Hollywood director Rich Martini and D. Michael Harris are on Saipan, and Martini is chronicling their efforts in a new blog titled, “Earhart on Saipan.” According to Woody Rogers of the Amelia Earhart Society, D. Michael Harris is the producer of “Deadly Fathoms,” the 1971 movie about the ghost fleet at Bikini Atoll. Harris also accompanied T. C. “Buddy” Brennan on his expedition to the mid-1980s, a venture that became Witness to the Execution, published in 1988. Rogers says Harris’ only connection with Titanic is that he searched for the ship in the early 1980s and was unsuccessful, but that Harris’ son G. Michael Harris “brought up the majority of the artifacts from the ship in 1999-2000 that comprise almost everything you can see in the ‘Ship of Gold’ touring displays.”
Martini says they’re finishing up with the paperwork for the permits to dig in search of the Earhart Electra, ostensibly under the former Aslito Airfield, now Saipan International Airport, but this will never happen, and Martini apparently has no clue.
I cannot fathom Saipan officials, i.e. the U.S. government, granting anyone permission to look for the Electra anywhere near the vicinity where it actually is. Note that not a whisper of this has been heard in the media anywhere, contrary to the media blitz we get every time TIGHAR wastes another fortune in their endless returns to Nikumaroro. So far Martini has nothing new to offer, but as usual, he’s trying to make quite a big deal of it, as only Martini knows how to do. He’s talked to relatives of some of Fred Goerner’s original eyewitnesses, and is trying to portray himself as a real journalist. He might be fooling some out there, but not this observer.
In his Feb. 16 posting, Martini writes: “One of our interviewees shared a photo with us of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal (He became Secretary after the death of Frank Knox in 1949). There are no known photographs of Forrestal on Saipan – until this one.” (Italics mine.) He’s standing with General Holland and Admiral Nimitz. For those who are well versed in Earhart stories, Thomas E. Devine (there’s a clip of his interview on the right side of the page) was convinced that he saw Forrestal here during his tour of duty.
“Our research shows that Devine may have seen a gentleman who looked like Forrestal in June of 1944 when the plane was first found,“ Martini went on, “and then perhaps he saw Forrestal himself at a later date. Or it’s possible that Devine was accurate – but this is the first we’ve seen any photo of the Secretary on Saipan. This was taken just prior to his visiting Iwo Jima.”
Martini, who likes to call himself a “journalist,” outdoes himself in this one. Can someone please tell me who “General Holland“ was? Is it possible that this person was actually Marine General Holland M. “Howlin‘ Mad“ Smith, who led all American forces during the Saipan invasion? And what of Martini’s claim that no photo of Forrestal on Saipan was known to have existed before the one he displays on his blog? A quick search shows this 1945 photo of Forrestal and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz “arriving on Saipan,“ on their way to Iwo Jima in February 1945, for sale on eBay
Wikipedia tells us that USS Eldorado (AGC-11) sailed on Jan. 27, 1945 for the Marianas and further preparations for the assault on Iwo Jima. She also carried General Holland Smith, USMC, and his staff, and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and his party when she sailed from Saipan on Feb. 16 for Iwo Jima.
No doubt many other photos of Forrestal on Saipan can be unearthed by an enterprising “journalist,” but don’t expect Martini to do it. He’s too busy making another outrageous claim to fame in the Earhart search. Just the latest installment of the clown show that is Rich Martini and Mike Harris on Saipan. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.