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Former missing Air Force officer returns to active duty

Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger, who was recovered in Kyrgyzstan on Saturday after she was missing for four days, poses with her husband, Air Force Capt. Joshua Mayo, in an undated family photo.

COURTESY OF JOSHUA MAYO

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2010

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger has returned to active duty, more than four years after she mysteriously went missing from a base in Kyrgyzstan.

The former Air Force marathon champion returned to duty on Oct. 12, as the chief of community programs for the Air Force District of Washington at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., according to Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ann Stefanek.

Metzger became a controversial figure in September of 2006 when she disappeared from Manas Air Base, just days before she was to return home after a four-month deployment. The personnel officer, who said she had been kidnapped from a Bishkek department store, surfaced three days later in a nearby town, her long, blonde hair cut short and dyed brown and her hands stained with dye. She claimed she had escaped from the kidnappers.

But Kyrgyz authorities disputed her story, saying video and witness accounts conflicted with her statements.

Her story made international headlines, and she became the subject of many Internet rumors, with bloggers claiming that she made up her story and that the Air Force was trying to sweep the incident under the rug.

The Air Force and the FBI investigated Metzger’s disappearance, with the FBI assuming the lead in the case because it focused on an international kidnapping of an American citizen, Stefanek said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

The FBI closed its investigation into the incident a year ago, said Lindsay Godwin, a public affairs specialist with the FBI Washington Field Office, but the agency will not disclose the results of the investigation.

Air Force officials, citing privacy laws, would not say what Metzger’s status was during her hiatus from active duty, only that she was considered “retired.”

Metzger’s father, retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Metzger, told Stars and Stripes in 2007 that his daughter was to be temporarily retired from the Air Force — and would draw retirement pay — after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Air Force officials would not confirm John Metzger’s statements, but did say that Air Force regulations provide for temporary disability retirement.

Officials, citing privacy laws, also would not divulge what type of screening process Metzger underwent prior to returning to active duty.

Jill Metzger has declined all interview requests, Stefanek said.

In her new job, Jill Metzger will work with some high-visibility programs in the nation’s capital, according to Stefanek, such as the annual Air Force Cycling Classic, the Wounded Warrior Program and the military funeral honors program at Arlington National Cemetery, Stefanek said.

svanj@estripes.osd.mil

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