Air Force Captain Found 35 Years After Disappearing

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In July 1983, Hughes had been assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers "on the operations of Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft" but never resurfaced after leaving for Europe.

According to a news release, Hughes admitted his identity during an interview with the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service as part of a passport fraud investigation.

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.

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.

Hughes was last seen the New Mexico area withdrawing $28,500 from 19 separate banks.

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This undated photo released by the U.S. Air Force shows Capt. William Howard Hughes, Jr., who was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force Dec. 9, 1983.

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 disappearance, the Air Force said Hughes had a "Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation" clearance. Inside his townhouse they discovered a to-do list and a list of books Hughes planned to read upon his return.

William Howard Hughes Jr. disappeared in July of 1983 after returning from duty in Europe.

Later in 1986, a Los Angeles Times article also speculated that Hughes had defected to the Soviet Union.

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The Air Force said it declared Hughes a deserter December 9, 1983. The Air Force didn't say where in California Hughes had lived under the O'Bierne name, or what charges he faces.

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. Secret and NATO Secret information, " the Air Force maintained that he was not carrying classified information with him on his trip to the Netherlands.

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.

Desertion carries maximum penalties of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and confinement of five years.

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