Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr., 66, who has been living under the pseudonym, Barry O’Beirne, had his real identity discovered after undergoing an investigation relating to passport fraud earlier this month. O’Beirne’s actual name and background became apparent during an interview with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. He was arrested a day later. The US Air Force Officer had gone missing in 1983 – making this the first known legal acknowledgment of his existence in 35 years. He has been living in California ever since.
Who is William Howard Hughes Jr.?
Hughes worked at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in New Mexico where he held top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance and dealt with classified NATO command, control, and communications surveillance systems and proceedings. His disappearance earned him a “Most Wanted” designation from the Air Force due to his exalted status.
According to Hughes, he decided to create a new identity after becoming extremely depressed in the Air Force. An investigation was initiated after Hughes failed to explain inaccuracies in his identity.
“Capt Hughes claimed that in 1983 he was depressed about being in the Air Force so he left, created the fictitious identity of O’Beirne and has been living in California ever since,” the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations reports.
The official statement from the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations is as follows:
“On June 5, during a passport fraud investigation, the US Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service interviewed an individual claiming to be Barry O’Beirne. After being confronted with inconsistencies about his identity, the individual admitted his true name was William Howard Hughes Jr., and that he deserted from the US Air Force in 1983”
A high-ranking Kirtland Air Force Base officer with top security clearance who disappeared 35 years ago has been found in California.
William Howard Hughes, Jr., was apprehended after a fraud investigation involving a fake identity he had been using. pic.twitter.com/ctplfxOBeR
— Insight Reader (@Insightreaderr) June 10, 2018
The Hughes family refused to believe he had deserted the Air Force and suspected that he had been abducted.
More Important Info About William Howard Hughes Jr.
William Howard Hughes Jr. says he was depressed about being in the military so he decided to leave. https://t.co/StNl251fR1
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) June 11, 2018
Before his arrest, Hughes was last seen withdrawing $28,500 from 19 different bank branches.
Some theories about the nature of Hughes’ disappearance link him to failed rocket launches and consequential explosions in the mid-80s, including the space shuttle Challenger. Los Angeles Times journalist Tad Szulc reported in July 1986 that “(Intelligence officers) see a clear link between Hughes and possible sabotage of the American and French launches.”
One officer asserted that “He [Hughes] is worth his weight in gold to the Russians in terms of future ‘Star Wars,’ if we have them,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
He is currently being detained at Travis Air Force Base in San Francisco awaiting pre-trial confinement, according to the Independent.