Miss­ing Air Force of­fi­cer found 35 years later liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia

Manteca Bulletin - - Local / State -

FAIRFIELD (AP) — A Kirtland Air Force Base of­fi­cer with top se­cu­rity clear­ance who dis­ap­peared 35 years ago has been found in Cal­i­for­nia.

The Air Force Of­fice of Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions said in a news re­lease this week that Wil­liam Howard Hughes, Jr., was ap­pre­hended at his home after a fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing a fake iden­tity he had been us­ing.

Hughes was in­volved in clas­si­fied plan­ning and anal­y­sis of NATO’s con­trol, com­mand and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sur­veil­lance sys­tems dur­ing the Cold War. He spe­cial­ized in radar sur­veil­lance.

Hughes, a cap­tain, was 33 years old and sin­gle when he van­ished, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports from the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance.

Hughes was last seen with­draw­ing more than $28,000 in Al­bu­querque in the sum­mer of 1983 after re­turn­ing from a two-week va­ca­tion in Eu­rope. He had just com­pleted a stint in the Nether­lands, where he worked with NATO of­fi­cers on the Air­borne Warn­ing and Con­trol elec­tronic sur­veil­lance air­craft. He was sup­posed to be back in Al­bu­querque by Au­gust of that year.

An Of­fice of Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions spokes­woman told the Al­bu­querque Jour­nal that there’s no indi­ca­tion Hughes was in­volved with the So­viet Union or that any clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion was leaked.

Hughes told au­thor­i­ties after his cap­ture Wed­nes­day that he was de­pressed about be­ing in the Air Force and de­cided to leave. He cre­ated a fake iden­tity and lived in Cal­i­for­nia ever since. Hughes was charged with de­ser­tion and is be­ing held at Travis Air Force Base in Cal­i­for­nia.

It’s un­clear if he had an at­tor­ney who could com­ment on his be­half.

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