Linda Card from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations elaborated.

The Air Force declared him a deserter on December 9 of that same year.

Based at at Kirtland Air Force Base, Captain Hughes was 33 when he vanished, according news reports at the time of his disappearance.

A high ranking Air Force officer who had gone missing 35 years ago, was apprehended by officials in California.

"Captain Hughes, who was single, was dispatched to the Netherlands on July 18, 1983, to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the operations of Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft", the statement said. Lists of plans and books he wanted to read were found inside his home, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

His mysterious disappearance during the Cold War spurred theories that he had been abducted by the Soviet Union or defected to what was then known as the USSR to work against the US.

Laurel lives directly across from Hughes and said he had not seen him in recent weeks.

"He is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them", one intelligence officer told the Times. "He was very pleasant", said neighbor June Dayao, 60, a retired teacher who recognised her neighbour's face in a photograph released by the Air Force.

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