09:33 EST 17 June 2012
28 years after deserting the U.S. Air Force, a serviceman believed dead has stunned his family by contacting them from where has been living, as a fugitive, in Sweden.
Now aged 47, David Hemler vanished in 1984 while serving at a base in Germany, fleeing the country without a trace.
The conservative-raised airman hitchhiked through Denmark to Sweden after getting involved with a pacifist church – and a girl.
He felt in awe of the ‘fantasy world’ of Germany, its people ‘very involved in peace movements’ and became disillusioned with the policies of former President Ronald Reagan.
Hemler planned on staying in Sweden for a week or so, but ended up marrying a woman from Thailand and settling down under an assumed name.
Together they have borne three children and he works for a Swedish government agency, local newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. He is registered in Sweden as a citizen of an unknown country who was born in Zurich, keeping his true identity a secret from his new family.
Hemler became one of the U.S. Air Force’s eight most wanted fugitives and had expected at any time to be arrested by military police with both Interpol and Europol looking for him.
The site details how the Pennsylvania-born serviceman deserted on February 10, 1984 from the 6913th Electronic Security Squadron in Augsburg, Germany.
Now Hemler’s true appearance has been revealed after he agreed to a video interview with the DN. He said he turned to the media so as to ‘tell my story without pressure and in my own words’.
Hemler told how he had missed his parents after he deserted but went on to have a child and had not wanted to be separated from her. He decided to come forward after his third daughter turned two and could go to day care, so his wife would be better able to cope if he was arrested.
The dad-of-three first contacted his U.S. family four weeks ago, speaking to his brother Thomas who was in Massachusetts at the time on a business trip.
‘I heard immediately it was David, even if he had a strange European accent after all these years,’ Thomas Hemler, who lives in New Jersey, was quoted on Sunday as saying.
He said he had asked questions to confirm the man was indeed his brother David. Members of his family in the United States are now planning to visit him in Sweden.
Hemler has since emailed the AFOSI, whose web site he said he has visited ‘a thousand times over the last 20 years’, revealing himself to the authorities.
‘My dream scenario is that the responsible authorities realise I have already been punished quite severely for my actions,’ he said. ‘I have been living 28 years in lies.’
Hemler’s lawyer, Emma Persson, told Reuters he had approached her firm for legal advice about a month ago. ‘My opinion is that he will not lose his permanent residence permit in Sweden, it is very unlikely,’ she said. She also thought it unlikely he would be extradited to the United States.
A U.S. embassy spokesman declined to comment on the case.
David A. Hemler
Height/Weight: 5’11″/121-150 lbs.
Date of Birth: 19 Feb 63
Place of Birth: Pennsylvania
Scars/Distinguishing Features: None
Matter Investigated: Security issue
Last Known Unit and Base: 6913th Electronic Security Squadron, Augsburg, Germany
Date of Desertion: 10 Feb 84
NCIC #: W347691778
David Hemler was born on February 19th, 1963 according to http://www.osi.andrews.af.mil/library/fugitives/hemler.asp
February 19th, 1963
2 + 19 +1+9+6+3 = 40 = his life lesson = Public service.
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