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A U.S. Air Force deserter who has lived secretly in Sweden since 1984 has revealed his identity and contacted his family in the United States who were overwhelmed to hear he was still alive, a Swedish newspaper reported at the weekend.
Dagens Nyheter said David Hemler had deserted aged 21 while serving at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, after getting involved with a pacifist church and becoming disillusioned with the policies of former President Ronald Reagan, reports Reuters.
He hitchhiked via Denmark to Sweden where he settled down, living under an assumed name for the last 28 years and not revealing his true identity to anyone.
"I never planned on not telling the truth in the beginning. I intended to come to Sweden until I felt better (after his experience in the airforce), I expected a week or so," Hemler told the newspaper in a video on its website.
Now aged 49, he is married to a woman from Thailand, has three children and works for a Swedish government agency, but would not let the newspaper print his assumed name.
After his desertion, he became one of the U.S. Air Force's eight most wanted fugitives, according to the newspaper, and had expected at any time to be arrested by military police with both Interpol and Europol looking for him.
Hemler told the newspaper 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 had 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.