Missing Air Force Officer Found 35 Years Later In California
11 June, 2018, 22:31
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 Timesreports.
"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", an AFOSInews release reads. Nevertheless speculation persisted that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets. He allegedly told investigators that he became depressed while serving in the Air Force so he left and created a new identity for himself.
Pictured, William Howard Hughes Jr.in 1983.William Howard Hughes Jr. why did he disappear and where did he go?
William Howard Hughes, Jr. was apprehended at his home in California without incident and is now awaiting pre-trial confinement, the OSI said.
As it turns out, it appears to be exactly what Hughes did.
A man claiming to be Barry O'Beirne was interviewed earlier this month by officials investigating passport fraud.
At the time of his disappearance, the 31-year-old office had top secret security clearance, working on "classified planning and analysis of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation command, control and communications surveillance systems", USA military journal Stars and Stripes reports.
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He has been living under the alias Barry O'Beirne since then.
Before leaving New Mexico, Hughes withdrew $28,500 from his bank account, making smaller withdrawals by visiting 19 different branches, the Air Force said.
In the years after Hughes went missing, a slew of NASA catastrophes, such as the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986, as well as the explosion of the Ariane rocket in French Guinea, caused national security commentators to speculate whether the disasters were related and possibly the result of Soviet sabotage.
At the time of his "abrupt" disappearance, Hughes specialized in radar surveillance.
"He is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them", Szulc quotes an unidentified intelligence officer as telling him. But eventually the Air Force and Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had no evidence indicating any top-secret information had been leaked or that Hughes engaged in espionage.
An OSI spokesperson told the newspaper that there was no indication Hughes had given away any classified information. Hughes may also forfeit all pay that he received while he was part of the Air Force.
He is being held at the Travis Air Force Base in California. CNN reports that it remains unclear what charges he will face.
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