US Air Force Nabs Deserter After 35 Years

Howard TerryJun 12, 2018

- An Air Force officer with top security clearance who disappeared in New Mexico 35 years ago has been found in California after using a false name for decades, authorities said. He was last seen withdrawing more than $28,000 in Albuquerque in summer 1983 after returning from a two-week vacation in Europe. In fact, just a day before Hughes' arrest, the man was interviewed by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service over possible passport fraud, detailed the Air Force Times. He allegedly told investigators that he became depressed while serving in the Air Force so he left and created a new identity for himself.

Special agents from Travis Air Force Base took Hughes into custody at his California home Wednesday and he is being held at the base, the Air Force said. CNN reports that it remains unclear what charges he will face. That would be "totally out of character for the Bill we knew", she said. He was supposed to report back to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico in August 1983, but he didn't show up.

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.

Hughes was supposed to travel to the Netherlands in July 1983 to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the operations of AWACS electronic surveillance planes.

Due to his access to classified information he was declared a fugitive and was on a list of the USAF's seven most wanted individuals.

A spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations told the Albuquerque Journal there's no sign Hughes leaked classified information or was involved with the Soviet Union, but that investigations are underway.

"Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story", Ms Card said.

What were some of theories of why he disappeared?

Quoting anonymous intelligence sources, Szulc wrote that the intelligence community feared Hughes had either been captured by Soviets or that he voluntarily defected.

In a 1984 article by the Associated Press, Capt Hughes' family said they believed he had been abducted.

His family did not appear to know about his disappearance with the Albuquerque Journal reporting that his sisters said at the time that they thought he might have been abducted. He 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. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

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