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Monday, June 18, 2012

David Hemler, US deserter found

Twenty eight years ago, an American Air Force serviceman serving in Germany, disappeared without a trace.  David Hemler was born in Pennsylvania and deserted on 10 February 1984 from the 6913th Electronic Security Squadron in Augsburg, Germany.

Hemler, now 47, said he was disillusioned with the policies of Ronald Reagan and was impressed by the German people's capacity to 'get very involved in peace movements.'  But surely there must have been something else, that's not a good enough reason to turn your back on your own country forever.

He hitchhiked through Denmark to Sweden where he met a woman from Thailand, settled down under an assumed name, and has lived there ever since.  Now 47, he works for a Swedish government agency and is registered in Sweden as a citizen of an unknown country, born in Zurich.

Hemler became one of the US Air Force's eight most wanted fugitives and he expected to be found and arrested by Interpol and Europol at any moment.

He emailed the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and gave himself up.  He decided to tell all in a newspaper article 'without pressure and in my own words' and waited until his youngest child turned two and could go to day care so his wife could cope on her own if he was arrested.

Hemler contacted his US family four weeks ago and spoke to his brother Thomas.  Believing him to be dead and after confirming that he was in fact his brother, family members plan to visit him soon in Sweden.

It's clear that Mr Hemler is an optimist when he said 'My dream scenario is that the responsible authorities realize I have already been punished quite severely for my actions.'  Oh really?  His lawyer thinks he will not lose his permanent residence permit in Sweden and will not be extradited back to the US.

I wouldn't like to bet on that one.