We’re just a week out from July 2, the 77th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s fateful flight, but it’s safe to say that no one will mention it, especially anyone in the media, whether it’s the mainstream or the so-called alternative variety. Since TIGHAR’s previously announced plans to visit and search Nikumaroro for the eleventh time in August 2014, at an announced cost of $3 million for an operation that will yield nothing except another nice payday, have apparently been derailed or postponed (please advise if you know differently), our stalwarts in the truth-seeking media have been silent, and they will likely stay that way on July 2. The reason for this silence is quite simple: If they can’t broadcast falsehoods and propaganda about Amelia Earhart, they won’t do anything at all. How do I know this? Twenty-six years on this story, and two books, have given me a perspective that few, if any, have on this topic.
For those discerning souls who visit this blog regularly, I know this might sound like a broken record bordering on sour grapes, but please bear with me. The overwhelming majority of media people are not interested in the Earhart disappearance, and the rest actually detest the truth. (See “Frank Benjamin: ‘We are brothers in pain!’” Jan. 28, 2014, and “A look back at 2013,” Jan. 1, 2014, for more.) Again, you might ask how I know this. Since the publication of Truth at Last in June 2012, I’ve undertaken several massive emailing campaigns designed to inform the media and everyone else I can think of about Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last and the worthiness of the cause.
It’s hard to estimate the number of people I’ve contacted, but it’s far more than enough to reflect how most Americans perceive the Earhart disappearance, and must be somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 email contacts.
Groups that I’ve targeted, wrongly believing that they might be more receptive to the message than average citizens, included but were not limited to every talk radio station and host in the United States; every major newspaper and many hundreds of smaller papers in the country; thousands of Navy veterans; history departments and libraries at higher learning centers including the Universities of Kansas, Maryland, Florida, North Florida, Alabama and Florida State; all or most public libraries in Kansas, Minnesota, Maryland, Texas and Florida; all seniors assisted living centers and community centers in the Jacksonville, Fla., Gainesville, Fla., and southern Georgia areas; every aviation museum bookstore in the country (about 180); every public and private high school in the Jacksonville area; and even the entire faculty of Gonzaga High School, in Washington, D.C., where I graduated in 1968 and which ignored me without a single exception. Along the way, of course, were countless angry emails demanding to be taken off my mailing list, and worse.
Besides the radio and print outlets listed under my website’s Media button, I can count the positive responses from the above list on two hands. Doing the math is unnecessary here, and it’s far too depressing. I can’t think of another subject that Americans would be less interested in than the one to which I’ve devoted so much time and effort. Such is the putrid state of interest in poor Amelia’s fate that even the minimal standard one-half of 1 percent return that marketers expect from any ad campaign is an impossible pipedream when the topic is the Earhart case. If this two-year mass-mailing experiment has proven anything at all, it is that the media’s enthusiasm for the TIGHAR search is entirely synthetic and contrived, and doesn’t in any way reflect a public demand for information in the Earhart matter.
I’ve recently suspended the email campaign, having surpassed my tolerance threshold for rejection months ago. As we approach July 2, I’m not booked on a single radio program, and not one newspaper, or even blogger, has accepted the below commentary for publication. So rather than hide my light under a bushel, my July 2 commentary is herewith offered. A much longer version, with the same title, “The truth in the Earhart ‘mystery’ is a sacred cow,” has been among the top 25 most read at Veterans News Now since mid-June of 2013.
The commentary’s success at VNN is a rare but illustrative anomaly, and demonstrates that a compelling presentation can attract discerning readers who are interested in the truth. The other light shining in the distance is that of Kay Alley, the vice chair of the Kansas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, whose enthusiasm and advocacy in this cause has moved her committee members to approve my appearance at their sectional conference in Wichita, Kansas, at the end of September. I’ll have two hours to change some hearts and minds, and will do my best. (See “A point of light emerges,” March 8, 2014.)
The truth in the Earhart “mystery” is a sacred cow
July 2 is the 77th anniversary of the loss of Amelia Earhart, America’s “First Lady of Flight,” and Fred Noonan, her navigator, during their world-flight attempt in 1937. No missing-persons case in history has been as misreported and misunderstood. In fact, the popular myth that the Earhart disappearance remains among the 20th century’s greatest mysteries is a complete falsehood, the result of decades of government propaganda aimed at perpetuating public ignorance in the Earhart matter.
The ugly truth is that the flyers and their twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E crash-landed at Mili Atoll in the central Pacific’s Marshall Islands, were picked up by the Japanese and eventually taken to Saipan, where they suffered wretched deaths at the hands of their barbaric captors. This unpleasant reality has been dismissed and repackaged by the American media so successfully that it now permanently resides in the dustbin of fringe conspiracy theory. But in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the flyers’ landing and recovery by the Japanese survey ship Koshu are commonly accepted facts. In 1987, the Marshallese government issued four postage stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events.
San Francisco newsman Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart, was the first of several books to reveal the truth. Among Goerner’s witnesses was Manual Aldan, a Saipanese dentist who treated Japanese officers and spoke their language. “The name of the lady [flyer] I hear used,” Aldan told Goerner in 1960. “This is the name the Japanese officer said: ‘Earharto!’” In 1965, retired Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz told Goerner, “Now that you’re going to Washington, Fred, I want to tell you Earhart and her navigator did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese.” Not a whisper about Nimitz’s revelation can be found in any mainstream media product in the past several decades.
In his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, former Army Sgt. Thomas E. Devine recounts his Saipan experiences that exposed the prewar presence of the American flyers. In July 1944, Devine and other GIs watched as Earhart’s Electra was burned and later bulldozed into a pit with tons of war refuse, destroyed at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s direction after its discovery at Saipan’s Aslito Airfield. Our nation was not prepared to confront Japan in 1937, and if Earhart’s abandonment on Saipan by the popular president became known, FDR’s political future would have turned to ashes. Soon after FDR learned of the flyers’ capture, likely through Navy intercepts of Japanese radio communications, the Earhart matter became a sacred cow, the truth deeply hidden until Goerner revealed it to a fascinated nation whose outraged call for Congressional action was roundly ignored.
With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart (2002) presents the accounts of 26 Saipan veterans whose Earhart-related experiences corroborated Devine’s. Ten years later, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, this writer’s expansive follow-up to Own Eyes, overwhelmingly confirmed the truth with many new findings, witness testimonies and documents. Convicted murderers are regularly sent to their deaths based on the smallest fraction of the evidence Truth at Last offers that places Earhart and Noonan on Saipan — far exceeding any objective standard of proof.
A mountain of evidence reveals the tragic fate of Amelia Earhart on Saipan, yet nothing the media tell us about the so-called Earhart mystery ever hints at the truth. The recycled theories are transparently false, but the establishment’s goal of diverting Americans away from the facts never changes, nor does the continuing travesty of official denial. Will this pathetic state of affairs ever end?
Several months ago, in late February, Larrry Knorr, the publisher of Sunbury Press forwarded an email to me from Lance Goerner, the one and only son of Fred. “To the folks at SUNBURY PRESS, my name is Lance Goerner,” the message started. “I am the son of Fred Goerner the author of “The Search For Amelia Earhart.” I would like to get in contact with Mr. Mike Campbell. … I have some info that he would find very interesting. I am enjoying reading his book. AMELIA EARHART The Truth At Last.”
I didn’t know Fred had a son before Lance contacted Sunbury. Since then we’ve had several cordial phone conversations covering many topics, including Lance’s childhood, spent almost entirely without his father. Lance said Fred actually told him he would be too busy becoming famous with the Amelia Earhart story to pay much attention to him. His father was dead serious, and basically abandoned the boy when he divorced Lance’s mother, Claire, in 1966, when Lance was 8. This was occurring just as Fred’s 1966 classic The Search for Amelia Earhart, the only Earhart disappearance book ever to attain bestseller status, was published and briefly launched Fred into a national celebrity. “As a kid I remember seeing him only two or three times,” Lance said, adding that when he got a bit older, he saw his father about six hours a year.
A few things things Lance told me about his father are best left out of this post. Suffice to say, although Fred Goerner was undoubtedly the greatest Earhart researcher ever, he was no saint in his day-to-day life, according to Lance and a few others with knowledge I’ve talked to. But if Lance, who was basically abandoned by his father at a very young age, is still carrying any serious baggage or bitterness toward Fred, who died of cancer in 1994 at age 69, it hasn’t been evident in the several conversations we’ve had about him.
On May 22, I was astounded when I opened up a FedEx package to behold Fred Goerner’s high school letter sweater, from Beverly Hills High School, with the symbols of four sports — tennis, football, baseball and basketball — embroidered on the B, and “Fred” woven into the left pocket. “Here is a little something for keeping the good fight,” Lance wrote on an amusing card that accompanied the sweater. Neither he nor his mother know much about Fred’s high school athletic exploits, but Lance says his father’s best sport was tennis, and that he was good enough to have had a future as a pro. He also remembers hearing that his father received a letter from the iconic Amos Alonzo Stagg, an American sports legend who coached football at the College of the Pacific from 1933 to 1946, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach, and was among the first group of inductees to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Lance says Fred didn’t graduate from high school in the normal way, instead choosing to join the Seabees in 1942 at the age of 17. After the war, he attended University of California Santa Barbara, sometime early in his college days broke his leg, which prevented him from participating in any college athletics, was later involved in the school’s theater program, and graduated, year unknown, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, at least that’s Lance’s best guess. Believe it or not, there’s no Wikipedia entry on Fred Goerner, and an Internet search reveals little about his biography except the bare bones contained in his New York Times obituary.
Now 55 and never married (“I never found the right one”), Lance Goerner is quite a character in his own right. He’s a talented musician from a long line of distinguished performers on his father’s side. Lance reports that Fred was the only one of his ancestors who wasn’t touched by the musical gene. For example, Fred’s father was also named Fred Goerner, and was the “principle cello player with the New York and Pittsburgh Philarmonic orchestras,” Lance said in an email, adding that his grandfather was also “first call cello in LA during the 1930s and ’40s, recording with most major artists of the day [including Frank] Sinatra, Harry James and Artie Shaw’s Starlight Orchestra of 1939.”
Lance, a gifted trumpet player who spent eight years in Beijing playing with various jazz bands, finally had to return to the states when the filthy air of the unregulated Chinese industrial state threatened his health. He’s performed with such greats as Ray Charles and Lenny Williams, as well as well-known groups including the The Chi-Lites and The Dramatics. Lance is currently living with his mother at their Santa Barbara home, watching over her in her golden years.
Although we’ve known each other just a brief time and have only spoken via Skype and the phone, I already consider Lance a good friend, and will always treasure Fred Goerner’s high school letter sweater.