Air Force Deserter Found And Arrested After Over Three Decades

Mike Brest | Contributor

A U.S. Air Force deserter from 1983 was found living under an alias in California at the end of last week.

Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. admitted to living under the assumed name of Barry O’Beirne after being questioned by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.

“Capt. Hughes deserted the Air Force in July 1983 after returning from temporary duty in Western Europe,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Hughes was last seen in the Albuquerque, N.M., area withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations.”

“At the time of his disappearance, Capt. Hughes had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, but only had access to U.S. Secret and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secret information,” it continued.

He was sent to the Netherlands in 1983 to work with NATO officers. Hughes was expected to return to New Mexico at the end of that summer but was never seen again. On December 9 that year, the Air Force officially declared him a deserter.

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