1937 Tokyo message to D.C. reveals Earhart Truth

The below document is likely a U.S. Navy intercept of a July 5, 1937 message sent by someone in the Japanese government in Tokyo with the code name”OIMATSU,” possibly someone in the Imperial Japanese Navy, to the Japanese Naval Attache, Washington (Captain Kengo Nakamura Kobayashi, see comments for more) concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  (Boldface and italic emphasis mine throughout.)  

Researcher Tony Gochar, of Guam (see pages 263-264 Truth at Last), sent me this declassified dispatch in November 2020 ago after he received it from a source in Washington.  Others may be aware of this message, but it was the first time I’ve seen it, and it appears to be significant, a document that Vincent V. Loomis, whose mid-’80s Tokyo research revealed Japan’s lies about its search for Earhart in the Marshall Islands, would have showcased in his 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story. 

Note that the date is just three days after Earhart, Fred Noonan and Electra NR 16020 went missing.  Our copy isn’t easy to read, so here’s the message: 

We are in receipt of intelligence reports to the effect that the U.S. Navy is launching a large scale search for the lost Miss Earhart.  Since it is believed that she went down in the vicinity of the Marshall Islands area, the Government of the South Sea Islands has ordered all ships (lookouts?) and communication facilities to cooperate in the discovering of her.  We (several words crossed out) have communicated our desires to assist in this search, through our Ambassador in Washington, to the U.S. Government.

This offer was made not only as an expression of good will, but for the purpose of preventing the United States’ merchant and fighting vessels which are searching for Miss Earhart, from coming too close to the Marshall Islands(End message.)

Hand printed below the above is “*Chief of Bureau of Military Affairs, Navy Department.”  When this message was declassified is unknown, as is Tony Gochar’s source. 

The document begins by saying they (IJN) ‘are in receipt of intelligence reports,Gochar wrote in a Nov. 9, 2020 email.  My opinion is that these intelligence reports are from Japanese radio intelligence and DF (Direction Finding) stations in the Pacific area.  The second sentence seems crystal clear: ‘Since it is believed that she went down in the vicinity of the Marshall Islands area.’  How did they know this on July 5, 1937?  Their intelligence reports would have provided this detail.”

This section of a “Sketch Survey” of Mili Atoll taken from U.S. and Japanese charts focuses on the northwest quadrant of Mili Atoll, where Barre (Burrh) Island is noted.  Witnesses saw the Electra come down near Barre, and Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were seen embarking the Electra and seeking shelter in the tiny Endriken Islands. 

Naysayers who reject the truth will find it extremely difficult to find an interpretation for this message that keeps the fliers and the Electra out of the Marshall Islands and Japanese captivity.  Based on 84 years of government-media lies and denial, we know that this virtual smoking gun will never be acknowledged by any mainstream media organization — or any other kind, for that matter. 

Few will hear about this, but that doesn’t stop us from continuing to speak the truth to those willing to hear and accept it.   

Rafford’s questions about Earhart comms conclusion

We continue with the conclusion of Paul Rafford Jr.’s Amelia Earhart – Some Unanswered Questions About Her Radio Communication and Direction Finding”  This analysis appeared in the September 1993 issue of the AES Newsletters.  Boldface emphasis mine throughout; underline emphasis in original AES Newsletters version.

Amelia Earhart – Some Unanswered Questions About Her Radio Communication and Direction Finding”  (Part II of two.)
by Paul Rafford Jr.

June 22, 1993

Why was the Howland direction finder never able to get bearings on Earhart?

The reasons here are several fold.  Primarily, it was because Earhart never stayed on the air long enough for an operator to take a bearing.  But, even if she had stayed on longer, the combination of her low transmitting power with the inadequacy of the jerry-rigged aircraft DF on Howland, would have limited its range to less than 50 miles.  In other words, on a clear day she could have seen the island before the island could have taken a bearing on her.

The questions that arise out of this fiasco are:

1) Why did whoever organized the project of setting up the direction finder on Howland not know of its extreme limitation?

2) Why did Earhart, supposedly a consultant to the government on airborne direction finders, never stay on the air more than seven or eight seconds?

Why did Earhart ask for 7500 kHz [kilohertz] in order to take bearings on the Itasca, considering it could not be used with her direction finder?

The Coast Guard Cutter Itasca was anchored off Howland Island on July 2, 1937 to help Amelia Earhart find the island and land safely at the airstrip that had been prepared there for her Lockheed Electra 10E.

Supposedly, “7500” came about through Earhart’s ignorance of the two different designations for radio channels.  It has been theorized that she confused 750.0 meters with 7500 kHz.  Of course, 750.0 meters is 400 kHz, a bona fide beacon frequency, while 7500 kHz is 40 meters.

It would appear that not only did she get meters and kilocycles mixed up but she overlooked the decimal point.

Bob Lieson, a former co-worker of mine had done a stint on Howland Island as radio operator shortly after Earhart’s disappearance.  I asked him if the Itasca might have used 7500 kHz for any other purpose than to send dashes for Earhart. Oh yes, he replied, “We used 40 meters for contact with the Coast Guard cutters when they were standing off shore.”

This brings up two questions:

1) Could it have been that Earhart was not confusing meters and kilocycles but knew ahead of time that 7500 kHz was the Itasca’s link with Howland so would be available on call?

2) Why would Noonan, both a navigator and radio operator, let Earhart make the potentially fatal mistake of trying to take bearings on 7500?

Coast Guard Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts led the radio team aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca during the final flight of Amelia Earhart.

Why did Earhart not seize on the one occasion where she heard the Itasca and knew it was hearing her, to try and establish communication with the crew?

This is the most incredible part of the Earhart saga.  At 1928 GMT she announced, Go ahead on 7500 kilocycles.”  Then, at 1933 GMT she announced, We received your signal but unable to get a minimum.”  Supposedly, she is hopelessly lost and about to run out of gas.  Now, after searching for Howland for over an hour, for the first time she is hearing the Itasca and knows the ship is hearing her.  Does she breathe a giant sigh of relief because she has finally made contact with the crew?  Of course they are using code but Noonan is a radio operator and can copy code while replying to the ship by voice on 3105 kHz.

No!  Instead of desperately trying to keep in contact, Earhart is not heard from for over forty minutes.  When she returns to the air it is only to make one brief, last transmission.  She declares she is flying north and south on a line of position 157-337 and will switch to 6210.  The Itasca never hears her again.

The Mysterious Post-Flight Radio Transmissions

What was the source or sources of the mysterious signals heard on Earhart’s frequencies that began just hours after her disappearance and lasted for several days?

During the hours and days immediately following Earhart’s disappearance, various listeners around the Pacific heard mysterious signals on her frequencies.

Ten hours after the Itasca last heard her, the crew of the HMS Achilles intercepted an exchange of signals between a radiotelephone station and a radiotelegraph station on 3105 khz.  The telephone station requested, “Give us a few dashes if you get us.”  The telegraph station replied with several long dashes.  The telephone station then announced, “KHAQQ, KHAQQ.”  (Earhart’s call letters).

Believing they were hearing the plane safely down somewhere, the Achilles sent the U.S. Navy a message to that effect.  However, in its reply, the Navy denied this possibility.

Two hours later, Nauru Island heard the highly distorted voice of a woman calling on 6210 khz.  They reported that, although they could not understand the words, the voice sounded similar to Earhart’s when she had passed by the island the night before.  However, this time there was “– no hum of engines in the background.”

West Coast amateur radio operators Walter McMenamy (left) and Carl Pierson, circa 1937, claimed they heard radio signals sent by Amelia Earhart, including two SOS calls followed by Earhart’s KHAQQ call letters.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Karl Pierson and a group of his radio engineering colleagues set up a listening watch on Earhart’s frequencies.  During the early morning hours of July 3rd, they heard SOS calls on 6210 kHz both voice and telegraph.  Of particular interest was the fact that the voice was a woman’s.  However, neither call included enough information to identify the plane’s position or status.

The Pan Am stations at Wake, Midway and Honolulu managed to pick up a number of weak, unstable radio signals on Earhart’s frequencies and take a few bearings.  But, the stations never identified themselves or transmitted any useful information.

Despite his failure to get bearings earlier, the Howland operator got a bearing on a fairly strong station shortly after midnight on July 5th.  It indicated the transmitter was either north northwest or south southeast of Howland.  But, again there was no identification or useful information from the station.

The question that arises here is, were the distress calls heard by Karl Pierson and his group authentic?  If they were, why did the calls not include more information?  If they were not, who would have sent them and why?

Earhart’s “post-loss messages”: Real or fantasy?and Experts weigh in on Earhart’s “post-loss” messages.”

Rafford asks tough questions about Earhart comms

Readers of this blog are familiar with Paul Rafford Jr.’s fascinating and imaginative contributions to Earhart research.  Rafford passed away in December 2016 at 97, but some of his ideas about Amelia Earhart’s final days and hours are still alive and well.  He was a valued contributor to the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters between 1989 and 2000, expounding his theories about radio deceptions and plane switches, some of the most creative possibilities ever advanced to explain what could have happened during those final hours of July 2, 1937, before and after Amelia’s last officially recognized message was heard at 8:44 a.m., Howland Island Time. 

We’ve seen three lengthy pieces on this blog already, basically re-presentations of Rafford’s work as found in Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters:The Case for the Earhart Miami Plane Change”: Another unique Rafford gift to Earhart saga”; Rafford’s ‘Earhart Deception’ presents intriguing possibilities; and Rafford’s ” ‘Enigma’ brings true mystery into focus: What was Earhart really doing in final hours?

The following analysis by Rafford Jr. appeared in the September 1993 issue of the AES Newsletters, and is the first of two parts.  Boldface emphasis mine throughout; underline emphasis in original AES Newsletters version.

Paul Rafford Jr., circa early 1940s, who worked at Pan American Airways as a flight radio officer from 1940 to 1946, was among the foremost experts on radio transmission capabilities during the late 1930s.

Amelia Earhart – Some Unanswered Questions About Her Radio Communication and Direction Finding”  (Part I of two.)

by Paul Rafford Jr.,

June 22, 1993

The Miami Layover

Why did Earhart refuse Pan Am’s offer of direction finding help on her second attempt to circle the globe?

During her layover in Miami; Pan Am radio engineer, Charlie Winter, conferred with Amelia about her forthcoming trip.  She would no longer have 500 khz. in her transmitter, so why not carry a Pan Am frequency in its place., to be used with the airline’s Pacific direction finding network?

To his surprise, she immediately dismissed the suggestion with a contemptuous comment, “I don’t need that! I’ve got a navigator to tell me where I am.

Why did Pan Am install a new loop on the Electra at Miami when all earlier pictures of the plane show that it already had one?

On the morning before Earhart’s departure from Miami, Pan Am radio technician Bob Thiebert was given a radio loop by his boss and told to install it on the plane immediately.  Bob mounted it and connected it to the receiver that had already been installed.  He then had the plane swung through 360° while he took bearings on a nearby broadcast station and prepared a calibration curve.

Page 215 of the book, Amelia, My Courageous Sister (1987), shows a news photo of Earhart, Noonan and two friends standing in front of the Electra.  The caption advises that it was taken on May 31, 1937.  An accompanying newspaper clipping comments:

“Mechanics today completed the adjustment of navigation instruments to guide Amelia Earhart down a well-worn aerial lane to South America on her eastward flight around the world. The aviatrix expected to take off at dawn tomorrow for San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1033 miles away.

The new loop appears on top of the plane while a mechanic appears in the background below, crouched over his tool box. — Bob Thiebert?

After Bob told me his story, several questions came to mind.  The Electra already had a loop and the pictures of the Honolulu crackup show no damage to it or the surrounding area.  Then, a newsreel picture purporting to show Earhart arriving in Miami clearly shows a loop on the plane.  Why install a new one?

This photo, from Paul Rafford’s book, Amelia Earhart’s Radio, is captioned “Earhart’s Landing in Miami.” “It’s not easy to see,” Rafford wrote, “but a radio loop is visible directly above the cockpit of the Electra. . . . Although never revealed publicly, Earhart switched airplanes after arriving in Miami.  In 1940, John Ray told me how he had been called out to remove her trailing antenna shortly after she arrived from Burbank.”

I asked Bob if he had seen any evidence of where and how any previous loops had been mounted.  We know that there were at least two other loops installed on the Electra at one time or another after Earhart took delivery.

Bob was quite surprised to hear this and replied that he found no evidence that any other loop had ever been installed.  If there had been he would have seen where their mounting holes had been.  But, he declared, he had seen nothing to indicate this possibility.

Why, just before Earhart’s departure on her round-the-world flight did Pan Am mechanics in Miami make the same changes to her fixed antenna that had already been made by Joe Gurr in California just few weeks before?

Two days before Earhart’s departure, Pan Am radio technician Lynn Michaelfelder was sent out to the Electra,  . . . to fix a problem with the transmitter.”  Apparently there was some concern about the limited transmitting range of the fixed antenna.

He lengthened the antenna wires by moving the mast forward and by bringing the feed line down through the lower right side of the fuselage instead of through the roof.  Imagine my surprise when I came across Joe Gurr’s letter of May 3, 1982, to Fred  Goerner.  In it he describes making these same changes in California, just a few weeks earlier.

Lae to Howland

Why did Earhart refuse the offer of Harry Balfour, the Lae radio operator, to stay in communication with her until she made contact with the Itasca?

It was standard operating procedure in those days for an aircraft on a long ocean crossing to stay in contact with the station behind it until reaching the mid-point of the flight.  There, the plane would turn its radio guardover to the station ahead.  Although Balfour was not obligated to offer this service to Earhart, he did so anyway.

But, to his chagrin, when Earhart was approximately one third of the way toward Howland, against his advice because he was still receiving her very well, she signed off with him at sunset and switched from 6210 khz. to 3105 khz.  She explained that she had to try and make contact with the Itasca.  He never heard her again and she never again engaged any station in two-way conversation.

Harry Balfour, circa 1937, the radio operator at Lae, New Guinea, the last person to carry on a two-way radio conversation with Amelia Earhart — at least as far as the “official” record tells us. 

There was no technical reason for Earhart to have to sign off with Lae before attempting to contact the Itasca.  She could have returned to 6210 at periodic intervals to confirm to Balfour that her flight was proceeding normally, or advise him if it wasn’t.  Then, after establishing contact with the Itasca she could have said goodbye to him.

Why did Earhart never stay on the air more than seven or eight seconds at a time when she was in the vicinity of Howland Island?

While Earhart followed standard airline type operating procedures during her contacts with Balfour, when in the vicinity of Howland her procedures were anything but standard.  She never called the ship directly or answered any of its many calls.  Instead, she would suddenly come on the air without a call-up, deliver her message, and then go off until she had another message.  The Navy’s report states that communication between Earhart and the Itasca was “never really established.”

The Navy’s report also states that she never stayed on the air more than seven or eight seconds at a time.  This includes the transmissions she was supposedly making so the Howland direction finder could take bearings.  Even under the best of conditions, back then a DF operator required at least 30 seconds to go through all the procedures required in taking a bearing after a station might suddenly come on the air without warning.  Later, Radioman [2nd Class Frank] Cipriani, operating the Howland DF, complained that she never stayed on the air long enough for him to get a bearing.

Bill Galten, the Itasca radio operator on duty at the Earhart radio watch told me during World War II of his efforts to contact Earhart and of her peculiar operating procedures.  On one occasion she suddenly came on the air, announcing, Give me the weather!  I’ve got to have the weather.”  But, she failed to advise what frequency she would be listening to or if she wanted the weather to be sent on voice or telegraph.   In desperation, Bill sent it on both of his voice frequencies and then his telegraph frequencies.  He never received an acknowledgment.  Later, based on his futile attempt to get in radio contact with Earhart,  Bill gave me his personal opinion: “That woman never intended to land on Howland!”  (End of Part I.)

Reineck’s 1997 Earhart plea to Bill Clinton rejected: “Our tax dollars at work in Washington”

Rollin Reineck, perhaps best known for his failed attempt to resurrect the Irene Bolam-was-Amelia Earhart lie in his 2003 book Amelia Earhart Survived, is familiar to readers of this blog, and so I will forego further introductions. 

This letter from the retired Air Force colonel who once navigated B-29s launched from Saipan against the Japanese mainland, appeared in the November 1998 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Here Reineck discusses with friends Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais an official response he received to one of many requests he had sent to Washington, D.C., this one to then-President Bill Clinton — which Clinton certainly never saw — seeking answers to the Earhart question. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Dear Joe and Bill,

Friday I received a response to my recent letter to the President, in which I asked that he direct the release from the various military intelligence sources and the CIA of all AE matter.

The response from the Director, Freedom of Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, is not exactly what I had in mind, and practically puts us back to square one.  However, there may be some information we can use.

Joe Gervais, left, and Rollin 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.

Paragraph four of the letter is a brief summary of the Executive Order that releases all classified information that is over 25 years old.  I have a copy of the Executive Order, and made reference to it in my letter.  Mr. Passarella points out that there are some exceptions concerning the release of info, and to be sure that I understand them, he has enclosed a copy of the pertinent parts to the Executive Order.

I am aware of the exceptions, but find it odd that he would point them out.  I can’t help but have the feeling that he is trying to tell me something.  Generally the exceptions do not fit the Earhart case except Sec. 3.4.(b)(6). – . . . “reveal information that would seriously and demonstrably impair relations between the United States and a foreign government.”  If my gut feeling about this is right, we might just as well fold up our tent and move on, as the foreign government involved is Japan, and no one is going to upset relations with Japan at this time over Amelia Earhart.

In the Goerner book, he talks about an aide to the Secretary of Defense who pointed out that there was more to the Earhart matter than anyone suspected and, “There are some possible international repercussions.” (pp. 314)  It would appear that we now have gone the whole circle and we are no further ahead than we were in 1966.  However, there is always the chance that we will find something that has been overlooked by the government that could add to our knowledge.

Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, circa 2009, the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files

Passarrella also includes part of another Executive Order (#12937) dated 10 Nov. 1994.  This EO would appear to offer some help as it is already effective and deals with the type of information we are interested in.  Note the second half of the first page (just below the President’s signature), are record groups RG127 and RG226.  I am trying to get an index of the material contained in these two groups.  Perhaps you may have some ideas about the other groups.  Let me know what you think.

I also got a letter (enclosed) from Senator [Daniel] lnouye [D]  (rhymes with “annoy me), which is in response to a letter that I sent to [Senator] Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D).  It is typical of the innocuous trash we get from our representatives.  Aloha, RCR

Just five years earlier, Bill Prymak couldn’t restrain his enthusiasm when he saw a September 1992 letter from the same Senator Inouye (below) to Reineck promising legislation that would finally break open the longstanding stone wall that has surrounded the Earhart case since its earliest days.  Prymak was so overcome that he devoted the front pages of two AES Newsletters, the November 1992 (“Special Newsletter”) edition, headlined, in all caps, “Senator Dan Inouye, Hawaii, To Help Solve 55 Year Old Amelia Earhart Mystery,” and few months later, his February 1993 edition (below), screamed “FINALLY, PAYDIRT FOR COLONEL REINECK!!!

Inouye was the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files.  Ironically, he was a Japanese-American citizen who narrowly escaped internment during World War II.  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.  With 50 more like him, we might write “Case Closed” to the problem of the Earhart disappearance — it’s never been a mystery to the Deep State in Washington. 

For much more on Rollin Reineck’s attempts to break down the stone walls Washington long ago erected around the Earhart case, please see my Jan. 28, 2020 post,  “Rollin Reineck’s 1990s Earhart work bears fruit: Hawaii senator pledges to open secret Earhart files, and “Senator Inouye’s Earhart legislation would ‘declassify any records that have been classified’of Feb. 11, 2020. 

Did Kenyon own last piece of Earhart Electra?

In my Oct. 31, 2020 post, we saw the July 1998 letter from former Lockheed specialist David Kenyon to Amelia Earhart Society President Bill Prymak.  In his letter, Kenyon suggests that the Earhart Electra was not outfitted with the spy cameras, souped-up engines or other special features that would have enabled it to operate at a faster, more efficient level while conducting a secret, covert mission, one that nonetheless wasn’t good enough to prevent her landing at Mili Atoll, where she was soon grabbed up by the Japanese military and taken to Saipan.  

Today we open the pages of the July 5, 1995 issue of the The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., for another story about David Kenyon that reveals he might have been the last person to own a piece of Amelia’s original Electra 10E.  I’ve taken the original story, as it was seen in The Register-Guard, and presented it below, for added realism. 

 David Kenyon

As Kenyon told reporter Paul Neville of The Register-Guard in 1995, he believed the TIGHAR-Nikumaroro theory, which would continue to be the establishment media’s favorite Earhart canard for the next 25 years, to be “bunk.”  He cited Almon Gray’s radio analysis that indicated the fliers landed in the “southeastern part of the Marshall Islands” as compelling, and said he was also “intrigued by reports from natives of the Marshall Islands who say they saw a man and woman matching the description of Earhart and her navigator [Fred Noonan] being escorted by Japanese troops and a plane resembling the Electra being moved on a Japanese navy barge.” 

David H. Kenyon passed away in January 2011 at age 92. 

Thanks to Saipan veteran Thomas E. Devine and his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, we know that Earhart’s Electra 10E, NR 16020, has been resting under somewhere under the Saipan International Airport since it was bulldozed into rubble by American forces in 1944 after being burned beyond recognition shortly after the island was secured.  It will never be recovered.

Thus Register-Guard writer Paul Neville’s 1995 suggestion that the metal fragment removed by Dave Kenyon from the Burbank Lockheed factory in 1937 is the last known piece of the Earhart Electra known to existmay be true, albeit with reservations. 

Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident (1987) joined the ranks of Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart, Paul Briand Jr.’s Daughter of the Sky (1960) and Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985) as one of the most important works on the Earhart disappearance the moment it was published in 1987 by a small Colorado publisher.

Following publication of Eyewitness, 26 veterans of the Saipan campaign contacted Devine to share their own eyewitness experiences that revealed and supported the presence of the Earhart bird, as well as the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

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