Air Force Captain Found 35 Years After Disappearing

12 June, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Wade Massey
  • US Air Force Office of Special Investigations

"After being confronted with inconsistencies about his identity, the individual admitted his true name was William Howard Hughes Jr., and that he deserted from the U.S. Air Force in 1983", the USAF said in a statement.

A man claiming to be Barry O'Beirne was interviewed earlier this month by officials investigating passport fraud. This is the last time he was seen as William Howard Hughes until last week.

At the time of his disappearance, he had top secret investigation clearance and was assigned to the air force operational test and evaluation centre in Kirtland, New Mexico.

Hughes was unmarried when he disappeared, but the Seattle native had three sisters.

A U.S. Air Force officer with top-secret clearance was reportedly found 35 years after he was declared missing.

But rather than going through the proper procedures to leave the military, he created a fake identity.

Hughes said he had been depressed about being in the Air Force so he deserted, made up the O'Beirne identity and moved to California, the Air Force said.

Former Air Force officer William Howard Hughes, Jr., (seen in a current mugshot) was arrested this week.

William Howard Hughes Jr. vanished in 1983 after returning from duty in Europe and withdrawing almost $30,000 from his bank account.

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Hughes had been involved in classified planning and analysis of NATO's control, command and communications surveillance systems during the Cold War.

He told his parents he was supposed to come back from the Netherlands on August 1.

Special agents from Travis Air Force Base took Hughes into custody at his California home Wednesday and he is being held at the base, the Air Force said.

He had just completed a stint in the Netherlands, where he worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft. Nevertheless speculation persisted that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets.

It is unknown whether family had been in contact with Hughes or knew of his whereabouts following his 1983 disappearance.

Last year, there was uproar when Bowe Berhdahl was spared prison time after being found guilty of deserting his Afghan outpost - instead he was reduced to private in rank, dishonourably discharged and lost pay.

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

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

"Szulc quoted an unidentified intelligence officer who told him, "[Hughes] is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them". An OSI spokesperson told the newspaper that there was no indication Hughes had given away any classified information.

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