KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga

In late October of this year, Ms. Carla Henson, daughter of the late Everett Henson Jr., contacted me for the first time, completely out of the blue.  You will recall Pvt. Henson, who, along with Pvt. Billy Burks, was ordered by Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold to excavate a gravesite several feet outside of the Liyang Cemetery on Saipan in late July or early August 1944.  This incident is chronicled in detail on pages 233-253 in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

When the pair had removed the skeletal remains of two individuals and deposited them in a large container that Henson later described as a “canister,” Henson asked Griswold what the impromptu grave-digging detail was all about.  Griswold’s reply, “Have you heard of Amelia Earhart?” has echoed down though the decades and continues to reverberate among students of the Earhart disappearance.

On Nov. 22, Carla, 66, long ensconced as the Agent of First Impressions  at ABC10 in Sacramento, Calif., sent me the below KCBS press release in its original July 25, 1966 format, created about a month before The Search for Amelia Earhart was published.  Thanks to Carla, on this day after Christmas 2017, I’m privileged to present this rare treat you will see nowhere else. 

Because the remaining four pages of the 1966 release do not reproduce well in this format, I’m typing them afresh while making every effort to duplicate the original in every way possible, including paragraph indents and page numbers.  Compare the content of the below piece, as true today as it was then, with the ambiguous and confusing information typified by the Nov. 25 Pacific Daily News story, Chamorro man shares Earhart theory that she was a prisoner on Saipan,” discussed in my last post, Recent Earhart stories aim to confuse and deceive,” and you can see how much real progress has been made in the Earhart case by our esteemed media — mainstream or any other kind — during the past 61 years.  Less than none is the pathetic truth. 

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     San Francisco, July 25 . . .  A KCBS Reporter who spent six years investigating one of aviation’s greatest mysteries charged today that famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Frederick Noonan — who mysteriously disappeared during a Pacific Ocean flight 29 years ago this month — were in fact captured by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and accused of spying for the United States.  Transferred to Japan’s Pacific military headquarters, Saipan Island in the Marianas, Miss Earhart later died of dysentery, and Mr. Noonan was executed.  They were buried in an unmarked grave near a native cemetery on Saipan.  (Bold face mine throughout.)  In 1944, representatives of the U.S. Government, after Saipan had been wrested from the Japanese during World War II, recovered the Earhart-Noonan remains in secret.  The public was never informed.

     These incredible conclusions to one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries were revealed today by former U.S. Marines, and are supported by a six-year investigation into the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart by KCBS Radio of San Francisco, The Napa California Register, The Scripps League of Newspapers and the Associated Press.  The investigation, begun in 1960 by Fred  Goerner of KCBS Radio and joined three years ago by the other media, entailed four expeditions to the Marianas and Marshall Islands, the questioning of literally hundreds of persons, and probes in the Far East and Washington, D.C.  Goerner has just completed a book, “The Search For Amelia Earhart,” detailing the investigation, which will be published next month by Doubleday and Company and The Bodley Head Press Ltd. of London, England.

     First word of the recovery of the remains of Earhart and Noonan came from Everett Henson, Jr., now an appraiser for the Federal Housing Administration in Sacramento, California.  In 1944, Henson served as a Private with the U.S. 2nd Marine Division during the invasion of Saipan, a 12 x 5 mile island 115 miles north of Guam.

    One day,” said Henson, a Captain in Marine Intelligence took me and another Private to a small native graveyard.  We searched around outside the graveyard until he found a grave that was marked only by some small white rocks.  Then he had us open it up and take out the two people inside.  I asked him what we were doing, and he said,

In this undated photo from the mid-1960s, Fred Goerner holds forth from his perch at KCBS Radio, San Francisco, at the height of his fame as the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart (Photo courtesy of Merla Zellerbach.)

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‘Did you ever hear of Amelia Earhart?’  I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Then that’s all I should have to say.’  He warned us not to say anything about it, but that was more than twenty years ago.  I can’t see any harm in telling the truth now.”

     Henson recalled that the other Marine Private’s name was Billy Burks.  After a search of several months, Burks was located in Dallas, Texas.  When questioned, he told a story almost identical to Henson’s, although the former Marines had not seen each other since the end of World War II.

     Contacted in Washington, D.C., General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., currently commandant of the Marine Corps, states, “I do not quarrel with the theory that Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan went down in the Marshall Islands, but the Marine Corps does not take a position on the recovery of any remains on Saipan Island.”

     Two other former U.S. Marines, Captain Victor Maghokian, USMC, Ret., of Las Vegas, Nevada, and W.B. Jackson of Pampa, Texas, have testified they learned in 1944 that Earhart and Noonan were held for a period of time by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and that some of the personal effects of Miss Earhart were recovered and turned over to U.S. Intelligence.  General Greene also declines to take a position for the Marine Corps in regard to the findings in the Marshalls.  Additionally, three former U.S. Navy men, Eugene Bogan of Washington, D.C., Charles James Toole of Bethesda, Maryland and John Mahan of Berkeley, California, testify they learned that Earhart and Noonan were held for a period by the Japanese in the Marshalls.

     With the help of Senator Thomas Kuchel of California and Ross P. Game, Editor of the Napa California REGISTER newspaper, access has been gained to classified files held by the U.S. Navy and State Departments.  Both Departments have denied over the years that such files existed.  Perusal of this data indicates a deep involvement on the part of the U.S. Government and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Earhart flight and the unavoidable conclusion that Amelia Earhart and

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This photo of Maria Hortense Clark and Pvt. Everett Henson Jr., at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, was taken on May 20, 1945, the day of their marriage.  “He was done with the Pacific campaigns and stationed at the Presidio teaching ROTC,” Carla Henson, their daughter, wrote recently.  “He and my mother met at the home of my godmother and her family, Frazier, half Scottish and half Chilean. They hosted Christmas dinner in Oakland (1944) for soldiers who couldn’t get home. They were married by May and needless to say, they really didn’t know each other very well, but that’s what they did during that war, right? Maria was a ballroom dancer and entertainer previous to the war, then went to work for the railroad as an operator during.  Her first husband, and dancing partner, was killed in ’41 while in basic training in Texas. My mother was always dripping with something exotic and had an artful knack for turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse.”  (Photo  courtesy Carla Henson.)

Frederick Noonan were on a several-fold mission for the United States at the time of the disappearance.  It is believed that President Roosevelt was aware that Earhart and Noonan were quite probably in Japanese custody, but that he chose to avoid the issue because of strained relations between Japan and the United States and the isolationist policy that existed with the U.S. Congress at the time.  It is further believed that the 1944 information and findings concerning Miss Earhart and Mr. Noonan were suppressed because of their possible bearing on the Presidential election of that year.

     Literally hundreds of Pacific Island natives were interviewed during the four expeditions to Saipan and the Marshall Islands.  Thirty-nine eyewitnesses, who were able to choose Miss Earhart’s photo from a series presented to them, were found.  When the testimony of these witnesses is combined the story emerges:

     Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan made a forced landing in the Marshall Islands in the vicinity of Jaluit and Mili Atolls.  They were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, the Japanese headquarters for that area, and then transported to Saipan in the Marianas, Japan’s overall headquarters for the Pacific.  Miss Earhart died of dysentery sometime between eight and fourteen months after her capture, and Mr. Noonan was executed after her death.  They were buried in a common grave outside the perimeter of a small native cemetery south of the city of Garapan, Saipan.

     Not aware that the remains of theAmerican man and woman flyers had been removed in 1944, members of the 1961, ’62 and ’63 Saipan expeditions excavated around the same cemetery.  In 1961, human remains were found, but a study by University of California anthropologist Dr. Theodore McCown indicated the bones represented four or possibly five people and were not those of Earhart and Noonan.

Wallace M. Greene, Jr., was a four-star U.S. Marine Corps general and the 23rd Commandant of the Marine Corps from Jan. 1, 1964 to Dec. 31, 1967.  The Greene Papers is an edited volume of his personal papers during the time he served on the Joints Chief of Staff during the height of the Vietnam War.  On Saipan in the summer of 1944, Greene was a lieutenant colonel and operations officer of the 2nd Marine Division, was unofficially credited with discovering Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E in a Japanese hangar at Aslito Field, and was ordered by Washington to destroy it soon thereafter.  He denied his nefarious role in the Earhart saga to his dying day.

     What happened to Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10-E ten-passenger airliner remains a mystery.  Parts of a pre-World War II aircraft were recovered from Tanapag Harbor

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Saipan, in 1960, but proved to be of Japanese manufacture.  Some testimony exists that the plane was also taken to Saipan by the Japanese and was possibly destroyed in the 1944 U.S. invasion which leveled large areas of the island.  Twenty-nine thousand of 30,000 Japanese troops were killed during the invasion along with hundreds of natives.  The United States forces suffered more than 15,000 casualties.

     Commenting on the Earhart “mission” a former member of U.S. military intelligence, who declines to be identified at this point, says, “If the Soviet Union had downed Francis Gary Powers’ U2 plane but not announced it for their own reasons, do you think the United States would have said that Powers was lost on a spy mission over Russian territory?  The same principle applies to Earhart.  If the Japanese didn’t announce her capture, the United States certainly was not going to make an issue out of it.  Japan was ready for war.  She launched the full-scale invasion of the China mainland just five days after Earhart and Noonan disappeared.  Japan was militarily committed to that invasion and couldn’t afford an altercation with the League of Nations or the United States over what she had been doing to prepare the mandated islands of the Pacific for war.  The truth is Japan was not ready to take on the United States until four years later.

     Goerner’s book in its closing chapter calls for an investigation by the U.S. Congress into the circumstances of Earhart’s disappearance. (End of KCBS press release.)

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On the front page of the foregoing, it states, Fred Goerner and Everett Henson Jr., mentioned in this release, will be available for recording interviews Monday morning, July 25 [1966], Studio E, KCBS Radio, Sheraton-Palace Hotel, San Francisco, and recipients are advised that Long-distance telephone-tape interviews will be available also.  I’ve never found any evidence that even a single media organization accepted KCBS’s invitation to interview either Goerner or Henson.  It might have happened, but precious little evidence reflecting any such interviews survives.  Clearly, by 1966, our media’s aversion to the truth in the Earhart disappearance was already beginning its growth to the full metastasis we see today.

Congress has never done a real investigation of the Earhart disappearance.  In an event that appears to have been completely suppressed from the public, in July 1968 Goerner appeared before a Republican platform subcommittee in Miami, chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn. 

In his four-page presentation, “Crisis in Credibility — Truth in Government,” Goerner laid out the highlights of the mountain of facts that put the fliers on Saipan and appealed to the members’ integrity and patriotism, doing his utmost  to win them to the cause of securing justice for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  Nothing eventuated, of course, and I have the record of Goerner’s brief congressional encounter only because I briefly had access to his files, now housed at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, which continues to ban Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last from its bookstore.

Carla Henson

Agent of First Impressions

In a recent email, Carla Henson described her job as Agent of First Impressions, an inventive title I hadn’t heard before, as running the front desk and lobby at Sacramento’s ABC television station, focusing on giving clients and customers what they are looking for, selling the station and sending them away with a human touch.’  The last impression can be as important as the first; we want them to come back.  Based on our correspondence, it’s quite evident that Carla is a valuable member of the ABC10 team.

Carla enjoyed a 30-year career working in sales and administration for Tower Records, spending the first 14 years in Sacramento, followed by 16 years at Tower’s Nashville, Tenn., headquarters before returning to Sacramento in 2001.   It is my good fortune to say that I got up every day for 30 years and loved my job! Carla wrote of her Tower Records experience. I traveled the world.

Carla corresponded with Fred Goerner after her father’s death in 1982, and remains extremely interested in the Earhart case.  She’s kindly forwarded many photos, documents and other war memorabilia her father left, and we doubtless will be hearing more from her in future posts. 

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24 responses

  1. So if she was forced to land on Jaluit, why is there no evidence of a distress call?

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    1. Better still, why were her radio transmissions the last 12-14 hours so seldom and terse . . . almost seems like she did not want to be tracked to me. I know experts have opined that she was not the best of radio operators, but if your very life may be at stake, . . . ??????

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      1. Her “forced landing” occurred at Mili Atoll’s northwest quadrant, off Barre Island, not Jaluit, as the previous comment suggests. Amelia’s radio behavior was indeed far different from what would have been expected for someone lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 1937. The last flight is covered in detail in pages 20-57 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

        Thanks Wolfie,

        MC

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    2. But Amelia did send distress messages out after she crashed landed.

      A woman from Kentucky heard those messages and took notes. She immediately notified the local police and press. They didn’t believe her. Before the middle of July, 1937, she wrote several people that Earhart was down in the Marshall Islands. She specifically named Mili Atoll.

      Les Kinney

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this Christmas present, Mike. There was nothing skeptical in the tone of that press release about the breaking news. I don’t remember before this seeing the deaths pinned down to 8-14 months after capture. Somehow that makes it even more vivid for me. The writer of that release was also pretty open about FDR’s role and motives for leaving Earhart and Noonan out to dry, so to speak. But I think the most chilling fact for me is the total lack of requests for comment from Goerner et al. Obviously someone at a high level of power made sure that the people in charge of the news corporations that might request interviews just stayed totally away from it. Thanks for sharing this unique perspective with all of us here! Happy New Year, Mike, and here’s hoping 2018 may provide the crack in the wall of disinformation that lets Truth shine through!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Wolfie, your kind support and informed insight is always appreciated. I think Fred Goerner wrote this release, as all this new information was laid out in a coherent, compelling way that I can’t imagine any other writer being able to do at that time.

      MC

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome piece, Mike. Thanks for posting. And thank you to Carla for impressing us all!

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  4. William H. Trail | Reply

    The question remains, what eventually became of the canister containing the mortal remains of AE and FN exhumed by Marine Privates Henson and Burks in Liyang Cemetery under the direction of Captain Tracy Griswold? A simple, dignified, albeit very quiet and minimally attended burial at sea with honors? Possibly even shipment home for anonymous interment among heroes in a seldom visited corner of Arlington National Cemetery? For the convenience of the government in wartime, not to mention the profound and absolute tamper-proof finality a burial at sea guarantees, I’d bet on the first option.

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  5. We must *salute Pvt. Everett Henson Jr.’s service & *respect for Amelia Earhart & Fred Noonan. He’s a *STAR on our flag. We need to thank Carla Henson, for her devotion to that *TRUTH, her father embodied. God *Bless Henson family.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. William –

    I don’t see the Navy burying Amelia & Fred at sea. Why go through all that trouble locating the remains, only to take them out to sea, for their final place of rest? The families must have wanted *privacy and no further media attention. They probably didn’t want their loved ones fates, splashed all over the newspapers and the cruelty & brutality of it all.

    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doug,

      That’s a good question and I see what you mean. To return the remains to the Earhart and Noonan families, a kind and thoughtful act by any standard, would, however, be an admission by the U.S. government that AE and FN were, in fact, prisoners of the Japanese on Saipan; a truth that is vigorously denied to this day. Recovering the remains of AE and FN and quietly burying them at sea serves to remove physical evidence, the unarguable proof of their presence on Saipan, and places that evidence out of reach for all time as well as allows deniability. If there’s no proof, it never happened.

      All best,

      William

      Liked by 2 people

  7. William –

    I believe the U.S. Government was keeping the Earhart & Noonan families informed behind the scenes. I think with the War raging and so much death occurring, Amelia & Fred were simply considered two more casualties. This cloak of *SECRECY continued to hang over them. The families anguish & pain, only made it more difficult to address and explain to the American public. Roosevelt’s embarrassment & his failure to intervene on their behalf, submerged the *TRUTH.
    I think the families wanted the remains and to grieve themselves. They probably had more animosity towards the Japanese government, verses the U.S. Things simply went wrong and afterwards, to best leave alone…

    Doug

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    1. I’ve thought a lot about whether the Earhart and Noonan families were told the truth by our government, and am not really sure what to think. Consider sister Muriel’s behavior as documented by Fred Goerner and Thomas Devine, as well as other accounts, and she seemed in the dark, though her behavior with Devine as he described it in Eyewitness was certainly a bit suspicious. Does that mean they told her the truth? It’s possible.

      Mother Amy Otis had definite ideas she expressed in her famous Los Angeles Times interview of July 1949, but it’s not clear where she got the information she shared with the Times. I’d have to vote in the negative if pressed as to whether Uncle Sam told the Earhart or Noonan families the truth. But who really knows?
      MC

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with you Mike. However, I believe that sometime after 1940, George P. Putnam was told what happened to Amelia.

        Les

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      2. Yes, I would also agree it’s possible, Les. In my last reply, I forgot to mention that G.P. Putnam went to Saipan in late 1944 and allegedly was looking for the grave site of his wife (see pages 239-241 Truth at Last). But the very fact that he was on Saipan looking for his wife’s grave site most likely in a time period after the alleged excavation of Griswold, Henson and Burks (Putnam was on Saipan between July 20 and Nov. 2, 1944 according to researcher Ron Reuther , p. 241 TAL), leads me to think Putnam wasn’t told. Considering the immensity of the U.S. government’s determination to keep the truth from becoming public knowledge, I can’t easily see the feds entrusting this truth to Amelia’s husband, no matter how much they trusted him to keep it to himself. We simply don’t know at this point, do we?

        MC

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      3. Mike,
        The story of Putnam traveling to Saipan is “fake news”. It never happened. I tracked his travel from China (where he was stationed) back to the US. The story apparently originated second hand when a guy in a jeep reportedly said he drove Putnam on Saipan. He later said, maybe it was China.

        One of the Earhart biographies said Putnam went to Saipan but it was never sourced. Putnam left his unit early in China because of severe health problems which eventually killed him. He never flew to Saipan.

        Les

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      4. Perhaps, perhaps not. J. Gordon Vaeth’s associate, Charles Cushman, said he drove Putnam around Saipan. So you’re saying Vaeth or Cushmam was lying? I talked to Vaeth myself, and he was quite sure of it.
        MC

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  8. I recall watching a biography on Amelia Earhart and during the program, they interviewed Muriel, or ask her thoughts of her sister? She came across too melancholy & subdued, verses bewildered, angry, or demanding answers! Plus we have Thomas Devine’s run in with secret agents, in a visit with Muriel and her behavior with them. Window shade being lifted up or down as a signal to allow Thomas to come up to her apt/ flat. I think Muriel knew more than she led on to. As we all know, secrecy has surrounded Amelia since she lifted off from U.S. soil.

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  9. Vaeth was quick on the trigger. Yes, Vaeth reported what Cushman said. But Vaeth also later wrote that Cushman wasn’t quite sure. Cushman told Vaeth maybe it was China where he (Cushman) drove Putnam around. I have that documentation. Cushman was in the same bomber unit as Putnam while in China.

    Putnam got very sick in China. He contracted some type of parasite that eventually killed him. Putnam returned to the states in early September 1944 and was immediately admitted to a hospital. I have that documentation as well. Even if Putnam wasn’t sick, there would have been no way for him to travel from China to Saipan.

    Cushman’s Bomber group was reassigned from China to Tinian on May 7, 1945. By that time, Putnam had been back in the states for ninth months or more. More than likely, because of the passage of time, Cushman became confused as to where he might have been in a jeep with Putnam. Remember, Cushman was assigned to Tinian not Saipan. I suppose Cushman could have somehow got to Saipan (less than three miles away) and requisitioned a jeep, but the idea of him driving around Saipan in a borrowed jeep while his unit was flying daily missions over Japan seems implausible. Remember, Cushman wasn’t in the Marianas until May 1945.

    There is also a report from one of the men in Putnam’s bomber group who mentioned Putnam wasn’t with the unit long and probably left because of his Washington connections. This was said in early June 1944. It wasn’t true Putnam left because of connections, but nevertheless it helps us understand the timeline.

    Putnam’s unit was deployed to China on April 29, 1944. They were reassigned to Tinian on May 7, 1945.

    Les Kinney

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    1. I know what Vaeth told me about Cushman, and he included no caveats about possibly being wrong. I would like to see what Vaeth wrote and when he wrote it. Did he write it to you personally? It seems quite important to you that Putnam was not on Saipan, and your statement that there would have been “no way” for him to travel to Saipan from China is not acceptable without more information. You may be correct, but based on what you write above, I’m not convinced either way.

      MC

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    2. With which BG did G.P. serve and what was his job in the unit?

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  10. Have it your way. Just explain to your readers how Cushman, stationed in China, and whose unit didn’t arrive in the Marianas (Tinian) until May of 1945, drove Putnam around Saipan when Putnam discharged from the Army was in Southern California.

    Les Kinney

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    1. And we have to take your word for that, don’t we? I trust this isn’t quite the same as the time we had to take your word that the person on the dock was Amelia Earhart?

      MC

      Like

  11. Look it up!

    Les Kinney

    Like

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