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Air Force Officer Missing For 35 Years Found Living In California

12 June, 2018, 00:58 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • U.S. Air Force shows Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. who was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force Dec. 9 1983

A U.S. Air Force officer who went missing in 1983 was found last week, living in California.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a news release this week that it had captured William Howard Hughes, Jr., at his home after a fraud investigation involving a fake identity he had been using.

It was July 17, 1983, and the Air Force was sending Hughes overseas on a mission to help North Atlantic Treaty Organisation test aircraft surveillance systems.

Captain William Howard Hughes Jr, now 66, was last seen withdrawing $28,000 from a bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the summer of 1983.

Hughes told authorities after his capture on Wednesday that he was depressed about being in the Air Force and chose to leave.

Hughes faces desertion charges, which carries a maximum of five years in prison.

Air Force Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr., shown in a decades-old official Air Force photo, had been living under the name Barry O'Beirne, the service said.

His orders included working with other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officers on the operation of Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) electronic surveillance aircraft, officials stated.

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After Hughes disappeared, his auto was found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return, the Albuquerque Journal said.

Hughes "was the "lead analyst" of the Command Control and Communication Surveillance Systems at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., which tests new space-related weapons systems", the Times said.

Later in 1986, a Los Angeles Times article also speculated that Hughes had defected to the Soviet Union.

In a 1984 article by the Associated Press, Capt Hughes' family said they believed he had been abducted.

Hughes was single and stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he disappeared in July 1983, the Air Force said.

Checks with law enforcement around the USA and overseas, alongside interviews with those who knew Hughes, did not provide enough information for the Air Force to find him at the time. The news of Hughes' disappearance made headlines the following year, with a front-page Albuquerque Journal announcing "Kirtland Launches Search for Officer Missing 5 Months" on January 17, 1984.

An Office of Special Investigations spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal that there's no indication Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union or that any classified information was leaked. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".

"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.

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