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Wed, Jun 13, 2018

Missing USAF Officer Found 35 Years After Deserting

Located In California Through A Fraud Investigation

On June 6, 2018, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 303 Special Agents at Travis Air Force Base, CA apprehended Air Force fugitive Capt. William Howard Hughes, Jr. at his California residence without incident.

On June 5, during a passport fraud investigation, the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service interviewed an individual claiming to be Barry O'Beirne. 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.

Capt. Hughes claimed that in 1983 he was depressed about being in the Air Force so he left, created the fictitious identity of O'Beirne and has been living in California ever since.

Capt. Hughes deserted the Air Force in July 1983 after returning from temporary duty in Western Europe. Hughes was last seen in the Albuquerque, N.M., area withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations. At the time of his disappearance Capt. Hughes had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, but only had access to U.S. Secret and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secret information.

He was assigned to the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland AFB, N.M., where his duties included classified planning and analysis of the NATO command, control, and communications surveillance systems.

Interviews of friends, associates and coworkers failed to disclose information regarding Hughes' whereabouts. Checks with law enforcement agencies both in the United States and overseas also failed to locate him.   

Capt. Hughes, who was single, was dispatched to the Netherlands on July 18, 1983, to work with NATO officers on the operations of Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft. He was due back in Albuquerque that Aug. 1. But after leaving for Europe, he was never seen again. On Dec. 9, 1983, the Air Force formally declared him a deserter.

(Image provided with USAF news release)

FMI: www.osi.af.mil

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