Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga

I don’t remember the first time I heard the late Jim Golden’s name; of course, it was in some way connected to the Earhart story.  But I’ll never forget the reverent tones of respect that often punctuated mentions of him.

Within the closed confines of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society in the 1990s and early 2000s, before the AES lost several notable researchers to the grim reaper and began its descent into oblivion as a viable entity, Golden enjoyed a special status as an iconic character, a mystery man who, some suspected, might have possessed unique knowledge about the Earhart case.  Nowadays, one would be hard pressed to find more than a few in the AES who have heard of Golden, and fewer still that understand and appreciate his contributions.

In the May 1997 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, which I didn’t see until about 2005, when Prymak offered all his original editions to newer AES members in a collection of two very thick, bound volumes, he spelled out many of the whispered suspicions that often accompanied mention of Golden’s name. 

Prymak’s lengthy article, titled “The Search for the Elusive ‘Hard Copy’ Continues: Maybe, just maybe via Jim GOLDEN? drew heavily from a number of letters between Fred Goerner and Golden, mainly from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, found in Goerner’s files at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Most of Prymak’s eight-page piece is accurate in describing several intriguing exchanges between the pair, though it offers no smoking guns.  But these conversations between Golden and Goerner strongly hinted that if anyone knew where the “bodies were buried” so to speak, Golden knew who they were and where to find them.  (For more, see Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, pages 342-347.)

Jim Golden, Washington, D.C., circa 1975. As a highly placed U.S. Justice Department official, Golden joined Fred Goerner in the newsman's unsuccessful search for the elusive, top-secret files that would finally break open the Earhart case. During his amazing career, Golden led Vice President Richard M. Nixon's Secret Service detail and directed the personal security of Howard Hughes in Las Vegas.

Jim Golden, Washington, D.C., circa 1975.  As a highly placed U.S. Justice Department official, Golden joined Fred Goerner in the newsman’s search for the elusive, top-secret files that would finally break open the Earhart case.  During his amazing career, Golden led Vice President Richard M. Nixon’s Secret Service detail and directed the personal security of Howard Hughes in Las Vegas.

Golden initially contacted Goerner after reading The Search for Amelia Earhart in 1966, offering to help the KCBS radio newsman in his Earhart investigation, and together they pursued the elusive, top-secret Earhart files in obscure government locales across the nation.  Although they didn’t find those files, Golden’s exploits became legendary in the Earhart research community.

The man whose fascinating career included eight years as a Secret Service agent assigned to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard M. Nixon indeed knew much about the Earhart case.  Among the still-classified secrets he shared with Fred Goerner was the early revelation that Amelia and Fred Noonan were brought to the islands of Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll by air from Jaluit Atoll by the Japanese in 1937, a fact he learned from Marine officers during the American invasion of Kwajalein in January 1944.

Sometime in the late spring of 2008, since no one else seemed interested in doing it, I decided to contact Golden and perhaps find out the truth for myself about what he really knew about the Earhart case.  Much to my surprise, Golden welcomed my initial interest and soon we became friends, bound by our mutual interest in the Earhart matter.

From his Las Vegas home, Golden recalled his days on Kwajalein, where he was a 19-year-old enlisted Marine photographer in the intelligence section of the 4th Marine Division.  There he learned that Marine Intelligence personnel were sent into the Marshalls to interview natives about their knowledge of the two American fliers who landed or crash-landed there before the war.  On Kwajalein in January 1944, Golden, who headed the criminal conspiracies division at the U.S. Justice Department from 1973 to 1982, was told by Marine officers about at least one Marshallese who confirmed Earhart and Noonan’s presence on Roi-Namur, though he couldn’t remember a name.

The Marine Corps were very apparently assigned the effort to search for evidence of AE, being the first to retake the Marshall Islands,Golden, who didn’t like writing emails, told me in his most extensive written message.  The Marine 4th Div. Intelligence Section, 24th Marines Intel Unit, interviewed a native who worked for the Japanese on Roi Island air strip in early February 1944 after it had been captured by that unit.

“The Marines wrote up a detailed report capturing the info that related that in 1937 two white persons, a male and female were brought by plane to Roi,” Golden continued, “the man with a white bandage on his head and the woman with short cut hair wearing men’s pants, who were taken across a causeway to the Namur Admin building.  Three days later taken out to a small ship in the lagoon, which then departed.  I read the report myself.  This report would routinely be forwarded to 4th Div. Intel, then on to the U.S. Navy.  This report must have been the first sighting of her capture by the Japanese by U.S. forces at that time.” 

Jim Golden's no-nonsense comments about FDR's role in the cover-up of the truth in the Earhart disappearance were the subject of this story in the Jan. 3, 1978 Midnight Globe. Headlined "FDR's Amelia Earhart 'Watergate' the tabloid story was sloppy with the details. but got the basic story right, thank to the straight-shooting, politically incorrect Jim Golden's love for the truth.

Jim Golden’s no-nonsense comments about FDR’s role in the cover-up of the truth in the Earhart disappearance were the subject of this story in the Jan. 3, 1978 Midnight Globe.  Headlined “FDR’s Amelia Earhart ‘Watergate’ ” the tabloid story was sloppy with the details, but got the basic story right, thanks to the straight-shooting, politically incorrect Jim Golden’s love for the truth.

Golden’s recollection of a native witness report of a white male and female being taken to a “small ship” in the lagoon, “which then departed,” is likely accurate, and doesn’t necessarily mean the ship took them to Saipan.  Since the evidence suggests Earhart and Noonan left Kwajalein by plane, they could have been taken aboard the ship for any number of reasons, and later flown off the island.  (See Truth at Last, pages 162-163.)

During the next three years, this American patriot shared much of his unique past with me, revealing many still-classified stories including a bizarre, possible Soviet assassination attempt on Nixon during his visit to Moscow in 1959.  Although he seemed quite open and quite willing to talk about his days in the Secret Service, Golden was always tight-lipped about his brief stint in the early 1970s as head of security for the eccentric Howard Hughes.  I never pressed him to explain his reluctance to discuss his time with Hughes.

In an October 1977 Albuquerque (New Mexico) Tribune story on Golden, “Prober says Amelia Earhart death covered up,” Golden, then with the U.S. Justice Department, told reporter Richard Williams that President Franklin “Roosevelt hid the truth about Miss Earhart and Noonan, fearing public reaction to the death of a heroine and voter reaction at the polls. . . . What really bothers me about the whole thing is that if Miss Earhart was a prisoner of the Japanese, as she seems to have been, why won’t the government acknowledge the facts and give her the hero’s treatment she deserves?” Golden asked.

Shortly after the Tribune story broke, Golden was spotlighted in a front-page story in the Midnight Globe tabloid, headlined “FDR’s Amelia Earhart ‘Watergate’ “ that appeared Jan. 3, 1978.  The story took many liberties with facts and even fabricated some of his quotes, Golden told me in June 2008, but he stood by his closing statement: “Earhart gave her life for her country, and it ought to have the good grace to thank her for it.”

In these two news stories, Golden joined Fred Goerner to publicly finger President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the major culprit in the Earhart problem.  “Amelia Earhart was killed in the line of duty, and President Roosevelt refused to let it get out,” Golden told Midnight Globe writer Leon Freilich.  “She was a spy for the Navy.  She didn’t just ‘disappear’ as Roosevelt led the press and public to believe.  Amelia Earhart was taking reconnaissance shots of Japanese naval facilities when her plane was forced down. She died at the hands of the Japanese.”  More than once during our many phone conversations, Golden said that after those two stories came out, “many people in Washington, mostly Democrats,” were not pleased with his statements to the press, and began to treat him differently.

Shortly after Golden called Goerner in 1966 to offer his help to Goerner, he was soon contacted by a former Marine who told him he “helped to wheel Electra NR 16020 out of a locked and guarded hangar on Aslito Airfield” on Saipan in July 1944. He wouldn’t give me his name or any further info, Golden said in an e-mail, so Fred and I could not proceed to use the info at that time.

Private First Class James O. Golden, circa 1944. As a photographer assigned to independent duty in Marine Intelligence on Kwajalein in January 1944, Golden read a report by officers of the 24th Marine Intelligence Unit about a native on Roi-Namur who told them of two white people, a man and a woman, brought by Japanese airplane to Roi, the man with a white bandage on his head and the woman with short-cut hair wearing men's pants.

Private First Class James O. Golden, circa 1944.  As a photographer assigned to independent duty in Marine Intelligence on Kwajalein in January 1944, Golden read a report by officers of the 24th Marine Intelligence Unit about a native on Roi-Namur who told them of two white people, a man and a woman, brought by Japanese airplane to Roi, the man with a white bandage on his head and the woman with short-cut hair wearing men’s pants.

In 1975, Golden told Goerner that Robert Peloquin, a former federal prosecutor and then president of Intertel, Inc., an elite organization composed of former FBI, CIA and IRS agents that provided internal security for private clients was also a former Office of Naval Intelligence officer who claimed he had seen the top-secret Earhart files and confirmed that they reflected her capture by the Japanese and her death on Saipan.  Golden set up a meeting between Goerner and Peloquin sometime in the mid-’70s,but when Goerner got to Washington, Peloquin backed out of the meeting because he feared for his career,according to Golden.

In June 2008, Peloquin, 79 and retired in Fairfield, Penn., agreed to a phone interview with me after Golden called him and they spoke for the first time in 30 years.  Peloquin told me he was a beach master during his active-duty Navy years, from 1951 to 1960, then he attended law school and became a Navy Reserve Intelligence officer between 1960 and 1980.  He said he’d seen several classified Earhart files while at ONI, was familiar with the 1960 ONI Report, and was sure that the files he viewed were not those declassified in 1967.

It was the general consensus among Navy intelligence people that Earhart died under the aegis of the Japanese,Peloquin said, whether by execution or disease.”  But he wouldn’t or couldn’t  provide any details about the documents or the circumstances in which he viewed them, claiming he had taken an oaththat was still binding, and he also claimed he didn’tremember much about their specific content.

In mid-June 2009, Golden was, incredibly, one of only five American veterans of the Battle of Saipan who returned to the island for ceremonies commemorating its 65th anniversary — events completely overlooked by an American media focused solely on the June 6 D-Day observances in Normandy, France. 

At a campfire held for the ex-servicemen on June 18, Golden and the others shared their Saipan memories with local officials, historians and students.  Golden, who didn’t bother to keep any record of the attendees’ names, challenged the skeptics’ claims that no documentation exists to support Earhart’s prewar presence on Saipan, citing Goerner’s work, the native eyewitnesses on Saipan and the Marshalls, and his own experience with Marine Intelligence on Kwajalein in early 1944.  His moving speech brought a standing ovation from most in attendance.  I found it so very moving and appropriate that, more than anyone, Jim Golden was the face and voice of the forgotten Saipan veteran 65 years after the key U.S. victory of the Pacific war.

Golden was extremely interested in everything related to the Earhart case, and he avidly read each new chapter of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last as I completed and sent them for his review.  This fine man constantly encouraged me in my work, understood the establishment’s aversion to this story better than anyone I’d met, and was among the best friends I’ve ever had, despite never meeting him face to face.

Sadly, Golden passed away unexpectedly at his home on March 7, 2011 at age 85.  His father had lived well into his 90s, and Jim was in good health and not suffering any serious illnesses at the time.  Still, he had told me he wasn’t expecting to match his father’s longevity, and urged me to hurry in my efforts to find a publisher for Truth at Last.  It wouldn’t be until that summer that I found Larry Knorr and Sunbury Press, and yet another year before the book was published in June 2012.

I like to think that Jim watched it all from a comfortable spot on the Other Side, and perhaps he even had a hand in making it happen.  We’ll never see the likes of Jim Golden again, and I hope someday we’ll meet in a much better place.  For now, my Dear Friend, may you Rest in Peace.  

26 responses

  1. Touching and reverent tribute, Mike. Golden was a one-of-a-kind – and what a handsome man! You have personally become acquainted with living pieces of American History – And just think – who was one of the first people Golden went to find once he passed over? You bet he is comfortable – and with a huge “told ya’ so” grin on his face!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We owe *Jim Golden, U.S. Justice Dept. Official, a round of applause & debt of gratitude for his *service to our country. His determination to set the record straight, amongst our government’s secrecy & shadows, which surround Amelia Earhart to this day.
    We need to correct the mistakes of our country and our heroin’s history, if we are to live in its presence, rather than hiding behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Atchason | Reply

    Just last night I was reading what I could about the “crashed in Rabaul” theory. Those Australian Army guys supposedly took an identification tag from the plane and “turned it in” to the “authorities” in 1945. Our USAAC supposedly told them, “not one of ours.” The tag supposedly said Wasp 600 hp. which is evidently wrong. But then, the builder’s number was supposedly 1055 which was Amelia’s plane. Now that the jungle trees have grown up and the underbrush died off, it should be easier to get to it. Still, the writer called for $500,000 to mount an expedition. He didn’t say Australian or US $$$ but my check is on the way as I’m sure yours is, too. I think the story was from 2009. What I’m getting at, you may wonder, is that Rabaul apparently was a viable airport(s) even in 1937 with the volcano erupting. No one says she couldn’t have landed there in an emergency, and the Australians who found the mystery plane in 1945 didn’t say that.

    I find it inexplicable that Amelia didn’t use Rabaul, and moreover, none of her team ever mentioned it in anything I read. To me, it’s as if they wanted to avoid any discussion of the subject, and if they had brought it up, many would have questioned the wisdom of taking off from Lae, 300 miles further from Howland. They clearly got away with it, even you, Mike, don’t seem to want to pursue this intriguing development. Maybe you are right, it’s irrelevant, but to me, your post today inspires me to make something of it. It seems to me the personnel at Lae were Americans or at least British, and could probably be trusted to keep their mouths shut about things they saw. Perhaps this wasn’t true at Rabaul, and the volcanic dust in the air jeopardized the delicate equipment.

    I know I ruined a digital camera when I climbed Mt. St. Helens with my camera uncovered. AE’s plane got the best of care, and the latest secret DF equipment, radios and cameras were installed. . She took off and said her radio or DF or whatever it was didn’t work. They made sure the Japs heard this. It took a day longer than they expected, so the story about Fred tying one on was circulated to make the operation look half-assed. That’s why the reports on Fred conflict. As I maintained in earlier comments, they knew exactly where they were at all times. Even with the original plane’s equipment Fred could not have been lost, so I say. Maybe they did fly over Truk, if Golden’s account is true, which I believe it is, why not fly over Truk? Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, or whatever that old saying is. Somehow the plan was naïve and the Japs shot her down or forced her down over Mili. As I said before it would be senseless for the Japs to haul away her plane to Taroa or Saipan if it was merely the wreck of her old, patched up L-10, with her Kodak Brownie camera sitting on a shelf. Why bother? But no, it had the latest equipment and the Japs had to fly it and test out the DF, the cameras and whatever else they were interested in to learn its capabilities. That’s why it was in perfect operating condition on Saipan, not because they wanted it as a victory souvenir. I think Golden was in a position to know this, from his search of the records. He probably only told Fred Goerner what he could get away with revealing without threatening his career as a keeper of secret info. He probably knew the whole story.

    Now, could the plane wreck found near Rabaul actually be AE’s plane, Builder #1055? I say Yes. Suppose Mr. X got his $500,000 and went and found the plane near Rabaul and lo and behold, it IS her plane beyond a doubt. Of course our government spokespeople say they are as mystified as everyone else. I’m not mystified at all.

    OK. So Amelia’s wrecked plane makes it to Burbank where Art Kennedy goes to work on it. Everybody at the factory knows about the fine work being done for our heroine’s plane. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, another plane is being built in another shop. It’s the latest L-12 or a L-10/L-12 hybrid. It has greater range, greater speed and the latest powerful engines. It is being sold to some cat in Miami who may be connected to some secret Army project. Or Howard Hughes. Everybody knows to keep these things quiet. So, the day comes and AE proudly flies off in her near-perfect L-10. Some Jaboni comes and picks up the new plane and flies it to Miami. Then, as Rafford suspects, the planes are switched. That’s where the mechanic is perplexed because he is installing the new antenna in a new location on a plane that has no bolt holes for an old antenna. Why would it, it is not AE’s original plane. So off she goes, flying her flight legs faster than was possible with her old plane because, well, why not? Who’s going to suspect anything wrong with that? Except a few people do, and they write about it in a book advancing the plane switch theory.

    So where does her original plane go? Sooner or later it is flown to New Guinea where it might be useful in some kind of cover-up. Or it was ditched in the New Britain jungle intentionally to hide it. Oh, one other notation, if you are going to fly to Truk from PNG, Lae is only about 300 KM farther away than Rabaul, not that great a distance in the scheme of things.

    So there you have it, all wrapped up, thanks to me. And I didn’t even have to get up from my armchair.


    1. ALLCON:
      For technical reasons, David Billings of Australia asked me to post the below response to David Atchason, and I’m happy to comply.

      David and I don’t agree about what happened to Amelia, but otherwise I think he’s a good guy, and an honest one who has become the principal advocate of the clearly erroneous New Britain theory. Still, this idea has far more apparent evidence to recommend it than the infinitely more popular Nikumaroro “hypothesis,” which, along with our corrupt, incompetent media, has done incalculable damage to public awareness of the truth for three decades and counting.

      Here’s David’s comment:

      Reply to David Atchason…

      “Americans love a Conspiracy Theory”…..

      1. The 600 H.P. you mention “is” correct for the R-1340 S3H1, that is its’ “Take-off Rating”, Lockheed documents for performance on the 10E do state “600 H.P.”

      2. The $500,000 you quote would have been when I considered that a Magnetometer “overfly” of the area would be the best method to find the wreck. I was advised later by a very experienced Magnetometer Operator that it would not work. $50,000 dollars is nearer the mark now. That should be easier on your checkbook!

      3. Rabaul had about three airfields in 1937 (one was a cleared field) but the one which could have been used was a military field and had just opened (Vunakanau). I don’t think there would have been any objection to her using it but at the time in 1937, Rabaul was experiencing a large Volcanic eruption and she obviously decided to steer clear. I agree it would have made the whole thing easier. Volcanic dust is very corrosive and when wet it turns the water acidic…. not good for aircraft.

      4. Personnel at LAE were mainly Australian. There was nothing different about the aircraft at LAE than there was from when it was anywhere else on the RTW flight.

      5. If they overflew TRUK they would have over flown in darkness, not a Prime Time for camera work is it ?

      6. Mr. Billings actually needs $30,000 now, to go with his team and have a further look at one area as there has been a development and he needs to go again.

      7. So, the one I am looking for doesn’t have Amelia and Fred’s remains in it then ? You see, primarily, that it what I am interested in doing, returning Amelia and Fred back to America where they belong and second to that is finding the Electra aircraft…. it just happens to be that they used it for a conveyance. Therefore, if you are sure that this wreck in the jungle I am looking for was flown by some other “Jaboni’s” (as you say), then I might as well give up now.

      8. If this aircraft you speak of was flown by some “Jaboni’s” how did it get all the way around the globe from America to near Rabaul without being spotted ???


      David Billings



  4. This is so amazing, that Jim Golden and Peloquin had both seen the files on Amelia Earhart confirming her capture by the Japanese and eventual death on the island of Saipan. She truly was one of the first American casualties of WW II, dying for her country before the war even broke out. Wish we could find the whole newspaper article of the Midnight/Globe from Jan 3, 1978. It’s still amazing to me that our main large corporate media is still so willing to go along with the coverup. FDR has been gone for decades – about 60 years (1945-2015).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Many years ago, in Dallas, I was visiting my aunt. She was getting an alarm put in her house. The man who was putting it in said he was an ex-Navy man. I had just read some library books about how Amelia Earhart had gone down in the Japanese protectorate islands, now the Marshall islands, that claimed she and her plane had gone down there, and how she and Fred Noonan were taken to Saipan and eventually met their deaths there. I had really been pondering all this in my mind. I told him there were soldiers in WW II who said they saw Amelia’s plane there, and that it had been taken out of a hangar and burned. I wanted to know what he thought about all of that. He said (paraphrased), “Everyone in the Navy knows that Amelia was captured and killed by the Japanese. She didn’t just disappear and crash into the ocean. There was no mystery there.” He was very matter-of-fact. My aunt listened, too. I think she thought it was probably just another theory about Earhart, and besides, she just wanted her alarm installed. For me, it was another piece of the puzzle in this great revelation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. To David Atchason – This Rabaul theory sounds *interesting, but that the description of this unidentified plane, given by the Australian Army Patrol, isn’t quite adding up to Amelia’s Electra. Correct, the wreckage was discovered in ’45 and that there was signs of corrosion in parts, ugly looking rivets, unpainted aluminum, interior sheet metal painted yellow and civilian aircraft.

    You would think these men would have *noticed some type of reddish/orange trim along both wings and the numbers on top and below a wing — NR16020. I thought the one gentleman interviewed years later said he saw no letters nor military markings.

    This cannot be Amelia’s Electra from what I have read.



  7. David Atchason | Reply

    My theories set out here are all speculation. I was thinking up a scenario where the plane found on New Britain could be Amelia’s. Sometimes I can’t resist being “silly” because my comments don’t reflect any original research on my part, so they are basically just for amusement I guess you could say.

    I used the word Jaboni for the pilot that flew Amelia’s new, about to be switched, plane to Miami. I am not saying who would have flown the plane to New Britain or if they were also a Jaboni. . If her plane was switched in Miami to a new plane, what do they do with the old, repaired plane? I really have no idea except what I stated before, maybe “they” thought it would be advantageous to have it near Rabaul for some kind of deception. All I know is the story I found on Google said the builder’s number on the purported plate found said No. 1055 which was supposedly her number. I apologize for making light of the $$$ cost example, I was comparing it in a satiric way to Ric Gillespie’s continuing appeal for money and maybe also Gary Lapook’s appeal.

    I accept the theory that the plane Amelia was flying landed on Mili Atoll. I do not believe that she flew a plane to New Britain. Of course, if the plane on New Britain turned out to be actually her 10E No. 1055, that would throw a wrench if not a monkey wrench into all theories. My preposterous theory would account for that inconvenient fact. The fact that Rabaul was not used intrigues me, I don’t know who remarked on it on this forum. Maybe it was as simple as AE didn’t want to risk flying in the volcanic dust. Didn’t the eruption on Iceland a few years ago produce a lot of flight cancellations? I would be very interested in hearing more about any and all investigations of the New Britain wreck although I doubt it is her plane. I have a mild, probably unrealistic interest in hiking the Kokoda Track, so I might be in the area at some point.


  8. David Atchason | Reply


    I think your comment about flying over Truk in the dark is wrong. Somebody else on here also commented on this. Lae to Truk is about 1750 KM that’s around 1050 miles. At 150 mph that’s 7 hours which would have brought her to Truk at 5 PM well before dark, I would say. I may be wrong, this is just a ruler and map measurement I did just now.


    1. Best estimates are that AE would have flown over Truk at 7 pm, with plenty of daylight left on July 2.


  9. David –

    You need to come to grips with the *fact that the Electra was bulldozed into the ground on Saipan. You’re wasting your time thinking that it’s somewhere else. I had an Uncle (Len Mills 1914-1984) who was in the Army ’44-’45 and sent to the Pacific.

    I remember him talking about his experiences in or around 1982-1983 or shortly before he died of a heart attack. I don’t remember the specific Island or area he was at or on. I do remember him talking about operating a bulldozer, they had to dig & bulldoze all the dead, Japanese soldiers into large pits. I’m sure he also buried wreckage & destroyed Japanese armor. I remember the unpleasant expression on his face as he told this to my father. He was more upbeat about the reunion him & his wife had just gone to and seeing his old Army buddies.

    This doesn’t surprise about Amelia’s *Electra being bulldozed and buried into the ground on Saipan. Many people have a hard time accepting this, but makes perfect sense to me, after listening to an Uncle talk about his tasks at hand, as the war came to an end.


  10. David Atchason | Reply

    I do find the story of the Electra being burned and bulldozed into the ground at least a little curious. But since the Navy’s format from the very beginning was to cover up her capture I suppose it makes sense. How come I never hear a story about a thorough search of Taroa and the plane photographed there with one wing? Is it possible that it could be in an underground hangar and still there? That by itself would be a good story, even if the investigators found nothing. Or found that the plane with one wing was still there and it was definitely a Japanese plane.


    1. The Marshall Islands actually made some postage stamps back in the day, and one of them had a drawing which showed the airplane with the broken wing after it had been hoisted onto the Japanese barge or ship that had picked it up, and there was at least one other stamp in that series with some sort of drawing of Amelia Earhart’s plane. There may have been 4 stamps in the series and not just 2. I saw these pictured in a book – may have been Mike Campbell’s. The main thing is that this shows that a lot of people in the Marshall Islands did believe that- or knew about – Earhart’s plane going down there. The Marshall Islands were known as the Japanese Protectorates back in the 1930s and 1940s.


  11. David –
    The burnt Electra lay out by the airfield for several months; incoming Marines were told it was Amelia’s destroyed plane, and some broke off p i e c e s for souvenirs.

    Your interest & curiosity of some other plane, located on some other island, will only lead you away from the *TRUTH.

    I would *advise everyone not to be entangled, in the FOX News follies, of Captain Gillespie’s turtle bones, muddled camera photos and washed up garbage on the Gilbert’s. He is CrEatIvE in not finding the Electra and enjoying the Networks support & encouragement in this. (hint)



    1. David Atchason | Reply

      “The ensuing fire completely obliterated the identity of “Amelia Earhart’s plane”, although the plane itself was not cremated”. That’s a quote from Devine’s book. I thought supposedly a bulldozer came and buried the pieces, but I guess that did not happen. So when was the plane destroyed?

      So you could be right, marines took pieces as souvenirs. Then how come a whole bunch of marines didn’t vouch that they took pieces of her plane, what with Goerner’s books and all the publicity? I just never heard that story about the souvenirs. What got into Devine that he was the only one out of hundreds? of marines that saw the plane that thought to tell the tale, never mind write a book about it? In other words, from what I have read so far, he is the only person ever to claim he saw the plane on Saipan. Lieutenant Liebig can’t recall any such events? Pvt. Anderson can’t be located? Evidently the events weren’t a secret, nobody was warned to never tell about it, were they? I suppose the whereabouts of the plane didn’t much matter to AE’s fate.

      John and Dwight Heine witnessed the plane being taken off the Kamoi and landed on Taroa. John became a diplomat, so he was obviously not some backwards native who merely related what was expected of him to please the white folks. So that’s 2 to 1 against Saipan. Why does Devine insist he saw Forrestal? Not one other person ever claimed that. And from what I have read, it’s more or less proven he was not there on Saipan. So we have this sergeant who is the only person that claims to have witnessed certain scenes and events being given credence. I’m not saying his book isn’t full of truthful information, but I’m playing the devil’s advocate about things he supposedly saw on Saipan.

      Another goofy detail. The “Nell” bomber named “Nippon” flew around the world from Japan west to east in August 1939. What was that all about? Randall Brink say the Japs built no twin tail two engine monoplane during or before the war. I suppose with the Nell it depends on what your definition of twin tail is. In the illustrations I found on Google, some seemed to depict a single tail. The blurry picture at Taroa looks more like an Electra’s tail than a Nell’s to me. I still have no idea who ascertained it was a Nell. Who looked at it and when?


      1. David,
        Your statement that “John and Dwight Heine witnessed the plane being taken off the Kamoi and landed on Taroa” must have been taken from Randall Brink’s book, Lost Star, which is full of errors and misstatements. The one about the plane being unloaded on Taroa has been shown to be totally fabricated and is absolutely false. Brink based this contention on an interview with Joe Gervais that Bill Prymak was certain NEVER happened. And when you say nobody else claimed to have seen Forrestal on Saipan you betray your ignorance, as Marines Henry Duda and Earl Ford both claimed to have seen the Navy Secretary. But research done by Ron Bright and myself strongly if not irrevocably indicates that Forrestal was not on Saipan during the critical time period.

        Further, several Marines and Army personnel either saw or knew about the Electra at Aslito Field, most prominent was Earskin J. Nabers, the code clerk who received the messages announcing the discovery, plans to fly and destruction of the Electra.

        I suggest you re-read Truth at Last, as well as With Our Own Eyes, before you make such erroneous blanket statements.


      2. David Atchason

        I suppose the story of how Randall Brink’s Taroa story has been shown to be false may be contained in the Amelia Earhart Society newsletter and maybe it is too much to recount it here on this forum. I’m not saying I believe or disbelieve the story, I hardly have any way of knowing. I just thought it would be a fascinating story to hear how somebody went to Taroa after the war and thoroughly looked around and discovered no secret tunnels,. the one wing plane was definitely a Nell, and so on. I have never heard of any such trip, although I would think somebody made such a trip. I guess you could go there even now if you wanted.

        As for marines taking pieces of the burned plane I did find that in Devine’s book he says that the GIs took souvenirs from the skeleton thinking it was a Jap plane. Not at all thinking it was AE’s plane. Sort of a non-confirmation more in line with my contention that no one seemed to notice it was AE’s plane. But why burn it and leave it there? If the authorities wanted to conceal the identity, why not get a bucket of paint and paint over the ID numbers? And then somebody steals Devine’s pants????? If he was so sneaky, how did anyone know he wrote down the ID number and put the note in his pants? Which seems to be his point, I guess. But couldn’t the pants thief have just taken the piece of paper? Anyway, he was too smart, he memorized it.

        All I’m saying, and others have remarked on it to me, his story has its bizarre components. I haven’t found Nabers account yet. I am not eager to reread Devine’s book completely, it’s just not that interesting. I have read The Truth at Last 3 times already, but I can’t really keep straight all of the details as I’m not doing this for a living or for a class in AE. I just like to concoct theories and present them and see what everyone says. I’m certainly no authority by any means.


  12. David –
    FDR was unhappy with Amelia Earhart’s landing in the Marshall Islands. He’s so unhappy about all this, that by ’44, he wants no more to do with it. Hence he orders the plane destroyed, no questions, no comments, no discussion, end of story. Obviously he didn’t want the plane brought back to U.S. By this time, everyone believed she’d plunged into the sea and died. The WAR, his reelection nearing, too many pressing matters to be concerned about; he has no time to spare on Amelia Earhart anymore.

    For many of us, this seems very cold hearted, thoughtless and plain awful for FDR to do. Unfortunately it’s the ugly *truth, he wanted suppressed, covered up and forgotten about.


  13. Where to begin ? I’ll bounce around……..

    1. The Mitsubishi Nell had a twin tail – similar to the Electra, the B-25, and the B-24. No two looked alike, but they had twin tails. This airplane is not to be confused with the Mitsubishi Betty. Same manufacturer -different airplanes.

    2. By 1944, Japan was totally on the defensive. FDR’s only concern was the faint fear that MacArthur would run against him on the Republican Ticket. Read about it,
    I think the last thing on his mind was the Lockheed and Amelia’s luggage. He had D-Day, Stalin, and other international issues to worry about.

    3. The plane switch at Miami: There are enough photos on the web to match wear and tear spots, minor flaws, etc. to show that it was the same aircraft, repaired, that she ground looped on Ford Island. Tome, this is an ” Urban Legend”

    4. Amelia’s airplane, based on photos, technicians statements, etc. had the latest RDF, Receiver, and Transmission equipment that was publicly or commercially for sale, nothing more, nothing less. And looking back, there is enough extant documentation to lead anyone to believe she was really proficient in it.

    5. The Cave: Probably still there. But the location lost due to inadequate research. A search should be made. Perhaps other objects remain. Just a thought. But one identifiable object is the clincher.

    6. I find it inconceivable that not one GI, Sailor, or Gyrene would not have pocketed one object related to Amelia if they found it. In the history of the Great Pacific War, as the Japanese call it, Saipan appears to be the only island where no one took souveniers.

    They brought everything from skulls to swords back, plucked gold fillings, took aircraft gauges….you name it. But nothing from Amelia’s plane or from that cave ???? And to keep it a secret ????

    It’s just too hard to believe.

    7. The Flotsam and Jetsam of War: You take an island. Battlefield Wreckage litters the place. You scoop out long trenches and bury it. If near a beach, you bulldoze it into the sea. You bury enemy dead the same way. The Electra could have wound up in any one of several scenarios. So, some still search for it.

    8. East New Britain: It’s a stretch to say she did everything right and increased her range capabilities. But to crash versus ditch?

    I bring these points up not to argue or debate. They are just my views on some of the topics discussed. I simply find some of them hard to believe.


    1. Well Vernon, I do my best to separate the wheat from the chaff. But there’s nothing in Jim Golden’s tribute to criticize as “hard to believe,” so why did you post your complaints and other observations under this story?


      1. Mike:
        Not complaints. Not even intended or unintended criticisms…..
        Just ruminating. Quite frankly, I’m chomping at the bit as to Dick Spink’s next news release on what was found on the last trip.High anxiety so to speak. Anything that can be identified as a 10E component clinches the entire Saipan capture and execution theory. Everything then falls smoothly into place.

        And personally speaking, I have a hard time commenting in the correct place on the Blog. This is the God’s honest truth. Old laptop and old man equals confusion………..

        I would welcome Dick Spink interacting on this site. Hopefully, so many questions might be answered. Do you agree ?



      2. Vernon,
        Dick turned over the artifacts that were found on the Endrikens to Les Kinney, who has directed their testing by Alcoa with Parker Aviation picking up the tab. I’ve discussed this with Les, and for my part there’s nothing new at this point that’s not on the blog somewhere. Les and I agree that because there’s no serial numbers that would tie directly to the Earhart Electra to the exclusion of all others, even the best possible test result will only allow us to say the parts could have come from the Electra. Les’s research also strongly suggests that since no other aircraft have ever crashed near these islands, the logical conclusion is that they must have originated with the Electra. Of course this will never be accepted by the skeptics, which means the media will simply ignore these findings, for all the reasons they ignore all the rest of the overwhelming evidence in support of Saipan now. That’s how I see it at this time, and when the test results come in, I’m confident Les will let us all know what they tell us.



      3. This latest post above motivated me into another spasm of research into my favorite pointless quests. One of which is Taroa. So I discovered this blog. yachtlorelei.blogspot.com/2013/14 episode. Anyway, if you type it in it will come up and you will find their Marshall Islands posting. When you go through the whole thing you will come to their Wotje visit, and you all remember those iron wheels on Barre Island or nearby we all speculated about? There is a set of those wheels on the beach at Wotje half buried in the sand, at least to me they look just the same. Which tells me whatever they are, the set at Wotje was not used to move the AE plane. Just sitting on the beach in the sand and again not near any tracks makes me just totally puzzled.

        Somebody on those islands probably knows what they are and what they were used for. I would guess they are off a ship and they washed up. So, if you want to bother you can easily find the picture, evidently it does not copy from the blog so I could post it here. Besides, it’s an interesting blog and we can do what they did with our own yachts. As soon as we get around to it. As for Taroa, I think what happened is, after that photo of the one wing airplane was taken, the place was bombed to smithereens. Nobody invaded, the Japs were left to starve till the war was over. Then they were picked up and eventually some natives moved back in. My guess is nobody ever made a diligent search to see what planes were there, looking specifically for a Lockheed Electra. Whoever decided the one wing plane was a Japanese Nell must have done it with a magnifying glass over the fuzzy picture. Please correct me if I am wrong. I imagine the subject was discussed in the AE Society newsletter.

        Now, I understand my quest is silly. It wouldn’t matter where the Japs took her plane, that has nothing to do with AE’s ultimate fate. But a diligent search might turn up the remains of a Nell bomber or whatever the one wing plane was judged to be. If I actually get to Taroa I would tend to spend some time checking out the wreckage thoroughly. Then I will report back here.


      4. David,
        As far as I’ve been able to tell, the idea that Earhart’s Electra might be on Taroa originated with misinformation in Randall Brink’s 1993 book, Lost Star, and it’s been perpetrated by various parties ever since. I’m going to lay this out for you, and for Woody Rogers as well, so we won’t have any misconceptions.

        First, we have, on page 155 of Lost Star, the following:
        “According to John and Dwight Heine, the Kamoi stopped at Taroa, the easternmost and most thoroughly equipped of all Japanese marine-aviation facilities at the time, after leaving Jaluit. In an interview in May 1982, on Majuro, where the brothers live now, they recalled that they helped unload an airplane missing one wing onto the long dock at Taroa while its Caucasian flyers, a woman and. man, stayed aboard the ship.”

        Brink then directly quotes John Heine, a respected diplomat during the early days of the Marshallese Independence movement in the 1960s:

        “The twin-engine plane was taken off the wharf and rolled to where the airplane hangars and shops were. Muchlater, when the Americans started bombing, the island’s commander, Admiral Tomada, has this airplane placed in the underground hangar build for the admiral’s airplane.”

        The admiral later ordered the fuselage of the “twin engine” plane “with the remaining wing removed” placed beneath a concrete revetment in his secure underground storage space when the Americans began bombing “sometime in 1943-’44,” along with his personal aircraft. Brink attributes this incredible information to an interview conducted by Joe Gervais with John and Dwight Heine in May 1982.

        When I saw this in Lost Star, I was amazed and immediately contacted Bill Prymak to ask him if it was true. Bill told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t, and I recorded the conversation in my 2002 book, With Our Own Eyes. The salient passage is on page 148, and follows:

        “However, in Lost Star, Randall Brink cites a 1982 interview Heine gave to Joe Gervais that differs so
        substantially from his others as to approach the bizarre. According to Brink, Heine told Gervais that he and his brother, Dwight, were dock workers at Taroa, a Japanese airbase on Maleolap Atoll, more than a hundred miles north of Jaluit, during the time Earhart disappeared. Heine said he and Dwight helped unload an airplane missing one wing onto the dock at Taroa, and the plane was later moved into an underground hangar in the interior of the island during the World War II U.S. bombing raid several years later.

        “Obviously, these two vastly different accounts seriously undermine Heine’s and/or Brink’s credibility; John Heine’s account cited by Brink defies belief when compared to others attributed to him. When I asked Prymak if he could explain these statements from Heine, Prymak called Gervais and asked him. ‘John Heine never told Gervais that he and
        his brother were at Taroa. Never!’ Prymak told me. ‘Brink’s story of the Heine brothers is in contradiction to Joe Gervais’ and my personal interviews with these two gentlemen.’”

        So there you have it, the sum total of what I know about the Earhart and Taroa theory, and it explains why I give it no credence. Comments are welcome, of course.


      5. Editor’s note: Woody Rogers, who in the past has been perhaps the most vocal proponent of the Electra at Taroa idea, has responded to my request to comment on this topic. On March 22, Woody wrote in his first message:

        “I’ve read the book and you are correct, those paragraphs are vastly different, full of errors and Brink’s own conjecture. I have questions for Randall that only he can answer since our last conversation in 2000, but he;s never returned my calls after that year. I still believe that the truth about Taroa is held in his research notes. I can tell you that Admiral Soichi Kamada didn’t have any type of personal modified 2 seat Zero, nor did he ever leave the island during the war after getting there in October 1943.

        “The air unit, the 252nd Kokutai didn’t like him because he wouldn’t let them behead captured pilots and air crew. He was the only naval flag officer to go home after the end of the war because he committed no war crimes. All the other flag officers committed suicide or were executed by the US military. I have a copy of every document on the Marshall Islands that’s available from the National Archives. By the way, all models of the A6M were 2 seaters, all you did was take the partition out from behind the pilot’s seat and there’s a bench and radio stand riveted to the airframe.”

        Woody followed the above with this:

        “The information that I’m referring to on Kamada is in the War Crimes Investigation files held at NARA in College Park, Maryland. It’s obvious to me that Randall Brink didn’t spend anywhere near the time he should have doing research at NARA or he would have at least spelled Kamada’s name correctly and known the he never left Taroa until wars end. I have a copy of Kamada’s war diary from there, in Japanese of course! Someday I will find someone to translate it for me.”


  14. David –
    On a different #note, I was reading about Lindbergh and his trip across Europe in 1938. His meeting with Herman Goering and his letter to U.S. Ambassador to Britain – Joseph P. Kennedy. “… I am convinced that it is wiser to permit Germany’s eastward expansion than to throw England & France, unprepared, into a war at this time.” Lindbergh also made surveys of air power in France, England and the Soviet Union. (I read of no mention to Germany’s air power or strength)
    It appears to me that FDR was using Amelia Earhart & Charles Lindbergh to do some *survey work.


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