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.
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,
‘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
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 the “American 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.
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
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.)
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 , 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.
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.