Missing Air Force officer turns up 35 years later


Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force on Dec. 9, 1983. (U.S. Air Force)

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

More than three decades ago, Hughes was involved in classified planning and analysis of NATO’s control, command and communications surveillance systems during the tail end of the Cold War. He specialized in radar surveillance.

Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force on Dec. 9, 1983. (U.S. Air Force)

And then one day, just like that, he vanished without a trace. He was 33 years old. He was single. And — poof! — he was gone.

Now Hughes is back. Thirty-five years after his disappearance, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a news release that Hughes was apprehended at his California home after a fraud investigation involving a fake identity he had been using.

Before this week’s apprehension, Hughes was last seen withdrawing more than $28,000 in Albuquerque from various bank locations 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.

An Air Force 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 was charged with desertion and is being held at Travis Air Force Base.

It was not clear where Hughes was living and the Associated Press reported that it was also unclear whether Hughes had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

While these and other details emerge, here are some highlights from this strange case:

Hughes was born in 1951, raised in Seattle and enlisted in the Air Force that same year, according to the Seattle Times.
He was serving as an Air …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

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