US Air Force Nabs Deserter After 35 Years

Missing Air Force officer who created fake identity found 35 years later

Missing Air Force officer who created fake identity found 35 years later

He had been last seen in New Mexico, where he withdrew almost $30,000 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations.

A US Air Force officer with top-secret clearance who went missing in 1983 has been living under an assumed name in California, according to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Hughes is at Travis Air Force Base awaiting pre-trial confinement.

TaskandPurpose reported Hughes' vehicle being found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home in the 1900 block of Chandelle Loop NE revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return. But the Air Force never heard from him since he left for Europe. In July 1983, Hughes had been assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers "on the operations of Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft" but never resurfaced after leaving for Europe.

The report notes that Hughes was officially declared a deserter on December 9, 1983 after he returned from duty in Europe. There were even rumors he might have been defected to the Soviet Union.

The Office of Special Investigations declined to comment further on the case, telling ABC News the Air Force has nothing more to add until its legal department moves forward with a recommendation. The Air Force didn't say where in California Hughes had lived under the O'Bierne name, or what charges he faces.

At the time of his "abrupt" disappearance, Hughes specialized in radar surveillance.

He told authorities that he had been depressed about being in the military and had fled to California, creating the fictitious identity. Hughes's disappearance, in the eyes of some, fit right into the puzzle. Hughes also had top security clearance and deserted his post on July 25, 1983.

"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.

Military officials said Hughes had access only to secret information pertinent to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

But Card said no classified information leaks are suspected, nor is there an indication that Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union, but the investigation is ongoing.

"Until we have the whole story", she said, "we don't have the story". Secret and NATO Secret information, " the Air Force maintained that he was not carrying classified information with him on his trip to the Netherlands.

Hughes, now 66, has been charged with desertion.

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