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11 June 2018, 07:26 | Erica Roy
Ex-Kirtland AFB officer missing since 1983 found
He had been sent to the Netherlands July 18, 1983, to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officers and was due back in Albuquerque on August 1, the Air Force said.
A former Air Force officer, Howard Hughes Jr., was missing for over 35 years.
Hughes was last seen in the Albuquerque area withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branches, the Air Force said, though not indicating when.
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 was unmarried when he disappeared, but the Seattle native had three sisters.
The reason he did this, he said, was because he was "depressed about being in the Air Force" - so he left, created a fictitious identity in California and never came back, investigators said. In fact, just a day before Hughes' arrest, the man was interviewed by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service over possible passport fraud, detailed the Air Force Times.
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.
TaskandPurpose reported Hughes' auto being found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home in the 1900 block of Chandelle Loop NE revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return.
William Howard Hughes Jr. allegedly deserted the Air Force in July 1983 after coming back from temporary duty in Western Europe, the Air Force said. Nevertheless speculation persisted that Hughes may have been abducted by or defected to the Soviets.
"These include the apparent defection to the Soviet Union in 1983 of the U.S. Air Force's leading expert on rocket self-destruct procedures" - meaning Hughes.
"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.
An Office of Special Investigations spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal that there's no indication Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union or that any classified information was leaked. Friends and co-workers also didn't provide any information, the Air Force said.
Desertion carries maximum penalties of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and confinement of five years.
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