Another gem from Bill Prymak’s AES Newsletters: “The Strange Story of Interview #23”

The late Bill Prymak’s abundant contributions to Earhart research, though ignored and unappreciated everywhere else in our know-nothing media, are gifts that keep on giving to readers of this blog and Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last Bill, the founder and former president of the Amelia Earhart Society, who passed away in July 2014 at 86, was the central hub and repository of the writings, reports, analyses and speculations of a wide variety of Earhart researchers. 

This material’s accuracy, also quite variable, must be carefully sifted to separate the wheat from the chaff, and was compiled in his two-volume Assemblage of Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, covering Prymak’s AES Newsletters from December 1989 to March 2000. 

The following treasure appeared in the January 1997 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, and concerns a familiar face among the Saipan witnesses, Joaquina M. Cabrera, and a revealing interview she did with Joe Gervais, Capt. Jose Quintanilla, Guam chief of police; and Eddie Camacho, Guam chief of detectives, during their 1960 Guam interviews.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.) 

Bill Prymak with Bilimon Amaron, whose eyewitness account is widely considered to be the most important of the Marshall Islands witnesses, in the recreation room of his home in the Marshalls capital of Majuro, circa 1989.  As a Japanese hospital corpsman in 1937 Jaluit, Amaron’s shipboard treatment of an injured white man, surely Fred Noonan, accompanied by an American woman the crewmen called “Meel-ya,” is legendary among the Marshallese. (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

“THE STRANGE STORY OF INTERVIEW #23”

When Joe Gervais and Joe Klaas presented their manuscript of Amelia Earhart Lives [1970] to McGraw-Hill, it was bulging with some 650 pages of research work.  Much good material had to be trimmed to meet the publisher’s mandate not to exceed 275 pages in final form, and it has always bugged Gervais that one of his most profound witnesses had a crucial part of her testimony stricken from the book by the editors.  Major Gervais recreates that scene for us, the way it should have been presented in the book:

At Chalan Kanoa, a village on Saipan, the investigators located Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera, fifty-one, who during 1937 and 1938 had been employed as a servant in the [Kobayashi Royakan] hotel.

l used to have to take a list of the persons staying in the hotel to the island governor’s office each day, Mrs. Cabrera remembered.  One day when I was doing this I saw two Americans in the back of a three-wheeled vehicle.  Their hands were bound behind them, and they were blindfolded. One of them was an American woman.”

Gervais showed her a photo of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Are these the two you saw?

Undated photo of Earhart eyewitness Joaquina Cabrera.  She passed away in 2004 at age 92.

She squinted at the photograph.  “They look like the same people I saw, and they are dressed the same way.”

What happened to them?

“I only saw them once in the three-wheeled truck.  I don’t know what happened to them.”

The threesome, Capt. Jose Quintanilla, Guam Chief of Police; Eddie Camacho, Guam Chief of Detectives, and Capt. Gervais, were shocked when, after finishing the above interview, she suddenly came forward to Gervais and deliberately spat on the ground, in front of his feet.

Capt. Gervais regained his composure and asked Capt. Quintanilla

“Why is this woman so enraged at me?  I had never met her before?”

Unknown artist’s sketch of Joaquina Cabrera accompanying this story in the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters January 1997 edition.

Capt. Quintanilla, in a quiet voice, asked Mrs. Cabrera to explain her actions, and after a lengthy exchange of words in Chamorro, Quintanilla turned to Gervais with an ashen face and slowly, deliberately told him what Mrs. Cabrera had said:

“You Americans are two-faced people!  What are you doing here in 1960 investigating what happened to Amelia Earhart 23 years ago when all the time you Americans knew she was here and none of you lifted a finger to help her?

“What kind of people are you?” (End Strange Story of Interview #23)

Amelia Earhart Lives author Joe Klaas, who passed away in February 2016 at 95, was a pilot and World War II hero, a POW and a talented writer with 12 books to his credit.  But sadly, Klaas fell victim to the insane delusion that Joe Gervais had birthed and spread to other witless sheep over the years, that New Jersey housewife Irene Bolam was actually Amelia Earhart returned from Saipan via the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo, determined to live out her life in obscurity and isolation from her family — something Amelia was incapable of doing. 

It was a shame, because the eyewitness interviews conducted by Gervais, Robert Dinger and the detectives on Guam and Saipan in 1960, on the heels of Fred Goerner’s arrival on Saipan, were some of the most compelling ever done.  The above incident is another example of important witness testimony that most will never see.

If you’d like to get reacquainted with all the sordid details of the long-debunked, worm-eaten Earhart-as-Bolam myth, I did a four-part series on this dark chapter of the Earhart saga, beginning with Irene Bolam and the Decline of the Amelia Earhart Society: Part I of IV,” on Dec. 29, 2015.

Fred Goerner also interviewed Joaquina at length in 1962, and later wrote in The Search for Amelia Earhart, “Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera brought us closer to the woman held at the Kobayashi Royokan [Hotel] than any other witness.”  See my April 17, 2018 post, Revisiting Joaquina Cabrera, Earhart eyewitness and pages 101-102 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last for more on Goerner’s interview with Joaquina.

(Editor’s note:  “I was surprised to learn what Joaquina did after she was interviewed,” Marie Castro wrote from Saipan just after this post was published.  “But I can also understand Joaquina’s reaction to Gervais, it was out of frustration because of the way Amelia suffered as a detainee.  Joaquina noticed the bruises around Amelia’s arm and neck, so did Matilde.”)

(Editor’s note No. 2: In an Aug. 21 comment, Les Kinney wrote:  “I don’t believe Cabrera’s statement. It’s inconsistent with remarks made to other researchers and out of character for a Chamorro woman to speak in this manner.  Sadly, at times, Joe Gervais embellished and flat out lied to further his argument.  It’s a shame since some of his reporting was sound. Goerner’s account is probably more credible.  Don Kothera and the Cleveland group interviewed Cabrera twice – there is no mention of anything close to what Gervais reported.” 

After Marie Castro was told about Les’s comment, she responded with this in an Aug. 22 email:  I also believed with Les Kinney, spitting at a person is unheard of in our culture.  It  is highly unlikely that a Chamorro woman would ever do such a thing.  I was really surprised of that reaction on Joaquina.  I would rather skip that comment of Joe Gervais, it was a made up story.” 

As I wrote to Les, “Gervais, on balance, did far more harm than good for the truth in the Earhart disappearance. Bill Prymak obviously believed it, or he wouldn’t have included the story in his newsletters, but Bill was far too trusting of Gervais, and even kept the lid on the truth in the Bolam case to protect Gervais.”  I should have picked this up before posting the story, and expressed at least some skepticism about it, but it slipped my attention.  Now you have the rest of the story.)

 

17 responses

  1. Let’s face it, the *truth & *facts speak for themselves and will only be found on the Truth at Last wordpress.com and Mike’s books……………… *Bill Prymak’s research & work broadened the *TRUTH, opened more doors and gave more clarity to the blurred subject.

    It’s a d#mn shame, that the U.S. media/networks don’t have the backbone to HONOR the *TRUTH. *Respect is earned, not bought & sold to a gullible public.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand why the editors left the second part out of the book as it hurts the initial statement. I can accept that an old native woman might remember some strangers from decades ago. She has a nice simple story to tell with no embellishments. It is believable. But then she expresses all this anger about two people she never knew and had no connection to? That implies that there is a lot more going on here with this woman and in my mind casts doubt on her initial testimony.

    Like

    1. No editors left this incident out of a book. This story comes directly from Joe Gervais to Bill Prymak, who put it in his newsletter. Goerner didn’t know about it and I decided not to use it. Moreover, Joaquina most certainly did have a “direct connection” to Amelia; she washed her clothes at the Kobayashi Royokan Hotel. See p. 101 Truth at Last.

      MC

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike,

    I love collecting GEMS, and this is a good one. This very credible witness expresses in saliva what many others have felt over the years, namely, why did the FDR Establishment machine allow a good friend and a great American to languish in hell when “something” could have been done?

    Contrary to what a casual reader will think, this GEM is less about Ms. Cabrera, albeit she is a good eye-witness, than it is about the Establishment which adored AE until she embarrassed them. It was anathema then, and it is now, to expose or embarrass those holding the reins of power.

    I thank Cabrera for the courage to spit, and you for the courage to keep this story alive.

    A friend loyal to you . . . and to the truth which will outlast the Establishment.

    Calvin

    Like

  4. Having read many of the writings of Bill Prymak, as shared by Mike C, I can attest to the sincerity of Bill’s dedication in getting clarity on many issues. I’m hoping Mike C shares more of Bill’s writings and perspective. No wonder why Mike’s book is dedicated to Bill’s memory. Who among us interested in the Truth, will carry the baton of Bill and Mike C? There has got to be someone!!

    Like

  5. “You Americans are two-faced people! What are you doing here in 1960 investigating what happened to Amelia Earhart 23 years ago when all the time you Americans knew she was here and none of you lifted a finger to help her?
    “What kind of people are you?”

    I don’t believe Cabrera’s statement. It’s inconsistent with remarks made to other researchers and out of character for a Chamorro woman to speak in this manner. Sadly, at times, Joe Gervais embellished and flat out lied to further his argument. It’s a shame since some of his reporting was sound. Goerner’s account is probably more credible. Don Kothera and the Cleveland group interviewed Cabrera twice – there is no mention of anything close to what Gervais reported.

    Like

    1. Les,

      Your point is well taken. I report what’s come down to me, but cannot argue that Gervais, on balance, did far more harm than good for the truth in the Earhart disappearance. Bill Prymak obviously believed it, or he wouldn’t have included the story in his newsletters, but Bill was far too trusting of Gervais, and even kept the lid on the truth in the Bolam case to protect Gervais.

      Considering Gervais’ body of work, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a U.S. agent of disinformation, and if he wasn’t, the result was much the same — the public became even more jaded and skeptical about legitimate research into the Earhart case.

      Maybe I should have been more skeptical myself before posting this story, but as Pontius Pilate said, “What I have written, I have written.” I suppose we’ll never know the whole truth about this one on this side of the veil.

      Mike C.

      Like

      1. Well said, Mike.
        Gervais was a strange character. He had a falling out with his original research partner. I have always wondered what that was all about.

        Like

      2. Les,

        After I directed Marie Castro to your comment, she agreed with you, writing in an email: “I also believed with Les Kinney, spitting at a person is unheard of in our culture. It is highly unlikely that a Chamorro woman would ever do such a thing. I was really surprised of that reaction on Joaquina. I would rather skip that comment of Joe Gervais, it was a made up story.”

        MC

        Like

    2. Mike,

      “I don’t believe Cabrera’s statement,” Les said. He deserves his time in the sun. He may be correct about her “statement.” None of us were there, so we don’t know her words.

      But I notice the underlying and most important element here — THERE IS NO denial that she was an eye witness, whatever statement she made or did not make to the Americans 23 years later.

      THAT, not a disrespectful statement, is the cogent issue here. Misrepresenting what she “said” may be true. But what she SAW, not what she SAID keeps her as a credible witness. My underlying interest is in establishing the “presence” of Amelia & Fred on Saipan. That done, and the mouth of the Masters of Misinformation, the Establishment, has been shut..

      Regards, Calvin

      Like

  6. As for copyright *year of the Jaluit dock photo, Those copyrights are pasted up by wax, added & removed, easily to the bottom of layouts/photo’s. So this notion, the year is prior or after is the photo was taken, can be disputed either way. As a former graphic artist, I have seen copyright years removed from one layout and pasted onto a another without having the *year updated. When I first seen the photo for the first time, I believed it was Amelia & Fred then later questioned it? Then I studied it, far more carefully, under magnification.

    The man does resemble Fred Noonan, the height, hairline, body proportions, leaning against pole, etc. The person sitting in the dock, or at least the back part of the head, hair, the shoulders, skinnier body structure does have that Amelia Earhart look/feel about it.

    Les Kinney did find this accidentally, in the declassified Earhart files, which makes me lean more toward the belief of it actually being her & Fred. I could still be wrong, but the location, date, caucasians standing & sitting by Asians, gives the impression of something unusual about it.

    Doug

    Like

    1. In addition, the object on the so-called “barge” behind Koshu in the photo is about the size and shape of an L-10 Electra. There appears to be a huge piece of canvas, possibly sailcloth, draped off the fantail of the ship covering the object. There is something sticking up under the canvas which would be consistent with the images depicted on the Marshall Islands stamp series showing the right wing broken or bent. The canvas would have been used to improvise a big sling to hoist the aircraft aboard ship as IJNAS ground crews are said to have done when they didn’t have the specific steel cable rigging or specially made canvas harnesses to hoist a particular aircraft type.

      With all the relevant elements present in the photo it is most likely to be as represented by Les Kinney et al or a skillful fake. It would seem to be more likely that the poor quality digital copy found in Japan was planted. There would have been more than enough time during the development and production of the History Channel special for those in the U.S. and Japan who are interested continuing the cover-up of the cover-up.

      Like

  7. Bob Ballard’s absurd quest to find the Electra, with Amelia & Fred still inside it. No matter how thick or thin you slice it, it’s still baloney. What is even more outrageous, is Tom King’s search for talking bones & singing eggs. DiSiNfOrMaTiOn at it’s finest! National Geographic at an all time low…………………..

    Like

  8. Bob Ballard – Old Storm Along – the deep water sailor man who will provide us with more laughter & entertainment, to pass the time.

    As for Ric Gillespie & Tom King or should I say, owls that roost with chickens. Their Nikumaroro nonsense is just as hilarious, as the talking mule that flagged a train.

    Until the American public can distinguish *FACT from fiction, they will be continuously swayed towards these Amelia Earhart, mass media, attention grabbers; all in conformity with government regulation & control……………………

    Like

  9. I revisited the TIGHAR website and it appears the minions have added a bit more info to help convince Bob Ballard’s Nautilus to spend some NOAA funds (US tax dollars) on the Gillespie charade. Read closely their talking points…https://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/84_JaluitPhotoFINAL/84_JaluitPhotoFINAL.html

    Like

    1. Is that the link you intended to post? It goes to the T.I.G.H.A.R. rebuttal of the July 2017 History Channel special. It contains untruths, gross misrepresentations, and unsupported claims. Some might call it lies.

      Like

  10. And there is yet another group, Blue Angel, claiming to have found what they believe could be the wreck of NR16020. It lies in shallow water off the coast of PNG near Buka Island. They claim the wreck has features specific to NR16020 but afaik they haven’t made those details public. One artifact they have shown is what does appear to be an intact glass landing light lens from an L-10 Electra. An underwater photo shows a coral encrusted body which appears to be in the shape of an L-10 fuselage.

    This is not the same wreck David Billings seeks in ENB. It was discovered years ago but the locals kept quiet due to concerns about outsiders exploiting the site. There never were that many L-10E operated in the Western Pacific and the fate of all with the possible exception of NR16020 should be known. This story broke in Jan. of this year. Haven’t seen any reference to this project from T.I.G.H.A.R. or NatGeo.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: