“Silver container” recovered on Mili Atoll islet was indeed “hard evidence” in Earhart case (Part 2 of 2)

August 22, 2014

In my previous post we heard the accounts of Marshallese fishermen Lijon and Jororo as told to Ralph Middle on Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, and passed on to Earhart researchers and authors Vincent V. Loomis and Oliver Knaggs in 1979. The story as related by Middle was that before the war they watched as an airplane landed on the reef near Barre Island, “two men” emerged from the airplane and produced a “yellow boat which grew,” climbed in and paddled to shore. Hiding in the island’s dense undergrowth, Jororo and Lijon saw the pair bury a “silver container” on the small island, and soon the Japanese arrived. After one of them screamed upon being slapped during the ensuing interrogation, the fishermen realized one of the men was actually a woman.  They remained hidden and silent, fearing for their lives.  

Lorok, who had heard Lijon's story as a child on Mili, owned Barre Island in 1981 and granted permission to Oliver Knaggs to search for the silver container buried by the plane's crew before the war.

Lorok, who had heard Lijon’s story in detail as a youth on Mili Atoll, owned Barre Island in 1981 and granted permission to Oliver Knaggs to search for the silver container buried by the plane’s crew before the war.

The existence of the silver container as described in Lijon’s account is supported by a little-known  passage written by Amelia herself, in the final pages of Last Flight, her abbreviated 1937 book in which she chronicles her world-flight attempt.  On page 223, Amelia wrote that she and Noonan “worked very hard in the last two days repacking the plane and eliminating everything unessential,” to help offset the burden the fully loaded fuel tanks would place on the engines, especially on takeoff from Lae. “All Fred has is a small tin case which he picked up in Africa,” Amelia wrote. “I notice it still rattles, so it cannot be packed very full.”

Knaggs returned to Mili in 1981 with a metal detector but without Loomis, hoping to locate Lijon’s silver container, and he soon met Lorok, “who owned the island of Barre and several others,” he wrote.  Lorok told Knaggs that Lijon alone had seen the plane come down, but he’d died several years ago. Lorok said he was 11 years old, living on Mili, when he heard Lijon tell his story. How Jororo, a co-witness in the original story told by Ralph Middle, was no longer present in Lijon’s account as related by Lorok, has never been explained by Knaggs, Loomis or anyone else. The accounts as presented in the books by the two authors are all we have on this incident.

The results of the scientific analysis of this 7-centimeter piece of the buried artifact recovered by Knaggs confirmed that "in section the sample revealed what is described as a pin cover, rivet, and body of the hinge. ... In general the microstructures are consistent with a fine, clean low carbon steel ... indicating that good technology was used in its manufacture."

The results of the scientific analysis of this 7-centimeter piece of the buried artifact recovered by Knaggs confirmed that “in section the sample revealed what is described as a pin cover, rivet, and body of the hinge. … In general the microstructures are consistent with a fine, clean low carbon steel … indicating that good technology was used in its manufacture.”

Lijon was “out fishing in the lagoon near Barre, when he saw this big silver plane coming, “ Lorok told Knaggs.  “It was low down and he could tell it was in trouble because it made no noise. Then it landed on the water next to the small island. He pulled in his fishing line and went quickly to see if he could help. When he got there he saw these are strange people and one is a woman. He hid then because he was frightened; he had not seen people like these. He watched as they buried something in the coral under a kanal tree. He could tell the man was hurt because he was limping and there was blood on his face and the woman was helping him. He waited there in his hiding place until he saw the Japanese coming and then he left. … Later we were told the people who crashed were Americans.” Lorok told Knaggs that Lijon later said, “The Japanese had taken her to Saipan and killed her as a spy. They were making ready for the war. They didn’t want anyone to see the fortifications.”

Knaggs found only one kanal tree when he searched Barre and two small, adjacent islands, and the intense heat and humidity made the going tough for his group. The next day, however, the wife of his native guide led them to another nearby island where she had seen a part of an old airplane when she played there as a child. They found no wreckage, but saw a “large, rotting trunk of a tree that could have been a kanal [years ago] and there was also a small kanal growing nearby,” Knaggs wrote. The detector soon responded, and about a foot-and-a-half down they found a “hard knot of soil that appeared to be growing on the root of a tree. Cutting into it, we discovered a mass of rust and what looked like a hinge of sorts.” Doubting that the shapeless lump could have once been the metal canister buried by the American fliers, Knaggs chipped away at his find but found nothing else.

Knaggs kept the hinge and brought it home to South Africa, where it was analyzed by the Metallurgical Department of the University of Cape Town. The results confirmed that “in section the sample revealed what is described as a pin cover, rivet and body of the hinge. In general the microstructures are consistent with a fine, clean low carbon steel … indicating that good technology was used in its manufacture.” Knaggs regretted not bringing the entire mass back for analysis, but “the hinge could have come from something akin to a cash box and could therefore quite easily be the canister to which Lijon had referred,” he concluded.

Lijon’s eyewitness account, as reported by Ralph Middle to Loomis and by Lorok to Knaggs, and reportedly supported by Mili’s Queen Bosket Diklan and Jororo,  is among the most compelling ever reported by a Marshall Islands witness. The profoundly realistic description of the “yellow boat which grew,“ combined with Knaggs’ recovery of the deteriorated, rusted hinge in a place where nothing of the sort should have been buried, lend additional credibility to Lijon’s story. Lorok told Knaggs that Lijon had spoken the truth about what he saw, and what could better explain the presence of a metal hinge on the tiny, uninhabited island, buried near a dead kanal tree?

The hinge wasn’t much to look at, of course, and will certainly never attain “smoking gun” status in the Earhart case. It wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t Amelia Earhart’s Electra, her briefcase that was found in a blown safe on Garapan by Marine Pfc. Robert E. Wallack in the summer of 1944, nor even one of the many photos of Amelia and Fred in Japanese custody reportedly found by American soldiers on Saipan. Regardless of its appearance, its provenance qualified the old, rotted hinge as solid, hard evidence of the presence of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on a small island near Barre Island, Mili Atoll in July 1937. I have no idea what has happened to this artifact, nor do I even know if Oliver Knaggs is still alive. Anyone with information is kindly asked to contact me through this blog.

This set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's last flight. The stamps (clockwise from top left) are titled: "Takeoff, Lae, New Guinea, July 2, 1937; USCG Itasca at Howland Island Awaiting Earhart; Crash Landing at Mili Atoll, July 2, 1937; and Recovery of Electra by the Koshu."  Frank Benjamin elarged and mounted these stamps, and they are an impressive part of his unique Earhart display.

This set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight. The stamps (clockwise from top left) are titled: “Takeoff, Lae, New Guinea, July 2, 1937; USCG Itasca at Howland Island Awaiting Earhart; Crash Landing at Mili Atoll, July 2, 1937; and Recovery of Electra by the Koshu.”

The Marshallese people have never forgotten the story of the woman pilot, and it’s become a part of their cultural heritage. In 1987 the Republic of the Marshalls Islands issued a set of four stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia’s landing at Mili Atoll. (See earlier posts: “Frank Benjamin: ‘We are brothers in pain!’” Jan. 28, 2014; and “Dave Martin to the rescue,” Aug. 11, 2012.)  Thus, in the Marshall Islands, the fate of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is far from the “great mystery” it’s constantly proclaimed to be in the United States and most of the Western world. To the Marshallese, the landing of the Electra at Mili, the Japanese pickup and transfer to Saipan are all stone, cold facts known to all.

 

 


“No hard evidence” in Earhart case? Knaggs’ find on Mili refutes skeptics’ claim (First of two parts)

August 12, 2014

Even casual observers of the Earhart case know that the major weapon used by skeptics and critics of the truth, the blind crash-and-sankers, the Nikumaroro morons and the rest who refuse to accept the obvious about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s Mili Atoll landing and deaths on Saipan is their never-ending cry, “Where is the physical evidence? No hard evidence has even been found!”

Forget the many dozens of witness accounts from natives, Saipan veterans and other sources that so clearly points to the truth.  Only when the Electra is finally discovered, they say, will the Earhart puzzle be solved. Until then, all theories are acceptable – except the hated Saipan truth, of course, which is a “paranoid conspiracy theory” and is far too “extremist” to have any validity. These bozos are quite happy to keep Amelia and Fred in cold storage for eternity, floating out there in the unfathomable ether where the world’s great mysteries abide.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979.  In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers' presence there. His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979. In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

They’re wrong, as usual; hard evidence has been found and analyzed, and it tells us a compelling story. Most of the doubters are unaware of this evidence, but it makes little difference. Even if the Earhart plane was somehow miraculously found underneath the Saipan International Airport’s tarmac amid hundreds of tons of wartime refuse, where, as Thomas E. Devine has told us, the plane has been since it was bulldozed into a deep hole several months after it’s torching in the summer of 1944, the naysayers wouldn’t accept it. And our corrupt media, which has been so invested for so long in perpetuating the big lie that Amelia’s fate remains a mystery, would take all pains to thoroughly ignore and suppress news of the discovery, as they always have.

But that’s for another time. This post is the first of two that will present and discuss the hard evidence that was found at Mili Atoll, evidence that all but proves the reality of our heroes’ presence at Mili Atoll in July 1937.  So that readers can best understand the sequence of events that led to the discovery of this artifact, a bit of background is in order.

Amelia Earhart: The Final Story among best ever penned

Former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis and his wife, Georgette, traveled to the Marshalls in 1978 hoping to find the wreck of an unidentified plane Loomis saw on an uninhabited island near Ujae Atoll in 1952. Loomis never located the wreck, which he fervently dreamed was the lost Earhart plane, but in four trips to the Marshalls he obtained considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there. Loomis’ 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, was praised by some at a time when big media’s rejection of information supporting Earhart’s survival and death on Saipan had yet to reach its virtual blackout of the past two decades, and is among the most important Earhart disappearance books ever written.

The Final Story’s most glowing review came from Jeffrey Hart, writing in William F. Buckley’s National Review. After gushing that Loomis “interviewed the surviving Japanese who were involved and he photographed the hitherto unknown Japanese military and diplomatic documents,” Hart flatly stated, “The mystery is a mystery no longer.” Of course, the U.S. government disagreed completely, and continued its abject silence on all things Earhart.

Two Marshallese fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, claimed that sometime before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre island, about 200 feet offshore. "When ‘two men' emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,' climbed aboard it and paddled for shore. "Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do,“ Vincent V. Loomis wrote.

Two Marshallese fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, claimed that sometime before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre Island, about 200 feet offshore. “When ‘two men’ emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,’ climbed aboard it and paddled for shore. “Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do,“ Vincent V. Loomis wrote. (Drawing courtesy of Doug Mills, Bellaire, Mich.)

On his first flight to Majuro, Loomis met Senator Amata Kabua and Tony DeBrum, commission officials seeking Marshallese independence from the United States. Kabua, a descendent of the first king of the Marshalls, Kabua the Great, said Earhart had come down in the islands and that her plane was still there. DeBrum told Loomis, “We all know about this woman who was reported to have come down on Mili southeast of Majuro, was captured by the Japanese and taken off to Jaluit. Remember, the stories were being told long before you Americans began asking questions.”

Among the witnesses Loomis interviewed at Mili Mili, the main island at Mili Atoll, was Mrs. Clement (Loomis provided no first name), the wife of the boat operator Loomis had hired. Mrs. Clement said her husband knew nothing, but she recalled that she had seen “this airplane and the woman pilot and the Japanese taking the woman and the man with her away.” She pointed out the area – “Over there … next to Barre Island” – as the spot where the plane had landed, but she offered no other information.

Loomis next sought out Jororo Alibar and Anibar Eine on Ejowa Island, hoping to confirm the story he heard from Ralph Middle on Majuro. Middle’s story was that two local fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, told him that before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre island, about 200 feet offshore. “When ‘two men’ emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,’ climbed aboard it and paddled for shore,” Loomis wrote. “Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do.” Shortly after the men reached the island, the fishermen saw them bury a silver container, but the Japanese soon arrived and began to question, and then slap the two fliers, Middle said. When one screamed, Jororo and Lijon realized it was a woman. The pair continued to hide, watching in silence, because “they knew the Japanese would have killed them for what they had witnessed.” 

The natives’ description of “the yellow boat which grew” is especially compelling for its realism, as it reflects their relatively primitive understanding of what only could have been an inflatable life boat produced by Earhart and Noonan after the Electra crash-landed, possibly on a reef. No inventory of the plane’s contents during the world flight is known to exist, but several sources support the common-sense idea that the fliers would not have departed Lae without such a vital piece of emergency equipment.

 

Author and Earhart researcher Oliver Knaggs, circa early 1980s.

Author and Earhart researcher Oliver Knaggs, circa early 1980s.

Amelia, My Courageous Sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey and Carol L. Osborne’s 1987 biography, contains a photocopied story from the March 7, 1937 New York Herald Tribune, “Complete Navigation Room Ready to Guide Miss Earhart.” Discussing emergency items the Electra would carry on the first world flight, the unnamed reporter wrote, “In the fuselage will be a two-man rubber lifeboat, instantly inflatable from capsules of carbon dioxide.”  In the July 20, 1937 search report of the Lexington Group commander, under “Probabilities Arising from Rumor or Reasonable Assumptions,” Number 3 states, “That the color of the lifeboat was yellow.” 

In September 1979, South African writer Oliver Knaggs was hired by a film company to join Loomis in the Marshalls and chronicle his search. The Knaggs-Loomis connection is well known among Earhart buffs, but neither Loomis, in The Final Story, nor Knaggs, in his little-known 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her last flight (Howard Timmins, Cape Town,  S.A), mentioned the other by name. In Her last flight, a rare collector’s item known mainly to researchers, Knaggs recounts his 1979 and ’81 investigations in the Marshalls and Saipan. Knaggs wasn’t with Loomis when Ralph Middle told him about Lijon and Jororo at Majuro in 1979, and wasn’t there when Loomis interviewed Jororo. Knaggs wrote  that “our leader [Loomis]” had told him of Lijon’s story, which he didn’t believe initially, but later, when a village elder repeated it, Knaggs became interested. Knaggs returned to Mili in 1981 without Loomis but armed with a metal detector in hopes of locating Lijon’s silver container, and establishing his own claim to fame in the search for Amelia Earhart.

In part two of this post, we’ll look at what Knaggs found, what the experts said about it and what it means in the continuing search for Amelia Earhart.

 

 


Bill Prymak, a giant of Earhart research, dies at 86

July 31, 2014

Bill Prymak, founder and first president of the Amelia Earhart Society (AES) of Researchers, a giant of Earhart research and a special friend whose generosity of spirit will never be forgotten, passed away July 30 in a Louisville, Colo. hospice. Bill had recently undergone surgery for colon cancer; he was 86. Bill joins his beloved wife of 60 years, Gloria, who died May 9 of this year, and is survived by his sons William, John and Paul, his daughters Anita (Langdon) and Linda (Coleman), and six grandchildren. Bill was born in Manhattan, N.Y., in 1928 to Ukrainian immigrant parents, attended the City College of New York and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. “He moved to Colorado in 1970, opened his own construction business and was very successful, building many large buildings in the Denver area and Colorado ski towns,” his daughter, Anita, said in an email.

But it was in the erudite, largely unknown circles of Amelia Earhart research – real investigative work, not the fabricated-for-public-consumption propaganda the media has force-fed the masses since the earliest days – where Bill left a lasting, indelible mark of excellence that will be always be remembered and honored by those who know and respect the truth about Amelia’s fate that he helped to establish. 

Bill Prymak, Amelia Earhart Society president, and Bilamon Amaron, circa 1989, Marshall Islands. Amaron’s eyewitness account is the cornerstone of the Marshall Islands–landing theory. (Photo courtesy of Bill Prymak.)

Bill Prymak, Amelia Earhart Society founder and its first president, and Bilimon Amaron, in Amaron’s Majuro, Marshall Islands home, in 1989. Amaron’s eyewitness account of seeing Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan aboard a Japanese ship in 1937 is the cornerstone of the Marshall Islands landing scenario. (Courtesy of Bill Prymak.)

Never one to seek praise or publicity, Bill’s natural humility kept him from making noise about his work, and so he wasn’t as well-known as many far-less accomplished Earhart researchers with larger egos. Occasionally, however, reporters would somehow find their way to his home in Broomfield, Colo., and write stories that only hinted at the insights and passion he brought to his work on the Earhart case. In 2012, a local reporter named Megan Quinn was privileged to meet and interview Bill, and she wrote a story headlined “Broomfield man digs for truth in Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance,” the last done about him while he was still with us. 

Bill will be greatly missed by the many whose lives he touched. I dedicated  Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last to Bill and the great Jim Golden, who worked closely with Fred Goerner in the late 1960s and ’70s to find the secret Earhart files, once headed Vice President Richard M. Nixon’s Secret Service detail and was chief of security for Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, among other fascinating achievements, and who passed away at age 85 in 2011.  These good men, who so revered the truth, were my best friends and collaborators in what has become my life’s work, and without their support and encouragement Truth at Last might never have been born.

Perhaps the first time I heard Bill’s name was during my initial visit to Thomas E. Devine’s West Haven, Conn. home in February 1991, about two-and-a-half years after I was infected with the Earhart bug. Devine told me that Prymak, a private pilot who had recently read Devine’s 1987 book Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident,  had called and asked if he could fly his plane out to visit Devine at his home and discuss his eyewitnesss account, as well as Prymak’s own findings in the Marshalls Islands.

Devine, of course, had his own problems, a malady known as “tunnel vision,” complicated by a severe case of egomania and seasoned by a lack of imagination. He always refused to consider that Earhart and Noonan could have landed in the Marshalls, in spite of the many witnesses who have attested to the fact that they did. Instead, Devine insisted that Amelia had inadvertently flown her Electra directly to Saipan because he thought Noonan had been injured and incapacitated on takeoff from Lae, resulting in an impossible 90-degree mistake in navigation that no other researcher has ever considered to be remotely possible. Devine rudely rejected Prymak’s suggestion, and though the two never spoke again, Bill always referred to the former Army postal sergeant and Saipan veteran with respect, calling him a “giant” in the Earhart saga more than once.

On Enajet Island, Mili Atoll in December 1989, Bill Prymak met Joro, a village elder born about 1915. Joro told Prymak about the "American airplane with the lady pilot [that] crash-landed on the inner coral reefs of Barre Island." (Courtesy of John Prymak.) On Enajet Island, Mili Atoll in December 1989, Bill Prymak met Joro, a village elder born about 1915.  Joro told Prymak about the American airplane with the lady pilot that crash-landed on the inner coral reefs of Barre Island. (Photo courtesy of John Prymak.)

On Enajet Island, Mili Atoll in December 1989, Bill Prymak met Joro, a village elder born about 1915. Joro told Prymak about the “American airplane with the lady pilot [that] crash-landed on the inner coral reefs of Barre Island.” (Courtesy of John Prymak.) 

The real “giant” was Bill, who I finally met in August 2003 when I was visiting researcher Lily Gelb at her mountainside home in Boulder, Colo. Bill drove over from Broomfield, about 15 miles, and we enjoyed a few days together, talking and contemplating the state of the Earhart disappearance, even then neither of us optimistic about the possibility of seeing any big breakthroughs in our lifetimes.  He understood, far better than I at the time, the depths of the U.S. government’s commitment to deny the truth and misdirect the public — then and probably forever.

A “boots-on-the-ground” researcher

Bill firmly believed that serious Earhart researchers should put their money where their mouths are and their “boots on the ground,” so he made three trips to the Marshall Islands, in 1989, ’90 and ’97, and was a leading proponent of the Marshall Islands landing scenario, made famous by Vincent V. Loomis in his 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story. Bill interviewed many Marshallese witnesses, more than a few for the first time, and he added much to confirm Loomis’ findings.  In 1989 Bill interviewed Bilimon Amaron, the Japanese-born hospital corpsman, whose eyewitness account of being called aboard a Japanese ship, undoubtedly the Koshu, at Jaluit in 1937 to tend to the injuries of Fred Noonan, while Amelia looked on, is the best known of all the Marshalls testimonies. Bilimon’s astonishing story is Exhibit No. 1 in the Marshalls evidence chest, and he achieved legendary status among his people. He died in 1996 at age 75.

An important witness discovered and interviewed exclusively by Bill in 1989 on the Mili Atoll island of Enajet was Joro, a village elder who told Prymak about the “American airplane with the lady pilot [that] crash-landed on the inner coral reefs of Barre Island.” Joro knew many of the villagers who were ordered by the Japanese to report to the site of the crash and assist in winching the Electra aboard the back of the ship, although Joro himself was not an eyewitness.  Bill found others whose stories had never been told, and he recorded their unique experiences that pointed to Earhart and Noonan at Mili and the Marshalls, later reporting them in his newsletters, and the most notable of these accounts are presented in Truth at Last.

Through his networking skills and Earhart expertise, Bill was able to gather, evaluate and disseminate an impressive volume of information in an entertaining and enlightening format to the AES membership. Bill’s AES Newsletters totaled 421 letter-size pages of original Earhart research from countless sources of all stripes, which he meticulously compiled and snail mailed – at significant cost to himself — to the AES membership every few months from December 1989 to March 2000.

These priceless documents are among the most important ever produced in the search for the truth in the Earhart case, extraordinary in their variety and wealth of content – true collector’s items that will never be duplicated. Without these remarkable references, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, would have been a far lesser book. Along the rough road to its 2012 publication, I would send Bill my latest chapters and updates, and he would encourage me to continue despite the massive rejections I faced, and his kind words salvaged many a terrible day for me. On several occasions before and after publication of Truth at Last, Bill told me the book was the “best ever about the Earhart disappearance.” Until this cancer diagnosis struck from out of the blue, Bill was planning to attend the Ninety-Nines’ sectional conference in Wichita, Kansas this September, to lend his support for my Truth at Last presentation to this elite group of women professional pilots.  Needless to say, these and many other of his kindnesses  meant the world to me.

Bill formed the AES in 1989 in his Broomfield, Colorado study, to “seek the truth regarding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.”  The original members of the AES numbered less than 20, but included some of the leading lights of the Earhart research community: Joe Gervais, whose Guam and Saipan witness  interviews in 1960 strongly supported Goerner’s investigations, but who, unfortunately, is best known as the creator of the disturbing and troublesome Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart myth, who passed away in January 2005; Retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck, a former Army Air Corps B-29 navigator who served on Saipan, flew against the Japanese mainland in 1944-’45 and wrote Amelia Earhart Survived (2003)  in a failed attempt to resurrect the Irene Bolam delusion, who died in 2007; and Ron Reuther, the eminent researcher who founded the Oakland (Calif.) Aviation Museum in 1981, directed the San Francisco Zoo from 1966 to 1973, and helped to catalog and prepare Fred Goerner’s papers for their placement at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, who also passed away in 2007 within a few weeks of Reineck.

Bill’s passing leaves only Paul Rafford Jr., 95, the former Pan American Airways radio flight officer and author of Amelia Earhart’s Radio: Why She Disappeared (The Paragon Agency, Second Edition, 2008) and Joe Klaas, 94, Gervais’ close friend and author of Amelia Earhart Lives (McGraw-Hill 1970), as the last of the old guard of Earhart researchers still with us. None will replace these men, who each left their own unique imprint on the record of the search for the truth in the Earhart disappearance.

May God Bless you, Bill, and I’m sure He has, and thanks so much for your kindness and friendship. I’ll always remember you with love, and I trust that someday we’ll meet again. Until then, my friend, Requiescat in pace.

 


For Amelia Mary Earhart, another unhappy birthday

July 23, 2014

Well, Amelia, another year has passed since Amy Otis Earhart brought you into this world in your grandparents’ Atchison, Kansas home on July 24, 1897, eons ago, in a much simpler and, some would say, far better America. Because you were so unexpectedly taken from us sometime after you turned 40, you’ll be forever young to those who remember and celebrate your life. I’m sure you can read these comments or receive this message somehow, and I’m certain you’re in a place where the free flow of all information is enjoyed by all, and where no secrets exist. I’ll bet there’s plenty you’d like to tell us, but the rules up there prevent it.

Admittedly, it’s a stretch to think you might still be with us at 117 if a few things had gone differently for you and Fred Noonan, and had you reached that exclusive club, you’d surely be a contender for world’s-oldest-person honors. But considering the amazing feats you managed in your brief life that earned you nicknames like Lady Lindy and the First Lady of Flight, an equally lofty and hard-earned title 77 years later doesn’t seem impossible, does it? After all, Amy was an impressive 93 and lived the majority of her years before penicillin was discovered, and your sister, Muriel, made it all the way to the venerable age of 98 before she cashed in, so I’d say the odds were about even money that you could have been your family’s first centenarian.

In a highly publicized July 1949 interview, Amelia's mother, Amy Otis Earhart told the Los Angeles Times, "I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me. I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing in the sea. She landed on a tiny atoll—one of many in that general area of the Pacific—and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall Islands, under Japanese control.”

In a highly publicized July 1949 interview, Amelia’s mother, Amy Otis Earhart, who died in 1962 at age 93, told the Los Angeles Times, “I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me. I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing in the sea. She landed on a tiny atoll—one of many in that general area of the Pacific—and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall Islands, under Japanese control.”

Of course, wishing you a Happy Birthday is just something the living do to make ourselves feel better; where you are, every day is far better than any grand birthday bash we could imagine, and birthdays there must be quite passé. For your devotees down here, though, at least for those who know the truth about what’s been going on for so long, it absolutely is another unhappy birthday, because nothing of substance has changed in the past year, and what little news we have ranges from the mundane to the depressing.

The big lie that your disappearance remains a great mystery continues to dominate nearly all references to you, often followed by another well-publicized whopper from TIGHAR that they’re just about to find your Electra on Nikumaroro, if only they can raise the money for the next search, ad nauseam. Such unrelenting rigmarole must bore you, but this and other ridiculous claims are what has passed in our despicable media for “Earhart research” since Time magazine trashed Fred Goerner’s bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart  in 1966.

Amelia at 7

Amelia at 7:  Even as a child, Amelia Earhart had the look of someone destined for greatness. In this photo, she seems to be looking at something far away, not only in space, but in time. Who can fathom it? 

You’ve likely heard that a young woman, Amelia Rose Earhart, a pilot and former Denver TV weatherperson who happens to have your first and last names but isn’t otherwise related, completed a relatively risk-free world flight July 11 following a route that roughly approximated your own. At least three others have already done this, all Americans: Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock in 1964, Ann Pellegreno in 1967 and Linda Finch in 1997, so there was nothing notable in Amelia Rose’s flight, especially considering that she had the latest GPS navigational technology to ensure her safe journey.

Her motivation was to honor your memory, said Amelia Rose, who was the featured speaker at the annual festival held in your name at Atchison last week. I don’t attend these pretentious galas, and unless and until event organizers find the courage to come to terms with the truth of your untimely and completely unnecessary demise on Saipan, I never will. Last week she must have been making the rounds of the TV talk shows, as someone on FOX News announced she would be on soon, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

If Amelia Rose actually cared a whit about your legacy, she’d learn the truth that so many insist on avoiding but is available to all, and would use her public platform to stand up and call attention to this great American travesty and cover-up – rivaled only by the Warren Commission’s “lone gunman” verdict in the John F. Kennedy assassination in its mendacity, but unlike the JFK hit, completely ignored in the popular culture – and demand that our government stop the lies about her namesake’s true fate.  Unfortunately and all too predictably, based on what I know about this grandstanding pretender, Amelia Rose has never uttered a word that had any relationship to the truth about what happened to you 77 years ago.

Amelia’s younger sister by two years, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey of West Medford, Massachusetts, died in her sleep Monday, March 2, 1998 at the age of 98. Muriel was an educator and civil activist, participating in many organizations and benevolent causes.  Muriel and Amelia were inseparable as children, sharing many tomboyish activities, riding horses together, loving animals and playing countless imaginative games.

Amelia’s younger sister by two years, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey of West Medford, Massachusetts, died in her sleep Monday, March 2, 1998 at the age of 98. Muriel was an educator and civil activist, participating in many organizations and benevolent causes. Muriel and Amelia were inseparable as children, sharing many tomboyish activities, riding horses together, loving animals and playing countless imaginative games.

Facts are stubborn things

Amelia Rose’s supporters say she doesn’t know about all the investigations and research that tell us that you and Fred Noonan landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Jaluit, Roi-Namur and finally Saipan, where you suffered wretched deaths. This gruesome scenario, as well as the fact that our fearless leader at the time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, refused to lift a finger to help you, much less inform the public that you were the first POWs of the yet-undeclared war to come, continue to be denied by the corrupt U.S. government and suppressed by our media big and small. But facts are stubborn things, and they don’t cease to exist because the local PTA, the Atchison Chamber of Commerce or Amelia Rose Earhart wishes it were so.

Many hundreds of books celebrate your remarkable life, but only a handful dare to reveal the facts surrounding your miserable demise at the hands of barbarians on that godforsaken island of Saipan. Now that the Japanese are among our best friends and allies in the Pacific Rim, we don’t want to offend their delicate sensibilities with public discussions of their World War II barbarities, do we?

Speaking of which, you might know Iris Chang, author of the 1997 bestseller The Rape of Nanking, which exposed the long-suppressed Japanese atrocities against the Chinese in December 1937, only months after your disappearance. Despite the book’s notoriety and widespread acceptance of its findings, the Japanese ambassador refused to apologize for his nation’s war crimes when Chang confronted him on British TV in 1998. In 1999 she told Salon.com that she “wasn’t welcome” in Japan, and she committed suicide in 2004.

We’re still not sure why Chang perpetrated the ultimate atrocity against herself, but it’s said that the years of research into such horrific subject matter disturbed her greatly. The parallels are obvious, but the depravities the Japanese committed against the Chinese, despite the overwhelming numbers of the murdered, don’t rankle Westerners nearly as much as the mere consideration of what befell you and Fred on Saipan. Chang may have been unpopular in Japan, but her work was celebrated by the U.S. media, which avoids anything or anyone that hints at the truth about you like the plague.

The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang'e 1997 bestseller that exposed the World War II depravities of the Japanese military, was embraced by the U.S. media, which continues to suppress and cover up the truth about that same Japanese military's atrocities against Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang’e 1997 bestseller that exposed the pre-World War II depravities of the Japanese military, was embraced by the U.S. media, which continues to suppress, deny and ignore the truth about that same Japanese military’s atrocities against Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

Amelia Rose may not know the sordid details, but she’s heard the story and has shown no inclination to learn about the truth, falsely marginalized as an “unsubstantiated fringe theory” for many decades by our trusted media. So at best, Amelia Rose is among the willfully ignorant about you; this strain of ignorance is just another form of cowardice, another excuse to avoid the truth, and of course it’s dishonesty in spades.

How can I say this so blithely? At last year’s Amelia Earhart Festival, an Earhart researcher engaged Amelia Rose, on hand to collect another dubious honor, in a conversation that began well but abruptly turned to ashes when he brought up the subject of your death on Saipan. Amelia Rose, upon hearing this, flew from this man as if he had leprosy. Almost a year earlier, she ignored my email missives that not only politely informed her of the truth, but offered her a free copy of my book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. So Amelia Rose Earhart, rather than being a special person, is just one of many hundreds of similar mainline media lemmings who assiduously avoid the truth.  Those who aren’t part of the solution are part of the problem, and excuse me if I repeat myself, but they are cowards as well.

So the lies continue without surcease, and 99.99 percent of the public continues to hear, read and without reservation buys the myth that your disappearance remains among the “greatest aviation mysteries of the 20th century.” A few of us know better, and are doing our best to rectify this appalling situation, but we aren’t having much success. Few will admit it, but the word has long been out that it’s not acceptable to talk about what really happened to you. Nobody wants to hear it, so it’s fallen to outsiders like this writer to do justice to your story. We’re called conspiracy theorists and wing nuts, and are strenuously shunned.

So Amelia, that’s how it looks to at least one of us down here on your 117th birthday. Sadly, you and Fred Noonan are as far from realizing Fred Goerner’s “justice of truth” as ever, and there’s nothing coming from our government that gives us the slightest glimmer of hope. But the difficulty of this mission doesn’t deter those of us who truly believe in the worthiness of the cause. And so we continue.

 

 


Linwood Day: Forgotten hero of the Earhart saga

July 10, 2014

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart knows about Fred Goerner and his 1966 classic The Search for Amelia Earhart. Goerner’s book remains the only bestseller ever penned about the Earhart case, and it opened the doors for other researchers, including this one, to continue the quest to establish the truth about what has evolved into one of the greatest travesties and cover-ups in modern American history.

may 27, 1960: Linwood Day's first Earhart story stuns the world. Even in 1960, none of the nation's big newspapers carried this story. though hundreds of smaller papers spread the word across the country that the Earhart mystery had been solved,

May 27, 1960: Linwood Day’s first Earhart story stuns the world. Even in 1960, none of the nation’s big newspapers carried this story, though hundreds of smaller papers spread the word across the country that the Earhart mystery had been solved.

But the popular San Francisco radio newsman would have never known about Amelia Earhart had it not been for the fine work of San Mateo Times reporter Linwood McGuire Day, whose groundbreaking stories set the stage for everything that was to come in the real modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.  On May 27, 1960, a full-page headline adorned the top of page 1 of The Times, exclaiming, “San Matean Says Japanese Executed Amelia Earhart.” The first of many of Day’s reports, titled “Woman’s Story: Aviatrix Died Before Saipan Firing Squad,” began:

A San Mateo woman who may have been one of the last to see Amelia Earhart alive, says that  the famed aviatrix was executed by a Japanese firing squad even while the U.S. Navy was spending $4,000,000 in a futile search for the missing flier and her navigator, Frederick Noonan.

Mrs. Josephine Blanco Akiyama of 15 South Idaho Street, has identified pictures of Amelia as the “American lady pilot” she saw taken into custody on the fortress island of Saipan in July 1937.  The woman flier was accompanied by a man, she said, an American also dressed in aviator’s garb.

Little more than a month later, the front page of the July 1, 1960 Times, with its 100-point headline, “AMELIA EARHART MYSTERY IS SOLVED” rocked the nation.  As true today as it was 54 years ago, the page is framed and mounted on my study wall, and it never fails to inspire. Even in 1960, though hundreds of newspapers ran Day’s story, and United Press International, then one of the preeminent news wires in the world, picked it up immediately, no trace of it can be found in the major papers such as the Washington Post and New York Times. Apparently, the word came down quickly from the nation’s power centers that the truth in the Earhart story was off limits, and it’s remained so to this day.

In mid-May 1978, San Mateo Times reporter Linwood Day pauses with Patty Hearst outside the Pleasanton, Calif., prison where Hearst was expected to spend the remainder of her seven-year sentence for bank robbery. Day developed a rapport with Hearst, and she responded by giving him exclusive information about her last few weeks of freedom. Day often remarked that the Patty Hearst case and the Amelia Earhart disappearance were the two  stories that defined his career as a reporter. (Photo courtesy of Beverly Day.)

In mid-May 1978, San Mateo Times reporter Linwood Day pauses with Patty Hearst outside the Pleasanton, Calif., prison where Hearst was expected to spend the remainder of her seven-year sentence for bank robbery. Day developed a rapport with Hearst, and she responded by giving him exclusive information about her last few weeks of freedom. Day often remarked that the Patty Hearst case and the Amelia Earhart disappearance were the two stories that defined his career as a reporter. (Photo courtesy of Beverly Day.)

I always wondered about Linwood Day, the forgotten scribe who produced so many great stories in May, June and July of 1960, stories that rattled cages across the country and reverberated all the way to the halls of Congress. Quite serendipitously, I recently came across Linwood Day and his daughter Beverly’s names in a state of Maine genealogy chat room discussion. A few more steps and a kind cousin provided Beverly’s email address, as well as her snail mail. Soon we were talking on the phone, and she was happy to share her memories of her father’s days on the Earhart story, and how much it meant to him.

A byline in a family newspaper        

“Goerner contacted him because he saw the newspaper story that came out that my dad wrote,” Beverly told me from her home in Waterville, Maine. “He told me a lot about his conversation with her [Josephine Blanco Akiyama, whose account was first reported by Paul Briand Jr. in his little-known 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky]. What sticks with me is that my father was absolutely certain that she was correct about the fact that Earhart and Noonan died on Saipan, and that it was the Japanese that had taken them there and that Josephine was a young girl at the time but she saw them being pushed through the jungle. And they went to this military barracks kind of thing where they imprisoned them.”

But while Day’s stories transfixed the nation and launched Goerner on his life’s mission, the public never heard the rest of the story, the story behind the story, so to speak, and it wasn’t a happy one. Goerner got all the glory and wrote the famous book. Linwood Day got a byline in a family newspaper, and that was it, except perhaps his own satisfaction in a job well done. For Goerner, it was always about himself, about fame and celebrity, narcissism and greed. Sure, he was a great radio newsman and is still the most important Earhart researcher ever, but Fred Goerner wasn’t a nice guy, not by any stretch. Many anecdotes I’ve heard in recent years attest to this unhappy fact, and I don’t enjoy reporting it. Moreover, I’ve kept the most disturbing things I’ve learned about Goerner off the pages of this blog, and will continue to do so.

From the first time Goerner saw Day’s story, he determined to make it his own. One fact I was unaware of until talking to Beverly was that beginning with the July 1, 1960 shocker, the Earhart stories her father produced were written with information Goerner provided over the phone. Day was never sent to Saipan to cover Goerner’s investigations in the summer of 1960, the first of his four visits to the island prior to the publication of Search.

“My dad was really upset,” Beverly recalled. “The deal was Goerner got his station [KCBS] to send him to Saipan, while my dad tried to get the newspaper to send him along and they refused. … He was heartbroken about not being able to go to Saipan when KCBS sent Goerner. … My dad was the real writer. It was ridiculous, because Goerner came in on it after my dad had started this whole thing. It was like he all of a sudden took over and took all the credit.  My dad was going to write a book about it and Goerner said, “No, no. We can work on this book together. And then he wrote the book and never gave my dad credit for anything. … My father was livid. He called Goerner and they argued on the phone, and I remember that because I remember my father slamming the phone down and pacing back and forth in his den. His face was just blood red. I had never seen my dad so angry, and you can imagine how he felt because he had to convince the Times to run the Earhart story. At first they were very nervous about doing this because ‘How do you know this is true’ and ‘Are we going to be liable?’ blah, blah, blah. But my dad was such a good reporter. Not only did he know how to write, he knew how to tell a story, how to pull it all together.

“He gave Goerner all this information” she continued, “what questions to ask, he told him who talk to [on Saipan], he told him everything.  He totally screwed my dad; it did not end well.” A check of The Search for Amelia Earhart reveals just one single mention of Linwood Day. On page 2, Goerner wrote about how he initially became involved with the Earhart story: “Intrigued, I called Lin Day, the Times newsman who had written the story.” And that was it for the man Goerner promised co-authorship of the book that was to become the definitive Earhart work and turn Goerner a national celebrity.

“He [Day] was very charismatic … a great intellectual and he had a way of getting people to talk to him,” Beverly said. “He was very professorial and had an innate grasp on history. He was always interested in the way things happened. I mean he did a lot of firsts. He was the first reporter on an atomic submarine … and then wrote about what it was like.” Indeed, an archive search of the San Mateo Times revealed an October 1964 story headlined “Staff Travels Around Globe” with the statement, “Linwood Day spent two days beneath the ocean in an atomic submarine.”

Another story in the same October 1964 issue, titled “Times News Staff Builds Top Record in its Coverage,” tells us that “Lin Day has served seven years with the staff and gained his experience in Philadelphia and Maine journalism. He was formerly on the staff of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, and San Jose (California) Mercury,” as well as the Maine Sunday Telegram. Most importantly, “Day’s coverage of the Search for Amelia Earhart brought The Times worldwide attention.”

“Discourses” with presidents and kings

Linwood Day spent most of his days in San Mateo at the Times, where he was eventually promoted to editor, recalled Beverly. “He first edited The Post, a ‘weekly grocery rag’ put out by the San Mateo Times, and he did something unexpected,” she said. “He applied the tenacious spirit and dedication to detail that had made him a great reporter to molding The Post into something people actually wanted to read. And read they did.  The Post’s circulation increased fourfold.  And Lin Day?  He was swiftly moved over to a new position — editor of the San Mateo Times. Besides his editing duties, my Dad also served as the Times Food Editor  —  — which I remember all too well as he would get tons of free coupons for ‘a hand-packed quart’ of Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream. Ah, to be a kid again.”

Beverly also worked as a journalist before branching off into a multifaceted writing and high-tech marketing career that included positions with Cray Supercomputers, Lockheed Martin and the advertising agency VIA in Portland, Maine. She laughs when talking about her last position with the famed Jackson Laboratory, in Bar Harbor, Maine saying “I could probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about 3,000 strains of inbred mice.”

An animal lover, she’s also owned Arabian horses for many years and has been breeding Maine Coon Cats since 1993, with an eye toward earning a Grand Championship for her 9-month-old Maine Coon cat, Honeycoon Sir Braeburn during the next show season. “Like my Dad, I love a challenge and  have a very competitive spirit,” she said. When asked what she most remembers about her Dad, she answers, “His growl!  Friends of Dad used to joke that when he was on a story he was like a bulldog,  he just wouldn’t let go.  He developed the habit that whenever he finished a story he would let out this great terrier growl.  The only time I don’t recall the growl was when he was on the Amelia Earhart story.” Why no growl?  “To my Dad the Amelia Earhart story wasn’t finished yet, Beverly recalled. “There was more, much more to be written.”

Beverly spoke fondly of a childhood spent mainly with her father, who took the family to California when she was 4 but was divorced her mother four years later. “It was just my dad and me from the age of 8 till I was 13 or 14 when he married for the second time,” she said. “So from that age, I was the one he talked to and I was mature for my age because I had to be. He would take me with him on stories. I would accompany him all over the place. If there was a fire engine passing, he would jump in the car and I would jump in the car and off we’d go.” Linwood Day, without doubt, often caught up with the fire engine or whatever else he was chasing for a story during his heyday at the San Mateo Times. Below is a list of just a few of the many memories – “random facts” – about her father that Beverly created on short notice:

  • He was heavily involved in political writing and mentions that he “walked the floor of Philadelphia’s Convention Hall with Jim Farley, stood by as Harry Truman ‘gave ‘em hell,’ sat on the floor in dim hotel rooms with Henry Wallace Progressives, and accompanied the Goldwater crusaders in their epic San Francisco takeover.”
  • He interviewed, “or discoursed with” (his words) President Richard Nixon, President John F. Kennedy, Estes Kefauver, Harold Stassen, Joe Martin, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Edward VIII of England and Robert Frost.
  • He wrote a speech for Nixon when he was running for Governor of California. 
  • He received a brief note from Ronald Reagan when he was Gov. of Calif. thanking him for his book [The Constitutional Conservative: The Poetry of a Cause, 1972] and saying, “I enjoyed reading it and found much food for thought.”

“My father could talk anyone into just about anything,” Beverly wrote, “and somewhere I have a picture of him getting the head of a museum in San Francisco along with the Egyptian liaison – well –  he got them to let him try on King Tut’s ring – when the King Tut Exhibit came to California.”

Linwood McGuire Day was born in 1917 and attended the University of Maine in Orono, majored in history and journalism and graduated about 1941.  He retired at age 68 and spent the remaining years of his life in Davis, California, where he died in 2003 at age 85. I like to think that Amelia was among the first to welcome him at the Pearly Gates, and that she thanked him profusely for all he did to tell the world the truth about her sad end on Saipan.

 


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