STOCKHOLM – Nearly 28 years after David Hemler deserted his U.S. Air Force post in Germany, a man claiming to be the missing American has appeared in Sweden, saying he has chosen to reveal his true identity because he misses his aging parents, a lawyer for the man said Tuesday.
Hemler, from Cleona, Pa., has for years been featured on the U.S. Air Force’s most wanted list after deserting his post in 1984 while stationed in Augsburg, southwest Germany. He was 21 years old.
Stockholm-based lawyer Emma Persson told the Associated Press that when first approached by the man he had told her he had hitchhiked to Sweden almost three decades earlier, deserting his military post because of ideological reasons, and then raising a family in the Nordic country under a false name.
Not even his wife – a Swedish national – and his three children were aware of his real identity, she said.
She refused to disclose her client’s Swedish identity, citing reasons of confidentiality.
In an interview broadcast online by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter over the weekend, the man – speaking in a thick non-American accent and hesitating to pronounce some English words – said he started to question the righteousness of warfare during his time in the military, and began looking to more pacifist movements.