USAF captain missing for 35 years found alive in California

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The report notes that Hughes was officially declared a deserter on December 9, 1983 after he returned from duty in Europe.

Investigators found Hughes' auto abandoned at the Albuquerque airport.

He had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, which meant he had access to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secret information. 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. His true identity came to light during a passport fraud investigation being conducted by the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, officials stated. He allegedly told investigators that he became depressed while serving in the Air Force so he left and created a new identity for himself.

News reports told of the high ranking Air Force officer being 33 years old single when he 'mysteriously' disappeared in the summer of 1983. He was expected to return to duty at Kirtland on August 1, 1983.

Before leaving New Mexico, Hughes withdrew $28,500 from his bank account, making smaller withdrawals by visiting 19 different branches, the Air Force said. Hughes, a Seattle native was arrested without incident on Wednesday.

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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.

"We do not feel he disappeared voluntarily", his sister, Christine Hughes, said in a 1984 Associated Press article.

There was speculation in the 1980s that Hughes, who specialized in space-launch command, control and communications for satellite surveillance systems, had defected to the Soviet Union, the Los Angeles Times reported in a July 1986 article. Some believed that the perpetrators were from the Soviet Union.

Following his arrest, Hughes was charged with desertion and is being held at Travis Air Force Base in California.

"They (AFOSI investigators) said at this point there's no indication that he had any classified information or that he gave any classified information", Card said. Secret and NATO Secret information, " the Air Force maintained that he was not carrying classified information with him on his trip to the Netherlands. If convicted, the officer could face reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement in a military prison for up to five years and a dishonorable discharge, FindLaw.com reports. "Until we have the whole story, we don't have the story".

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