Capt. William Howard Hughes, Jr., who was going by the name Barry O'Beirne, admitted his true identity after becoming the subject of a passport fraud investigation during an interview with the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service on June 5. Hughes, now 66, was arrested by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations the next day.
Hughes said he became depressed in the Air Force, created the fictitious identity and has been living in California ever since. He was last sent overseas, to the Netherlands, on July 18, 1983, to work with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officers. He was supposed to return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Aug. 1 of that year. But the Air Force never heard from him since he left for Europe.
later that year, the unmarried Seattle native was declared a deserter, something one of his sisters refused to believe. His family speculated he was abducted.
Hughes, who worked out of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center was last seen in Albuquerque withdrawing $28,500 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations. He had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, which meant he had access to U.S. and NATO secret information. He handled classified planning and analysis of NATO's command, control, and communications surveillance systems.
He is awaiting pre-trial confinement.