Facts About Missing Air Force Officer Arrested In California

Facts About Missing Air Force Officer Arrested In California

Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI) arrested Captain William Howard Hughes, Jr.in California after the officer went missing in 1983, according to U.S. Air Force officials.

William Howard Hughes, Jr., who was going by the name Barry O'Beirne, admitted his true identity after becoming the subject of a passport fraud investigation during an interview with the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service on June 5. He had been last seen in New Mexico, where he withdrew almost $30,000 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations.

He told authorities after his capture Wednesday that he was depressed about being in the Air Force and chose to leave, saying he created a fake identity and lived in California since he vanished in 1983. He said he had lived in California since then. The Air Force declared Hughes a deserter in December 1998.

Former Air Force officer William Howard Hughes, Jr., (seen in a current mugshot) was arrested this week. He could face up to five years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay and dishonorable discharge from the Air Force.

Hughes, a captain at Kirtland Air Force Base, was 33 and single when he vanished, according to news reports from the time of his disappearance.

Hughes was assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands, working with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to test its new Airborne Warning and Control System, created to be used for surveillance, command and control, battle space management and communications.

Hughes "was the "lead analyst" of the Command Control and Communication Surveillance Systems at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., which tests new space-related weapons systems", the Times said.

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There was even speculation that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets.

But Card said no classified information leaks are suspected, nor is there an indication that Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union, but the investigation is ongoing. He specialized in radar surveillance.

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.

After several rocket ship failures in the United States and France, including the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986, Los Angeles Times journalist Tad Szulc theorised Capt Hughes may have been to blame. His sister Christine said, "We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily", detailed the Albuquerque Journal. Those officers suggested Hughes may have been linked to possible sabotage of some failed USA and French rocket launches.

"He is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future 'Star Wars, ' if we have them", one intelligence officer told the Times.

"Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story", she told the newspaper.

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