Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Air Force Captain AWOL For 35 Years Is Arrested In California

U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations via AP | BDN U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations via AP | BDN
Patty Aguilar | 12 June, 2018, 05:03

Capt Hughes was living under the name Barry O'Beirne, but investigators unravelled his story after spotting inconsistencies and he later admitted his real identity.

In retrospect, William Howard Hughes, Jr. was maybe not the kind of guy you wanted to guard your national security.

He had been sent to the Netherlands July 18, 1983, to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers and was due back in Albuquerque on August 1, the Air Force said.

Hughes was unmarried at the time, but had three sisters.

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

Hughes' neighbors in Daly City, California, told CNN he went by the name "Tim" and that he lived with a woman they said they believed to be his wife.

Pictured, William Howard Hughes Jr.in 1983.William Howard Hughes Jr. why did he disappear and where did he go?

Before leaving New Mexico, Hughes withdrew $28,500 from his bank account, making smaller withdrawals by visiting 19 different branches, the Air Force said.

According to the USAF, his duties included "classified planning and analysis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation command, control and communications surveillance systems". On Aug. 1, 1983, he was supposed to return to work at Kirkland, but never turned up.

Hughes was assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands, working with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to test its new Airborne Warning and Control System, created to be used for surveillance, command and control, battle space management and communications.

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There was even speculation that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets.

Hughes' sister, Christine Hughes, told the Associated Press in a January 1984 article that the family believed he had been abducted, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

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

At the time of his disappearance, he was thought to have either been captured by Soviet agents or voluntarily defected to the Soviet Union, the Air Force Times reports.

"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.

Hughes Jr. masqueraded as "Barry O'Beirne" for over 35 years after he deserted his post with the U.S. Air Force. Hughes also had top security clearance and deserted his post on July 25, 1983.

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, we don't have the story", Card said.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years confinement, forfeiture of all pay and dishonourable discharge for his desertion.

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