This blog is becoming — at least temporarily — a running account of events surrounding the proposed Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan. You will recall my March 2 post that announced the recent development on Saipan, Finally, some good Earhart news from Saipan, linking to the story “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan,” that appeared in the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety (“Micronesia’s Leading Newspaper Since 1972″).
On Feb. 14, Marianas Variety published my opinion piece, heartily approving of this welcome and unexpected news, “Amelia Earhart’s Saipan fate,” expressing my profound approval of the long-overdue decision to honor the First Lady of Flight at the location of her tragic and untimely death sometime after her disappearance in early July 1937.
This memorial’s design looks fantastic, in my opinion, especially considering the $200,000 estimated price tag for its completion. Of course its size is vital, and the plan architect Herman Cabrera has unveiled indicates the diameter as 30 feet, quite impressive, with the statue height projected as 12 feet, and the base at 4 feet, 6 inches.
“It is my belief that every human being born has the right to be given the honor and recognition on his/her death, wherever or whatever circumstances death presents,” Marie S. Castro, vice president of the Earhart Memorial Monument committee, told me in a March 2 email. “Saipan and the U.S. supporters join in this effort for a noble cause in honoring the famous first American woman pilot who ended her life on Saipan.”
On March 7, TIGHAR’s Tom King stuck the first blow for the obstructionists, penning another of his typical missives, appealing to the uninformed biases of the indoctrinated masses on Saipan. King’s sanctimonious piece, Regarding Amelia Earhart’s monument on Saipan, was well received by the ignorant Facebook crowd, attracting well over 400 “Likes” to date; compare this to the paltry three that my own piece, Amelia Earhart’s Saipan fate, garnered on Feb. 7.
If the Facebook reaction to King is any indication of the way the winds are blowing on Saipan, the prospects for the successful completion of the monument could be quite bleak. But I prefer to believe that those whose support is vital — the elders and over-60 generation of Saipan — are not in the habit of clicking “Like” in order to join the mindless horde, if they’re even reading these articles online at all.
I responded to King’s dreck as you might expect, not with a moronic, herd-following “Like,” but with this comment, also posted on March 7:
Dr. King’s sophistry is well known among those in the small Earhart research community, and his unending, noxious advocacy for the phony Nikumaroro “hypothesis” is often cited as a prime example of the definition of insanity. Not a single artifact in countless trips over 30 years that’s been dug up from the Nikumaroro garbage dumps has been forensically linked to Amelia Earhart or Fred Noonan, despite the constant drum beat of our corrupt media establishment telling us to buy this snake oil — and many of the ignorant and gullible have indeed bought it, much to their chagrin once they realized the Nikumaroro bill of goods is rotten at its core.
In fact there are actually no real “theories” in the Earhart disappearance, as the word is defined. We have the truth — supported by several dozens of witnesses and documents — that Amelia Earhart crash-landed in the Marshalls, was taken to Saipan by the Japanese, and died there, as did Noonan, at some unknown date before the American invasion in June 1944. And we have lies, like Nikumaroro, that have been glorified and raised to the status of “theories” by an establishment desperate to protect the checkered legacy of our president at the time of Earhart’s death, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
As I constantly stress in “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last,” and on my blog, www.Eaharttruth.com, the truth in the Earhart case has been a sacred cow in Washington since the earliest days of the search for Amelia. The time is long overdue for the truth to be recognized and accepted, and for the parasites who have made their livings by peddling lies about Amelia’s sad fate to go away and find more honest ways to earn livings.
Likewise, there is no real Earhart “mystery.” Some in the U.S. government are well aware of what happened to the fliers, and the physical evidence that would reveal the truth lies in the deepest recesses of our national security apparatus, known to a scant few custodians of this precious evidence. I explain all this in my book and in my blog, and won’t go on at length here.
I closed by announcing my invitation by Marie Castro and other Earhart Memorial committee members, including President Donald C. Barcinas, Secretary Frances M. Sablan, Herman Cabrera (architect), Carlos A. Shoda, Evelyna A. Shoda and Ambrose Bennett, to join them as the committee’s U.S. representative, a great honor I will forever cherish. “People like Dr. King and others who hate the truth,” I wrote, “are naturally dead set against the memorial’s success, and his letter is likely only the beginning of what could be a protracted, bitter battle to make the Earhart Memorial Monument a tangible reality.”
Marie Castro agrees. “I read what came out on the Marianas Variety this morning,” she wrote on March 6. “How many professionals with Ph.D.s could come out with all sorts of theories to prove the truth? There is only one truth. Let’s help one another to prove what’s right, and the truth will finally prevail.” From Marie’s pen to God’s ears.
Better news arrived the next day. “Mike, I have no idea the magnitude of this project [and] where it is heading to,” Marie wrote in a March 8 email. “Yesterday, we had a power point presentation on Amelia E. with the Marianas Visitors Authority. They seemed receptive to our idea of the monument. Our committee was encouraged by their responses. You and I together, with my wonderful team hopefully will someday unravel the mind of the unbelievers.”
On March 13, a shortened version of Les Kinney’s March 9 TIGHAR rebuttal on this blog was published in the Marianas Variety. Titled “Earhart bones’ just another of TIGHAR’s many false claims,” Kinney’s informed dissection of TIGHAR’s phony bones scheme was as badly received by the clueless Saipan Facebook mob as my own piece was on Feb. 7, at last glimpse drawing just two “Likes”! The great Ralph Waldo Emerson had something memorable to say about such groupthink phenomena: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” See the comments section for some interesting banter between Tom King, who knows that the successful completion of the Earhart Memorial threatens TIGHAR’s cash cow, Kinney, myself and a few other interested parties.
Also on March 13, the snail-slow U.S. Postal Service finally delivered my check and a copy of The Truth at Last to Marie’s Saipan mailbox. “I took it to church,” she wrote me, “I found the President [Donald Barcinas] there. Our cousin Bishop Tomas A. Camacho, our first Chamorro Bishop passed away. I told the President, ‘It is the right place to open our first checks from the U.S. The Good Lord will be with us on this project, our Mission of Truth.’ Thank you.”
In closing, again I ask for your generous donations in any amount to the Earhart Memorial on Saipan — an eminently worthy cause that deserves far more support than it’s getting. So few care about the truth, and every one of you is needed to make this dream a reality. I can’t address each one of you by name, but I always respond to every legitimate email you send. Without your help, the memorial’s failure is inevitable. Please make your check payable to: Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc., and send to AEMMI, c/o Marie S. Castro, P.O. Box 500213, Saipan MP 96950. Thank you.
Most readers of this blog will recall last July’s imbroglio over the History Channel’s bogus claims about the ONI photo found at the NARA Archives by researcher Les Kinney several years ago. If you don’t recall this or you’re here for the first time, here is my review of the History Channel’s July 9, 2017 abomination: History’s “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence”: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.
Clearly, Les Kinney and I have had serious disagreements — and not only about the photo — over important, sensitive issues in the Earhart case. Thus I was a bit surprised this morning (March 9), to receive an email from Les, asking if I would post his essay addressing TIGHAR’s latest claim on this blog — sort of a “guest column,” so to speak.
I’m sure Les hasn’t changed his position about the ONI photo, but in this case, I have no problem setting aside our differences and working together against the TIGHAR plague, which has done more damage to the truth in the Earhart case than anyone in the past 30 years. The degree to which their outrageous and transparently false claims have dominated the corrupt and complaint mainstream media Earhart coverage cannot be overstated, and it’s been a constant irritant for all who pursue the Earhart saga without monetary consideration of any kind.
More on my personal TIGHAR complaints later. Now, for those few who aren’t up to speed on the latest mega-media TIGHAR blitz, on March 7, The Washington Post covered the story thusly: “Bones discovered on an island are hers, a new analysis shows.”
Without further delay, here’s Les Kinney’s rebuttal of the latest TIGHAR crapola. All boldface is mine except headlines and subheads.
TIGHAR PRESS RELEASE
New Evidence in the Amelia Earhart Mystery!
Bones Found in South Pacific Likely Amelia Earhart … “This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99% of individuals in a large reference sample.” — Richard L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Hold on a minute!
For those of you not familiar with TIGHAR, the acronym stands for The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery. Its executive director, a fellow named Ric Gillespie founded TIGHAR in 1985. It’s a non-profit organization funded by donors and sponsors. Gillespie has taken a salary to support the ideals of TIGHAR. Those ideals, according to TIGHAR’s website is the promotion of responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. Don’t let that fool you. TIGHAR devotes 99 percent of its substantial resources hoodwinking the public into believing Amelia Earhart landed at Nikumaroro, a three-mile sliver of land in the Phoenix Island(s) Group. So that you don’t have to pull out a world atlas, Nikumaroro is close to the equator and smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
On March 8, FOX News, and a fair amount of other media outlets including USA Today splashed a tale taken from a TIGHAR press release. “It is with 99 per cent certainty, bones found in 1940 on Nikumaroro are that of the famous missing aviator.”
It all started in April of 1940 when bones, a skull, and bottle were found on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) by some unknown native colonist. Near the spot of this find was evidence of a camp site. Natives also found an old sextant box and a sole of a shoe – about an English size 10. This same hand painted sextant box was described by experts as likely originating from the 1800’s. It did not appear “under any circumstances have been for a sextant used in modern trans Pacific aviation.” It was concluded that quite possibly this unknown castaway used the box to keep his possessions.
A little history of Gardner/Nikumaroro is in order, and for good reason.
There is limited information who visited Gardner Island from the 1700s to the early 1900s. The island was first named in 1825. So, at least we know of one ship that visited the island when John Quincy Adams was President of the United States. No doubt the island had been visited many times in the 1800s simply because man’s curiosity gets the best of him. There is also a possibility, though never confirmed, that Gardner Island had been temporarily settled in the 1890s and abandoned shortly thereafter.
In November 1929, the British freighter HMS Norwich City departed Melbourne Australia bound for Vancouver, B.C. The 397-foot freighter ran aground on the reef at Gardner Island. Eleven men were killed. Four bodies were buried by survivors after washing ashore. Seven other men were missing and never found. The rusted and broken hulk of the Norwich City still rests on Nikumaroro’s beach.
In October 1937, a British survey team headed by Harry Maude and Eric Bevington, along with 18 Gilbertese men “thoroughly explored” Gardner Island for several days.
From November 30, 1938, and for the next several weeks, a 16-man New Zealand Survey team explored Gardner Island from an aviation viewpoint.
In December 1938, while the New Zealand team was still on Gardner, at least 80 colonists from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands under British sponsorship settled on the island. At the time of their arrival, it was noted at least 200 coconut trees existed on the island. The island also had an abundance of very large coconut crabs resembling King Crabs in size, a pesky rat population, sea turtles, and the inner reef and lagoon swarmed with fish.
On November 5, 1939, crew members from the USS Bushnell, a Navy Survey ship landed at Gardner Island. The ship discharged 25 sailors and technicians. The Bushnell crew was intent on constructing a tower on the island. The Bushnell surveying team noted in its journal, the island was being occupied by 80 settlers. The Bushnell team stayed on the island for two days.
In June of 1944, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived on Gardner island and began construction of a Loran Station. The station was up and running on December 16, 1944 and manned by 25 Coast Guard personnel. Because of changing technology and the end of the war, the station was deactivated on May 15, 1946. The “Coasties” co-existed with the Gilbertese settlers who finally gave up on the island in 1963.
Don’t you get the idea that lot of people trampled around Gardner for many years? One Coastie remarked it was boring and all they did in their free time was explore. Can you imagine the amount of trash on that island?
How the Nikumaroro “Bones” got TIGHAR’s attention
In the late 1980s along comes Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR. During Gillespie’s second or third mission to Gardner, having heard a tale from a Coast Guardsman who served on the island in the 1940s, that early colonists buried Earhart’s bones, Ric and his crew began poking and digging around an area TIGHAR has coined the “Seven Site.” They found human remains alright, but it was of an infant.
While they were figuring out their next move, one of TIGHAR’s explorers found the sole and heel of a shoe nearby. It was about the size of a 9 or 10 and stamped on the bottom was the famous American trademark, “Cat’s Paw.”
Fast forward a few years. One of TIGHAR’s Kiwi members was leafing through research material in the Kiribati National Archives in Tarawa. He noticed a file talking about a skeleton and human remains discovered on Gardner Island in 1940. Gillespie’s team jumped on this information.
The Kiribati archive report documented the finding of Gerald Gallagher, Gardner Island’s colonial administrator. After Gallagher arrived on Gardner in 1940, he was told by native’s human bones had been found on the southeastern part of the island. The natives also told Gallagher they found a human skull, but it was reburied. Gallagher’s working party searched the area, collected 13 bones and found the skull. Nearby, they also found an old-fashioned sextant box, part of a sole, possibly from two shoes, and a bottle. Gallagher’s examined the sole carefully and said it was about an English size 10. Writing back to Fiji headquarters in Suva, Gallagher said there was a “very slight chance” the bones might be of Amelia Earhart, although to his untrained eye, the bones appeared to be “older than four years.”
Gallagher went on to tell his superiors the area was then searched for rings, money, and keys with no results. His message also explained he examined the skull. The “dental condition appears to have been good,” he said, “but only five teeth remain.” Gallagher makes no mention of fillings. He goes on to emphasize that in his opinion, “am quite certain they are not less than four years old and probably much older.”
The bones were eventually shipped to the High Commissioner’s Office in Suva. An initial report was completed by the Acting Senior Medical Officer. The medical examiner concluded “they are part of a skeleton of elderly male of Polynesian race, bones having been probably in sheltered position for upwards of 20 years possibly much longer.”
The bones were then brought to the Central Medical School and examined by Dr. D. W. Hoodless. Hoodless took careful measurements of the bones and skull. He noted the remains only included one half of the pelvic bone. Hoodless obviously took into consideration the pelvic bone is symmetrical and said that in his professional opinion, the bones were that of a skeleton of “total height of 5 feet 5 and ½ inches approximately.” Hoodless went on to write “it may be definitely stated that the skeleton is that of a [MALE.”] Hoodless emphasis. Hoodless added, “he was not less than 45 and more probably older.“
Dr. Hoodless again emphasized the bones were male and probably a male of undetermined cultural origins, possibly of mixed descent. The skull had five teeth and Dr. Hoodless noted the right zygoma and malar bones broken off.
The bones, the bones, where are the bones?
TIGHAR has tried hard to find the bones but they haven’t been seen since 1941. It hasn’t deterred Gillespie. Early on, he called on one of his members, the late Dr. Karen Burns, an anthropologist to review the Hoodless findings. Burns had previously traveled to the South Pacific and Gardner courtesy of TIGHAR.
Dr. Burns analysis indicated the Nikumaroro bones could have indeed been Earhart. But her findings are biased. After all, she was on TIGHAR’s Board of Directors. It would be like Eli Lily telling the public their new drug was 100 percent effective based upon a study by a pharmacologist who happened to be on Lily’s Board of Directors.
It wasn’t long after Karen Burns issued her findings when an independent study of the Nikumaroro bones was completed by Cross and Wright (2015): “The “Nikumaroro Bones’ are not those of lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart,” stated Pamela J. Cross and Richard Wright. Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, this new analysis is a welcome redress to the reputation of Dr. D.W. Hoodless (the medical official first responsible for the evaluation of the bones) and raises serious questions for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), an Amelia Earhart-focused nonprofit investigatory group and the top proponents of the ‘Gardner Island Theory.’ ”
Not one to easily give up, Gillespie tried a different tack. First though, TIGHAR needed to make the Hoodless calculations a little more palatable. It’s well known that Earhart was at least 5 feet eight inches tall or taller. Amelia’s pilot’s license says 5’ 8.” Dozens of personal recollections and photographs describe and show a tall woman. Amelia tended to fib. Maybe she was even taller. Compared to the known height of many of those she is photographed alongside – there is no doubt Amelia is tall – certainly taller than 5’7″.
Since TIGHAR needed to reduce the measurements necessary to obviate the discrepancies with Dr. Hoodless measurements, TIGHAR now says maybe Earhart was five-seven based upon a driver’s license they found from Massachusetts. Even at five-seven, it’s a stretch the bones found on Gardner fit the computer analysis done by TIGHAR’s latest anthropologist. It is difficult to explain how Dr. Jantz’s computer model concluded “with 99 percent certainty” the bones found on Nikumaroro are Amelia’s based upon measurements taken by Dr. Hoodless.
Can Dr. Jantz’s Nikumaroro bones analysis be considered plausible? Highly unlikely.
Dr. Jantz didn’t know all the facts. First, he hadn’t any bones. Second, his analysis makes no mention of the skull. To duplicate what he believes are the physical dimensions of Amelia Earhart, Dr. Jantz uses clothing held in the George P. Putnam Collection at Purdue University for comparison. Noting the inseam length and waist measurement of a pair of trousers worn by Amelia and told to him by a Purdue staffer, Dr, Jantz makes the incredible assumption those measurements would suffice for his scientific analysis.
Dr. Jantz might not have known what TIGHAR had been told years ago. Amelia Earhart had a painful operation called a Caldwell-Luc procedure done. On June 26, 1935, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Dr. Joseph Goldstein performed the surgery. The operation was meant to alleviate a chronic sinus problem plaguing Amelia since 1918 when she was a young nursing assistant in Toronto, Ontario. Goldstein’s procedure called for drilling a hole in the cavity of Amelia’s mouth going through the bone above the second molar to open the maxillary sinus. It was meant to be a new channel for sinus drainage. (ouch) If the procedure was done on both sides it was called a bi-lateral Caldwell-Luc. According to Muriel Morrissey, Amelia’s sister, Amelia had this procedure done previously on the opposite side. Following the operation in 1935, Amelia was quite sick for a week and in fact developed pleurisy before recovering.
A forensic examination of a skull having a Caldwell-Luc procedure within the previous five to ten years would have been observed by a five-year-old. TIGHAR fails to explain how Dr. Hoodless, Gallagher, or the Chief Medical Officer failed to see a dime size hole extending from the jaw through the bone into the cranium. TIGHAR argues maybe the procedure was not apparent because of the missing zygoma and malar bones. However, the zygoma/malar bones are really one area of the cheek and would not interfere in a forensic analysis of this part of the skull. One of TIGHAR team members, a medical doctor, admitted that it would be hard pressed for anyone not to have seen evidence of such a procedure.
Not long before her final flight, Amelia bragged to Muriel that she just had a $1000 worth of dental work done. In today’s dollars that’s about $18,900 bucks. I t seems the five teeth examined by Gallagher, the Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Hoodless would have shown evidence of some dental work – a filling at least.
Let’s review some of the known Nikumaroro facts.
Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan failed to arrive at Howland Island on their flight from Lae New Guinea on July 2, 1937. TIGHAR believes post loss radio messages from the pair skipped off the ionosphere and originated from Nikumaroro. TIGHAR has tramped to Nikumaroro at least 12 times over the years scouring the island for the missing aviators.
Some of the apocryphal TIGHAR discoveries include: 1) a bone from Earhart’s fingers – which turned out to be from a turtle; 2) a small glass jar that TIGHAR says could have contained freckle cream, and since Earhart had freckles, the jar would be evidence that Earhart was on Nikumaroro. Never mind the jar was mass-produced for years by a variety of manufacturers, not just for freckle cream; 3) the sole of a size 9 shoe even though it is well documented from two pairs of Amelia’s shoes that still exist that Amelia had small feet and wore a size six and a half; 4) a piece of aluminum shelving that TIGHAR insisted came from the Electra even though it has been determined to be a manufactured piece and standard equipment on WWII era Navy PBY Flying Boats; 5) a piece of aluminum sheathing found on Nikumaroro’s sandy beach by TIGHAR in 1991 that TIGHAR insists came from a metal patch installed over the rear window of Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Electra in Miami, disregarding the fact the aluminum is stamped with war years aluminum markings, and not withstanding how the aluminum piece remained in plain view on the beach after 55 years, while the plane is nowhere to be found; 6) a jackknife found near TIGHAR’s “Seven Site” might have come from Earhart’s plane because a jackknife was listed as being on the Electra’s inventory. TIGHAR apparently is not aware that most men in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s would have never been without a jackknife in the wilderness.
But why did they die?
TIGHAR theorizes Earhart and Noonan died very early during their stay on Nikumaroro. Maybe as little as a week or two after they arrived. Certainly, before October 1937, when the first group of explorers arrived. Could this have happened? Quite unlikely.
Coconut water from at least 200 coconut palms was plentiful. Each coconut can contain as much as six ounces of coconut water. Fish teamed in the hulk of a freighter washed up on the beach and in the lagoon. Maude, one of the early scientists visiting the island in October 1937, later wrote that you could catch the fish with your hands. Turtles were easy prey and large coconut crabs scampering about everywhere are considered a delicacy by natives. Earhart and Noonan could have survived on Gardner Island indefinitely.
TIGHAR claims it’s possible Earhart and Noonan might not have had the “know how” or stamina to survive as castaways. That argument seems impossible. The will to survive is strong and Earhart and Noonan were no slouches. Noonan was worldly and had sailed around the world on nine windjammers. Hardly the life of a wimp. Earhart was athletic, had no hesitation to crawl under cars in need of repairs, shot rats in barns, played golf, tennis, rode horses, and earlier in life, played basketball. In college, she explored the dark catacombs below Columbia and crawled several times to the precarious top of its library dome. She had no fear. More importantly, she was an accomplished swimmer.
Didn’t the U.S. Navy look for Earhart and Noonan at Gardner Island? They sure did.
A week after Earhart disappeared, three Vought O3U-3 Corsair float planes from the Battleship USS Colorado flew over Gardner Island for 30 minutes. They roared back and forth, and up and down the length of the island at a leisurely 80 mph. Lieutenant John Lambrecht, the team leader, said they flew at an altitude of 50 to 500 feet. Each plane carried a pilot and observer. It would have been enough time for the six set of eyes to view the island close-up for at least four passes over the length of this small island. TIGHAR says the “glare” probably prevented the crew from seeing Earhart and Noonan. Or, TIGHAR surmises, maybe Earhart and Noonan were deep in the jungle.
Guess what, nowhere on the island is the center of the jungle more than 200 yards from the beach – plenty of time for the castaways to break out into the open.
Why would they be deep in the jungle anyway? (End of Les Kinney commentary.)
Les Kinney’s comprehensive history of Gardner Island-Nikumaroro provides clear perspective on the credibility and veracity of the latest TIGHAR offerings. Of course, there’s plenty that Les couldn’t get to, and that we can’t cover in one blog post. Frankly, I purposely did not expend much space in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last discussing TIGHAR’s vapid disputations, preferring to cover other threads of far more substance. I did write a section titled “The Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Recycled Snake Oil,” that dealt with some of the more salient matters, including the fact that the Nikumaroro hypothesis itself is a third-hand version of Fred Hooven’s original McKean-Gardner Island landing theory, presented by Goerner at the 1982 Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Amelia Earhart Symposium. The theory was soon disavowed by Hooven, once he realized how ridiculous it actually was — and still is. (See pages 300-304 Truth at Last.) Several revealing posts relating to TIGHAR can easily be found via a simple search of this blog.
Les Kinney’s foregoing presentation was far more civil, cordial and even-keeled than anything I write about these miscreants, but we each have our own style. On March 9, the Pacific Regional News echoed the latest TIGHAR bombast with its own story, which appeared in the Marianas Variety, Saipan’s major paper and the site of the recent announcement about the planned Earhart Memorial Monument at the Saipan International Airport. The story, “Bones found on remote island may belong to Amelia Earhart, study says,“ is followed by comments, and because the Marianas Variety is a fair and unbiased publication, my comment was allowed to stand:
The claim that Amelia Earhart’s bones were found on Nikumaroro has been long discredited and exposed as fraudulent; this idea is nothing but more hype and fake news from TIGHAR and their media toadies across the mainstream media. Further, this latest media blitz has surely been coordinated by those in Washington who do not want to see an Earhart memorial on Saipan, and such is their anger that they have activated more than the usual handful of media organizations to spread the latest TIGHAR manure across the land. The timing is too coincidental to be anything else. This new installment of the “lost bones” lie is nothing more than a thinly veiled response to the recent announcement about the plans to build the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument.
Weasel words like “could have,” “likely” and “99 percent probability” season the latest recycled TIGHAR trash, but at bottom, it’s nothing but smoke, mirrors and lies, as usual, from TIGHAR and those in the media who aid and abet their phony schemes. I ask those who believe in real science — not discredited fantasies like “remote viewing” — to study the facts that Earhart researchers have complied for nearly 60 years, and you cannot come to any other conclusion than Amelia and Fred Noonan’s tragic and unnecessary deaths on Saipan.
Murderers are sent to their executions daily on the smallest fraction of the evidence presented in several books since Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart” solidly established the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan following their loss in July 1937, and inspired thousands of Americans to demand action from Congress to reveal the truth, which was thoroughly ignored. The additional mountain of evidence I present in “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” and in my blog, www.EarhartTruth.com to support the Marshalls and Saipan truth brings together Goerner’s work and that of several other fine researchers and leaves no other conclusion than Saipan. If TIGHAR had the tiniest molecule of this evidence to support their false claims, the Earhart “mystery,” would have been declared “solved” decades ago.
The major problem with the Earhart story is that the American public has been told unceasingly for 80 years that her disappearance is a “great aviation mystery,” to the point that this canard has become part of our cultural furniture, blindly accepted without question by nearly everyone. In fact, the U.S. government knows exactly what happened to the fliers and simply refuses to admit it. I will not expand on this basic truth here, however, as anyone unafraid to learn the truth can easily find it. Although the truth about the Earhart disappearance is a sacred cow in Washington, it’s also an open secret, available to anyone who desires to find, learn and understand. (End of Campbell comment.)
In a different situation I would end this post by saying, “We rest our case,” but the fact is that no case has been made by TIGHAR for any of its unceasingly empty and baseless claims. So at this time, I’ll simply say, “Case closed.” Until, of course, the next round of mass-media propaganda and lies descends on the unwary.
In closing, again I ask for your kind donations in any amount to the Earhart Memorial on Saipan — a eminently worthy cause that is long overdue. Please make your check out to: Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc., and send to AEMMI, c/o Marie S. Castro, P.O. Box 500213, Saipan MP 96950. Thank you.
On Feb. 8 an alert reader, Ken McGhee, informed me about an amazing story he’d seen on the website of the Marianas Variety (Micronesia’s Leading Newspaper Since 1972) titled “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan.” The headline captures the essence of this most unexpected and welcome news, and I’ve reproduced the story, which appeared on Feb. 7, as closely as possible below, or you can view the original article by clicking here. All shading and boldface emphasis is mine throughout.
“Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan”
07 Feb 2018
By Junhan B. Todiño – email@example.com – Variety News Staff
AN Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument will be constructed near the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.
The monument committee, which was formed in Sept. 2017, is led by Rep. Donald Barcinas (Republican, Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature) who is now seeking funds for the project. “We need at least $200,000 for the project,” he told the Rotary Club of Saipan during a meeting on Tuesday.
He said the project will further enhance Saipan as a Pacific tourist destination.
Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and was one of the most famous Americans of her day. In July 1937, she and navigator Fred Noonan were trying to circumnavigate the world aboard a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, a twin-engine, all-metal monoplane, when they disappeared somewhere in the South Pacific.
At the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at Giovanni’s Restaurant on Tuesday, memorial committee member Herman Cabrera, a local architect, said the monument will be an 18-foot bronze statue of Earhart.
In an interview, Barcinas said they will reach out to the Legislature, the governor’s office and organizations such as the Rotary Club for funding assistance.
He said they have also met with the Marianas Visitors Authority to discuss the committee’s plan.
Memorial committee secretary Frances Sablan said she joined the group after learning about the many “theories” that try to explain Earhart’s disappearance.
Marie Soledad C. Castro, who mentioned Earhart’s disappearance in her 2014 memoirs titled “Without a Penny in My Pocket: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After WWII,” said the monument will announce to the world that Earhart was on Saipan in 1937. Castro was 4 years old at the time.
She told Rotarians about her interview in 1983 with Matilde Arriola who, Castro said, met Earhart when the aviator was detained by the Japanese authorities on island. According to Arriola, Castro said, Earhart died of dysentery. The body was cremated, Castro added, quoting a Japanese agriculture instructor who married a Saipan resident. “There was no Japanese cemetery at that time,” Castro said.
“There is strong evidence that Earhart was here on Saipan,” she added. (End of Marianas Variety story.)
Indeed there is, Marie, and most sincere thanks for having the fortitude to stand up and tell your Saipan countrymen about some of this mountain of evidence that attests to Amelia’s presence and lonely, miserable death on Saipan, abandoned by a president whose checkered legacy continues to require the protection of a cowardly, dishonest media to protect it from falling into historic disrepute. As the elderly population of Saipan dwindles with each day, the island’s cultural heritage continues to degrade, and without some new injection of the true history of the island into the community, Saipan will be no different than anywhere else, completely ignorant of the Earhart truth. The proposed Earhart monument is exactly what is needed.
The day after I was informed of the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety story, I wrote this letter to the editor, which was published Feb. 14:
“OPINION: Amelia Earhart’s Saipan fate”
14 Feb 2018
By Mike Campbell
JUNHAN B. Todiño’s Feb. 7 story, “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan” is the best news this Earhart author and researcher has heard in many years.
I heartily congratulate the monument committee, led by Rep. Donald Barcinas, for their wisdom and fortitude in coming to their decision to memorialize this great American on the island where she met her untimely death at the hands of the pre-war Japanese who so mercilessly tyrannized the Saipan people.
The truth about the wretched deaths of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, has long been a sacred cow in the U.S. government establishment and it’s media allies, and practically since the earliest days of Earhart’s July 1937 disappearance, virtually everything disseminated about Earhart’s fate has been aimed at disinforming and misleading not only the American public, but the entire civilized world.
First it was the “Crashed-and-Sank” lie, an echo of the original Navy-Coast Guard 1937 report; then, after that canard became too ridiculous to swallow, a more recent but still long-debunked idea, that the fliers landed on Nikumaroro Atoll, in the Phoenix Chain, was pushed down our throats without surcease. Ignoring the massive body of available evidence supporting the fliers’ presence and deaths on Saipan, big media and history books tell us the fate of Amelia Earhart remains as much a mystery now as in the desperate days of the Navy’s futile search for the lost Electra. Nothing could be further from the truth; although numerous unanswered questions about the final flight remain, the common belief that the “Amelia Earhart Mystery” is an irresolvable enigma is known to be utter nonsense by those familiar with the facts.
Contrary to the Navy’s conclusion that Earhart’s Electra “most probably” crashed and sank within 120 miles of Howland Island, or the Nikumaroro myth that Earhart and Noonan found Nikumaroro and soon starved to death on an island where plentiful food sources and drinkable water were available, the lost fliers crash-landed at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Saipan, where they suffered wretched, lonely deaths, falsely accused as spies by their barbaric captors. The elder population of Saipan is well aware of this fact, but the insidious influence of decades of American media propaganda have taken its toll, and the truth is not to be found among most of Saipan’s younger people.
The establishment of the new memorial should bring renewed attention to Earhart’s Saipan fate to a degree not seen since Fred Goerner’s early 1960s Saipan investigations focused the light of truth on the Earhart case, and produced the great 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart,” a book that galvanized significant numbers of Americans to demand the truth about Amelia’s demise — a demand that fell on the deaf ears of a Congress and president who stonewalled all attempts to break through to the Earhart truth.
The U.S. government has long possessed the answers in the Earhart disappearance, but obstinately persists in its longstanding intransigence, insisting all the files in the case have been released, and dictating the terms of the debate at every turn. The solution to the so-called “Earhart Mystery” will never be found at the bottom of the Pacific or on a picked-over island in the Phoenix Group, myths the media regularly depicts as the only possible answers. The “hard evidence” that can bring final closure to the Earhart case has been locked away for nearly seventy years in the deepest recesses of our national security apparatus, its precise location known to a scant few caretakers of the priceless evidence — if it exists now at all.
It’s darkly ironic that Earhart’s Electra 10E, NR 16020, was buried with tons of other war refuse under the Aslito Airfield (now the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport) after it was burned beyond recognition in July 1944 by American forces during the invasion of Saipan, according to former Army sergeant and Saipan veteran Thomas E. Devine, author of the 1987 book, “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident,” and others who witnessed the plane’s destruction. Since nobody apparently knows exactly where the plane was bulldozed into rubble, we likely will never know how close the Earhart memorial will be to the true burial place of Amelia Earhart’s plane.
Thanks to the selfless efforts of Rep. Donald Barcinas and his committee, those of us who cherish the memory of Amelia Earhart and long for Goerner’s “Justice of Truth” regarding her tragic disappearance have renewed hope that we might live to see the only real and acceptable solution to the Earhart case — full U.S. government disclosure of the Saipan truth.
Mike Campbell is the author of “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.” For more information, go to http://www.EarhartTruth.com.
Marianas Variety editor Zaldy Dandan was especially helpful, publishing my letter as an opinion piece, giving it better visibility, linking to the Truth at Last blog and displaying a huge photo of the cover of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, which encouraged his readers to procure it. Unfortunately, no discernible increase in book sales or page visits to this blog ensued, confirming the relative paucity of interest on in the Earhart disappearance on Saipan.
Jennings Bunn, a former civilian Navy archeologist who spent 14 years on Guam, as well as several months on Saipan during the power outage caused by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, agrees. “From what I saw in Saipan, it is over run by Chinese and Koreans, and the local folks aren’t real interested in ‘Haole’ [defined here as a white person who is not a native Chamorro] history,” Bunn told me in a recent email. “My experience on Guam was that the local Chamorro knows very little about their own history, and few really care. That’s why people like R’lene Steffy [columnist at The Guam Daily Post] are so appreciated by those who do care about their own history. I did many class presentation to school kids, and told them they should be ashamed to have a Haole tell them their history. That’s the same situation on Saipan, Rota, Tinian, etc.”
But a few good souls still care, and on Feb. 18 I received a surprising email from one of them, Marie S. Castro, 84, one of the principal movers in the Saipan initiative to build the Earhart memorial. “I read your most appreciated article about Amelia Earhart from the Marianas Variety on 2/14/2018,” Marie wrote, going on to say she lived in Kansas City, Mo., for 50 years, teaching in the Kansas City Public School System for 25 years before her retirement in October 2016 and her return home to Saipan. In 2014 Marie published her personal memoir, WITHOUT A PENNY IN MY POCKET: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II and in 2015 she was one of nine authors who attended the annual Amelia Earhart festival at Atchison, Kansas.
“Since I came back home,” Marie continued, “I had an urge [to do] something dating back to 1937 . . . Amelia Earhart’s fate. On Feb. 2/ 2017, I approached Congressman Barcinas about my idea of building a Memorial Monument for Amelia Earhart here on Saipan to celebrate her 80th year. All our elders who witnessed the American woman pilot’s presence here on Saipan are long gone, however, in 1983 I interviewed a local woman who had personal contacts with Amelia Earhart in 1937, who was living next door from the political detainee hotel called the Kobayashi Royokan Hotel. [Mrs. Matilde Shoda San Nicholas (the former Matilde Fausto Ariola), see pages 102-103 of Truth at Last.] I want to pursue the Monument for Amelia Earhart and finalize the biggest lingering unsolved mystery of the 20th Century. . . . What is holding us now is funding. We need $200 thousand for the project. We greatly appreciate any assistance you could give us for this project.”
After thanking Marie for her work on Saipan, I gently corrected her about her misuse of the word “mystery” in connection to the Earhart disappearance, and pledged my sincere support for this worthy and long-overdue development. Of course I will happily send her a check, but even better, I’ll ask readers of this blog to support the memorial in any ways they can.
“Wow, Mike you gave me more push to pursue this project no matter how rough the road might be,” Marie wrote in her Feb. 19 reply. “I will stand firm on my ground of the truth. According to the local woman she observed one day that the American woman pilot was not feeling well. She used the toilet very often that day and that was the last day Matilde saw the woman. She died of dysentery the next day. . . . Thanks again for your support. We need every assistance we could get. I am confident that with you together we will erect the Memorial Monument as a testimony to the whole world that this famous first American woman pilot definitely ended her life on the island of Saipan.”
I’ve never asked for money on this blog, and you’ll never see distracting ads or pop-ups when you come here. But the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan is the most worthy cause we’ve seen in decades, and its successful completion would be a very large step toward realizing our ultimate goal — complete U.S. government disclosure of the truth.
Please make your checks payable to:
Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc.
and send to:
c/o Marie S. Castro
P. O. Box 500213
Saipan MP 96950
Marie also has sent an artist’s rendition of the proposed Earhart Memorial Monument, and it looks great, far more elegant and stylish than I would have expected for $200,000. I will be unveiling it here soon. Please check back often.
Today we conclude Fred Goerner’s 1964 Argosy magazine feature story, “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart.” When we left Part III, former Navy men Eugene Bogan and Charles Toole had contacted Goerner and shared their mutual wartime experiences in the Marshall Islands that pointed to Amelia Earhart’s presence there, launching Goerner’s Marshalls investigations, which were much briefer and less productive than his Saipan research.
We open the final part of “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart” as Goerner is contacted by another World War II veteran, this one from Saipan, who has some fascinating information to share:
Ralph R. Kanna, of Johnson City, New York, has worked seventeen years in a responsible position for the New York Telephone Company. In 1944, Kanna was sergeant of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, Headquarters Company, 106th Infantry, 27th Division, during the assault on Saipan. Kanna’s duty was to take as many prisoners as possible for interrogation purposes.
“On Saipan, we captured one particular prisoner near an area designated as ‘Tank Valley,’ ” wrote Kanna. “This prisoner had in his possession a picture showing the late Amelia Earhart standing near Japanese aircraft on an airfield. Assuming the picture of the aircraft to be of value, it was forwarded through channels to the S-2 intelligence officer. But more important, on questioning of this prisoner by one of our Nisei interpreters, he stated that this woman was taken prisoner along with a male companion, and subsequently, he felt both of them had been executed. From time to time, I have told these facts to associates, who finally have convinced me to write.”
Kanna went on to list three Nisei interpreters who served with his unit during that period: Richard Moritsugu, William Nuno and Roy Higashi.
I have located and spoken personally with both Moritsugu and Nuno. Moritsugu, now living near Honolulu, is unwilling to discuss his part in the Saipan invasion. Nuno lives in Pasadena, California, and indicates that he was not with Kanna that day in 1944. I found Roy Higashi just three days ago. He is living in Seattle, Washington, and almost seemed to be expecting my call. He said he had something to tell me, but would rather do it in person. Higashi is bringing his family to San Francisco on vacation, and will contact me on arrival. I’m sorry I cannot include his information in this article because of the publication deadline.
Robert Kinley of Norfolk, Virginia, was a demolition man with the Second Marine Division. Pushing inland from Red Beach One, his squad came upon a house near a small cemetery. Kinley went inside to clear it of any booby traps. On a wall, he found “a picture of Miss Earhart and a Japanese officer. The picture was made in an open field, showing only a background of hills. The officer wore a fatigue cap with one star in the center.” Kinley says he took the picture with him, but everything was lost in July 1944, when he was wounded.
Robert Kinley then added a bit of provocative information. “The Japanese had a command post in a tunnel next to the house where I found the picture. My demolition team closed up the tunnel. You might be able to find more pictures or records in the tunnel.
Kinley sent along a map showing the location of the house, tunnel and graveyard. It coincides almost perfectly with the area Devine was shown by the Okinawan woman.
In September 1962, I went back to Saipan for the third time, but I had to do it on my own time and money. KCBS wasn’t uninterested, but there’s a limit to financial soundness in making assignments. I couldn’t drop it, though; there was just too much to go on, and no one in official places had been able to satisfactorily answer any of the many questions raised by the investigation.
Fearing that I might have become prejudiced, I took along Ross Game, the editor of the Napa, California Register, consulting editor to the nineteen Scripts’ newspapers in the West and Secretary for the Associated Press on the Pacific Coast. We picked up Captain Joe Quintanilla, Chief of Police of Guam, and his detective-lieutenant, Edward Camacho, and took them along, too.
Things had changed in one year. My, had they changed! Commander Bridwell was gone; the Navy was gone; Mr. Schmitz was gone – and NTTU was gone. I should say NTTU were gone, since there were eleven of them.
The fence gates were open, and we went in. Commander Bridwell and the Naval Administration Unit had been a front for one of the most elaborate spy schools in the history of this or perhaps any country. The faculty consisted of civilian professors of espionage, the very same men whom I had addressed that night at the club. It’s hard to imagine the impact of coming out of the jungle and discovering a modern town of ninety two- and three-bedroom houses with concrete roofs, typhoon-proof and modern in every respect even to modern landscaping; a modern apartment house for the single members of the faculty; a library, snack bar, barber shop and theater-auditorium. Seven of the NTTU training facilities were located on the north end of the island and four on the east. For the spy-school student, there were sturdy, concrete barracks at each site and other concrete buildings in which classes were held.
For ten years, the students were flown into Kagman Field at night, taken in buses with the shades drawn to any of the eleven areas, trained in techniques of spying and a very specialized brand of guerrilla jungle warfare. Most of them never knew where it was they were being trained. When their courses were completed, they were dispatched on any one of a thousand missions, penetrating through or parachuting behind Communist lines. Nationalist Chinese, Vietnamese, and men from other areas were brought to Saipan, trained and then assigned.
Where did the NTTU go? Why did they go?
I can’t answer the first. I don’t know that I want to.
The second has to do with the focus of international attention the Earhart story placed on Saipan twice within two years, but more importantly, the United Nations inspection team for the Trust Territory of the Pacific gave Commander Bridwell and the Navy bad marks in 1961 for the administration of Saipan. They had done too much rather than too little for the people of Saipan. It was out of line with what the Department of Interior was doing for the rest of the people of the Pacific area. I don’t believe the UN team even knew about the NTTU. They probably got the same trip to Bridwell’s quarters I did. In any case, when the history of the post-World War II struggle between East and West is finally written, I’m sure Saipan and NTTU will be prominently mentioned.
We did some more excavation around the perimeter of the cemetery; this time outside the northern end, but found nothing. We needed Devine to show us the spot, but permission was still being denied to him. We did find where the house Kinley had entered once stood, and we found a huge mound which must be the command post he speaks of. It would be, of course, a major and expensive earth-moving job to open it up.
Ross Game, Captain Quintanilla, Eddie Camacho, Father Sylvan and I went back over every piece of testimony, and even managed to turn up some new leads. The consensus: They were more convinced than I. Two American flyers, a man and a woman, bearing an almost unmistakable resemblance to Earhart and Noonan had indeed been brought to Saipan by the Japanese in 1937.
The most important event of the third expedition came one morning at the mission house. One Jesus De Leon Guerrero, a native Saipanese, came to see me. Father Sylvan served as interpreter. Guerrero proposed a trade. He had been collecting scrap from the war for years and had a mountainous pile. If I would arrange a Japanese ship to come to Saipan to pick up his scrap, he would give me the conclusive answer to the mystery of the two American flyers.
I remembered several Navy and Department of the Interior people telling me that U.S. policy was that no Japanese ships were permitted to enter the former mandated islands.
I couldn’t have changed that policy if I had wanted to, which I didn’t. No story can be bought without being tainted. I told Guerrero, through Father Sylvan, that if he had anything to say to me, he’d better say it now. There would be no deal. Guerrero blinked, turned on his heel and walked out of the mission. The most striking thing about the whole conversation was that I recognized Guerrero. He was the native who had been in my Quonset that rainy night the year before. Father Sylvan told me later that the rest of the natives fear Guerrero. Before and during the war, Guerrero worked with the Japanese military police.
The trip in ’62 produced another vital piece of information. Ross and I went down into the Marshall Islands, and found Elieu [Jibambam]. Elieu teaches at the Trust Territory school at Majuro. He tells exactly the same story he told to Bogan and Toole in ’44. The American flyers landed near Ailinglaplap in 1937.
And now, as you read this, I’ll once more be on Saipan. There is one important difference this time. Thomas Devine is with me. After nearly a four-year effort, permission has finally been granted for him to enter the island.
Why has such an effort been necessary? What about Japan? This long after the war, wouldn’t she be willing to admit an incident involving two white flyers?
The answer is no. It involves far more than the detention of Earhart and Noonan. Japan has categorically denied building military facilities in the mandated islands prior to Pearl Harbor. In the war crimes trials in Tokyo in 1946 and ’47, Japan stated, “The airfields and fortifications in the mandated islands were for cultural purposes and for aiding fishermen to locate schools of fish.” It is obvious that Japan cannot admit an incident involving two American flyers before the war without also admitting a far graver sin – the necessity for covering up their activities in the mandates. If Japan ever concedes that the islands were used for military purposes, it will represent a violation of the League of Nations Mandate, a breach of international law, a most serious loss of face and the loss of the last chance to get the islands back.
Is there any other way to clear up the mystery, through extant records perhaps?
I don’t know. The records that might shed light upon this matter seem beyond our reach. According to the United States Navy, Army and other departments of the Government, the following have been declared “missing, destroyed, or returned to Japan”:
- Twenty-two tons of Japanese records captured on Saipan, which were never interpreted.
- The radio logs of Commander Bridwell’s four United states logistics vessels.
- Records of a physical examination of both Earhart and Noonan, including dental charts made by Navy Chief Pharmacist Mate Harry S. George, in Alameda, in the year 1937.
- The large bulk of Naval intelligence records for the Pacific from 1937 to 1941.
In spite of the fact that the Navy sent the carrier [USS] Lexington to Howland Island in 1937 and spent some $4,000,000 in a fruitless search, their official position today, at least to CBS and the Scripps’ League newspapers, is that “the Earhart-Noonan disappearance is a civilian matter. There has been and is no reason for this Department to make an investigation.”
Bridwell told me an ONI man conducted an investigation in 1960 after my first visit, and the testimony could not be shaken. The Navy maintains there has been no investigation at all. As recently as four months ago, Captain James Dowdell, now Deputy Chief of Naval Information in Washington, vehemently denied to Ross Game that the Navy was withholding any information, and indicated that the Navy hadn’t conducted any investigation. Yet, just two months ago, the U.S. State Department stated in a letter to me, “The State Department does have a limited amount of information about the Earhart matter which is Classified, but the Navy Department has informed us that they conducted a complete investigation in 1960, and there’s nothing to the conjecture that Earhart and Noonan met their end on Saipan.”
(Editor’s note: Goerner was shown part or all of the then-classified 1960 ONI report in April 1963, and he commented briefly on its contents on pages 236 and 307 of The Search for Amelia Earhart, First Edition. Based on the publication date (January 1964) of this article, he clearly had seen the classified report in plenty of time to mention it here. Why he didn’t disclose this fact in this article is unknown to this observer.)
As I said earlier in this article, I can’t really blame the Navy Department for its evasiveness. The Navy was fronting, at any cost, for the CIA, and it’s going to be a wee bit embarrassing, at the very least, to clear the record now.
Were Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on a spy mission in 1937? I simply haven’t the space to begin that discussion here. Let me simply say that those “two American fliers’ on Saipan are I believe, the key to an even more incredible story: The twenty years in the Pacific before Pearl Harbor and the bitter battle between departments of our Government over what to do about the Japanese mandated islands.
There are many who say that the enigma of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is best left untold. “Embarrassment of Japan at this time would not be wise,” they say. “What good can it do to rake over old coals?”
My answer is a simple one. With most Americans, the individual still counts. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan fought a battle for most of their lives against the sea and the elements, not against men bent on war. We orbit men around our earth and turn our eyes to the stars and what may lie beyond because of the courage and contribution of such as Earhart and Noonan.
If they won their greatest victory only to become the first casualties of World War II, the world should know. Honor for them is long overdue.
When all is considered, a single question remains: If the two white flyers on Saipan before the war were not Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, who were they?
Within the next few days, we may know the answer. (End of “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart.”)
Readers should note that this article well summarized the state of Goerner’s Earhart research in late 1963, before his fourth trip to Saipan in December 1963. Some of Goerner’s most important findings and ideas would undergo radical changes in the coming years, and long before his death in 1994, he would actually renounce his belief in Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing. In future posts I will endeavor to flesh out as much of these small mysteries as I can.
Today we move along to Part III of Fred Goerner’s January 1964 Argosy magazine opus, “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart.” When we left Part II, Goerner and missionary priest Father Sylvan Conover were trying to locate the gravesite of “two white people, a man and a woman, who had come [from the sky] before the war” that an otherwise unidentified Okinawan woman had shown to Devine in August 1945, and which Devine later wrote about extensively in his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.
We continue with Part III of “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart”:
Father Sylvan and I matched the photograph to the terrain as best we could, and one of the natives showed us where a small dirt train had run past the southern boundary of the cemetery. Pacing off “thirty to forty feet to the left,” we arrived in a grove of trees, and with a crew of eight Carolinian natives, excavation began. We went to a depth of six feet among the trees, and then moved slowly to the west. About one o’clock, the afternoon of September twenty-first, Commander Bridwell, who had been watching the proceedings, let out a shout and brushed the natives back from a newly opened area.
Dozens of pieces of skull and many teeth were visible at both ends of a shallow grave not more than two feet in depth. Large teeth were found at one end, smaller ones at the other – indication that at least two individuals, perhaps a man and a woman, had been buried head to foot. As quickly as Bridwell had moved, several shovelfuls had been thrown aside, so, for the next four days, we sifted every bit of earth for a dozen feet around. Seven pounds of bones and thirty-seven teeth were recovered. The island’s doctors inspected the remains, and generally agreed that the grave had been occupied by a man and a woman. The dentists felt there was a strong possibility that the people had been Caucasians, as some of the teeth appeared to contain zinc-oxide fillings; the Japanese had never used that material.
The afternoon the excavation was completed, we carefully wrapped the remains in cotton, and Father Sylvan placed the package in the church vault.
That night came the strangest experience of my life. I was staying in what was laughingly referred to as the “Presidential Suite.” It was nothing more than a Quonset hut, about twenty-five yards above the commander’s quarters. I don’t know what awakened me. It was about two o’clock in the morning and it was raining quite hard outside. As I sat bolt-upright on the cot, there was a flash of lightning, and I saw a man in the room by the door. I jumped from the cot and yelled at him, “What do you want?”
As he turned, I saw he had a machete in his hand. He stared at me for a second, then ran out through the front of the hut, banging the screen door behind him. I pursued him to the door, and in the glare of the running light on the front of the hut, I got a good look at him as he raced across the asphalt road and plunged into the jungle. He was a native – a man I was to hear a lot more from later.
As I tried to figure out what had happened, I was shaking so badly I could hardly light a cigarette.
“Were you really awake? Did you really see the man, or did you dream it?” I questioned myself. Wet sandal marks around the room leading from the door answered my question.
“What did he want?” was the next logical challenge. Certainly not my life. If he had wanted, he could have killed me as I lay on the cot. Expensive motion picture and still cameras and tape-recording equipment rested on the cot next to me. Several hundred dollars in cash was exposed on top of the bureau next to my passport. Nothing had been taken. Nothing had been disturbed. Nearly a year was to pass before the realization came as to what my visitor sought: The package of human remains I had given to Father Sylvan for safe-keeping.
The next day, I asked Bridwell for permission to take the package to an anthropologist in the States for study. He didn’t want the responsibility, and cabled Washington for clearance.
That night, as we waited for Washington’s answer, I received a mysterious summons by phone from a man named Schmitz. I was to be admitted to the NTTU area for the purpose of addressing their personnel on the subject of Amelia Earhart. A civilian in a handsome new car picked me up at my Quonset, drove me by circuitous route through the jungle, up a hill and deposited me in front of a night club! I mean a night club – complete with canopy leading from the road, dance floor, bar and stainless steel kitchen.
Mr. Schmitz (I never learned his full name) met me at the door and escorted me to the bandstand and waiting microphone. For the better part of an hour, I told an audience of several hundred, including many wives, of the investigation. Afterward, the applause was warm and prolonged, and many came forward to ask questions or contribute bits of information that had been heard from the natives. Mr. Schmitz and I had a drink at the bar and chatted for a while and then I was driven by the same circuitous route back to my “Presidential Suite.”
Just before I left the island, Bridwell began to cooperate. The invitation to NTTU had worked wonders. He readily admitted, “An ONI [Office of Naval Intelligence] man [Special Agent Joseph M. Patton] has been here checking on what you turned up last year. Most of the testimony couldn’t be shaken. A white man and woman were undoubtedly brought to Saipan before the war.”
The commander went on to expound his own theory: “I don’t believe Earhart and Noonan flew their plane in here. I think you’ll find that they went down near Ailinglapalap, Majuro and Jaluit Atolls in the Marshalls. The Japanese brought them to Saipan. A supply ship was used to take them to Yap in the western Carolines, and a Japanese naval seaplane flew them to Saipan. That’s why some of your witnesses said they came from the sky.”
“What have you got that’s tangible to prove that?” I naturally wanted to know.
“I think you’ll find all the proof you need,” replied Bridwell, “contained in the radio logs of four U.S. logistic vessels which were supplying the Far East Fleet in 1937. Remember these names: The [USS] Gold Star, [USS] Blackhawk, [USS] Chaumont and [USS] Henderson. I believe they intercepted certain coded Japanese messages that you’ll find fascinating reading.” (Editor’s note: Goerner reported nothing more about these four U.S. Navy ships in Search, or anywhere else, to my knowledge.)
Returning to San Francisco October 1, 1961, I was still without the last key to the Earhart puzzle, and without quite a few keys to NTTU. A few days later, a strange call came to me at KCBS from a Mr. Frederick Winter of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“I’d like to visit with you regarding a matter of national security,” he said.
“Of course,” I replied. “Come on up to our studios in the Sheraton-Palace.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather not,” rejoined Mr. Winter. “I’ll meet you in the lobby.”
“How will I know you?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about that,” assured Mr. Winter. “I’ll recognize you.”
Mr. Winter located me without any trouble, and suggested that we drop into the coffee shop for a bite of something. As long as I live, I’ll never forget that conversation. Mr. Winter had a dish of strawberry ice cream, and I had a cup of coffee. We talked, there in the coffee shop, about one of the best-kept, most important U.S. Intelligence secrets since the end of World War II.
“Mr. Schmitz has alerted us,” began Winter, “that you have turned up a good deal of information regarding NTTU and Saipan. Washington has asked me to talk to you about the matter and to ask you to withhold this information from publication or broadcast until you are given a release. We know you to be a good American, and we hope you will comply.”
I agreed. Mr. Winter didn’t know that I had already made that decision.
The conversation lasted a little more than a half-hour, and then, with a hearty handshake we parted. I have not seen Mr. Winter since, although we’ve had one brief telephone conversation.
Was Mr. Winter really from the CIA? I wondered for a while myself. I hadn’t asked for identification, but I wouldn’t have known the proper card anyway. For protection, I wrote a note to John McCone, head of the CIA in Washington.
“We’re happy to inform you that Mr. Frederick Winter is the man he represents himself to be,” was the answer.
Lengthy conversations began with the Navy Department about whether an expert was to study the remains. The Navy stipulated a number of things that must be done before the package could be released; among them was written permission from the next of kin. There was no definite indication the remains were those of Earhart and Noonan, but the Navy wanted as much time as possible and was taking no chances.
Dr. Frank Stanton of CBS flew out from New York, and the entire situation was discussed. We all strongly felt that nothing should be broadcast or printed before a positive identification of the remains could be made. If identification was not possible, the package could be returned to Saipan without publicity. The primary consideration should be for next of kin.
I visited Amelia Earhart’s sister, Mrs. Albert Morrissey, in West Medford, Massachusetts, and presented the facts of the total investigation.
She thanked me for my efforts and granted permission on behalf of Amelia’s mother, who has since passed away [Oct. 29, 1962] at ninety-five years of age.
A week later, I met Mrs. Bea Noonan Ireland, the remarried widow of Fred Noonan, now living in Santa Barbara, California. She also gave her consent to do whatever was necessary to write an end to the mystery.
Dr. Theodore McCown, University of California anthropologist, was then asked to do the study should the Navy release the remains. He agreed.
It was another month before Navy permission was granted, and unfortunately, we had to learn of it from a wire service. A previous arrangement had been made for Father Sylvan to take the package from Saipan to Guam, address it to Dr. McCown, and ship it by commercial airliner to its destination.
Navy permission went direct to Saipan, and Father Sylvan carried through with his part. Someone on Guam, however, perhaps a customs official, leaked the story to a representative of Associated Press, and it was on every broadcast and every paper in the country before we could do anything to stop it.
There was nothing to do but admit we had been pursuing the investigation.
Dr. McCown’s study took a week, and his findings were disappointing in the extreme. Instead of two people, we had found three, perhaps four. At least one man and one woman were represented by the remains, but the strongest indications were that these people had been indigenous to the Saipan area. The “zinc-oxide” fillings that had excited the dentists on Saipan turned out to be calcified dentine. X-rays showed there were no metallic fillings present. “The hypothesis that the remains represented those of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” wrote Dr. McCown, “therefore is not supported.”
Privately, however, McCown told us, “Don’t be discouraged. You may have missed the actual grave site by six or sixty feet. That’s the way it is with archeology. In all my experience, I have never known a story with as much testimony supporting it as this one, not to have some basis in truth.”
Thomas Devine was also disappointed. His disappointment turned to frustration when he saw a complete set of photographs I had taken of our excavation and the surrounding area.
You were on the wrong end of the cemetery,” he wrote. “I’m sure now that the site was outside the northern perimeter, not the southern. There was a small dirt road that ran by the north side, too. Did you try to match that one photo against the mountain from the north side?”
I admitted I hadn’t because the jungle had grown too high in that area.
Nineteen sixty-one’s news reached the front page of nearly every newspaper in the nation, and a number of persons were motivated to come forward with bits of information. (Editor’s note: Here Goerner exaggerates the media coverage his investigation received, as I’ve found no evidence that any major newspapers published a single story about Goerner’s four Earhart investigations on Saipan in the early 1960s. Many smaller newspapers around the country did run stories produced by the San Mateo Times, Associated Press and United Press International, as shown in this clip from the Desert Sun, a local daily newspaper serving Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley in Southern California. But I’ve searched in vain for any traces of Goerner’s early 1960s Saipan investigations in papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune or Los Angeles Times, to name just a few of the prominent newspapers that blacked out news of the search for Amelia Earhart on Saipan.)
Eugene Bogan, now a Washington, D.C. attorney, had been the senior Navy military government officer at Majuro Atoll in the Marshalls after the January 1944 invasion. Bogan claimed that several natives told him that two white flyers, one of them a woman, had landed their airplane near Ailinglapalap, close to Majuro, in 1937, and were taken away on a Japanese ship bound for Saipan. “The name of one of the natives is Elieu [Jibambam],” Bogan said. “Elieu was my most trusted native assistant.”
Charles Toole, of Bethesda, Maryland, now an expert in the Manpower Division of the Under Secretary of the Navy, had been an LCT (landing craft tank) Commander, plying between the same islands in 1944. “Bogan is absolutely right,” said Toole. “I came across the same information myself.”
Why didn’t Bogan and Toole file an official report on their findings?
“We were discouraged by the senior officer responsible for that over-all area in the Marshalls,” they replied. “The reason he gave was that there wasn’t any sense in raising false hopes at home that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan might still be alive.” (End of Part III.)