Paul Briand’s “Requiem for Amelia” Conclusion

Today present the conclusion of Paul Briand Jr.’s “Requiem for Amelia,” perhaps the best early synopsis of the accounts presented by the original Saipan and Marshall Islands witnesses, based on the interviews done by Fred Goerner and theOperation Earhartduo of Air Force officers Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam and Saipan in 1960.  (Boldface emphasis is both Briand’s and mine; capitalization emphasis is Briand’s.) 

According to other witnesses, the American fliers were blind-folded, taken into custody, and driven away from the crash scene into the nearby village of GarapanJose Basa, who had been stacking gasoline drums for the refueling of Japanese construction equipment, saw the crash, clearly remembers that one of the apprehended pilots was a woman, then saw them blindfolded and driven away by Japanese officials.  Jose Camacho and his wife, also witnesses to the crash in the Sadog Tasi area near the Chico base, stood nearby and watched the Americans being taken away in a vehicle toward the direction of Garapan.

Mr. Antonio A. Diaz, now a distinguished member of the Saipan legislature, was in 1937 the chauffeur for the Commanding Officer of the Japanese Navy Chico Base on Saipan.  One day in the commander’s sedan he overheard a conversation between the commanding officer and another Japanese officer.  The officers were discussing the airplane that had crashed at Sadog Tasi.  Two American pilots were apprehended.  One of them was a woman.

Antonio M. Cepada, a 52-year-old Buick employee at Agana, Guam, was interviewed by Air Force Officers Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam in June 1960.  (From Amelia Earhart Lives.)

Contrary to expectations, the Americans were not taken directly to prison, but to the Hotel Kobayashi-Royokan in Garapan.  Many Saipan natives remember seeing the Americans at the hotel, particularly the woman, because of the name they all called her by and best remember her by.  The name was Tokyo Rosa the American spy girl with the camera up front.

Antonio M. Cepada, then 52, recalls that he saw the American woman on two separate occasions over a period of three months during the summer of 1937.  Asked to explain the term Tokyo Rosa which he was using in his story (because of the connection with Tokyo Rose used later during the war), Cepada said they named the American woman themselves among his people. In 1937 in Saipan, Tokyo Rosa meant American spy girl, and that IS all it meant, nothing else.

I saw her while going to work outside the hotel which is located in East Garapan village, Cepada said.  She wore unusual clothes, belted in the center.  The color was faded khaki, which looked like it had been washed many times. Clothes like pilots wear.  He described the woman as “average height, American girl not short, not extra tall — had thin build.  Chest somewhat flat, not out like other American girls.  Her hair appeared to be reddish brown color and cut short like man’s hair, trimmed close in back like man.  She did not wear powder or lipstick.

The girl looked soft, Cepada remembers, very calm, not expressive, not smile —seem to be thinking far away and not notice her surroundings and people much.  He guessed her age to be about 35, but remarked it was hard to tell age of the American woman.  When shown a photograph of Amelia Earhart, Cepada said, “Looks just like same girl then.”

Commenting on her capture, Cepada did not know how she had been caught.  But the belief then was:she take secret picture with flying suit in front hidden camera.

Carlos Palacious told Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger that she a woman who looked remarkably like Amelia Earhart at the Hotel Kobayashi Royokan twice in a three-month period.  (From Amelia Earhart Lives.)

Another man who saw the American girl under similar circumstances and also referred to her as Tokyo Rosa, was Carlos Palacios, then 48, who in 1937 worked as a salesman in a merchandise store near the Kobayashi-Royokan hotel. Palacios, too, had only seen the woman twice, while going to and from his place of work. The first time was at an open window on the second floor of the hotel.  She had on what seemed to him a man’s white shirt, with short sleeves, and open at the neck. She had dark reddish-brown hair, cut like a man’s hair in back too.  He could not see any make-up or lipstick.

The second time Palacios saw the woman she was standing at the entrance to the hotel. She wore the same white shirt, and a dark skirt and American-type shoes.  “It was the same girl,” he affirmed, “hair cut short, no make-up, slim girl, not fat, not big in front of chest.”

He said he did not know where the woman was caught and does not remember a crash incident – only American spy girl and secret pictures she take.  She was Tokyo Rosa, his people’s 1937 expression for the American spy girl. Like Cepada when shown a photograph of Amelia Earhart, Palacios said, Looks and haircut look like same girl.

A resident of the hotel, Antonio G. Cabrera, then 62, now a farmer, who lived downstairs and owned the land on which the hotel was located, remembers that in 1937 an American man and woman lived at the Kobayashi-Royokan and were under the custody of the Japanese.  The Americans lived at the hotel for only a short while and then were taken away by the Japanese.

When asked to examine some photographs, Cabrera positively identified the man as Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart as a woman who looked just like the woman who stayed at the hotel.

Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera [relationship to Antonio G. unknown], then 49, employed as a servant at the hotel in 1937, recalled seeing the two Americans and that as part of her duties she took a list of the guests to the governor’s office every day.  On one particular day while carrying out this duty, Mrs. Cabrera saw the two Americans in the rear of a three-wheeled vehicle.  They were blindfolded and their hands were bound behind them.  One of them was the American woman.  When she looked at a newspaper picture of Amelia and Fred, Mrs. Cabrera said they looked like the same people, and they were dressed in the same manner as the people she saw in the truck.  She never learned what then happened to the two Americans.

Undated photo of Earhart eyewitness Joaquina Cabrera.  She passed away in 2004 at age 92.

Living next door to the hotel was Mrs. Matilda Ariola Saint Nicholas, then 47, perhaps the last woman to see the woman flier alive.  The American woman visited Matilda and her younger sister on two different occasions in a one-week period while she was still living at the hotel.  On the first visit the American girl wore a trench coat, and appeared very pale, as if she were sick.

The Nicholases offered her some food; the woman accepted, but ate very little, only some fruit.  When the American woman visited the second time, she was noticeably changed in appearance, for although still pale and sick-looking, she now had bruises or burns on the right side of her neck and had her left forearm wrapped in bandages.  It was on this visit, Mrs. Saint Nicholas remembers, that the American girl, despite her pain and sickness, helped the sister with her geography lesson, guiding her as she drew correctly the location of the Mariana Islands in relation to the other islands in the Pacific.

Matilda Saint Nicholas did not see the American girl again, nor did she hear about her again until a busboy from the hotel told her he had learned that the American girl had died.  Lately he had noticed how often she had to use the outside toilet and how, most recently, he saw that the bed she slept on was soaked with blood.  It was later, Mrs. Saint Nicholas said, that the same busboy asked her to make two wreaths for a burial.

From the hotel the American fliers were taken to the prison in Garapan.  An Insular policeman and prison guard for the Japanese at the time was Ramon Cabrera, then 41, who saw the pi1ots, bound and blindfolded, brought to the prison.  They both wore khaki-colored flying clothes. One had a beard with thick whiskers.  The other, he noticed, was strange looking, with no whiskers and a smooth face, smaller in height than the other, and slender in build.  But both had short haircuts.  The fliers were kept in separate cells, but were permitted to exercise out in the main prison yard for short periods during the day.  There were approximately 200 prisoners in the prison at the time, composed of Saipanese, Carolinians and Guamanians.  But the two pilots were the only Americans there.

For the first few days, Cabrera recalls, the Americans could not eat their prison food — breadfruit and other bits thrown in.  But by the fourth day they began to eat, although they still did not like the food, because they only received one meal a day, served in thirds three times a day.  Like other Saipan natives in 1937, Cabrera used the expression Tokyo Rosa, and in addition he used the term “driver” as it was meant by the Japanese then to refer to an American woman as a driver of a car, boat, or airplane.

Ramon Cabrera claims he does not know what happened to the American prisoners after they were taken from the Garapan jail.  He guessed they were either deported to Japan or executed.

On Guam in 1960, Joaquin Seman, left, and Ben Salas, told Joe Gervais and Police Sergeant Eddie M. Camacho that the “American spy woman” was executed at the “main Chico Base” on Saipan, and that she was buried in the Liyang cemetery south of Garapan.  (From Amelia Earhart Lives.)

If the Japanese were convinced that the Americans were spies, that the cameras found in the crashed aircraft, or the camera carried by the girl, or both, were used to photograph the fortifications being built in the Pacific contrary to the terms of the League of Nations man- date, then they had but one recourse to silence this discovery by two Americans . . . death.  If the Americans were executed as spies, however, there is no witness who is willing to come forth and confirm what can only be inferred.

That there was an execution can be inferred from the testimony of two natives, who claim they know the exact location of the unmarked graves of the American man and woman pilots, but who are unwilling to point them out for reasons fearful and mysterious even twenty years after the fact.  If they continue unwilling, the jungle will finally reclaim the graves and the signs of the crosses, now broken and mute to the outrage committed.

The two men are Joaquin Seman, then 48, a sugar mill worker on Saipan in 1937, and Ben Salas, then 43, a carpenter at the Japanese Chico Navy Base at the same time.  They are good friends.  When they were interviewed [by Gervais and Guam Police Sergeant Eddie M. Camacho] they both stated that they remembered the two Americans on Saipan in 1937, and that one of them was the American spy woman, Tokyo Rosa.  The executions, they said, were performed not at the Garapan prison, but at the main Chico base.

Salas and Seman were in complete agreement that there were only Americans killed before the war by the Japanese — an American man, and an American woman.  They were buried in unconsecrated ground in the Catholic cemetery at Liyang on Saipan, near the quarry and lumberyard, one mile south of the main prison.

Perhaps the one native witness who could reveal the certain identity of the American man and woman on Saipan in 1937 is the one man whose story does not agree with the testimony of all the other witnesses.  The man is Jesus De Leon Guerrero, then 51, alias “Kumoi,” who in 1937 on Saipan was chief investigator on the police force for the Japanese.  (He gave a negative response to the civilian administration in Saipan in the official report.)  Although today he has no official connections with either the American or Japanese governments — he is a dealer in scrap metal — he is still greatly feared and respected on Saipan as the man who could extract confessions out of anybody.  For this reason he was very useful to the Japanese authorities on Saipan in dealing with the natives and getting necessary information out of prisoners.

Guerrero denies any knowledge whatever about two American fliers taken prisoner.  He has said, however, there was an American-born Japanese woman who was hanged as a spy in 1938.  She was beautiful, he was quoted as saying,and about 25 years of age.  She appeared to have been part American and would have been mistaken for one. She was born in Los Angeles, California.

The woman had come to Saipan from Japan apparently to look for work, Guerrero recalled.  But she didn’t look like a worker because she was well-groomed and spoke very good English.

Back and forth through almost thirty years, the story of Amelia Earhart has unfolded, not clarifying the mystery of her disappearance, but deepening and complicating it by hearsay evidence and the conflicting testimony of natives who should know, and be able to tell, the truth.

Paul Briand Jr., circa 1959, whose 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, presented the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama and initiated the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart was not on a spy mission for her government, she did not crash-land on Saipan; she was not taken as a prisoner; she was not executed as a spy or allowed to dieThese are the conclusions of the Navy in the official report I was allowed to read Considering their evidence, they could reach no other conclusions.

Most interestingly, there is no villain in the piece.  The U. S. Navy was not trying to suppress or hide information.  On the contrary, the Navy was trying as hard as I was (or anybody else) to uncover the truth. [Editor’s note:  In this statement, Briand could not be more mistaken.  Clearly, he fell victim to a convincing Navy propaganda effort.]

What, then, are my conclusions about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, after having conducted research about her almost continuously for the nine years since 1957 when I decided to write her biography?

I believe, now that I have examined all my latest evidence, that Amelia Earhart accidentally crash-landed on Saipan, that she and Fred Noonan were taken prisoners by the Japanese, were imprisoned on Saipan, and later — perhaps even many years later — were executed or allowed to die either on Saipan or in Japan. I do not believe she was on a deliberate spy mission, but I think the Japanese did believe Amelia was a spy because of the evidence of cameras on her person and in the airplane.  

The Japanese, of course, could not reveal that they had found her, for she had discovered what they had been trying to hide — preparations for war against the United States.  Unwittingly and without a plan on their part, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan had been mistaken as spies.  If they could have brought home evidence of a Japanese military build-up in the Pacific, they would have been rewarded as heroes. Fate, however, dealt them a contrary hand.

How can anyone explain why stories from widely scattered sources support each other in broad outline and even, at times in small detail?  Natives are naturally hostile to or afraid of established authority and will say almost anything not to get officially involved.  Witnesses like Jesus Guerrero, for example, would have much to fear from official sources.

The weight of my evidence adds up to Saipan, a crash-landing, imprisonment and death.  Josephine Blanco, J. Y. Matsumoto, and Thomas Blas confirm a crash-landing on Saipan; Jose Blaza, and Jose Camacho and his wife saw a man and a woman pilot being driven away by Japanese officials; Antonio M. Cepada, Carlos Palacios, Antonio G. Cabrera, and Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera confirm that the pilots were held in custody; Ramon Cabrera saw the fliers, bound and blindfolded, brought to prison; Jesus Guerrero undoubtedly knows of any execution; and Joaquin Seman and Ben Salas most probably know the location of the graves.

“Courage,” Amelia Earhart once wrote, “is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”  She paid the price, and all of America is ennobled because she was willing to pay it — all of her life, and up to what must have been its bitter end.  May she at last rest in peace.  (End of “Requiem for Amelia.”)

We now know beyond any doubt, based on a massive assemblage of credible evidence, not to mention common sense, that Amelia did not fly to Saipan from Lae, New Guinea, which would have been a nearly 90 degree mistake, virtually unthinkable for even the most incompetent aviators of her day

Remember that Briand was writing in 1966, when we knew about 10 percent of what has been learned since, and had no knowledge of the fliers’ Mili Atoll landing off Barre Island.  But with the seminal work of Paul Briand Jr., Fred Goerner and yes, even the creator of the Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart lie, Joe Gervais, we would have had precious little to guide us, and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart might still be correctly called a mystery.

Paul Briand Jr.’s “Requiem for Amelia,” Part I

Today we take another look at the pioneering work of author Paul L. Briand Jr., whose findings revealed in his 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, sparked the true modern search for Amelia Earhart.  Written in 1966, as far as I know, “Requiem for Amelia” is Briand’s last published piece; it’s an excellent summary of everything he learned in the years since Daughter of the Sky was published in 1960. 

“Requiem for Amelia” is a succinct summation of the evidence presented by the original Saipan witnesses, based on the interviews done by Fred Goerner and the “Operation Earhart” duo of Air Force officers Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam and Saipan in 1960, following closely in Goerner’s heels, and presented to America by Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart (1966) and Joe Klaas’ Amelia Earhart Lives (1970).

“Requiem” comes to us courtesy of Broad Cove Media and Paul Briand (no suffix), the son of Paul L. Briand Jr., who started the freelance business through Broad Cove Media in 2008 after retiring from the Seacoast Media Group of newspapers that includes the Portsmouth Herald and Foster’s Daily Democrat.”  Thus I assume the editor’s note below was written by Paul Briand.  Boldface emphasis is mine throughout; capitalization emphasis is Briand’s.  We begin Briand’s story with a note from the editor, possibly Paul Briand, though it’s not possible to know for sure:

Editor’s note: “Requiem for Amelia” was written in 1966 as a follow-up to Paul L. Briand Jr.’s 1960 Amelia Earhart biography, Daughter of the Sky.  It was written as Briand was about to retire as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. He was allowed to view the official Navy file on Earhart provided that this manuscript be reviewed for military security, which it was in February 1967.  Briand died in 1986, still in pursuit of the truth behind Earhart’s disappearance.

 

“REQUIEM FOR AMELIA” (Part I of Two)
By Paul L. Briand, Jr.

Where’s the rest of it?

That’s it. There is no rest.

You’re kidding.

No. That’s all there is.

It was November 1, 1966.  I had just finished reading the official Navy file on Amelia Earhart, and I wanted my theories confirmed.  I had been waiting to see the file for more than five years, convinced that its pages had hidden for almost thirty years the secret to the mysterious disappearance of the famous flier.  I was allowed to see the file as a scholar who would then submit his manuscript for clearance.  It is a privilege allowed any scholar, writer or reporter working with official material.

According to the evidence in the file, Amelia Earhart was not on a spy mission for the United States Government when she disappeared in 1937.  For years I had been convinced that she was.  The findings in the official file also revealed that if Amelia ended her flight on Saipan, she did by accident and not by plan.  I was cheered by this because it supported the conclusion in my biography about Amelia Earhart, Daughter of the Sky, published in April 1960.  My evidence in the book was slight, however, based as it was on the eye-witness testimony of a Chamorro native girl who later married and emigrated to San Mateo, California. 

Cover of the first paperback edition of Daughter of the Sky, published by Pyramid publishers in May 1967.

But her testimony was so startling — that AE had crash-landed on Saipan, was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and later was executed as a spy — it appeared on the front pages of newspapers all over the country . One of the papers was the San Mateo Times, which featured the local tie-in with Josephine Blanco Akiyama, my native girl.  It was this story that CBS Correspondent Fred Goerner ran with to best sellerdom six years later in his book, The Search for Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart had been America’s greatest woman flier.  In 1928 she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger; in 1932 she flew across the Atlantic again, this time alone; in 1933 she broke her own transcontinental speed record from California to New Jersey; in 1935 she conquered part of the Pacific, from Hawaii to California.  Not satisfied with these accomplishments, however, she wanted to face the one great challenge which remained … the world.  She made her plans to girdle it at the equator, a 29,000 mile flight.  No one had done it before.  Not even Lindbergh.

In May of 1937 Ame1ia Earhart set out on her world flight from Miami.  With her in the twin engine Lockheed Electra was one of the best navigators available, a pioneer from the Pan American flights to the Orient, Fred Noonan. By July, after flying 22,000 miles in forty days, they had reached Lae, New Guinea, the last stop before Howland Island, Hawaii, and home.  Of these legs, the most difficult was the 2,556 miles to Howland, a tiny speck of island amid an eternity of ocean.  To reach it, the navigation would have to be perfect.

The fliers never reached their destination. Although the Coast Guard cutter Itasca had been anchored off Howland to help beam them in, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were lost somewhere over a possible area of 450,000 miles in the South Pacific.

The Navy ordered a search.  For a sixteen-day period Navy and Coast Guard ships, including at one time or another the aircraft carrier Lexington with its full complement of 63 planes, the battleship Colorado, the four destroyers Perkins, Cushing, Lamson, and Drayton, the minesweeper Swan, and the cutter Itasca, searched the Pacific where her plane could have been lost.  Not a trace of the fliers was turned up.  The world was stunned.

One of the great mysteries of the century remained unsolved, until in April of 1960, when it was first suggested in my Earhart biography Daughter of the Sky that the flier crash-landed on Saipan and was executed as a spy.

Amelia Earhart was lost and I had looked for her.  I looked for her in 1957 and 1958 while conducting research for my book.  I looked for her in 1960 and 1961 while two officer-colleagues of mine conducted investigations on Saipan and Guam.  I looked for her again, most recently, this year in Washington, D. C., because I was convinced after almost ten years of research that her whereabouts were hidden in a government vault marked SECRET.  During the summer of 1960, two Air Force officers stationed on Okinawa, Captains Joseph A. Gervais and Robert S. Dinger, read my book, wanted to believe my conclusion, but suggested that I needed more supporting evidence.  I agreed.

An undated photo of Paul Briand Jr., left, and Joe Gervais, two of the three members of “Operation Earhart,” formed in 1960.

We formed “Operation Earhart” and they went to Saipan and Guam to see what they could find.  They interviewed 72 people, most of them natives who corroborated my testimony from Josephine Blanco.  Gervais and Dinger also uncovered information to indicate that AE’s flight to Saipan was not accidental but deliberate, that she was on a spy mission.  The evidence gathered by the captains, however, was immediately put under a security clamp by the U. S. Air Force in the Far East until it could be checked.  Later, Gervais and Dinger took leave and brought their findings to me at the Air Force Academy.  I wrote the story and submitted it to the Department of Defense for clearance in February 1961. I had decided later, on this title: “ONE LIFE FOR HER COUNTRY: The Last Days of Amelia Earhart.”

Then, because President Eisenhower was on a trip to the Far East and had cancelled a visit to Tokyo because of student riots, the Department of Defense denied clearance to the manuscript on the grounds that its contents would jeopardize Japanese–American relations.  But I was convinced, nevertheless, that my conclusions about Amelia Earhart on Saipan were correct and that she must have been on a planned spy mission for her government.

I was silenced and I did not know what to do.  In the spring of 1961 Arthur M. Sch1esinger Jr. came to the Air Force Academy to be the guest speaker at its annual Assembly.  I prevailed on two officer colleagues to intercede with him on my behalf.

At Mr. Schlesinger’s suggestion, I wrote him a memo.  Trying to help me, he wrote to Rudolph A. Winnacker, official historian of the Department of Defense.  Mr. Winnacker, also trying to help, wrote in turn to the Army, Navy, and Air Force historians.  They responded, but with no encouragement.  The Navy answer was to the point: . . .  the files contain nothing to indicate Amelia Earhart was a spy or that she was known or suspected to have landed on Saipan . . .

During the summer of 1961, Ambassador [Douglas, nephew of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who became the commander of the Allied occupation of Japan immediately after World War II] MacArthur in Tokyo was queried by the Secretary of State, Christian Herter, concerning Amelia Earhart.  In his preliminary report on July 15, MacArthur said an initial search of Japanese fileshas uncovered no indications Amelia Earhart was executed by the Japanese.”  Then he added: CHECK WILL BE CONTINUED, HOWEVER, AND GOJ (GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN) HAS LOCATED EIGHT PERSONS WHO MIGHT HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF CASE.  THESE INCLUDE ADMIRAL HOSHINA AND FOUR FORMER STAFF MEMBERS CONCERNED WITH SAIPAN AREA; GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL NOW WORKING WITH FONOFF; MEMBER OF FORMER JAPANESE NAVAL LIAISON MISSION IN SAIPAN; AND CAPTAIN OF JAPANESE WARSHIP KOSHU WHICH SEARCHED FOR EARHART IN COLLABORATION WITH U S NAVY IN 1937.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Douglas MacArthur II on the June 27, 1960 cover of Time magazine. MacArthur was the nephew of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and according to Time, he was ”the principal architect of present-day U.S. policy toward Japan,” which meant that he was among the U.S. establishment principals in perpetuating the big lie that Amelia Earhart was never  on Saipan. He died in in 1997.

But on August 10, message number 445, at 3 p.m., he reported: “FOREIGN OFFICE INFORMS US GOJ HAS COMPLETED EXHAUSTIVE INVESTIGATION WHICH REVEALED NO BASIS WHATSOEVER FOR RUMOR JAPANESE EXECUTED AMELIA EARHART ON SAIPAN IN 1937.  ALL AVAILABLE JAPANESE RECORDS SEARCHED AND ALL FORMER OFFICERS AND OFFICIALS CONTACTED (REFTEL) DURING COURSE INVESTIGATION.  MACARTHUR”

Unfortunately for me, neither the Schlesinger-Winnacker correspondence, nor the MacArthur-Herter interchange, was shown to me; moreover, Mr. Schlesinger did not answer my memo to him — but he doubtlessly thought the Air Force would — which it did not.  On November 21, 1961, after the supposed bones of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan had been found on Saipan by Fred Goerner, my manuscript was finally cleared by the Department of Defense for publication.   The bones, however, proved to be those of Orientals, and there wasn’t a publisher in America interested in my story — not unless I had concrete proof-positive information, which didn’t have.  Nor has anyone since.

Perhaps the most interesting document in the official file is an exhaustive report, a Navy investigative report [known to readers of this blog as the ONI Report] on the alleged location of Amelia Earhart’s grave.  Compiled in November 1960, it is nine pages long and has a number of supporting documents, most of them photos of the Chamorran cemetery and surrounding area taken by Thomas E. Devine, from Connecticut, who had claimed he knew the location of the Earhart grave.  Devine had written to me in the summer of 1960, telling me his story; but I was not interested.  My Captains Gervais and Dinger had already written to me, telling me they had found the “one and only gravesite” of Amelia Earhart.

Here is the reporting official’s [ONI Special Agent Joseph M. Patton] synopsis:

Request was made for the evaluation of and comment on information furnished by Thomas E. DEVINE, who claimed that he had been told where Subject’s (Amelia Earhart’s) grave was located on Saipan, M.I. Enclosures (1) through (9) were furnished by DEVINE and their locations were described by DEVINE.  Investigation at Saipan, M.I., developed that the location of enclosure (9) was erroneous as described by DEVINE.  The building was located in Camp Susupe, several miles from the walk on fishing dock as mentioned by DEVINE.  The Chamorran woman seen in enclosure (9) was in Camp Susupe and did not need rounding up.  In 1937 the location shown in enclosure (9) was farm land under cultivation by the BLANCO family. 

No evidence was disclosed by this investigation that Subject landed an airplane on Saipan.  Mrs. Antonia BLANCO stated that her daughter (Josephine, the same who had furnished me with the conclusion for “Daughter of the Sky”) claimed to have seen a white woman of Subject’s description at Saipan prior to WW II.  Mr. Jesus SALAS said he had overheard Japanese military people talking about the crash of Subject’s plane at Jaluit Atoll, in the Marshall Islands; and Mr. Jose VILLA-GOMEZ said that he overheard a similar conversation.

Some of the testimony in the report itself was very startling to me: Native guards during Japanese rule “stated they had known of no plane crash in Tanapag until the Military planes fell there during the bombing raids in 1944.”  It refuted what I had learned from Gervais and Dinger.  As startling is a copy of a letter from the civilian administrator, Saipan, to the Navy liaison officer to the trust territory high commissioner:

Now to the police.  We contacted all presently available men who were policemen in 1937.  None of them knew anything concerning the alleged incident.  Next, we contacted all persons who were remembered as being jail wardens in 1937. Still no news of Amelia.  Next, to Dr. Jose TORRES who worked in the Japanese hospital.  Again no news.  Jesus GUERRERO, a detective for the Japanese Government.  No knowledge.  Next, talked to Saipanese labor foremen who were in charge of labor gangs in the Garapan-Tanapag Harbor area. Again no soap.

Incredibly, the testimony of all these people as reported in the official file does not square with the testimony gathered for me by Captains Gervais and Dinger.  It was as Department of Defense historian Rudolph Winnacker had said of my findings: . . .  contrary testimony by people who might have been expected to know.

Contrary indeed!  The evidence uncovered by Captain Joseph A. Gervais and Captain Robert S. Dinger in the summer of 1960 fully corroborates the story of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, first presented in Daughter of the Sky, in which the Saipan native girl saw a twin-engine silver plane fly overhead and crash land at Tanapag Harbor, about noon time one summer day in 1937.  From the plane emerged two fliers, one of them a woman.  Josephine, who later identified the fliers as Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart, learned later that they had died.  Who is telling the truth and to whom?

Here my evidence:  While Josephine Blanco was bicycling toward the Japanese installation with her brother-in-law’s lunch and looked up to see Amelia’s Electra fly over low and crash, other Chamorro natives witnessed the same event at the same time.

One was Josephine’s brother-in-law, J. Y. Matsumoto.  Having been found and interviewed by Gervais and Dinger, he acknowledged that the incident was one that both he and Josephine witnessed, just as Mrs. Akiyama has related it.  He confirmed that he did see the plane crash, that two Americans were apprehended, and that one of them was a woman.

Unlike the other witnesses Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger questioned on Guam, 45-year-old Thomas “Buko” Blas claimed he was an eyewitness to an airplane crash on Saipan in 1937.

Another Saipan native was Thomas [Buko] Blas, then 45, a construction worker at the time, who had just started to eat his lunch.  As he sat looking out over Tanapag Harbor, Blas heard a plane overhead; looking up, he saw that it was very low, then watched with fright as it hit the tops of trees edging the Sadog Tasi area, pitch down out of control, and crash land on the beach 100 feet in front of him, very close to the Japanese Chico Naval Air Base.

Blas clearly remembers that the plane was two-motored, aluminum- colored, and had no Japanese markings.  Many other workers, coming from all directions, gathered at the scene.  Barred from getting too close to the plane by Japanese Navy personnel, Blas nevertheless saw that one of the pilots was lying face down on the ground, apparently injured, and that the other pilot had climbed out of the plane to help him.

Japanese officers and soldiers, however, kept the pilots separated, pushing and shoving the standing one away from the one lying on the ground, even knocking him down with the butt of a rifle.  The injured one turned on his back, and as he tried to get up a Japanese soldier placed a bayonet at his throat.

Then a surprising thing happened.  Blas could see that the fliers were certainly not Japanese; they looked more like Europeans, more like Americans because of their light coloring.

The Japanese, rather than search the pilots for concealed weapons, quickly stripped them and to their amazement, and embarrassment, one of the pilots, naked and undeniable, was a woman.  Greatly disturbed, the Japanese quickly dressed the woman and the man; then with considerable irritability, they loudly complained that the poor Americans had no more men pilots and now had to use women for their military aircraft.

Blas said that both fliers wore flying jackets and well-washed khaki trousers, and that the woman wore a long-sleeved black shirt.  But to his surprise, the woman had her hair cut short just like the man.  The Japanese now took many photographs of the crash scene and the pilots.  Then they dismissed all the workers in the Chico area, telling them to go home immediately.  (End of “Requiem” Part I.)

Jesus Guerrero, the detective for the Japanese Government briefly referenced in a letter from the civilian administrator, Saipan, to the Navy liaison officer to the trust territory high commissioner, was in fact Jesús De Leon Guerrero, also known as Kumoi, a sinister character who collaborated with the Japanese police during the war, an enforcer whose job was tokeep the rest of the natives in line and his methods hadn’t been gentle,Fred Goerner wrote in The Search for Amelia Earhart.

Many Saipanese said Guerrero was the man who could best answer his questions about events before and during the war, and Goerner had more than one unpleasant encounter with the surly Chamorro, whom he described as a tough, bitter, hate-filled man who looks his reputation.Goerner used the pseudonyms Francisco Galvan and Kobei for Guerrero in Search, but Guerrero was named correctly by Joe Klaas in Amelia Earhart Lives and by Thomas E. Devine in Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident. 

Goerner’s 1992 follow-up letter to Ron Reuther: “Correctness of Barnum thesis is established”

In my Nov. 2, 2018 post, Did Earhart crash on purpose in Hawaii takeoff?,” we saw Fred Goerner’s Aug. 7, 1992 letter to Ron Reuther, in which Goerner discussed the sensational claims of Art Kennedy, an aircraft technician for the Pacific Airmotive Company in Burbank, Calif., during the 1930s.  Kennedy claimed Amelia Earhart told him that she was ordered by unnamed government officials to crash her Electra on purpose during her March 20 takeoff from Luke Field in Hawaii, which aborted her first world-flight attempt.

Kennedy said Earhart told him she followed that directive “and did it the only way she knew how.”  According to Kennedy, she said “a lot depended on my keeping quiet about what I’d seen because she was going on a special mission that had to look like a routine attempt to go around the world.  She said, ‘Can you imagine me being a spy?’ then she sort of tittered and added, ‘I never said that!’ ”  So wrote Art Kennedy in his 1992 autobiography, High Times, Keeping ‘em Flying

Undated photo of Ron Reuther in front of the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California, where Amelia Earhart’s plane was kept prior to her 1937 flight. Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia Zoos, among others. (Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle.)

With respect to the Kennedy comments about Earhart, the proverbial grain of salt applies,Goerner wrote in his August 1992 letter to Reuther.   [Please see my Jan. 2, 2019 post, Art Kennedy’s sensational Earhart claims persist: Was Amelia on mission to overfly Truk?]

Reuther, who founded the Western Aerospace Museum, was a revered, original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, and had apparently been a close friend of Goerner.  Reuther was unique among the elite of the aviation establishment in his support for the Marshalls Islands-Saipan truth in the Earhart disappearance, but these are mere footnotes in an impressive list his memorable achievements. 

He was also a noted naturalist who curated and directed the Micke Grove Zoo (Lodi, Calif.), the Cleveland Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Philadelphia ZooAs director of the San Francisco Zoo, Reuther was instrumental in the creation of an amazingly successful project to teach the world-famous, now deceased gorilla Koko sign language.  Following is Goerner’s follow-up 1992 letter to Reuther.  All boldface emphasis is mine; capitalization emphasis is Goerner’s.

Today we present Goerner’s follow-up letter to Reuther, in which he briefly addresses one of several phony claims made by Robert H. Myers in his stranger-than-fiction 1985 book, Stand By To Die

September 29, 1992

Mr. Ron Reuther
1014 Delaware Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Dear Ron:

In further study of Reuther communications, I realize that I have not replied to your comments regarding Earhart author, Robert H. Myers.

Mr. Myers perfectly represents the totally irresponsible weirdo fringe which has been omnipresent in the Earhart matter since 1937.

I believe many of these people (including Mr. Myers) to be unstable, desperately grasping anything which will offer them identity and concocting total fiction to support their bogus claims.

With respect to Mr. Myers, I submit on classic example (of several hundred I could offer into evidence) of Myers’ outright fabrications.

Attached are copies of pages from two books.  One is page 102 from Myers’ 1985 book titled STAND BY TO DIE [full title: Stand By To Die: The Disappearance, Rescue, and Return of Amelia Earhart].  The second is page 182 of James Sinclair’s 1978 book WINGS OF GOLD [full title: Wings of Gold: How the Aeroplane Developed New Guinea].

Myers maintains he met Eric Chater (he spells it ChaRter) while he (Myers) was in the military in 1943 during World War II.

The problem with that particular claim is that Eric Chater (who was the General Manager of Guinea Airways and who, together with his wife, hosted Earhart during her stay at Lae in 1937) was killed in a bizarre accident in October 1941 at the Lae, New Guinea airfield.

When I called this and other egregious distortions and untruths to the attention of Barbara Wiley, who ghosted STAND BY TO DIE, Wiley acknowledged to me that she had reached the conclusion (after having finished the writing of the book) that Myers was a liar some of the time, but she STILL believed Myers MUST have met Earhart as a boy sometime before the around-the-world flight began.  Whew.  What an aroma!

By the way, that IS Eric Chater (and his wife) with AE and Noonan in the photo on page 102 of STAND BY TO DIE.  Photos of the Chaters, the Jouberts and Jacobs taken at Lae, New Guinea before the takeoff 2 July 1937 have been widely published and are readily available to any author.  That has been Myers’ tactic: Use a photo or some item of accepted truth and then attach any piece of fiction onto them.

Fred Goerner, circa mid-1960s, behind the microphone at KCBS in San Francisco.  (Photo courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

The same applies to Mr. Donohue and his [nearly unreadable] AE AND THE BRITISH CONNECTION [full title: The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection].  He has used photos and benign basic research and stitched the wildest kind of fiction to them and it is without ANY proof or ANY reference to source.

Gillespie is much more subtle and sophisticated in his manipulation of the known facts, and he has clearly been more successful in gaining media acceptance than either Myers or Donohue, but it is truly amazing the number of persons who write to me of their belief in the creations of Myers and Donohue, to say nothing of Gervais, Klaas, Prymak, Reineck, Gillespie, Willi, Gannon, Wade, Loomis, Rafford and Brennan — to mention only a few.

The correctness of the Barnum thesis is therewith established.

Merla joins in sending the usual large collection of good regards and best wishes to you and yours.

Fred

P.S.  Again, Ron, please, if you will, treat the above as privileged information.  I don’t wish to see my comments turning up in someone else’s article or book.

Fred Goerner passed away in September 1994 at age 69, and is far beyond caring whether his missive to Ron Reuther is published on this blog.  I never had the privilege of meeting Ron Reuther in person, but he was always cordial to me in our correspondence, sending me pieces of helpful information and once kindly telling me that I was agood researcher,when I’ve never had any such illusions.  He passed away in 2007, and along with AES founder Bill Prymak, was among the most respected and influential of all the original AES members.

Conclusion of Bill Prymak’s “The Jaluit Report”

Finally, Expedition Amelia” is in our rear-views, and today we present Part II of “The Jaluit Report,” Bill Prymak’s account of his November 1990 trip to Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands with Joe Gervais, infamous as the creator of the mendacious Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth The Jaluit Report” appeared in the May 1991 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Boldface and italics emphases are mine throughout, capitalizations for emphasis are Prymak’s, and some have been edited for consistency.

The Jaluit Report,” January 1991 (Part II of two)
by Bill Prymak and Major Joe Gervais, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

DAY TWO ON EMIDJ: Spent the first hour with Joel who suggested we motor some ten miles further up the lagoon to visit a very old Japanese native who lived on a remote island.  “TOKYO apparently had worked on the construction phase of the seaplane base, and would surely have some interesting experiences to relate. With great apprehension (OL’ BOOM-BOOM was really gasping and belching at this stage) we chugged northward past dozens of islands . . .  finally, a settlement came into view, with a beautiful white church perched just off the beach.  The Pastor was amazed that any white man would chose to visit his Parish, but a ten dollar donation popped his eyes and put him at our service.  Yes, Tokyo was around, back in the bush.  He was frightened to have white visitors, but our Pastor soon put him at ease. He was awed at the attention bestowed, spoke no English, but our Pastor conveyed the following, acting as interpreter:

Tokyo had been brought to Emidj from Japan as a labor foreman to run concrete pouring crews.  Thousands of Koreans and Marshallese were conscripted for this work, which began about 1934-’35.  Several years into the work, according to Tokyo, there was a great flurry of excitement one day as the weekly barge came up from Jabor.  

The barge normally carried construction materials off-loaded from the larger ships in Jabor Harbor, but on this day the barge carried no ordinary cargo.  All work was suspended for the day and the entire work force was kept off base.  Tokyo could see from a distance that a silver land airplane partially covered by a canvas tarp was being off-loaded by bulldozers with winches and dragged to a remote area where it was promptly fenced off and camouflaged.  Tokyo stated that this event was excitedly discussed amongst the Japanese soldiers, but such talk amongst the civilian work force was forbidden, and would result in severe punishment.

“Joe Gervais with donut maker Kubang Bunitak, who corroborated Bilimon Amaron and John Heine’s experiences,” wrote Bill Prymak in the original AES Newsletter photo caption of May 1991.

Tokyo worked as foreman on. the base until the start of bombing raids, when he fled, with other Marshallese, to remote islands in the Jaluit Chain.  With no family to go home to in Japan after World War II, Tokyo decided to embrace the Marshallese as his own and remain for the rest of his days.  He is currently 75 (give or take a few) years old.

DAY THREE: JABOR: The BOOM-BOOM boat finally boomed out, so we decided to seek out old-timers in the village. The Mayor was still gracious and helpful. First stop: KUBANG BUNITAK, the donut baker.  He’s some 75 years old, and his donut shop is something to behold: #5 bunker oil in a 55-gallon drum over a wood fire . . . and there you have it!  DONUTS!  Joe gave Kubang five dollars for a bag of donuts, and his eyes nearly popped out!  He had never received so much money for his goods.  I accidentally dropped one of the donuts: it hit the floor and bounced up to the ceiling!  Joe later remarked that they would make great wheels on supermarket shopping carts!

The interview with Kubang was brief but very interesting.  He had been at Jabor since 1935.  Many thousandsof Japanese soldiers and construction workers were based both at Jabot, the deep harbor, and at Emidj, the Naval seaplane base, he related.  He remembered Bilimon Amaron working in the Naval Hospital and the flurry of excitement when Bilamon treated “two American flyers who were ’shot down’ near Mill Island and brought to Jabor for medical treatment and interrogation.  He further described how a strange-looking airplane was unloaded from a Naval Tender ship, put onto the Emidj barge, and disappeared from Jabor that night.  Great secrecy was imposed by the military during this operation, and several Marshallese received cruel punishment for “being too close.” 

Kubang went on to describe the terrible devastation rendered Jabor Island during the American bombing raids.  He remembered well Carl Heine and his two sons John and Dwight.  The previous Marshall Island Report describes our interview with John Heine and his witnessing the silver airplane on a barge at Jabor.  (See newsletter for Mr. Heine’s interesting report re: the letter addressed to Amelia Earhart that was delivered to the Jaluit Post Office in November, 1937.) 

The only white men Kubang had ever seen were the occasional contract school teachers at Jabor, and, rarely, when a sailing ship popped into the Harbor.  He told us that he was delighted to share with us his experiences, as he had never talked with white visitors before. He never asked what the outside world was like . . . their simple lives seem to be self-fulfilling and pretty content.

Mr. Hatfield was next interviewed.  A very soft-spoken elderly gentlemen who could communicate with us in broken English, he was the Mobil agent for the Island, and ran what passed for a country store.  It was here that Joe and I found our survival rations for the week . . . Spam and beans!  In discussing the Earhart issue, yes, he knew Tomaki Mayazo, the coal tender who [believed he] loaded the Kamoi.  He remembered the ship hurriedly leaving port for Mili and returning a few days later to Jabor under great security and much fanfare.

The aircraft carrier Akagi entered service with the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1927 and took part in the opening campaigns of World War II.  Akagi was a major player in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and aided in the rapid Japanese advance across the Pacific until sunk by American dive bombers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.  Claims of Akagi-based aircraft involvement with the downing of Amelia Earhart near Mili Atoll in July 1937 do not hold up under scrutiny.

Mr. Hatfield’s most interesting story was of his close relationship with a Mr. Lee, who, unfortunately for us, had died in 1987.  Lee was the chief translator between the Marshallese natives and the Japanese military, and evidently commanded considerable respect and fraternized quite frequently with Japanese officers.  Lee told Mr. Hatfield several times the events on the night of July 2nd, 1937, when he (Lee) was drinking heavily with some high-ranking naval officers.  Suddenly one of the officers jumped out of chair, slammed his fist on the table, and boasted to Lee: “We know that the American Lady Pilot is flying over (these) islands tonight!”  Joe and I were astonished to hear such a statement.  Hatfield went on to relate how Lee told him of the arrival of ahugeaircraft carrier and several destroyers that engaged in war games back in 1937 (this, incidentally, was corroborated by Capt.  Alfred Parker; see Joe Klaas’s book, Amelia Earhart Lives, page 40).  These war exercises were conducted at Jaluit and surrounding waters.

Mr. Hatfield concluded our interview with a startling statement: Lee told him that he had met one of the carrier pilots who, during a drinking bout, had claimed that he had shot down Amelia Earhart near Mill Atoll!  Such a statement by itself may not be very credible, but I refer the reader to [T.C.] Buddy Brennan’s book Witness to the Execution (page 117) and immediately we see a hard connection.  Brennan, nor Lee or Hatfield had never met before.  Could Fujie Firmosa be the one and same person? Could the Akagi be the aircraft carrier seen at Jabor by several different persons?

(Editor’s note:  The Akagi was shown to be in Japan’s Sasebo Navy Yard from 1935 to 1938, undergoing a major modernization.  Fujie Firmosa, who, according to Buddy Brennan, told Manny Muna on Saipan that he shot down Amelia Earhart’s plane in the Marshalls while assigned to the Japanese carrier Akagi.  Firmosa’s last known address was in Osaka, according to Brennan (Witness to the Execution, footnote p. 118) but he “was recently deceased” circa 1983.  Further, I’m not aware of any claim by “several different persons” of seeing an aircraft carrier at Jabor.  Anyone out there who can shed light in this one?]

DAY FOUR: BACK TO EMIDJ

Boom-Boom boat was dead.  But somebody had another outboard, and after much ceremony and cussin’ the engine kicked into life and we were on our way. Joel, our schoolmaster friend, greeted us with the warmest smile imaginable, and the candy we had brought from the States made a great hit with the kids.  We were told that an American airplane has been shot down during the February 1942 air strike, and that a native boy had recently seen it in some twenty feet of water several hundred yards off the seaplane ramp. It took some 30 minutes of trolling before I finally spotted the outline.  Donning fins and snorkel gear, I made an amazing discovery: As I dove on the aircraft, it clearly turned out to be a TBF Torpedo Bomber in pristine condition.  The black barrels of the twin machine guns on each wing clearly stood out in the semi-hazy water.

The aircraft had apparently pancaked into the water, nosed over, and settled in 20 feet to the bottom on its back.  I was to learn later that the pilot, either Ensign R.L. Wright or Ensign W.A. Haas was still in the plane.  Studying the strike reports from the Yorktown, the two pilots had radioed they were ditching together.  Both to this day are [listed as] MIAs.  Neither Joel, nor the other older natives had any knowledge of any person ever making an attempt to recover either parts or the remains of the pilot.  It was an eerie feeling, knowing that I was the first to dive on an American military plane sequestered in the water for nearly 50 years. I plan to go back and complete my search of the aircraft.

At the old Emidj seaplane ramp, Joe Gervais stands in the crater of a 500-pound direct hit, incurred during one of several American bombing missions against Emidj between Feb, 1, 1942 and Oct. 6, 1944.  (Photo courtesy Bill Prymak.)

It was sad leaving Emidj; we cemented deep bonds of friendship with natives, and promised to come back.

Parting Jabor on our final day, Mr. Hatfield had one last bit of information for us: Capt. Fukusuke Fujita, commanding the base at Emidj during the war, wrote a book re: his experiences, and this book is in the possession of a certain Japanese restaurant owner on Majuro.”  We held our breath: could this be the final clue?  The undeniable clue?  Landing at Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, we did meet the restaurant owner, we did make a copy of said book; after weeks of tracking down competent translators . . . no cigar!  Capt. Fujita had simply documented his post-war trips to the Islands to honor the war dead.

EPILOGUE

The long flight back to the states gave ample time for reflection.  So many compelling questions begging for a rational answer need to be addressed: Exactly whose airplane was down there on the ramp at Emidj as shown on the United States Air Force pre-strike photo?

What did the bulldozers bury or push into a indefinable mass of aluminum back in 1977?

Just what did the old Japanese labor foreman see on that barge in 1937?

Why would a Japanese donut baker, who had never been interviewed before, talk of a “strange-looking” (can we read-non Japanese?) airplane being loaded onto a barge during the same period of time as the Bilamon Amaron experience?

Is this all hot smoke and sheer coincidence?

Joe and I did agree on one point: Our week at Jaluit and Emidj sure n’ hell beat laying on the beach at Fiji sipping pina coladas!  (End of “The Jaluit Report.”)

Bill Prymak, along with several members of the Amelia Earhart Society, returned to Jaluit in late January 1997 and interviewed several new witnesses for the first time ever.  We’ll hear from them soon. 

 

NatGeo’s “Expedition Amelia”: Dead on Arrival

With the Oct. 20 airing of the over-hyped and unnecessary National Geographic Channel’s two-hour special, “Expedition Amelia,” another Earhart media disinformation operation comes to a welcome close.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

The latest in a long line of bogus Earhart searches was born this past summer, with National Geographic’s July 23 announcement, Robert Ballard found the Titanic. Can he find Amelia Earhart’s airplane?subheaded, “Ocean explorer Robert Ballard will lead a major expedition to the remote Pacific in hopes of discovering the famed aviator’s fate.”

“It appears that after 13 fruitless trips to Nikumaroro by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR),” I wrote in my July 31 post, NatGeo, Ballard in new phony Earhart ‘search’,” the powers that be have finally decided to turn this tar baby over to someone who can bring real gravitas to the longstanding Earhart myths and lies.  Ric Gillespie is out, Robert Ballard is in, and we can all now rest assured that the ‘Earhart Mystery’ will be solved in short order.”

Robert Ballard, undated, from his Wikipedia page.

“Now Robert Ballard, the man who found the Titanic, is planning to search for signs of the missing aviators,” NatGeo’s On August 7, he’ll depart from Samoa for Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island that’s part of the Micronesian nation of Kiribati. The expedition will be filmed by National Geographic for a two-hour documentary airing October 20.

Countless mainstream media outlets covered the story, so disturbingly familiar to those of us who have followed this absurd soap opera since it began in the late 1980s with TIGHAR’s initial outrageous claims.  The only difference was that a famous ocean explorer would be doing the honors, rather than the long-discredited Ric Gillespie.  I  wondered only why someone like Ballard would participate in such a transparent, dishonest charade, and what he thought he could gain.  I’m still wondering.

When I checked a month later, nothing could be found about Ballard’s ballyhooed foray to Earhartland.  As is always the case with these Nikumaroro debacles, one has to look hard to find any news about the latest failure.  Finally, on  Aug. 26, National Geographic was forced to come clean and admit that Ballard had come up empty, though its headline was as dishonest and misleading as its editors thought they could get away with. 

‘Tantalizing clue’ marks end of Amelia Earhart expedition,” NatGeo whispered, loath to admit the truth.  While the location of the aviator’s plane remains elusive, an artifact — discovered after 80 years may spark new avenues of inquiry, their subhead cunningly added.

In like a lion, out like a lamb,” I wrote in my Aug. 27 post, Ballard’s Earhart search fails; anyone surprised?  “Thus ends yet another Nikumaroro-Amelia Earhart boondoggle.  This time the perp was the famed Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, but the result was the same as always, as predictable as death and taxes.  Nothing related to Earhart was found, but an old lie was resurrected to keep the scam viable for future paydays.”  For the rest of that post, please click here.

Next, in the run-up to the airing of “Expedition Amelia,” the New York Times,  America’s bastion of truth, was the only mainstream media outlet to bite the bullet and tell everyone they should watch the Oct. 20 NatGeo two-hour special.  In the Times story, “The Amelia Earhart Mystery Stays Down in the Deep,” Julie Cohn wrote, “Robert Ballard’s expedition to a remote island in the South Pacific found no evidence of the vanished aviator’s plane, but the explorer and his crew haven’t given up.”   Of course not, especially when there’s more money to be made and ignorant sheeple to “educate” about the great Amelia Earhart “mystery.”

Aboard the research vessel Nautilus, the remotely operated robotic explorer  vehicle Hercules is launched in an operation similar to the one off Nikumaroro, where Robert Ballard and his crew searched in vain for any trace of Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E, which lies buried in rubble under Saipan International Airport.  Photo Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust/Nautilus Live.

We’ve all seen these Central Pacific-Nikumaroro travelogues before, and whether it’s Ric Gillespie or the great Robert Ballard chit-chatting with his crew about Amelia with a huge tropical sunset in the background, I can’t watch any more of these canned spectacles produced only for money, ratings and confusion.  On the other hand, since we’ve covered the Ballard-NatGeo charade from the start, I suppose it’s pro forma to do a review of the thrilling climax to the current deceit.  I asked longtime readers David Atchason and William Trail if they would be interested in writing reviews of “Expedition Amelia,” and they’ve kindly agreed to do so. 

Longtime Truth at Last supporter David Atchason, 77, of Bartlett, New Hampshire is a retired truck driver and trucking company owner, now an “accomplished old geezer mountain climber in the New Hampshire White Mountains and all over the world. David is a self-described “connoisseur of conspiracy theories and promulgator of baseless and fevered speculations,and has agreed to share his thoughts on “Expedition Amelia.”

“BREAKING NEWS:  There is nothing new under the sun”
by David Atchason

I have to give credit to my late ex-wife for keeping me young at heart and my blood pressure elevated.  That’s my fountain of youth. 

I spent yesterday in anticipation of the Ballard program, checking the channel listings and my watch, waiting to start my assignment.  This was to be my first writing assignment in about 57 years.  Sure enough, at about  8:04, I noticed I was tuned to the wrong channel.  I quickly tuned in to Ballard just in time to hear him declare, “There are several theories of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, the Japanese capture, or the theory that she returned to the USA and lived as a New Jersey housewife, but now we have to turn our attention to the only two realistic theories.  She either crashed and sank or else wound up on Nikumaroro.

Wow! It was like getting hit by a spitball in the back of my head.  All in one fell swoop he discredited all sane theories and made sure to include the Irene Bolam theory, which even the most obtuse follower of the mystery would know was wacko.  I knew then I was in for a long two-hour viewing chore.

Now here comes Gillespie to spin his yarns.  He was looking good, I have to say, as he should at his big moment as the voice of reason, so to speak.  He explained how the radio messages from AE picked up at the Pan Am stations when triangulated pointed to Nikumaroro.  I had never heard this stated as a certainty before, but he said it was certain.  In fact, at the end of the program, Ballard indicated that you just can’t dispute that the messages came from Nikumaroro. 

A lot of the program was spent gushing praise for Amelia and her relevance to empowering the women of today — in a very politically correct manner, of course.  They obviously needed something to fill up the time, as there was nothing new in the program.  Bevington’sLoch Ness Monsterpicture had the plane’s landing gear superimposed on the object in the water it to show that  that had to be the wheel.   At some point it was shown that all the Fiji records had been sent to Tarawa and there was a large collection of bones stored at Tarawa.  As there might be; certainly thousands of soldiers were killed there in 1943.  It was never clear whether the bones came from Fiji, but one of the skulls was said to be a woman’s, and when they had the DNA tested the results were inconclusive, as the DNA was “degraded,” whatever that was supposed to mean. 

David Atchason pauses during one of his regular hikes in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

There was time spent on the new digs looking for bone fragments starring the ever popular Tom King, but nothing was found.  The metal aluminum flap was presented by Ric, the freckle cream jar, it just made me want to reach out to Ric to remind him of the shoe heel, the sextant box and a few other items.  It was like opening my old toy box after many years, kind of gave me a case of emotional nostalgia.

The underwater search, narrated by Ballard, might as well have been stock footage of any random underwater scene.  They found a piece or two of rubbish which didn’t belong to her plane.  He did say that he found the pieces from the [British freighter HMS] Norwich City shipwreck stopped at 1,300 feet, which meant her plane’s pieces would have to be above that level, so he didn’t search any farther down.  He finished by declaring that the radio signals clearly showed her plane had been there; you couldn’t dispute that, so he says.  Then he was off to Howland. 

By then my eyes were closing as I awaited the theme song to play, and Ballard listed a couple other possibilities without declaring them unrealistic at all.  One of them was, “Did she go on a spy mission and get captured by the Japanese”?  Maybe I am hallucinating, but that made me think: Yes, they do know.  Ballard knows, NatGeo knows, and it was like a big hint to those few of us who can think: “Yes, guys and girls, we know and you know the truth and we are not dumb.  But we have to do this program because Big Brother says so, and we are getting well paid for it and we all have to make a living same as you.  WE don’t believe any of this either.”  There you go.  (End of David Atchason review.)

William Trail is a retired U.S. Army Reserve major, federal civil servant and private pilot.  He’s a longtime reader of this blog and is among the best informed of those I consider to befriends of the truth.” 

“NatGeo Comes Up Empty”
by William Trail

All in all, National Geographic’s “Expedition Amelia” presented no new or conclusive evidence of any kind.  Japanese capture was fleetingly mentioned and immediately dismissed.  Despite finding nothing, Robert Ballard maintained that the “radio evidence is compelling. . . . You can’t take that off the table.”  In the end, it’s still the same old, tired, disappointing story.

Never a friend of the truth when it comes to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, National Geographic has now enlisted world renowned oceanographer and NatGeo Explorer-at-Large, Robert Ballard Ph.D., who is most famous for locating the long lost wreck of RMS Titanic in 1985, to assist in driving this thing into the mind of the world.  Joining Dr. Ballard on the research vessel M/V Nautilus for the trip to Nikumaroro are archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Dr. Fredrik T. Hiebert, executive director, Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science; Erin H. Kimmerle, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida Department of Anthropology; and former TIGHAR archaeologist-in-residence and historical novelist Thomas F. King Ph.D.  Not on the actual expedition to Nikumaroro but appearing and commenting in “Expedition Amelia” are Ms. Candice Fleming, author of Amelia Lost;  Tracey Jean Boisseau, Ph.D., associate professor of women’s studies at Purdue University; and last but not least Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).

In the documentary, the  July 2, 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is referred to as a renown mysteryand the greatest mystery of the 20th Century.”  I beg to differThere is no “mystery” — only a seeming unwillingness to acknowledge the truth, which is supported by a tsunami of painstakingly documented credible evidence and eyewitness testimony.  The truth, which is to say, Japanese Capture and Death on Saipan was stated by no less than Fleet Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, as well as Marine Generals Alexander Archer Vandergrift and Graves Blanchard Erskine.

The late Fred Hooven, noted engineer, inventor and creator of the McKean-Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) landing theory, was adamant that some of the post-loss transmissions originated from Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E.  He may have been right about that, but he later realized that Amelia never landed anywhere near Nikumaroro and abandoned his theory, which TIGHAR later commandeered to great effect for its own purposes.

However, Ballard comments,There are all sorts of theories,” and I like the Nikumaroro theory.”  The Nikumaroro theory, by the way, originated in a 1982 paper, “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight” by the late inventor and Earhart researcher Fred Hooven.   Also known asThe Hooven Report,” it is based upon the post-loss radio transmissions attributed to Earhart and was originally named the “McKean-Gardner Island landing theory” by Hooven, who later abandoned this theory.  Hooven is not mentioned once in the program, nor is he given credit for his abandoned theory, long taken up by TIGHAR as if it were the Holy Grail.

The two-hour documentary, which was narrated by Emmy and Academy Award winning actress Allison Janney, was basically a series of revolving segments.  That is to say, Ballard mapping and searching the underwater terrain around Nikumaroro for the Electra, which AE presumably landed on the island and which was subsequently washed out by the tides to sink in the depths just offshore; King and Hiebert digging on the island itself;  Kimmerle and Hiebert searching for the 13 Bones among the collections of Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Center, Tarawa, Republic of Kirabati; and historical and Earhart biographical commentary by Ms. Fleming and Boisseau.

Also providing commentary, including showing off his so-called artifacts — a zipper pull from a jacket, an ointment pot (presumably from Dr. Berry’s Freckle Cream), a woman’s compact with traces of rouge make-up, and the (infamous) aluminum skin patch — is Gillespie, who admits that there is no provable link to Earhart.

Among the bones and bone fragments from the Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Center is part of a human skull, which  Kimmerle examines.  Skeptical of Dr. David Hoodless’ findings,  Kimmerle’s research included computer-aided 3-D imaging of the partial skull, which was inconclusive.  The results of DNA testing were not available for inclusion in the documentary.

Ballard and the M/V Nautilus made five passes around Nikumaroro, visually searching, surveying and mapping the underwater terrain.  Nothing related to Earhart, and certainly no part of the Electra, was found.  However, a crewmember’s ball cap that was lost overboard was recovered.  Likewise, despite cadaver dogs alerting on the Ren tree dig site, King and his archaeological team found nothing.  (King has been digging on Nikumaroro since 1989.)

The story of the recent enhancement of the Bevington Photo (the object believed to be a main gear leg from the Electra sticking up out of the water near the wreck of the S.S. Norwich City on the northwest corner of the island), which allegedly prompted the call to Ballard and served as the genesis for “Expedition Amelia,” was presented briefly, but with a whole lot less detail than was previously reported.

Although there is some debate on the subject, the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” is generally attributed to Albert Einstein.  In reviewing German author Max Nordau’s 1895 book, Degeneration, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “I have read Max Nordau’s “Degeneration” at your request — two hundred and sixty thousand mortal words, saying the same thing over and over again.  That, as you know, is the way to drive a thing into the mind of the world.”  Indeed.

The same could be said of the whole so-called Nikumaroro theory, expeditions, writings, documentaries, press conferences, etc.  An insane attempt to drive a thing (Nikumaroro) into the mind of the world.  Now, The National Geographic Society has inflicted yet another mental assault on the susceptible, flogging the tired, worn out Nikumaroro theory on the world with this, their latest film documentary, “Expedition Amelia.”  (End William Trail review.)

Sincere thanks to David Atchason and William Trail for taking the time to share their unique perspectives, which are well taken and most appreciated.

A view of Nikumaroro that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed, but that never ceases to fascinate those who would exploit the current trendy Earhart “theory” for all they can.  How much longer will this fraud last?

The only questions now are when the next iteration of this unending, ridiculous campaign will ensue, and if Robert Ballard, National Geographic and the Nautilus, or Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR and whatever they can scrape up will be the next designated agents of propaganda, agitprop and lies.

Incredibly, Ballard is leaving the door open to a possible return to the endlessly picked over garbage dump of Nikumaroro, as Cohn explained:

For years, many Earhart historians have been skeptical of the Nikumaroro theory.  And Dr. Ballard, Ms. [Allison] Fundis [Nautilus chief operating officer] and their team’s return to the island will now depend on whether the archaeologists from the National Geographic Society came up with evidence that Earhart’s body was there.

“[E]vidence that Earhart’s body was there”? And just what kind of “evidence” would this be, and where would it come from, as if we don’t know.  Will it resemble the flotsam that Dr. Richard Jantz, director emeritus of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, has already foisted on us?  You might recall Jantz, who, without ever seeing the bones discovered in 1940 on Nikumaroro, declared that Earhart’s bones were “more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 [percent] of individuals in a large reference sample.”  Jantz, a TIGHAR associate, knew better than the senior medical officer on Suva, who actually examined them and said they were “part of a skeleton of elderly male of Polynesian race, bones having been probably in sheltered position for upwards of 20 years possibly much longer, and Dr. D.W. Hoodless, who pronounced the bones as coming from a male individual “not less than 45 and more probably older.“  For more, see Les Kinney joins “The Truth at Last” conversation, Shreds TIGHAR’s latest false Earhart claims.” 

In 2021, the Nautilus will be in the South Pacific fulfilling a contract to map underwater American territories,” Cohn wrote in her Oct. 14 story.  “That will bring the ship to the area around Howland Island, Earhart’s intended destination for refueling before her plane disappeared. Dr. Ballard and Ms. Fundis plan to make time to explore the alternate theory favored by some skeptics of the Nikumaroro hypothesis: that Earhart crashed at sea closer to Howland.” 

      The research vessel E/V Nautilus.

“Alternate theory“?  It is inconceivable that such an advanced, highly educated and accomplished individual as Robert Ballard is not fully aware of the mountains of evidence that attest to the truth about Amelia Earhart’s landing at Mili Atoll in the Marshalls, her subsequent pickup by the Japanese and her eventual wretched death on Saipan, along with Fred Noonan, of course.  He has to know that absolutely no evidence exists to support either of the two leading “theories“ that our establishment media constantly force feeds the public.

So with Ballard’s abject rejection of the Marshalls-Saipan truth, which has been lying in plain sight for well over 60 years, the great ocean explorer has placed himself firmly on the wrong side of the Earhart matter, and in my opinion, has lost all credibility.  Henceforth anything he utters publicly should be questioned by everyone with any knowledge of the truth.

This entire Robert Ballard-National Geographic travesty is a blatant insult to our intelligence and a brutal slap in the face to everyone that has trusted them to act with honesty, integrity and professionalism in their endeavors.  Both should henceforth be avoided, and we can justifiably ask what else National Geographic has been lying to us about.  I’ll grant you that the NatGeo’s ancient Egypt exploration and Drain the Ocean programs are interesting, but these are few compared to the endless glorification of the drug world, prisons everywhere and criminals of all stripes that now comprise so much of NatGeo’s programming, which regularly descends into the Pit to get ratings from viewers of similar proclivities.  

Tony Gochar, a researcher who lives on Guam and whose contributions to Truth at Last (see pages 263, 264) ) were timely, valuable and much appreciated, had his own unique experience with National Geographic:

I had an unpleasant personal involvement with National Geographic.  I was on a diplomatic assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Manila from 1986 until 1991.  In 1987 a journalist discovered a tribe, Tasaday, allegedly living out of contact with the modern world in the southern Philippines for over 500 years.  Totally bogus.  NatGeo got involved and the truth was left in the ditch. 

My local contacts instantly recognized the language the tribe was speaking as Manobo, which is the language of some tribes in the area.  Did the truth overcome the excitement of a “lost tribe”?  No, NatGeo published the story with never a retraction.  [Former Philippines President Ferdinand] Marcos left in April, 1986, and I arrived in August.  The politics were in turmoil.  The Minister in charge of tribal relations was [Manuel MandaCadwallader] Elizalde, a Marcos holdover.  Elizalde took about $20 million and escaped to the States.  His relationship with NatGeo was based on money.  How much they got from him is not known.  No amount of complaints from the Embassy would sway the story.  They continue to be shameless purveyors of trash.

Tony gets no argument here, and I can’t say that I look forward to National Geographic’s next Earhart production, or anything else they do where the topic is fraught with political, cultural or religious overtones.  My first thought will always be that NatGeo is on the wrong side of anything sensitive or controversial.  Who could blame me after this?

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