Missing Air Force officer with top-secret clearance found after 35 years

Ex-Kirtland AFB officer missing since 1983 found

Ex-Kirtland AFB officer missing since 1983 found

At the time, Hughes was single and assigned to an Air Force center in New Mexico, where he had responsibilities including "classified planning and analysis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation command, control, and communications surveillance systems", the Air Force said.

He has been living under the alias Barry O'Beirne since then.

He had just completed a stint in the Netherlands, where he worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft.

A former Air Force officer, Howard Hughes Jr., was missing for over 35 years.

Hughes, who worked out of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in N.M., was last seen in Albuquerque withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations.

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. However, on June 6, Hughes was found and arrested in California.

Hughes, now 66, told investigators that he was "depressed" about his Air Force career, so he assumed the fictitious identity of O'Beirne and had been living in California ever since.

At the time of his "abrupt" disappearance, Hughes specialized in radar surveillance.

In 1986, three years after his disappearance, journalist Tad Szulc wrote a piece published in the Los Angeles Times that referred to Hughes' "apparent defection" to the Soviet Union.

A high ranking Air Force officer who had gone missing 35 years ago, was apprehended by officials in California. Hughes was expected back on duty from a short stint in Europe on August 1, 1983 but he never reported to duty. Lists of plans and books he wanted to read were found inside his home, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

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. One such anonymous official said, "He is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them".

An OSI spokesperson told the newspaper that there was no indication Hughes had given away any classified information. Secret and NATO Secret information, " the Air Force maintained that he was not carrying classified information with him on his trip to the Netherlands. He faces up to five years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay and dishonorable discharge from the Air Force. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".

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