Mystery has surrounded the discovery of a high ranking Air Force Officer with top secret clearance who went missing more than 35 years ago only to 'apparently' re-surface in California. He handled classified planning and analysis of NATO's command, control and communications surveillance systems.
Instead, investigators said Capt. Hughes went to 19 Albuquerque bank branches and withdrew a total of $28,500 from his account. He allegedly told investigators that he became depressed while serving in the Air Force so he left and created a new identity for himself. He had been living in California ever since, he said. Hughes, now 66, was arrested by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations the next day.
The U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service caught on to Hughes's whereabouts, which were not specified, during a passport fraud investigation, leading them to the man named O'Beirne.
A high ranking Air Force officer who had gone missing 35 years ago, was apprehended by officials in California. CNN reports that it remains unclear what charges he will face.
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He had just returned from a temporary assignment in The Netherlands, where he worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft.
After Hughes disappeared, his auto was found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return, the Albuquerque Journal said.
While working at his permanent duty station at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, the Air Force assigned Hughes to a temporary duty station in the Netherlands in July 1983.
"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".
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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. This is the last time he was seen as William Howard Hughes until last week. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".
In a 1984 article by the Associated Press, Capt Hughes' family said they believed he had been abducted.
Hughes was 33 years old and single when he vanished, according to news reports from the time of his disappearance.
"Intelligence officers point out that Hughes' knowledge of all the top-secret rocket launch procedures was invaluable to the Soviets", Mr Szulc wrote in July 1986.
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"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.