Frank Benjamin: “We are brothers in pain!”
While most of the county freezes through one of the coldest Januaries in decades, news on the Earhart front isn’t much better here in sunny northeast Florida. Things can always be worse, of course, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain, and in the case of the Massey Air Museum and Aerodrome, “a grass airfield on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the dream of four gentlemen with the love of aviation,” according to its website, the least I can do is register a mild protest.
If their recent behavior is any indication, the Massey management’s proclaimed “love of aviation,” which impels it to operate its facility “just like one of the thousands of small town airports of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties,” doesn’t extend to the slightest interest in or respect for the legacy of Amelia Earhart, America’s original “First Lady of Flight.” These people should be ashamed of themselves.
In my Jan. 12 post, I wrote about Frank Benjamin’s great Earhart exhibit, and briefly described the shabby treatment he received when he went to the great trouble of bringing it to the Dec. 1, 2013, “Hangar Party” event at Massey so that the several hundred souls who attended that day might learn something true and worthwhile about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Not only was Frank roundly ignored, he was prohibited from selling his T-shirts and copies of Truth at Last. But Massey wasn’t finished rubbing Frank’s face in their contempt for the truth, and a few days ago he received, via snail mail, Massey’s latest newsletter.
“I got a newsletter from the Massey Air Museum,” Frank wrote in a Jan. 22 email, “and although they wrote up the 130 planes that flew in on December 1st, and had a page and a half (that’s right: a page and a half!) devoted to the comings and goings associated with those bush pilots who took the time to fly in, there was no mention of my Amelia Earhart display there alongside the dining facilities in plain site of everyone! Boy, was that disappointing; what a crock! Only about a dozen took the time to view the display, but still, it was there, and I stood by it all afternoon.” The online version of Massey’s newsletter offers only a few paragraphs and several photos of the event; once again, not a whisper about Frank’s Earhart display can be found.
But the fine people from Massey were still not finished with Frank, and had yet one more insult to add to the injuries they had inflicted on this poor man. “At the end of the newsletter there was a request for donations!” Frank wrote. “What a nerve! Yeah, right. What the Hell is the matter with some people?”
Sadly, Frank has learned the hard way exactly how the American establishment regards the truth in the Earhart case – with the utmost contempt. To begin with, and thanks to our pathetic school system’s revisionist history curriculum, most have no clue about who Amelia was. Many others simply don’t care anymore, but most of those in positions of power and influence, even in little airports in burgs like Massey, are determined to keep a lid on the truth. Explanations, motivations and rationalizations will vary depending on the situation, but with few exceptions the bottom line is always the same: The unpleasant truth about Amelia Earhart is not welcome here.
It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve experienced over a thousand rejections in recent years during my mostly futile attempts to get out the word about the Earhart truth. I’ve learned who my friends are, but have also gained a few along the way. As a result, I’m in a unique position to understand this phenomenon of establishment contempt, whether it’s encountered in radio, newspapers, at the Knoxville Convention Center or at the Massey Air Museum and Aerodrome. But getting others to understand this “pan-institutional aversion to the truth,” as I describe it in the closing chapter of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, has been nearly impossible. Frank Benjamin, I think, can now be counted among the enlightened few who really do get it. If not, he’s getting very close, based on the close of his Jan. 22 message.
“You and I are brothers in pain!” Frank wrote. “I am not sure that I understand why you do it! God Bless you, man.”
Brothers in pain, indeed.
Frank Benjamin’s unique Earhart exhibit
Frank Benjamin is an Amelia Earhart enthusiast par excellence. Frank, 74, a semi-retired college science teacher who lives with wife Suzanne in the bedroom community of Galena, on Maryland’s eastern shore, has distinguished himself in recent years for his avid support of the truth in the Earhart disappearance. He contacted me several years before Truth at Last was published, in connection with his own serious probe into a murky area of Earhart research, and even drove down twice to Knoxville, Tenn., from Galena to visit.
On one occasion, he assisted me at a veterans business event at the Knoxville Convention Center, helping me accost unsuspecting East Tennesseans with the truth in the Earhart case and the new book where they could find it. We sold just six books that day, but consoled ourselves by telling each other what a great job we did “planting a few seeds.” Although a few thousand souls might have passed our booth, we were able to talk to perhaps a hundred or so. Overall, the day’s experience was instructive — and very deflating. Most couldn’t have cared less about Amelia Earhart.
Frank is also quite a world traveler; he’s been to the Marshall Islands and Saipan more times than he can recall, and hopes to return at least once more to the Marshalls to visit Mili Atoll and the uninhabited and nearly inaccessible Barre Island, where our best evidence indicates Amelia made her wheels-up landing in the Mili Lagoon. Nearly every summer Frank flies to Japan to walk its more remote beaches in search of the decorative glass balls that local fisherman use to secure their nets and eventually wash ashore to be claimed by enterprising scavengers like Frank.
Over recent years, Frank has been assembling a fascinating exhibit – some might call is a display – that reflects his devotion to the truth in the Earhart case (pictured above, at Atchison, Kansas in July 2013). Among the many curiosities comprising this one-of-a-kind Earhart memorial are an elegant print of a painting of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief Pacific Fleet, which Frank procured from the Navy History Center at the Navy Yard in Washington along with another, similar print, which Frank generously presented me; a beautifully enlarged and mounted set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Island in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia’s landing at Mili Atoll; and an original painting depicting a forlorn Amelia behind bars at Saipan’s Garapan jail, as reported by many native witnesses to researchers such as Fred Goerner, Joe Gervais and Vincent V. Loomis.
Many photos, clippings and other assorted memorabilia, including the front page of the July 1, 1960 San Mateo Times, proclaiming “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” direct from Saipan and courtesy of Times reporter Linwood Day and Fred Goerner (below), make Frank’s display unforgettable for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the Earhart story.
On Dec. 1, Frank brought his exhibit to the Massey Aerodrome & Museum, in nearby Massey, Md., hopeful that those attending its Eleventh Annual Open Hangar Day would be drawn to the alluring layout, seeking to learn about the Earhart “mystery.” Many hundreds came to Massey for the Open Hangar Day, Frank recalled, but very few bothered to approach him or his display.
“Mike, the airshow in Massey WAS WORSE than Knoxville!” Frank wrote in an email. “At least there (in Knoxville), people passed by the display; here they did not even bother. And their reaction to my going to bat for the Marshall Islands-Saipan “Truth” was really zero. Nobody cares, as I guess that you already know. I have to find a new way to get the message out there, but I do not know what it will be.”
In deference to Frank’s wishes, I won’t name any of better-known personages who attended the 2013 Amelia Earhart Festival during the third week of July, whose less-than-friendly treatment of Frank and his message revealed their support for the establishment’s aversion to the truth, reflected in a policy that forbids even the mention of Amelia Earhart and Saipan in the same sentence.
After being led to believe by Chamber of Commerce types that he would be allowed to sell his special Earhart “MIST” (”Marshall Islands-Saipan Truth) T-shirts screened with the same image of an imprisoned Amelia that graces his commissioned painting (below), and several dozen copies of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last at Atchison, event officials coldly informed Frank that such activity was prohibited soon after he arrived.
Still, at Atchison, Frank managed to collect a small amount of “psychic income” from a few good souls who appreciated his efforts, unlike his bleak experience at Massey. “I was recognized at the luncheon for my extensive display on the Saipan Truth (it did come out real well, and was an eye-catcher!) and [Birthplace Museum Director] Lou Foudray went around telling everyone what a wonderful job I had don’t,” Frank told me in a recent email. “But it means nothing, as I got an ear-full from the Irene Bolam people, and it left me tired, and asking why had I bothered to do this at all? I could sell none of the books, nor my T-shirts, and at the last minute I was removed from the ‘Meet the Authors’ because they already had three speakers, and there was concern that people would run over the time allotted.”
Atchison is Amelia’s birthplace, and the week’s events were all part of the town’s annual devotions to its most famous citizen. We can expect at least a minimal interest in an elaborate, creative exhibit dedicated to her memory and those who have stuck out their necks to offer the truth about an event that’s still promoted as one of the “great mysteries of the 20th century.”
The reception Frank received at Massey is far more reflective of the public’s vast indifference and lassitude when it comes to the fate of Amelia Earhart. Most under 60 years old have barely heard of her, and are hard pressed to tell an inquisitor anything about Amelia except that “she was lost in the Pacific Ocean, wasn’t she?“ Certainly, many of our seniors, especially those over 85, are almost always interested, as many of them can remember sitting in front of their radios as children with their mothers and fathers, anxiously awaiting news of the lost fliers in 1937.
Amelia’s loss is real to these people, and when I’m able to tell them what really happened, they’re usually amazed and appreciative. But 77 years of propaganda and lies have succeeded in convincing the vast majority of the American public that the Earhart mystery won’t be solved, so what’s the point, and who really cares anymore? This is the sad reality of the Earhart case, as Frank and I have learned up close and personally.
A look back at 2013
I’ll try to make this year in review as brief as possible, since my efforts to promote Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last are far outweighed by many more negative incidents and unhappy encounter that need not distract or bore the few interested readers who might visit this blog.
Truth at Last was published by Larry Knorr’s Sunbury Press in June 2012, thus we mark the first full year in the life of this book. Although we enjoyed a few bright moments, 2013 will be memorable almost solely for the nearly overwhelming number of rejections the book and its message received. I thought I’d learned all about rejection during the more than a year it took to find the right publisher, but that was merely an introductory course. 2013 has offered a high-octane dosage of rejection on a scale that dwarfs all previous experience, leaving me to ponder how much longer I can continue to pursue this worthy cause while being almost completely ignored.
This “pan-institutional aversion to the truth” described in the final chapter of Truth at Last is alive, well and even worse that I imagined. Make no mistake, the powers that be at the network and corporate levels fully understand that honest discussion of the Earhart disappearance is off limits. No matter that after nearly 77 years of government-media propaganda, the idea that Amelia’s loss is an irresolvable mystery has been a familiar, universally accepted piece of our cultural landscape virtually since the day she failed to land on Howland Island. No slippage can be tolerated, so the insidious campaign of lies and disinformation continues in its incessant refrains, ensuring the ignorance and disinterest of media consumers nationwide, and maintaining the status quo.
The TIGHAR plague
No honest discussion of efforts to solve – or, more accurately, explain the Earhart disappearance — would be complete if it didn’t include Ric Gillespie and The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has done more damage to the truth in the Earhart matter than anyone over the past 25 years or so.
Before Gillespie we had Elgen Long and the even more ridiculous Navy-Coast Guard crash-and-sank verdict, which for the most part kept a gullible public stupid for the first five decades following Amelia’s loss. Thanks to these two paragons of deception, with their abject contempt for the truth, and a long list of lesser lights, as well as the enthusiastic help of the American media, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart remains among the most misunderstood and misreported events of the 20th century.
Every other year, well in advance of the next TIGHAR-Nikumaroro boondoggle, we get the endless press releases, TV news stories and documentaries trumpeting and exploring the latest follies announced by TIGHAR’s Ric Gillespie, a propaganda blitz now led by Discovery Channel and Discovery News (see Oct. 24 and July 11 posts). Other possibilities are rarely if ever mentioned; it’s as if Gillespie is the only man on earth who has any clue about what happened to the lost fliers.
For 25 years now it’s been one phony claim after another; one might think that few are taken in anymore, yet the false headlines keep coming, telling us that the Earhart mystery might be solved soon if TIGHAR’s latest hunch pans out. If the search were for anything or anyone else except Amelia Earhart, this shopworn charade would have been ignored by the national media after TIGHAR’s first few jaunts failed to produce any credible evidence. But after a much-too-long 50-year run, the original crashed-and-sank lie became impossible to maintain by the late 1980s; lacking anything better to keep the public distracted from the unpleasant truth, the establishment holds its nose and keeps dishing out nausea-inducing portions of Nikumaroro gruel to a public that could hardly be more disinterested.
The media’s aversion to the truth
No overt or covert conspiracy compels most establishment types to run from the truth in the Earhart case; most of them are completely ignorant of the facts. Cynicism, disinterest and even boredom motivate many of these jaded characters to avoid the subject, while others who express initial interest flee in fear from public discussion upon learning of the very unpleasant ends that Earhart and Fred Noonan met on Saipan. Others, informed by their habitual servitude to political correctness, instinctually understand that the subject of the fliers’ miserable deaths at the hands of the Japanese, now our good friends, is simply not a proper topic for cultured eyes and ears. The reasons are many, but they add up to a colossal societal resistance to the truth. If we lived in a world that encouraged truth seekers in the Earhart matter, I’m convinced Truth at Last would be a bestseller by now. Of course, without the 77-year government cover-up, no need would exist for Truth at Last to be written, nor any of the other fine books that present the truth in varying degrees of effectiveness.
I won’t name the numerous talk radio hosts, newspaper editors, bloggers and others who have scheduled me on their shows or promised their help in various ways and then bailed without warning, explanation or apology – as if they had suddenly learned that I had leprosy, with apologies to any lepers who might be reading this. It’s bad enough to be ignored by more than 95 percent of these media types when I send them my standard query, but for them to respond, schedule a date and then ignore me is truly unprofessional and inexcusable.
Just three days into 2013, the retail sales manager at the Admiral Nimitz Museum unwittingly set the tone for the coming year when she refused to stock the book that significantly expands upon Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s revelation to Fred Goerner in 1965, a year before Goerner’s bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart was published.
Search immortalized the famed admiral’s statement to the San Francisco radio newsman that Earhart “went down in the Marshalls and was picked up by the Japanese.” My letter to the museum directors appealing this decision was ignored; even the simple decency of a response was refused me. Maj. Glenn MacDonald (U.S. Army, retired), editor-in-chief of the popular rank-and-file military-oriented site, www.militarycorruption.com, is among our book’s greatest supporters. Glenn chronicled the Nimitz Museum travesty with this story, which was also ignored by the Nimitz Museum’s enlightened leadership.
In early March we had the Jim Bohannon debacle. Charles Heller, a Tucson, Ariz., radio host, had recommended me to Bohannon after having me on his own show. Bohannon’s late night show is syndicated to more than 350 stations nationwide, and I had high hopes that his program might provide a launching pad to the breakthrough this book badly needed. It wasn’t to be, as Bohannon had invited me only as a favor to Heller. He didn’t do a minute of show preparation, knew nothing of the Earhart matter and told me he didn’t receive the PDF of the book and other material I had twice sent to him, which I seriously doubt.
Bohannon spent the first half hour by reacting with hostility and disbelief to everything I said, catching me off balance and unprepared. I finally stood up to the bully, and Bohannon had little to say over the last 25 minutes or so. This sad episode, captured in a post by Jessica Renshaw on her Hidden in Jesus blog, served as a hard-learned lesson I will never forget: Never assume anyone is on your side going into a media interview unless you’re absolutely certain.
Earhart Truth Presentations: A rough start
During the second half of the year, inspired by the success of veteran Earhart presenter Rob Ellos, of Stillwater, Minn., I embarked on my own attempt to spread the word, dubbing my new enterprise “Earhart Truth Presentations.” Sounds impressive, and I even had 1,000 business cards made for distribution to interested parties, but most of these are still in my drawer at home. The inaugural version of Earhart Truth Presentations failed to pay for its rollout. I sent my query to many hundreds of assisted living facilities and senior centers, as well as Kiwanis, Rotary, Moose and Elk Lodges and Daughters of the American Revolution chapters within a 90-minute drive of Jacksonville, with pathetic results. Apparently only phony searches on tramped-down islands in the central Pacific have any chance of making money in the Earhart information business.
After talking to the few groups I visited, it was obvious that it’s not the older people who aren’t interested, but the much younger activity directors who don’t care about the Earhart disappearance. The future of Earhart Truth Presentations is quite dim, with nothing at all scheduled for the New Year. As for Rob’s success in Stillwater and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, maybe the baby boomers up there, the ones who run the senior facilities, are better educated and informed, and thus more inclined to invite him to their facilities. Who can say?
I also sent the flyer to all private and public high schools, and the response was exactly zero, which speaks volumes about the pathetic state of our secondary schools. It’s common knowledge that our public schools ceased to teach true American history decades ago, but I thought the private schools might have retained a semblance of traditional curricula. Sadly, none of them have any interest in anyone coming into their classrooms to set the record straight about Amelia Earhart, whom few of any have heard of anyway.
Perhaps the highlight for my year was a lengthy commentary I wrote to commemorate the July 2 anniversary of Amelia’s last flight, published by Veterans News Now, the same outfit that posted Dave Martin’s fine review of Truth at Last in August 2012, “Hillary Clinton and the Amelia Earhart Cover-up.” Titled “The truth in the Earhart ‘mystery’ is a sacred cow,’ and posted June 13 by editor Debbie Menon, the piece stayed atop the VNN top 50 for over two weeks and continues its run in VNN’s top 25 with over 11,300 reads as of Dec. 31. Joel Freedman, my friend from Canandaigua, New York, placed some guest columns in local newspapers, and Jessica Renshaw, whose Hidden in Jesus blog was among the first to discover Truth at Last, did what she could to help.
I did about 18 radio appearances with the relatively few independent radio types who were unafraid to step up and help, PC be damned. Many of these hosts failed to read anything I sent them, were completely unprepared to do a decent interview, and simply were filling time by having me on. But a few were outstanding professionals, did plenty of show prep, read the book and had great programs. The best of these were author and host Deanna Spingola, who had me on her show, “Spingola Speaks” on the Republic Broadcasting Network for a return engagement; and Bill Xam, host of the Internet program “Surrounded by Idiots,” which recently joined the Freedom Talk Radio/SETV network. Bill spent many hours preparing notes and special features for our two-hour discussion, which can be found on the EarhartTruth.com Media page.
Other radio people I should thank again for their help included Chuck Wilder, host of “Talkback with Chuck Wilder” on CRN; Michael Betteridge, general manager of WTHU 1450 AM “The Source,” Thurmont, Md., and nephew of noted Earhart researcher Paul Rafford, Jr.; Bill Hay, host of “I’m Speaking Plainly,” on local Jacksonville’s 600 AM “The Answer” and Dr. Stan Monteith, veteran host of Radio Liberty, heard in multiple cities including Cincinnati and Spokane, Wash., who has invited me back on Jan. 7 at 6 pm EST and Jan. 9 at 11 pm.
I also want to express a special thanks to my old friend Sonny Auld, who has been the webmaster of www.EarhartTruth.com since its inception. Without Sonny’s unselfish efforts, we’d be nowhere at all.
That’s about it. I continue to do whatever I can and hope that somehow the breakthrough that Truth at Last needs to come to the attention of the American public will eventuate. It can’t happen if we give up, and so I won’t. Amelia deserves far better than she’s received since her tragic loss, and so does the book that presents the truth about it without apology.