In service to the higher cause of disseminating truth about Amelia Earhart’s tragic disappearance and our government’s continued refusal to admit or reveal it, and at the risk of giving away the store, today’s post is basically an extract of a subsection of Chapter XIV, “The Care and Nurture of a Sacred Cow,” in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. I’ve taken a few editorial liberties, made some additions and subtractions, but most of this subsection, “Carrol Harris, Admiral Joseph Wenger, and the Crane Files,” is presented below. Since I’m quoting from my own work, I will not indent as I would with quoted material from others.
Carroll Harris, of Sacramento, California, a retired Highway Patrol dispatcher and Navy veteran, contacted Fred Goerner in 1980. Harris told Goerner that he’d worked for the chief of naval operations in Washington from 1942 until early 1945, and was responsible for the office’s highly classified vault. Harris said a top-secret file on Amelia Earhart was maintained during the war, and he saw it many times.” Harris often worked the night shift,” Goerner wrote to Jim Golden in 1982, “and to speed the time he familiarized himself with many of the files. There were many files on the USS Panay bombing by the Japanese, files on the Pearl Harbor attack, and a file (about 2/3 of a drawer or about 26 inches of material) dealing with Earhart.”
Harris said the file covered a wide variety of issues, including the logistics of the flight, official positions to be taken in the event information about Earhart was made public, radio transmissions, and most importantly, “attempts at rescue and communications with Earhart (AFTER HER CAPTURE),” according to Goerner. “Harris said the file was added to during the war after the invasions of the Marshalls and the Marianas. He says it was basically the same info we have come up with concerning Japanese capture (of AE).” (Emphasis Goerner’s.)
In a 1982 letter to Goerner, Harris said the office that housed the Earhart files was the “Secret and Confidential Mail and File Room—OP 020.” A year later Harris wrote to Vice Admiral Kent J. Carroll, head of the Military Sealift Command, providing extensive details of OP 020 in the misplaced hope that Carroll, who was friendly with Goerner, would help locate the missing Earhart records.
According to Harris, the Secret and Confidential Mail and File Room was located in Room 2055, in the “Navy Department building on Constitution Avenue“ (officially known as the Main Navy Building). The vault containing the secret files “was located in one corner of Room 2055,” Harris wrote. “After being there several months I was authorized full access to the vault, as one of the enlisted group cleared to handle and transmit TOP SECRET matter. Chief John Aston showed me where ‘special’ files/documents were: The Wiley Post/Will Rogers crash; The Panay Yangtze River Gunboats Inquiry; The Pearl Harbor Inquiry and The Amelia Earhart File. All these items were retained in one file cabinet; the Earhart file and the Wiley Post/Will Rogers crash papers were contained in one drawer. . . . The Earhart papers had been filed under numerous classifications and been gathered under the number(s) A12/FF.” (Emphasis Harris’.)
In mid-1944, Harris said he was ordered to microfilm the secret files in Room 2055. Once the job was completed, he told Goerner that a “copy went to the Naval Historian at Annapolis, Maryland, one copy went to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Crane City [sic], Indiana and we retained one.” The original records, Harris said, “were packed loosely so that upon arrival at National Archives they could be placed in a chamber for fumigation . . . prepatory [sic] to refilming on 35mm. The Earhart material was among these records.” This aspect of Harris’ account is troubling.
Why would the classified Earhart files be sent to a Navy historian and the National Archives, when neither is known for housing such sensitive documents? Goerner’s files provide no answers about why such volatile secrets would be sent to those locations.
Goerner focused on the Naval Ammunition Depot at Crane, where The Naval Security Group Detachment was established in 1953 and disestablished in 1997, moving to the Commander Naval Security Group Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. In my December 2008 e-mail correspondence with officials at Crane, now known as “Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center,” they were unable or unwilling to shed any light on whether the facility was receiving classified material from other Navy agencies in 1945.
“It took me more than three years to get the Navy to admit the records existed,” Goerner wrote to Jim Golden in 1988. “Through the Freedom of Information Office of the Chief of Naval Operation, Ms. Gwen Aiken in charge, I filed for access to the records.” After twenty-eight months of silence, Aiken finally told Goerner that many records had been sent to Crane and asked him to be patient while a “couple of officers” reviewed them.
Goerner’s patience was running out, so he contacted his “old friend,” Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who had favorably reviewed his book for San Francisco magazine. Several months later, Weinberger informed Goerner that Crane held “some 14,000 reels of microfilm containing Navy and Marine Corps cryptological records, which, under National Security Regulations must be examined page-by-page. They cannot be released in bulk. To date, over 6,000 reels have been examined in this manner and the sheer mass prevents us from predicting exactly how long it will take to examine the remaining reels.”
Carroll Harris’ story wasn’t the first time Crane had come to Goerner’s attention. In April 1968 he met retired Rear Adm. Joseph Wenger, a pioneer in the development of cryptanalysis machines and head of the Navy Security Group Command in Washington during most of World War II. A few months later, Goerner reminded Wenger of his April statement that he’d “gained permission to investigate intercepted Japanese messages from the period of our concern . . . I believe you mentioned the documents were in storage at NSD [Naval Supply Depot] Crane, Indiana” Goerner also wrote to ask Wenger if Ladislas Farago’s claim in his 1967 book, The Broken Seal, that “Commander [Laurance] Safford had all the Japanese codes and ciphers cracked” in 1936 was correct, in light of other books advancing differing claims. Wenger replied that he was “not at liberty to comment on the discrepancies” because the “Department of Defense has adopted a strict ‘no comment’ policy about such matters.”
In other letters during the two-year period prior to his death in 1970, Wenger assured Goerner he was looking into the naval intelligence intercepts at Crane, and asking former cryptologists at the key communications intelligence radio stations about their recollections of the July 1937 period.
Wenger wrote that the Navy had high-frequency direction finding stations in 1937 at Mare Island, California; Honolulu; Guam; and Cavite, Philippines. Though Wenger said he had no knowledge of any Navy ships with such HF/DF (high frequency/direction finding) capabilities, Goerner believed it was possible that some may have been using it on an experimental basis. “If so, it was a secret then and is still so today,” he told Fred Hooven in 1971. “The HF/DF to track Japanese fleet movements could have been the ‘black box’ of 1937. As the Captains have indicated, however, we soon found out that Japan, Germany and England were all ahead of us in the development of HF/DF in 1937.”
From Wenger, Goerner learned the Japanese had at “least a dozen radio directionfinder [sic] stations in the Marshall Islands by 1937 and were monitoring U.S. Fleet activity on a regular basis. All of this, I think, has some bearing . . . on the matter of the Earhart flight,” Goerner wrote, “and all the hassle about direction finders and messages received from the aircraft after the disappearance.”
Wenger, assigned to OP-20-G, the Navy’s signals intelligence and cryptanalysis group, from 1935 to 1938, told Goerner in 1968 that he could “recall nothing whatever from that time which had any bearing upon the [Earhart] flight, nor, when questioned, could one of my former subordinates who was likely to have known had anything been obtained.” In August 1969, Wenger claimed he had “personally reviewed all materials pertaining to the particular areas and time . . . but discovered nothing of any relevance [to Earhart] whatever.”
Somewhere along the way, Goerner must have realized he had encountered another bureaucratic stone wall, despite Wenger’s apparent willingness to help. “It occurs to me that if the Earhart affair became a matter of Presidential classification and a responsibility of COMINCH [Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet] Staff, all references to the subject may have been directed to one location,” Goerner wrote to Wenger in March 1969. Goerner was politely telling the admiral that he suspected any Earhart-related material found in the intelligence intercepts at Crane had been reclassified at the highest level and squirreled away long ago. In retrospect, it’s clear that Wenger was leading Goerner down the garden path and protecting the sacred cow, never with the slightest intention of helping the newsman.
In a 1978 letter that eerily presaged Michael Muenich’s 1992 missive [to be featured in a future post], Fred Hooven explored the military and political dilemma that Navy intelligence intercepts of Japanese radio messages revealing their capture of the fliers would have presented our leaders in 1937. “Suppose that the Navy had been monitoring the Japanese communications and ship movements in the Pacific sufficiently to have learned, or at least to have gotten a pretty good idea, that the Japanese had abducted Earhart and Noonan,” Hooven wrote.
What could they have done? They could not have taken action short of a military intervention to recover the fliers, and they could not have announced the fact (even if they were certain of it) without revealing the extent of their coverage of Japanese communications and operations, and their source of knowledge. It would also have raised an enormous storm of protest and indignation as well as being a national humiliation that we could ill afford, if we did not take bold action to recover the fliers. It could also be that we were pretty sure, but not sure enough to raise an international incident about it.
This would explain all the secrecy, the strident insistence that the messages received from the plane were all hoaxes, and the equally strident insistence that the plane had fallen into the sea. It would explain the tampering with the log to say “one-half hour of fuel left,” the male-chauvinistic references to Earhart sounding hysterical, ” etc. Since no such policy could have been decided without White House consultation, it would even explain the White House type interest in the situation.
Shortly after Hooven presented these ideas in his 1982 paper, Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, he added a small caveat in a letter to Goerner: “So far as our theory about the US govt [sic] knowing about the Japanese abduction of the fliers, if so it must have been a secret shared by relatively few people, otherwise it would have leaked long before this.”
Caspar Weinberger may have believed he was being honest with Goerner, but his statement that the secrets of the Earhart disappearance were being stored among thousands of microfilm records of cryptological intelligence radio intercepts seems far-fetched. Then again, Weinberger might have expected Goerner to recognize his letter as a pro forma evasion. The defense secretary probably knew nothing about the Earhart case before Goerner told him about the alleged records at Crane, but Weinberger was soon informed about the special nature of the Earhart files. Goerner, of course, had no clearance to view the material even if something were found at Crane.
As Weinberger was leaving office in late 1987, he sent the newsman’s request to Navy Secretary James Webb, who told Goerner it would “take ten years or more to deliver an answer” about any Earhart information at Crane. “Never mind that the Navy claims ALL records from pre-WWII and WWII have been released,” an irate Goerner wrote to Jim Golden. “Never mind that we WON WORLD WAR II in a little less than four years. [Emphasis Goerner’s.] It will take more than a decade to look at some records. Never mind that in ten years most of the people from WWII will be dead. They don’t deserve to know of their own history.”
Goerner didn’t express his frustration to Weinberger or Webb, but he must have known that the Earhart files were not among the 8,000 reels that still needed review, according to Weinberger. “Gad, some of those people who have been trying to cover up for so long must hate my guts,” Goerner told Golden. “But, damn it, I won’t give up as long as I have a breath.” (End of Truth at Last excerpt.)
“Courage is the Price”
Courage is the price that Life exacts
for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter
joy can hear
The sound of wings
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion? Each time we
make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the resistless day,
And count it fair.
Our welcoming hearts go out to all our friends and supporters of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument in the U.S.A. and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Let us join hands this Holiday Season in celebrating the 81 years of the long-overdue recognition of Amelia Earhart’s presence with her navigator, Fred Noonan here on Saipan, the great aviators of the 20th Century.
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year 2019
— From President Donald Barcinas, Vice President Marie S. Castro, Secretary Frances Sablan, all the members of the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument Committee, and Mike Campbell, Jacksonville, Florida.
Gary Boothe, of Floyd County, Va., lived on Saipan as a child from 1958 to 1962. Both parents were teachers for the U.S. Navy civilian administration, teaching local students at Saipan Intermediate School. They also taught for the U.S. Trust Territory in the Caroline islands at Chuuk and Yap. Gary is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and has made several trips to visit islands in Micronesia, including Saipan, where the below photo was taken in June 2018.
Recently Gary listened to an old reel-to-reel tape that his father left, and he made an amazing discovery. It appears to be the first KCBS radio report filed by Fred Goerner upon his return to San Francisco following his late June to mid-July 1960 investigation there.
This is the first time I’ve ever heard this recording. Moreover, I’ve never heard another researcher claim to have it. This is a rare collector’s item that I gladly share with you, dear reader. Since my WordPress blog format will not allow the posting of MP3s or other audio formats, my friend Dave Bowman, author of Legerdemain (2007), The Story of Amelia Earhart (2012), A Waiting Dragon: A fresh and audacious look at the Mystery of Amelia Earhart (2017) and others, has agreed to host the MP3 file of Goerner’s 1960 KCBS production on his website. To listen to Goerner’s report please click here.
The 15-minute report parallels Goerner’s narrative in his bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart (pages 41-52, First Edition) about his initial Saipan visit, in mid-June 1960. He speaks of how he “set about enlisting the aid of the fathers of the Church,” as virtually all the locals on Saipan were Catholic. Monsignor Oscar Calvo, and Fathers Arnold Bendowske and Sylvan Conover served as translators during Goerner’s interrogations of what he variously reported as 200 to 300 potential witnesses, ensuring he would be getting the truth, in contrast to the lie so often spread by our media that the Saipan witnesses told Goerner “what he wanted to hear.”
The report doesn’t state its airing date, but it was on or about July 1, 1960, the date of Linwood Day’s stunning, front-page story in the San Mateo Times, headlined “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” and an “all media news conference . . . in Studio B at KCBS in the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco,” according to Goerner (p. 62 Search).
He names only a few of his “original 13 witnesses“ named in his 1966 bestseller, but quotes native dentist Manual Aldan, whose patients were Japanese officers: “I didn’t exactly see the man and the woman, but I heard from the Japanese official about one woman flier and a man that landed at a place (unintelligible) now called Tanapag. . . . I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese. The name of the lady I heard used. This is the name the Japanese officer said — Earharto!”
Jose Rios Camacho (identified as Rios R. Camacho) told Goerner, “I was working at Tanapag Harbor. I saw the plane. It was heading across the island . . . in a northeasterly to southwesterly direction. It crashed in Tanapag area. I saw a Navy launch bring them to the beach. I saw the lady pilot and the man. She was dressed like a man. Her hair was short, it was brown. Afterwards they kept her in Tanapag.”
“The testimonies go on and on,” Goerner said. We have two-and-a-half hours on tape.”
In concluding, Goerner jumped the gun a bit in his enthusiasm to claim the salvaged parts might have come from the Earhart Electra, but that’s understandable. We know that they were later confirmed as coming from Japanese-made planes.
Still germane today is the yet-unanswered question about the plane that brought the fliers to Saipan. Was it a seaplane, as one would tend to believe, or a land-based plane that landed in the harbor because it was in trouble?
Goerner said that the plane that the two Saipanese dove on in Tanapag Harbor was the same one that brought the fliers to Saipan in 1937, and he may have been correct in this. If it was true, the plane that took the fliers to Saipan was not a Japanese seaplane, but a land-based plane that probably originated at Kwajalein, as two witnesses have attested (p. 150-154 Truth at Last).
This would have been more evidence to support the land-based-plane-crash-landing scenario at Tanapag Harbor, already strongly supported by several Saipanese witnesses who used the word “crashed” in describing the plane’s arrival. Seaplanes landing on water are not normally said to be “crashing. This conundrum is discussed at length in “The Saipan Witnesses” chapter of Truth at Last.
Tinian is best known as the launching pad for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, followed by a second atomic device, “Fat Man,” dropped on Nagasaki by the B-29 Bockscar. But if the site an American Marine was shown by a native Hawaiian who worked under the Japanese in 1937 and claimed was the grave of Amelia Earhart could be found and verified, Tinian’s notoriety in world history would be exponentially increased. (Boldface mine throughout.)
St. John Naftel was a Marine gunner’s mate assigned to the 18th AAA Marine Battalion stationed on Tinian shortly after the American invasion of July 24-Aug. 1, 1944. The 8,000-man Japanese garrison was eliminated, and the island joined Saipan and Guam as a base for the Twentieth Air Force. Japanese losses were 5,543 killed, 2,265 missing and 252 captured, while 326 Americans died and 1,593 were wounded.
By Aug. 10, 1944, 13,000 Japanese civilians were interned, but up to 4,000 were dead through suicide, murdered by Japanese troops or killed in combat. The garrison on Aguijan Island off the southwest cape of Tinian, commanded by Lt. Kinichi Yamada, held out until the end of the war, surrendering on Sept. 4, 1945. The last holdout on Tinian, Murata Susumu, was captured in 1953.
Fast-forward to September 2003, when “It all began with a call from Jennings Bunn to Jim Sullivan on the ‘The Deep,’ a radio talk show aired on K57 radio in Guam,” wrote Rlene Santos Steffy, a columnist for The Guam Daily Post, in “The Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004,” still available online:
Jennings was in possession of a letter from Mr. Elliot Broughton, who knew of a WWII veteran claiming knowledge of the fate of Amelia Earhart and her navigator following their much publicized disappearance following their attempted flight around the globe in 1937. Jennings contacted Mr. Broughton and learned of Mr. St John Naftel, who was stationed on Tinian at the end of the Japanese era of control. During Mr. Naftel’s time on Tinian, he came to know a conscript of the Japanese army who confided the location of two graves that he had been forced to dig five days after his arrival in 1937. In these graves, he told Naftel, were buried the bodies of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan.
Jennings’ call to the radio show was a plea for assistance that Jim Sullivan and his guest host that evening Bob Silvers responded to. After an initial meeting to discuss the details, The Tinian Earhart Expedition [also known as The Tinian Dig] was formed. During the next month, the group interviewed Mr. Naftel, researched his story, conducted an aerial survey of the area and dug into the historical archives for additional supporting documentation to try to determine the validity of Mr. Naftel’s story. By the end of September, it was looking very promising and it was decided that the only way to progress further was to bring Mr. Naftel to Tinian to undertake a physical search for evidence of the grave sites. With great confidence and anticipation, the arrangements were made.
Steffy is an ethnographer, oral historian and research associate at the University of Guam’s Micronesia Area Research Center, and also wrote a review of Truth at Last in July 2017.
Following is Naftel’s account as given to Cassandra “Sandy” Frost, self-identified as “an award-winning e-journalist and editor who has covered the topics of Intuition, Remote Viewing and Consciousness from an Athabascan or Alaska Native point of view the past three years,” who also chronicled The Tinian Dig in a series of articles for Rense.com (see below):
The first job for my unit was to clean the place up.
There was a place that I called “the stockade” which consisted of three sections. First made up of military personnel, second, island natives (farmers, shopkeepers, etc.), third, the people the Japanese had brought in prior to any military action (they were like slaves to the Jap military). Because the cleanup operation required a lot of labor, these people could be trusted (used) to help with the cleanup.
My first job was to escort a truck load of these people from the stockade to our camp each day.
JOB — Pick a truck load of these people at the stockade which usually consisted of about 30 people — each day as we loaded the truck (open body) I would ask, “Is there anyone that can speak English?” Because these people came from different international locations, there was always some that could speak English. I would then choose one of them to act as a sort of “foreman” to help me with the job.
On about the third or fourth day when I asked this question, a man stepped forward speaking good English. I do not remember this man’s name because I had never known it before. He told me he was from one of the Hawaii [sic] Islands when he fell for the Japanese promise to come work for them at a good wage. Only when he along with others arrived at Tinian did they find out that they were actually slaves.
After the third day that he was on my truck load of people, he began to open up in talking with me while we were traveling to my camp. On the third or fourth day our conversation went kinda like this:
Man: “On the way in I want to show you something and tell you about it. Can you have the driver to slow down when I ask you to?”
Me: “Yes, no problem.”
Man: “Can we move over the side of the truck?” pointing to the left side
Me: “Yes,” which we did. I tapped the truck cab and asked Hall (clarification, C.C. Hall was the truck driver) if he would slow down when asked. As we began a downward slope toward what was Tinian Town this man asked me to slow down, then “Look out there.” He was pointing to the left (on the left was a cliff that the Japs had made in the hillside). In the cliff there were three man-made caves. These caves overlooked Tinian Bay. In each of them the Japs had some large guns. I had visited these caves earlier.
When the man pointed to the left and said, “Look,” I replied, “Yes, I see the caves. I have not been in them before.” “No, not the caves,” he said. “Look like I am pointing.” The truck had slowed down, so the man was kind of pointing back up the slope.
Man: “Look, see those two graves up there?”
Me: “Yes, what about them?”
Man: “I have never said anything to anyone about this before because there was no one that I could trust. I was about the third or fourth day that I was brought here that the Japs brought me and five or six other men here and gave us shovels and picks and pointed out that we were to dig graves. We were under the guard of two Jap soldiers. After we dug the graves to please these guards, a truck soon arrived. There were two bodies in the truck. One was a man — the other was a woman. I immediately noted that they were both Americans. The woman was dressed in pants and a jacket. On the jacket (he reached his hand across his left chest) was what looked like a wing. Before I got hooked up with these Japs, I had heard and saw newspaper pictures of this American woman that was going to fly around the world. I can’t think of her name right now.”
Me: “Would it be Amelia Earhart?”
Man: “Yes, that’s who it was. As we were instructed we buried the bodies, then the Jap in charge — he could speak English — called us together and told us that we were never to speak to anyone about this, and that if they even thought we had, we could be digging our own graves. You could not trust anyone in the camp because they tell a guard so they could get a favor. You are the first and only person I have ever mentioned this to.”
At this point we arrived at my camp and I was called to the office. I had to take a detail out aboard a ship (several had arrived carrying a lot of cargo and some with a lot of Seabees) and help with the unloading. This took two weeks. When I returned to camp we were being divided up into different gun crews — I never saw the man again. (End of Naftel account.)
“St. John was talking about picking up the workers at a ‘camp,’ that was ‘Camp Chulu,’ Jennings Bunn told me in a November 2018 email. “I took St. John there, and he recognized the standing façade of the old headquarter building and police station. Kind of like a city hall. The ‘workers’ there were primarily Okinawans who were hired long before the war to work in sugar cane fields on Tinian.”
Several established facts militate against the possibility of Earhart or Fred Noonan’s burial on Tinian. Most importantly, not one of the many Saipan witnesses — people like Josephine Blanco Akiyama, Matidle F. Arriola, Joaquina Cabrera, José Pangelinan, Dr. Manual Aldan, Jesús Salas and others — ever claimed they were told that the American fliers were taken to Tinian or buried there.
Matilde was told the American woman was cremated by an alleged eyewitness, Mr. Tomokane, in an account recently revealed by Marie Castro, in which case no Earhart gravesite would have existed at all. Don Kothera and the Cleveland Group’s interview of Anna Magofna (pages 245-247 Truth at Last) is a fairly compelling story that suggests Amelia might have been buried outside the Liyang Cemetery outside of southern Garapan, as José Pangelinan told Fred Goerner, and where Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold directed privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks to excavate skeletal remains of two individuals in the summer of 1944. Many others, too numerous to mention here, attested to their common knowledge of Earhart’s death on Saipan, none ever mentioning Tinian in any context.
Further, the idea that the fliers had been buried on Tinian came from just one unnamed eyewitness, who shared his story with Naftel in 1944 under unusual, strained circumstances. The anonymous Hawaiian’s own words to Naftel could be considered questionable in themselves by a suspicious observer. “You could not trust anyone in the camp because they tell a guard so they could get a favor,” he told Naftel of his 1937 experience working under the Japanese. “You are the first and only person I have ever mentioned this to.” Did the Hawaiian man himself hope to gain a favor from Naftel for this amazing revelation?
Another provocative detail in Naftel’s story was the Hawaiian man’s description of the jacket worn by the dead woman. “On the jacket (he reached his hand across his left chest) was what looked like a wing,” he told Naftel. On the back cover of Mary Lovell’s 1989 book, The Sound of Wings, is a small portrait photo of Amelia in a dress with what appears to be three pearl necklaces and a wing device attached. Also, on page 134 of Carol Osborne and Muriel Earhart Morrissey’s 1987 biography, Amelia, My Courageous Sister, Amelia is shown in June 1932 in two photos with National Geographic officials in Washington, wearing what could be the same wing device. In the appendix of the same book, on page 302, three different wing devices are shown in very small photos without descriptions.
Was the “jacket” worn by the dead woman a leather flight jacket? Though many photos of Amelia wearing such a jacket can be found on an internet search and in various books, I’ve not seen any with a wing attached, sewn or embroidered on it, as commonly done among U.S. Navy and Marine aviators, then and now, and which is likely what the Hawaiian man was describing. The Japanese would have removed a wing device and any other jewelry from a dead body, and would they even bury such a jacket with a body?
Although a photo of Amelia in a jacket with a wing on the left side would support Naftel’s story, it would not absolutely confirm it. Naftel’s account doesn’t add up for many reasons, but if you have a photo or can direct us to one that matches the Hawaiian man’s story, please let us know.
Needless to say, The Tinian Dig did not locate the remains of Earhart or Noonan. In a series of posts for Rense.com, Cassandra Frost traced the roots and progress of the Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004. In chronological order, here are Frost’s detailed reports: “Amelia Earhart’s Grave Found?”; “Earhart – Latest On-Scene Report”; “Earhart Dig – Day One”; “Earhart Dig – Day 2”; “Interview With Saint John Naftel”; “Earhart Dig – Day 3 Expedition Shifts Gears”; “Earhart Dig – Day 4 Time Travel, High Tech Style”; “Earhart Expedition – The Day After”; “Interview With Jim Sullivan”; “Earhart Expedition – Breakfast With Bob.”
In my closing comments on The Tinian Dig in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (p. 305), I compare the highly promoted 2006 Nauticos “Deep Sea Search for Amelia Earhart,” with The Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004, which was completely ignored by the American media, and came to a familiar conclusion:
The Nauticos search and Tinian Dig are minor footnotes in the long history of failure to find the smoking gun in the Earhart disappearance. Neither seems worthy of further consideration, but they reveal a disturbing reality when examined from another perspective. As we’ve seen, the Nauticos effort was well publicized in the months preceding its launching. News of the Tinian Expedition, by contrast, was found only in small publications such as the Saipan Tribune and Pacific Magazine. How can big media’s blackout of The Tinian Dig be squared with its boundless enthusiasm for the ill-conceived Nauticos excursion into the empty depths of crashed-and-sank theory? After all, both ventures were aimed at achieving the same goal: solving the great Earhart “mystery.”
The answer is simple. The intensity of our media’s passion for the idea that the Electra lies on the Pacific’s floor is equaled only by its abhorrence of the very thought of the fliers’ deaths on Saipan at the hands of the Japanese—now among our strongest allies in the Pacific Rim. Anything that might lead the public to seek more information about the fate of Earhart and Noonan, such as broadcasting or printing news stories about an investigation into their possible burial site on nearby Tinian, must be strenuously avoided. Tinian is in the same forbidden neighborhood as Saipan—too close to the truth and strictly off-limits.
St. John Naftel passed away on Feb. 2, 2015 in Montgomery, Ala., at 92.
(Editor’s note: Jerry Wilson, of Chattaroy, Wash., a longtime Earhart researcher and Tinian advocate, contributed much of the information in this post, which would not have been possible without him. My sincere thanks and appreciation go out to Jerry, as well as to Jennings Bunn.)