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Air Force Deserter Who Was Missing For 40 Years Turns Up In Florida

Jeffrey Michels, a 64-year-old Air Force veteran and deserter, has been found after going missing 40 years ago. Michels disappeared in North Dakota and was last seen leaving a Minot Air Force Base in 1977. Last week, authorities were stunned when Mr. Michels surfaced in Florida under a different name. According to the New York Post, Mr. Michels – who was going by the name Jeffrey Lantz – has been living a double life ever since he disappeared.

Under his new name, Mr. Lantz managed to secure a construction company license, build a successful business, and marry the love of his life. According to WFTV, Mr. Lantz also used the fake identity to buy a home in Sanford, Florida. When authorities tracked him down, Mr. Lantz was living a successful life with his wife and two children. It remains unclear if Mr. Lantz’s business, the Atlantic Development Corporation, will be impacted by the accusations levelled against the founder.

When police and Air Force officers learnt that Mr. Lantz was still alive, they quickly moved to file desertion charges. However, this process ran into a roadblock when authorities discovered that the statute of limitations was long expired. This meant that Air Force officers were unable to charge or court-martial Mr. Lantz for deserting his post.

However, an Air Force spokesperson, Lt. John P. Longmire, has revealed that Mr. Lantz will still be punished, telling WTFV: “He has been brought back onto active duty at his previous rank of E-3 and He will be given a discharge under ‘Other Than Honorable’ conditions.”

At this stage, local media outlets have not received any more information about the case. Nevertheless, online commentators and social media users are desperate to know how police and Air Force officers managed to find the deserter after so long.

While police were attempting to charge Lantz with desertion, another member of the U.S. military, the Army this time, was being tried for the same offence. The soldier in question, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, has been brought before a military court after he left his post in Afghanistan.

After leaving his post, Bergdahl was captured by the Afghan Taliban and imprisoned for 5 years. The soldier was finally able to return home when former President Obama agreed to a prisoner swap deal with the Taliban. In his court appearance, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to misbehavior before the enemy and desertion. “I understand that leaving was against the law,” Bergdahl told the court and judge. “At the time, I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations.”

Legal experts believe that Bergdahl will face a harsher sentence because several soldiers on the search and rescue parties – which were deployed in the hours after Bergdahl went missing – were injured in small-scale firefights with Taliban soldiers. Facing a maximum penalty of life in prison, Bergdahl hopes that the serving judge, Colonel Jeffery R. Nance, will show leniency.

While campaigning in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump frequently took aim at Bergdahl, calling him a “traitor” to his country.

Source: New York Post
Photo: YouTube

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