Friday, 22 February, 2019

Missing Air Force Officer Found 35 Years Later In California

Melinda Barton | 11 June, 2018, 19:28

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

Hughes Jr. masqueraded as "Barry O'Beirne" for over 35 years after he deserted his post with the U.S. Air Force.

A man who deserted from the US Air Force in July 1983 has been apprehended in California, the US military says. He was in charge of highly classified operations involving NATO's command, control and communications surveillance systems, Task & Purpose, a news outlet run by and for veterans, reported.

After the Air Force formally declared Hughes a deserter in December 1983, his family said in an Associated Press article printed in the Journal on January 20, 1984, they believed he had been abducted. There were even rumors he might have been defected to the Soviet Union. He created a fake identity and lived in California ever since.

The U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service caught on to Hughes's whereabouts, which were not specified, during a passport fraud investigation, leading them to the man named O'Beirne.

Although Hughes told the authorities he abandoned his air force career because he had gotten "depressed", and assumed a fake identity before settling down in California, the AFOSI authorities said there were a number of questions that still remain unanswered regarding his disappearance, which will be revealed as investigation into his actions continued.

The veteran specialized in radar surveillance.

At the time of his disappearance, Hughes was in his early thirties.

Checks with law enforcement around the US and overseas, alongside interviews with those who knew Hughes, did not provide enough information for the Air Force to find him at the time.

"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 had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, which meant he had access to USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secret information.

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. Secret and NATO Secret information, " the Air Force maintained that he was not carrying classified information with him on his trip to the Netherlands.

Desertion carries maximum penalties of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and confinement of five years.

"Until we have the whole story", she said, "we don't have the story".