Listen to Goerner’s first KCBS radio report on Saipan

Gary Boothe, of Floyd County, Va., lived on Saipan as a child from 1958 to 1962.  Both parents were teachers for the U.S. Navy civilian administration, teaching local students at Saipan Intermediate School.  They also taught for the U.S. Trust Territory in the Caroline islands at Chuuk and Yap.  Gary is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and has made several trips to visit islands in Micronesia, including Saipan, where the below photo was taken in June 2018.

Photo taken during Gary Boothe’s June 2018 visit to Saipan.  From Left: Dominique Boothe (Gary’s daughter), Gary, Marie S. Castro. Congressman Donald Barcinas, Mrs. Evelyna Shoda, Mr. Carlos Shoda. 

Recently Gary listened to an old reel-to-reel tape that his father left, and he made an amazing discovery.  It appears to be the first KCBS radio report filed by Fred Goerner upon his return to San Francisco following his late June to mid-July 1960 investigation there.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard this recording.  Moreover, I’ve never heard another researcher claim to have it.  This is a rare collector’s item that I gladly share with you, dear reader.  Since my WordPress blog format will not allow the posting of MP3s or other audio formats, my friend Dave Bowman, author of Legerdemain (2007), The Story of Amelia Earhart (2012), A Waiting Dragon: A fresh and audacious look at the Mystery of Amelia Earhart (2017) and others, has agreed to host the MP3 file of Goerner’s 1960 KCBS production on his websiteTo listen to Goerner’s report please click here.

At nationally broadcast KCBS news conference in San Francisco, November 1961, following Goerner’s second trip to Saipan, the author (at table, right) is questioned by newsmen about package of remains being flown in from Saipan.  Don Mozley, KCBS news director, is at the table with Goerner.  (Photo courtesy Lance Goerner.)

The 15-minute report parallels Goerner’s narrative in his bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart (pages 41-52, First Edition) about his initial Saipan visit, in mid-June 1960.   He speaks of how he “set about enlisting the aid of the fathers of the Church,” as virtually all the locals on Saipan were Catholic.  Monsignor Oscar Calvo, and Fathers Arnold Bendowske and Sylvan Conover served as translators during Goerner’s interrogations of what he variously reported as 200 to 300 potential witnesses, ensuring he would be getting the truth, in contrast to the lie so often spread by our media that the Saipan witnesses told Goerner “what he wanted to hear.”

The report doesn’t state its airing date, but it was on or about July 1, 1960, the date of Linwood Day’s stunning, front-page story in the San Mateo Times, headlined “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” and an “all media news conference . . . in Studio B at KCBS in the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco, according to Goerner (p. 62 Search).

He names only a few of his original 13 witnesses named in his 1966 bestseller, but quotes native dentist Manual Aldan, whose patients were Japanese officers:  I didn’t exactly see the man and the woman, but I heard from the Japanese official about one woman flier and a man that landed at a place (unintelligible) now called Tanapag. . . . I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese.  The name of the lady I heard used. This is the name the Japanese officer said — Earharto!”

Jose Rios Camacho (identified as Rios R. Camacho) told Goerner, I was working at Tanapag Harbor.  I saw the plane.  It was heading across the island . . . in a northeasterly to southwesterly direction.  It crashed in Tanapag area.  I saw a Navy launch bring them to the beach.  I saw the lady pilot and the man.  She was dressed like a man. Her hair was short, it was brown. Afterwards they kept her in Tanapag.”

Gary Boothe, left, circa 1960, at age 5, and friend enjoy another idyllic Saipan day near their Navy Seabee-built Quonset homes on Saipan. “The photo was taken in the housing area by the lighthouse on Navy Hill” Gary told me in a recent email.  “The building up the hill at the top of the photo is the island commander’s compound.  The ones in our housing area were moved there from somewhere else on the island in the mid ’50s. They were hot, but not as bad as you might think.  The only place to find any air conditioning out there at the time was on Guam, and it was pretty rare there.  We loved our Quonsets, and it was sad to return after many years and not have a single one in sight.  It was the dominant architectural feature back in the day.  (Photo courtesy Gary Boothe.)

“The testimonies go on and on,” Goerner said. We have two-and-a-half hours on tape.”

In concluding, Goerner jumped the gun a bit in his enthusiasm to claim the salvaged parts might have come from the Earhart Electra, but that’s understandable.  We know that they were later confirmed as coming from Japanese-made planes.  

Still germane today is the yet-unanswered question about the plane that brought the fliers to Saipan.  Was it a seaplane, as one would tend to believe, or a land-based plane that landed in the harbor because it was in trouble? 

Goerner said that the plane that the two Saipanese dove on in Tanapag Harbor was the same one that brought the fliers to Saipan in 1937, and he may have been correct in this.  If it was true, the plane that took the fliers to Saipan was not a Japanese seaplane, but a land-based plane that probably originated at Kwajalein, as two witnesses have attested (p. 150-154 Truth at Last). 

This would have been more evidence to support the land-based-plane-crash-landing scenario at Tanapag Harbor, already strongly supported by several Saipanese witnesses who used the word “crashed” in describing the plane’s arrival.  Seaplanes landing on water are not normally said to be “crashing.  This conundrum is discussed at length in “The Saipan Witnesses” chapter of Truth at Last.

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8 responses

  1. The radio program was FANTASTIC!
    So……. he felt the place sat at the bottom of the lagoon in the harbor & also had it verified that the parts found were from a Lockheed Electra….?
    The only issue in my thoughts is that this is not in conjunction with her having crash landed on Mili……. now I’m torn…

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    1. No Gene. It was later verified that the parts did NOT come from the Electra. This was Goerner’s first report, and he was simply speculating and hoping the parts were from the Earhart bird. They were not.
      MC

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks 4 clearing that up Mike

      Like

  2. It was amazing to listen to Fred Goerner’s radio recording, of his trip back from Saipan, in 1960. He summarized his report with such clarity and conciseness. He tells us of his dive into the lagoon, finding parts which he first thought were the Electra’s, which weren’t & later discovery from a serial number. His search for Amelia’s grave site, including the help of a monsignor.

    Mike pulls another rabbit out of his hat, providing us with more hard evidence & the *TRUTH in it’s media infancy. What a *TREASURE to absorb of a young Fred Goerner’s voice, excitement and determination to cast light on such a dark piece of history.

    *Congratulations Mike! You continue to inform, enlighten and educate us in the *TRUTH and back it up with the *BEST evidence.

    Doug

    Like

    1. Good comment Doug! I agree with the things you said.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A rare treat, indeed. Not only a recording of Fred Goerner’s news conference, but we get to hear Amelia’s voice too. Many thanks to Gary, Mike, and David.

    All best,

    William

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  4. Mike, the statement about how the jungle had grown over the area where Amelia and Fred were supposedly buried rings so true. When my husband, Lee, was developing the first Naval experimental ranch in the Marianas…on Tinian in the 1950’s, they found an entire field of Japanese bones that had been dozed over. (They were leveling and clearing the land for planting cattle feed.) At that time the local people who were working for him picked over the dead bodies collecting gold teeth and anything of value…perhaps in retribution for their suffering during the Japanese occupation. The bodies were covered again under the soil of future crops…when we later began Tinian Airlines in the late 70’s we spent time looking for that burial site. Lee thought he would always be able to re-locate it. However, the jungle of tangan-tangan had given the bones a final resting place never to be brought to light again. The islands have a way of keeping their secrets.
    Thank you for sharing Goerner’s news conference. Each piece of the puzzle fitting into a final picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to all:

    Curiously, although some Saipan witnesses report a plane “crash landing” in Tanapag harbor, I don’t recall reading anywhere of any witness describing “the lady pilot dressed as a man or the man” as being wet, or soaked, or even slightly damp, to say nothing of injured or even appearing to be visibly shaken from the experience. Is it possible that the Japanese pilot made a miraculous “Captain Sullenberger/Miracle-on-the-Hudson” type landing and a launch arrived to pick everyone up before they got their feet wet? Who knows? It’s possible I suppose. I wouldn’t completely rule it out.

    That said, does anyone know if a proper survey has ever been conducted of the wreckage at the bottom of Tanapag Harbor with everything located, identified, and plotted on a marine chart? Again, I don’t recall reading or hearing of that being done.

    All best,

    William

    Like

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