Air Force Captain AWOL For 35 Years Is Arrested In California

Lester Mason
June 11, 2018

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.

Upon launching its investigation into Hughes, the Air Force did not immediately rule out defection as a possibility, according to 1984 newspaper accounts in the Albuquerque Journal in which a public affairs officer said it is one "option".

According to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), the State Department was recently investigating a man claiming to be "Barry O'Beirne" during a passport fraud inquiry. But when pressed on inconsistencies in his story, he admitted that he was the fugitive Air Force officer. He was working at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Hughes Jr. masqueraded as "Barry O'Beirne" for over 35 years after he deserted his post with the U.S. Air Force.

Finally, they obtained surveillance video that captured him withdrawing more than $28,000 from 19 different banks in the Albuquerque area on July 22.

Hughes was 33 years old and worked on classified planning and analysis of NATO's control, command and communications surveillance systems during the Cold War.


However, on June 6, Hughes was found and arrested in California. The news of Hughes' disappearance made headlines the following year, with a front-page Albuquerque Journal announcing "Kirtland Launches Search for Officer Missing 5 Months" on January 17, 1984. "Among his responsibilities was the training of range officers in charge of destroying rockets malfunctioning after launch".

He had just completed a stint in the Netherlands, where he worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft. But after supposedly leaving for Europe, he was never seen again.

William Howard Hughes Jr. was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force Dec. 9, 1983.

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

Following his arrest, Hughes was charged with desertion and is being held at Travis Air Force Base in California. If convicted, he might face maximum penalties of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and confinement of five years. His sister Christine said, "We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily", detailed the Albuquerque Journal. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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