We continue our brief inquiry into possible resting places for our heroine, Amelia Earhart, and the great Fred Noonan, her overlooked and misunderstood navigator. In my last post, “Amelia Earhart held in Saipan’s Garapan Prison: Was she also buried somewhere nearby?” we saw more witness testimony that strongly suggested Amelia was buried on Saipan, just as so many others have told us. Boldface emphasis is mine throughout.
Today we take a brief look at an Earhart burial theory suggested by a few of the more fanciful types who’ve speculated on this mystery, although its exact origin isn’t clear. To introduce this bizarre idea, we present a letter from one of the most speculative and imaginative of all notable Earhart researchers and authors, retired Air Force Col. Rollin C. Reineck, who needs no introduction to regular readers of this blog. Reineck’s letter to the director of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, Louise Foudray, and her response, which follows after my brief comments, were published in the February 1999 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.
Rollin C. Reineck
1127 Lauloa St.
Kailua, HI 96734
24 October 1998
Amelia Earhart Museum
Atchison, Kansas 66002
The other day I received the enclosed letter from a researcher.
I find it interesting in two respects. First, it indicates that Goerner had some inside information that Earhart was killed on Saipan and that her remains were returned so the United States.
Secondly it eliminates the Arlington National Cemetery as possible place where AE could have been buried had her remains been returned to the U.S.
When I read the letter, specifically that part of the 6th para. “I can’t be specific, but why don’t you look in the most obvious place.” I immediately thought of her home in Atchison, Kansas, as the most obvious place.
(Editor’s note: Here Reineck was referring to an Oct. 9, 1998 letter from Ross Game to Bob Ross, which was presented in our Dec. 20, 2019 post, Game letter suggests possible Earhart burial site. In the letter’s sixth paragraph, Game wrote, “Just before the CIA assistance [he and Goerner were receiving] was cut off I pleaded with our contact to tell me where the Earhart remains had been placed after being brought from Saipan. The reply: “I can’t be specific, but why don’t you look in the most obvious place.’ ” Game and Goerner’s subsequent investigations of Arlington National Cemetery came up empty.)
When you get a minute, I would appreciate your comments.
Aloha, Rollin C. Reineck
Reading Game’s account of the cryptic response from the unidentified CIA man about how he might find Amelia Earhart’s gravesite brought to mind a long litany of negative responses from officials that Donald Kothera’s wife, Florence, received during her brief fact-finding foray in Washington. D.C., as chronicled near the conclusion of Joe Davidson’s highly underrated 1969 book, Amelia Earhart Returned from Saipan.
“I do not remember going on any grave digging detail,” former Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold had told Kothera, John Gacek and Davidson at his home in Erie, Penn., in answer to their queries about his role in the 1944 Saipan grave-digging incident as recalled by Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks. Before Kothera and friends left, Griswold, not content with leaving them flat, asked whether they had “checked with the National Morgue? You might be surprised what you would find there.” We continue, quoting directly from Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last:
Rather than ignore Griswold’s devious suggestion, Kothera sent his wife, Florence, to Washington to “check with the National Morgue.” Florence soon learned that no such entity exists, but a phone call to the ever-helpful Griswold redirected her to the National Archives, as if the answers might be found there. Three days later, her bureaucratic goose chase had taken her not only to the National Archives, but to the Naval History Office, Japanese Embassy, U.S. State Department, Chief of Naval Intelligence, and Navy Annex as well. Along the way, she told several officials how she felt about their inability to produce any answers about Earhart, Griswold, or the remains he had removed from Saipan. Florence Kothera learned a hard lesson from her frustrating Washington experience: Nobody in the U.S. government has ever offered anything helpful about the fate of Amelia Earhart.
Rudely, Louise Foudray did not respond directly to Reineck’s sincere letter, but wrote a brief note more than three months later to Bill Prymak, whom she presumed would publish it in his Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter, and he promptly did.
Jan. 28, 1999
I have not responded to [the above from] Col. Reineck, so will do so via the newsletter.
We have joked for years about the 2 large cement mounds in the basement of the birthplace. One for Amelia Earhart, one for Fred. If she requested they be “entombed” together, it’s ideal. According to certain sources, this may be true.
[Researcher] Art Parchen observed these “mounds” recently and said he didn’t think so.
When the new fiction book comes out, maybe we’ll know. The lady researching for the book says, “’You are going to be surprised”!
These are exciting times! I can just “feel” an answer coming — can you?
Bless you all and “Happy Hunting”
I don’t know to which Earhart fiction book Foudray was referring, but considering the numerous tomes of varying uselessness published since 1999, it couldn’t have been terribly compelling. The very idea of producing more Earhart fiction is a insult to Amelia and her legacy, which had already been muddled, nearly beyond redemption, by decades of disinformation and fiction.
That’s about it, I have only the basics on this one. The source of the birthplace basement theory remains a mystery, at least to me. Others may be out there besides Alex Mandel, who has personally visited there several times and rejects the Earhart-Noonan interment idea, who might have their own stories or insights. Special thanks to Alex for his assistance with the photos.