Senator Inouye’s Earhart legislation would “declassify any records that have been classified”

We rejoin the saga of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye’s attempt to release the secret Earhart files by drafting Congressional legislation in 1993.  Longtime Earhart researcher and author Col. Rollin Reineck (U.S. Air Force, retired) was far from a single-minded devotee of the truth, as we’ve already seen in several posts, but we also must give the colonel his just due.  (Boldface and italics emphases mine throughout.)

If not for Reineck’s diligence, Inouye would never have become informed and motivated enough about the Earhart disappearance to actually step out from the establishment mob and risk his proverbial neck for the truth. 

I find it beyond ironic that Inouye was not just the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files, but that he was a Japanese-American citizen who narrowly escaped internment during World War II.  With 50 more like him, we might write “Case Closed” to the Earhart disappearance.

Inouye was one of only seven members of the U.S. Senate to be awarded the Medal of Honor;  five of those were cited for their valor during the Civil War.  Sen. Robert J. Kerry (D-Nebraska), whose actions came in Vietnam in 1969, shares the 20th century senatorial distinction with Inouye, whose story is an inspiring chronicle of selflessness, courage and devotion to duty and comrades.

Undated U.S. Army photo of Lt. Daniel Inouye, platoon leader in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, activated on Feb. 1, 1943 at Camp Shelby, Miss.  The team was composed of Japanese-American volunteers from the internment camps, Hawaii, states outside of the west coast exclusion zone, and Japanese-American soldiers who were already serving in the U.S. Army when the war broke out.

Born in Honolulu in 1924 to Japanese parents who had emigrated from the mainland, Inouye was surrounded by anti-Japanese sentiment during his childhood, graduating from high school in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor. 

Inouye immediately tried to enlist in the military, but was rejected with a draft classification 4C, which stood for enemy alien,unfit for duty, but after more than a year, the Army finally dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese-Americans.  He quickly enlisted and volunteered for the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Japanese-American combat unit that fought in southern France and Germany.

Promoted to sergeant in his first year, and after a major battle in the Vosges Mountains of France in the fall of 1944, Inouye received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.  During that offensive, he was hit by a German round right above his heart, but two silver dollars he had stacked in his shirt pocket stopped the bullet.  He carried those coins with him through the rest of the war, but the worst was far from over.

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was near San Terenzo, Italy, leading his platoon on an attack on a mountain ridge against enemy troops who were guarding an important road junction when they were ambushed by three close-range machine guns. During the attack, he was shot in the stomach, but Inouye was undeterred and  destroyed the first machine gun position by himself with grenades and gunfire.  He and his squad then attacked the second machine gun nest, successfully destroying it.  For the rest of the late Senator Daniel Inouye’s Medal of Honor story, please click here.

We come now to possibly the highest point of the 12 years Bill Prymak invested in producing the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter (1989-2000) for his friends and fellow researchers.  As we can see below, Prymak’s February 1993 newsletter trumpets the news that his friend Rollin Reineck had persuaded Sen. Inouye to write legislation that would, if approved and enacted, end 56 years of government denial and deceit, as reflected by Inouye’s letter to Reineck, followed by the bill that he would soon introduce.

Army 2nd Lt. and future Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye (far left) smiles with Bob Dole (front right) at Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich., sometime after World War II.  (Photo courtesy of Robert Dole Library.)

Prymak’s closing comment:  “The above, hopefully, will be the fruition of many years of hard, dedicated effort to break down the doors of the State Department, where the Colonel is certain that files on Amelia Earhart never seen before by the American people lay sequesteredEverybody owes him a debt of gratitude for his untiring efforts and perseverance in what we all hope will be a major breakthrough in the Earhart mystery.  GOOD SHOW, COLONEL.

Nothing more was ever heard of Inouye’s proposed bill, and the AES Newsletters are silent as wellThus has been the fate of all efforts aimed at breaking through the stone wall erected by the U.S. government and its agencies that protects the secrets of the Earhart disappearance from the public.  Even an important, highly placed U.S. senator’s actual proposed legislation was dead on arrival, with no chance of passage whatsoever.

Joe Gervais, left, and Rolling Reineck, circa mid-1990s, overlooking Honolulu, Hawaii.  Still esteemed by some as the greatest of Earhart researchers, Gervais can count among his contributions the vile and false Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart theory, which his friend Reineck unsuccessfully tried to reprise in his 2003 book, Amelia Earhart Survived.

Congress has yet to do anything approaching a real investigation of the Earhart disappearance.  When Fred Goerner’s bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart, rocked the nation in 1966, selling over 400,000 copies in an age when far more Americans actually read books, untold numbers of congressmen and senators from coast to coast were besieged by constituents demanding that they get to the bottom of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  Nothing happened.

In an event that appears to have been completely suppressed from the public, in July 1968 Goerner appeared before a Republican platform subcommittee in Miami, chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn. 

In his four-page presentation, “Crisis in Credibility — Truth in Government,” Goerner laid out the highlights of the mountain of facts that put the fliers on Saipan and appealed to the members’ integrity and patriotism, doing his utmost  to win them to the cause of securing justice for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  Nothing eventuated, of course.  I have the record of Goerner’s congressional encounter only because I briefly had access to his 900-plus files, housed at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, which continues to ban Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last from its bookstore.

In 1997, Rollin Reineck took another shot at it — an extreme longshot, to be more accurate — and wrote an excellent letter to President  Bill Clinton in hopes of achieving a miraculous breakthrough in the Earhart case.  This time Reineck had no inside connection, and his missive probably never got past a GS-11 screener.  This has been the fate of all attempts to reveal the truth about the Earhart disappearance — among the most sacrosanct of the U.S. government’s sacred cows — to the American public.  And so it goes.

Earhart researcher, witness Jimm Crowder dies at 72

Super Bowl Sunday morning dawned with the sad news of the passing of Jimm Crowder on Jan. 29.  Below is Jimm’s obituary, as published in Feb. 2 Star Tribune of Minneapolis.  No cause of death was given, but his health had been failing in recent years. 

Crowder, Jimm age 72 of St. Paul passed away January 29th, 2020, peacefully at home.  He spent his career traveling the globe and visited over 100 countries as the Director of International Admissions at Macalester College.  Through his deep knowledge of global issues and passion for international education he created a far-reaching community of students, colleagues, and friends. A true renaissance man, he was a baseball aficionado, world class chef, and a brilliant storyteller.  Perhaps above all else, he was a dedicated humanist, optimist, and lover of life he saw the best in all those he met and had a profound impact on countless lives.  He is survived by his wife, Jutta and children, Max and Anja. May he travel well.

Jimm Crowder shared his close personal knowledge of major Marshall Islands eyewitness Bilimon Amaron and several others, helping us to expand, better understand and appreciate the Marshall Islands landing scenario and its key role in the Earhart disappearance.  He passed away Jan. 29 at 72.

In late July 2015, Jimm presented new witness information to the Amelia Earhart Research Association (AERA) online discussion group, recalling his work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia in his early 20s, from 1970 to 1972, where he lived on Majuro and Saipan and taught middle school.

Jimm also learned plenty about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, beginning at Majuro in 1970 where he was befriended by Senator Amata Kabua, also known as theIroj, or King of the Marshalls, who later became the first president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  Through Kabua he met many of the leading players and witnesses in the Earhart saga, including Bilimon Amaron, the powerful and influential Robert Reimers, Tony and Oscar deBrum, and the Heine brothers, John and Dwight.

Amaron, a successful and respected businessman, was Jimm’s landlord on Majuro, and John Heine supervised his work.  He [Bilimon] and his workers joined me in building my modest plywood and tin shack on his property, Jimm wrote:

I saw him multiple times per week at his store where I bought my provisions.  On a couple of occasions Bilimon knocked on my door with a big smile and a large chunk of freshly caught tuna, which he readily shared with me and other members of our village.  All of these people and others, some with firsthand observations and others with credible secondhand information, spoke to me, often at length, about Earhart and Noonan.  Every one of them offered evidence that AE and Noonan landed in the Marshalls.

This stamp commemorating Amata Kabua, who was the first President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands from 1979 to 1996 (five consecutive terms), was issued shortly after his 1996 on Jan 27, 1997. As a Peace Corps worker in the Marshalls from 1970 to 1972, Jimm Crowder was befriended by Kabua, who was also known as the “Iroj,” or King of the Marshalls.

After his Peace Corps job took him to Saipan in 1971, Crowder’s friendship with Amata Kabua continued, as the senator often visited on official business and introduced Crowder to numerous American and Micronesian government officials.  “AE’s time on Saipan seemed to be a given and was commonly discussed among government professionals,” Crowder recalled.  “Everyone knew the story and most accepted that it was true.”

For much more on Jimm’s important contributions to Earhart research, please see pages 164-167 of Truth at Last.

My heartfelt condolences to Jimm’s family,Les Kinney wrote in the Star Tribune’s Guest Book.  “I have never met such a kind, soft spoken man.  A true friend with a vibrant intellect.  A friend who would go the extra mile to make you welcome and comfortable. 

“He served in the Marshall Islands and Saipan,” Kinney continued, “and is the only person to have had discussions with two witnesses who had seen Amelia Earhart on both Saipan and the Marshall IslandsHe truly will be missed.” 

I echo Les Kinney’s sentiments, and hope the Angels have already flown Jimm to his Heavenly abode, where Amelia Earhart welcomed him home.

Rollin Reineck’s 1990s Earhart work bears fruit: Hawaii senator pledges to open secret Earhart files

Today, we’ll look at the first of two letters written in 1992 by Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye to Earhart researcher and retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck.  This letter appeared, with much fanfare, as a “Special Newsletter” and comprised the entire November 1992 issue of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter.  (Boldface and italic emphases mine throughout.)

Inouye served as a U.S. senator 1963 until his death in 2012.  A member of the Democratic Party, he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2010 until his death, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history.

Inouye, a World War II veteran who fought in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, lost his right arm to a grenade wound and received several military decorations, including the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award.  Returning to Hawaii, Inouye earned a law degree, was elected to Hawaii’s territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and to the territorial Senate in 1957. When Hawaii  became a state in 1959, Inouye was elected as its first member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962.  Inouye never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official, and he exercised an exceptionally large influence on Hawaii politics.  He died in December 2012 at age 88.

       Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye, circa 2009.

I list Inouye’s more significant bona fides because it’s important to understand this man was no lightweight public official, but a long-sitting U.S. senator and a Democrat who hefted serious weight and was a media favorite, for obvious reasons.  Perhaps no other U.S. senator was as well-positioned to effect a real change in the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of stonewall and denial in the Earhart case as was Inouye. 

Here’s how Prymak presented his announcement in the November 1992 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter:

I look forward to celebrating together on November 3rd the joy of a successful campaign honorably waged, Inouye wrote in the letter’s key sentence, and the beginning of a new era of accomplishment and promise for Hawaii and our nation, which will include the initiation of legislation to open the secret files relating to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.”

Undoubtedly, Prymak and his AES friends considered this letter from the Hawaii senator a gigantic breakthrough with the strong potential to open the doors to the final resolution of the Earhart “mystery,” as they all still insisted on characterizing it.  Under the Inouye letter to Reineck, Prymak was uncharacteristically verbose and enthusiastic in his accompanying commentary, much of which is presented below:

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, senior senator from Hawaii, in a letter dated 28th Sept., 1992, to Colonel Rollin C. Reineck of Kailua, Hawaii, said that he plans to initiate legislation that will open the secret files concerning Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance over 55 years ago, on July 2nd, 1937.

Col. Reineck has been researching the last flight of Amelia Earhart for over 22 years.  From his research, he has concluded that the answer to the Earhart mystery does not lie in the Pacific where she disappeared, but rather in the secret files in Washington, D.C.  Reineck says that the senator’s action will solve the 55-year mystery.

. . . Col. Reineck believes that she was on a government mission and went down in the Marshall Islands near Mili Atoll.  The Japanese picked her up and transferred her to Saipan Island, in the Marianas, and then on to Tokyo.  Sometime during WW II, Earhart was moved to the Japanese internment camp at Weihsien, China. 

Ten days after the war had ended, an unsigned telegram was sent through State Department channels, from the Weihsien internment camp to Amelia Earhart’s husband, George Putnam, at the Earhart/Putnam home in North Hollywood, California.

The telegram read, “Camp liberated: all well. Volumes to tell. Love to mother.”  Although unsigned, Col. Reineck strongly  believes that this telegram was from Amelia Earhart.  His belief, comes in part, from a 1990 State Department letter to Senator Inouye that says this message was located in 1987 — by a State Department clerk, with a top secret clearance — in the National Archives among other classified Earhart documents.

Although, Col. Reineck, as well as other Earhart researchers, have tried to obtain additional information from the State Department and other government agencies concerning Amelia Earhart, their efforts have not produced any results.

A young Lt. Rollin C. Reineck, England 1942, as the B-24 navigator prepares for another perilous mission over Nazi Germany.

Because of this, Col. Reineck has twice briefed Senator Dan Inouye on the Amelia Earhart story and asked for his help in obtaining the truth as to what happened 55 years ago on July 2, 1937.  Col. Reineck feels that the information is secreted away in the files in Washington, D.C., and that it will take a presidential directive to free up the information similar to the President Kennedy assassination files.

. . . Colonel Reineck says that such action will be more than welcomed by all serious Earhart researchers as it will put an end, once and for all, to the many unfounded rumors and ridiculous claims that, in the past, have led to false hopes concerning one of America’s great heroines of the 20th century.

As we can see above, little did Prymak know in November 1992 — or anytime within the near future — that the foundational document for Reineck’s approach to the Hawaii senator was itself among the “many unfounded rumors and ridiculous claims” that Prymak was so quick to reference and denounce in his late 1992 commentary. 

On January 3, 2017, I posted Weihsien Telegram: Another sensation that fizzled,” outlining the entire story that had ignited one of the louder of the Earhart false claims.  To catch up or re-orient yourself with all the morbid details, please click here.

Not content with the above comments, Bill Prymak, obviously in a rare, joyful mood of celebration, next presented readers with the longest, most comprehensive biography of Col. Rollin Reineck to be found in the AES Newsletters — or anywhere else, for that matter.  I present large portions of this below:

WHO IS THIS MAN, COLONEL ROLLIN REINECK?

Colonel Rollin C. Reineck was 17 years old when Amelia Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the world in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra.  He recalls the excitement that the trip generated and the suspense created when she was reported lost on the way to tiny Howland Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

However, Col. Reineck’s interest in the fate of Amelia Earhart really ignited when he was assigned, in January 1942, to the Army Air Corps Navigation School at Kelly Field, Texas.  His class was instructed by Army Air Corps officers that had been trained by Pan American personnel.

During the celestial phase of the instruction, the students reviewed, in detail, the Amelia Earhart flight and theorized the various possibilities as to her fate.  Subsequently, a training flight was scheduled to simulate the “single line of position (LOP) technique” of locating a destination.  Col. Reineck modestly says, “I hit the destination area within a mile and got an A for the flight.”

Col. Reineck’s interest in Amelia Earhart’s last flight has continually grown since those cadet days of early 1942.  However, the pressure of his military career kept him from getting heavily involved,.  When he retired in December of 1970, Col. Reineck was able to devote more of his time to this project.  He has worked closely with [former] Major Joe Gervais and more recently with Bill Prymak in trying to sort out the available evidence.  Col. Reineck is not writing a book [at that time] and has never solicited a single penny to carry out his work.  He says his total objective can be summed up in three words: Facts and Truth.

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

Col. Reineck is quick to point out that no one, as yet, has any direct evidence or sufficient circumstantial evidence to conclude what really happened on July 2nd, 1937.  However, he adds that there is a tremendous amount of quality circumstantial evidence that supports the theory that Amelia Earhart was not just on a stunt flight, but was some kind of government mission and that she did survive her flight, WWII and returned to the United States after the war with a new identity as Irene Bolam.

I strongly believe,says Col. Reineck, that the solution to the Earhart mystery does not lie in the Pacific where she disappeared, but in the secret files of the various departments and agencies in Washington, D.C.  And until those files are declassified — by a presidential directive, similar to the JFK files — and made available to the public, the Earhart last flight and related events will remain a mystery.  Possibly forever.”

. . . Colonel Reineck USAF (Ret.) is a graduate of the University of California.  In January 1942 he became an Army Air Corps Navigation Cadet and [was] assigned to Kelly Field Navigation School, Texas.  Upon graduation in June 1942, he went immediately overseas with the 93rd Bomb Group (B-24) as part of the 8th Air Force.  He completed his first combat tour in April 1943 and was assigned as staff navigator for the Second Air Division, 8th Air Force.

In June 1944 Col. Reineck volunteered for B-29s and was assigned as chief navigator for all of the B-29s on Saipan Island, in the western Pacific.  After the war, Col. Reineck completed pilot training.  He subsequently served in the Strategic Air Command Hq., the Far East Air Forces Bomber Command Hq., Air Force Hq., The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pacific Air Force Hq., and the Minuteman Missile Systems Program Office.  Col. Reineck also took an active part in the Korean War, but says that although he was willing to go to Vietnam, there wasn’t much of a requirement for an old colonel.

Col. Reineck’s awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.  Col. Reineck retired in December 1970 and now resides in Hawaii with his wife Esther.  (End of Prymak’s tribute to Reineck.)

Rollin Reineck’s outstanding service record was indeed that of a true war hero — honorable, courageous and accomplished.  His record of achievement in the most stressful and demanding of combat environments makes his later advocacy of some of the most far out of the fringe Earhart conspiracy ideas all the more puzzling. 

In addition to Reineck’s active promotion of the Weishien telegram canard, we also see that Prymak alluded to Reineck’s devotion to the false Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth.  Reineck was among the most prominent and enthusiastic of those who continued to believe in and promote Joe Gervais’ absurd idea, introduced to the public in Joe Klaas’ 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives.  For much more on this unfortunate aspect of Reineck’s legacy, please click here.

In our next post we’ll see Inouye’s second letter to Reineck, as well as the actual legislation that the Hawaii senator presented to Congress.

Fred Goerner’s last recording — for better or worse

Today we present the alleged last words of Fred Goerner, as recorded for posterity by his wife of 26 years, Merla Zellerbach.  I don’t put much stock in this document, as it has little relationship to Goerner’s many outstanding contributions to Earhart research. Ravaged by cancer in 1994 at age 69, he had made several less-than-wise judgments along his long Earhart search; the most significant are discussed at length in Truth at Last.  On that front, I won’t digress any further here.  (Boldface emphases mine throughout; caps emphasis Goerner’s.)

However, in light of recent comments by Les Kinney, who has voiced what some of us have long suspected but were reluctant to state openly — that Goerner so hated to give other Earhart researchers credit for their important work that he would reject his own findings to undermine them — this transcript may reflect just how deeply Goerner had assimilated his seemingly dishonest rejection of the fact of Amelia Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing.  This was a truth he himself initially revealed to the world in his 1966 book The Search for Amelia Earhart, and is a piece of Goerner’s legacy that will doubtless remain controversial.

Among Earhart researchers, Ron Reuther knew Fred Goerner as well as anyone.  Reuther had a copy of the audiotape of Goerner’s last words, which I don’t have, though I do have the transcript.  Goerner abandoned the thought that AE/FN came down near Mili,” Reuther wrote in 2001.  “He recorded on the day of his death in 1994 on an audiotape that he believed they (AE/FN) came down on one of 5 small reefs SE of Howland.  On the same tape he also said he still believed they were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Saipan.  It would seem to me that if that were the case the Japanese ship would have gone to Saipan via the Marshalls and I have never seen any document from Fred that disputes that.”  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Merla Zellerbach, an author and columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle from 1962 to 1995, who passed away in December 2014, recalled Reuther fondly.  I remember Ron Reuther very well and was so sorry to learn of his death,” Zellerbach wrote in a 2007 e-mail.  “He was a lovely man, and a tremendous help to me in cataloging Fred’s papers before we sent them off to the Nimitz Library.” 

Undated photo of Merla Zellerbach, Fred Goerner’s wife of 26 years until the time of his death in October 1994 at age 69.  Zellerbach, who died in 2014, authored 13 well-reviewed novels and five self-help medical books, was a panelist for six years on the ABC TV show Oh My Word, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and was editor of the Nob Hill Gazette for 12 years. 

“Even at his passing at 69 in 1994, the Earhart disappearance remained uppermost in Fred’s mind,” Zellerbach told me.  At his side until the end, she forwarded a text copy of his last words:

Sept. 13, 1994 — This will be my last recording, what I know and feel at this point, having worked on this subject for the Columbia Broadcasting System and as a private citizen.

There have been many books written after mine was written in 1966, alleging that the Earhart plane went down in the Marshall Islands.  But I no longer believe it.  I had the opportunity of visiting the Marshalls after the book was published . . . talking to Eric Sussman who came to the conclusion, as did I, that the story was muddled.

I no longer believe that Earhart was on a secret overflight mission for the US military in 1937 . . . mostly because the U.S. Navy didn’t have the money to spend on such a mission at that time, and it would have been too volatile, too highly dangerous.

I do believe, however, that Earhart did collect what is known as “white intelligence” for the military, meaning that she simply observed things during the course of her flight.  It was valuable to the military. After extensive research, I came to the conclusion that the plane, containing AE and her navigator Fred Noonan, landed on one of five small reefs which lie between Howland Island and the Northern Phoenix Islands.  These reefs have never been fully investigated, and I believe there’s a possibility the plane’s still there.

I do not believe in any way the recent ideas of a man named Gillespie and an outfit named Tiger” [sic] that the plane landed in the Northern Phoenix Islands in a place called Nikumororo.  This idea was originally advanced by my friend Fred Hooven.  I tried to convince Fred that that island had been so occupied by so many people that there was no possibility of the plane having landed there.  He finally agreed.

Fred Goerner with witness Dr. Manuel Aldan on Saipan, June 1960. (Courtesy San Francisco Library Special Collections.)

However the original information was sold to the public as a possibility and a great deal of money was spent to no avail to try to find the plane on Nikumororo.

There’s a lot of information to indicate that Earhart and Noonan may have been picked up by a Japanese vessel and taken into Japanese territory.  There’s also the possibility that Earhart and Noonan survived the war and were rescued by US [sic] forces.  Some believe Earhart was killed in an accident after she was rescued from the Japanese. Some think she returned to the US after the war.  I do NOT in any way align myself with these people!

A good researcher will finally seek out and discover the truth. Admiral Nimitz urged me to continue.  He had a deep, deep interest in the Earhart affair.  I hope the Nimitz Museum will continue the investigation.

I wouldn’t have continued the investigation without his urging me to do so.  One night I went to have dinner with him in Quarters No. 1 on Yerba Buena Island.  He was writing a letter and he told me he was writing to the mother of one of the boys who disappeared with the sinking of the Indianapolis at the end of the war.

She hoped he had reached some island and somehow survived and the Admiral had to tell her that specially trained people had visited every known island in the Pacific after the war and he believed there was no chance her son was alive.  He was such a sensitive, warm man.

There are a lot of kooks and crazies who come up with a new theory every day, but a final answer will be found — and the answers are somewhere in the records at Crane, Indiana.  (End of recording.)

“An hour later, Fred passed away” Zellerbach wrote.

Reuther believed Goerner’s change was due more to his longtime association and friendship with Hooven than anything Sussman told him, and that Hooven would have convinced Goerner to return to the Mili scenario if not for his death in 1985.  “I should have also mentioned that Fred Hooven, after making original conclusions that Earhart came down SE of Howland, thus influencing Goerner to concur, later recalculated and changed his conclusions and determined that AE/FN came down close to Mili,” Reuther wrote.  “I strongly believe Goerner would have reassessed his position and very likely would have agreed with Hooven’s final conclusion — near Mili.” 

Bill Prymak agreed that Hooven later converted to Goerner’s original Mili landing scenario, and though I’ve seen nothing in black and white from Hooven, I have no reason to doubt it.  A few weeks before his sudden passing in October 2007, Reuther told me he would locate and send written confirmation of Hooven’s belief in Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing.  It wasn’t to be.

Reuther and Prymak were great researchers and forthright, honest men, but Goerner’s change was a vastly different matter from Hooven’s, and we have nothing to suggest that he was ever mulling a return to the original Mili scenario he described so well in the closing pages of Search.

For much more on Goerner’s change of position about where he believed Earhart landed on July 2, 1937, please see Truth at Last, pages 170-175.

Game’s response leaves key question unanswered

Today we present Ross Game’s reply to Rollin Reineck’s October 1998 letter, in which the retired Air Force colonel and noted Earhart researcher asked him if he could shed any light on Fred Goerner inexplicably dropping his well-known conviction that Amelia Earhart had landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, a belief that has long been supported by a variety of witnesses.

As was Reineck’s letter in our previous post, this one appeared in the February 1999 edition of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters (Boldface and italic emphases mine throughout.)

Ross P. Game
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176

Telephone (707) 255-4693

October 27, 1998

Dear Colonel Reineck,

I received your letter of October 24 and I hope in the next day or two, health permitting, to contact Bob Ross to arrange a meeting in the near future.

Up to the time of his death I didn’t ever get the impression from Fred Goerner that he had any doubts about the Earhart plane coming down in the MarshallsIt was known, beyond doubt, that Amelia and Fred Noonan were brought to Saipan by the Japanese.  We found evidence (obtained in interviews with natives — recalling the white woman and white man when they were children) on Saipan and in the Marshalls and had fantastic assistance in that phase of the investigation from Catholic missionary-priests able to speak the native languages.

Joe Gervais, left, and Rolling Reineck, circa mid-1990s, overlooking Honolulu, Hawaii.  Still esteemed by some as the greatest of Earhart researchers, Gervais can count among his contributions the vile and false Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart theory, which his friend Reineck unsuccessfully tried to reprise in his 2003 book, Amelia Earhart Survived.

Jose Quintanilla, trained at the FBI Academy and head of the police on Guam, took a leave of absence to assist us.  He came up with evidence identical with what we had obtained from natives of the islands.

Without exception those who recalled the “white people” were able to pick Amelia’s photo from a series of pictures spread out on the ground.  When she first was brought to Saipan in 1937 she was indeed a novelty because Earhart and Noonan were the first Caucasians they’d ever seen and the woman was wearing a coat which was most unusual to the natives (her leather jacket) and had hair cut like a man.

In Washington files we learned that George Palmer Putnam was secretly brought to the Saipan gravesite after the island had been captured by U.S. Marines and the remains “secretly” removed under the direction of an intelligence officer (we even obtained his name, thanks to the CIA).

Let’s keep in touch.

Regards,

Ross Game

Undated photo of Ross Game, likely taken fairly soon before his death at age 80 in 2009 of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

Clearly the most notable aspect of Game’s letter is that he fails to answer Reineck’s question — and mine as well — about what might have caused Goerner to change his mind about where he believed Amelia Earhart landed her Electra on July 2, 1937To this day, no substantial, or perhaps more accurately stated, acceptable reason, has surfaced to explain why Goerner decided to unceremoniously dump his formerly rock-solid belief that Amelia landed her Electra at Mili Atoll

By 1998, when Rollin Reineck contacted him, Game was obviously far removed from his former role as a confidant to Goerner.   In my inch-thick file of correspondence between Game and Goerner, the last letter, from Game to Goerner, was sent in August 1992.  In none of the material does Goerner inform Game of his remarkable rejection of his original Mili belief, so succinctly stated in the close of The Search for Amelia Earhart

Precisely when Goerner changed his mind isn’t known, but it could have been as early as 1970, when in an April 17 letter to Fred Hooven, he discussed his plans to search the area southeast of Howland and Baker Islands, and northeast of McKean Island in the Phoenix group for “a reef and sandbar which have been most recently reported in 1945 and 1954, but have never been landed upon or investigated at a distance closer than two miles.”

Game’s response to Reineck certainly leaves no doubt that he was unaware of Goerner’s change, which we can find emphatically spelled out in Goerner’s stunning April 1993 letter to J. Gordon Vaeth, in which he flatly announced, “I now can state without equivocation that I DO NOT BELIEVE THE AE ELECTRA LANDED AT MILI.”  (Emphasis Goerner’s.)

For much more on this, please see Chapter VII, “Goerner’s Reversal and Devine’s Dissent,” pages 172-176 of Truth at Last.

I have nothing that indicates Reineck and Game ever kept in touch, after this letter from Game, though it’s entirely possible, and have no evidence that Game and Bob Ross ever got together for a meeting.  Bill Prymak’s AES Newsletters, although full of information unavailable anywhere else, are far from exhaustive. 

For more on G.P. Putnam’s visit to Saipan, please see pages 239-241 in Truth at Last.

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