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US Air Force deserter reveals himself after living in Sweden for 28 years

 

A fugitive U.S. airman who deserted from a base in Germany solved the mystery of his 28-year disappearance after he revealed himself to a Swedish newspaper.

David Hemler left an Air Force base in Augsburg in 1984 after he became disgruntled with former President Ronald Reagan’s policies and joined a pacifist church, Reuters reports, citing the Swedish-language Dagens Nyheter.

He then hitchhiked his way to Sweden and planned to stay there for a week, but ended up settling down. Hemler, now 49 and working at a Swedish government agency, married a woman from Thailand and has three kids, the newspaper reports.

Hemler was listed as one of the Air Force’s most-wanted fugitives after his desertion, according to the newspaper, but he told no one -- not even his wife -- about his identity.

Hemler outed himself because he said he missed his parents and was afraid that he’d lose his residence permit if exposed.

“I didn’t want to leave my daughter, and with a dishonorable discharge I would never find a job, get no retirement and no medical benefits,” Hemler told Dagens Nyheter, the New York Daily News reports.

Hemler contacted his U.S. family four weeks ago and spoke to his brother, who said he had a “strange European accent.” The family is now planning to visit him in Sweden.

The Air Force is still investigating Hemler's claims, the Daily News reports.

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Click for more from the New York Daily News.