Honoring the Earhart Truth Seekers, Part II

We continue with Part II of our “Earhart Research Page of Honor.”  Again, this is an alphabetical list, and I make no claim that this group is complete or sacrosanct.  All suggestions for additional honorees will be considered.  

If you disagree with any of these selections, you’re invited to express your opinion.  Please make your case cogently, succinctly and objectively, and hold the sanctimony and invective.

“Earhart Research Page of Honor” Part II

VINCENT V. LOOMIS: Former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis and his wife, Georgette, traveled to the Marshalls in 1978 hoping to find the wreck of a plane Loomis saw on an uninhabited island near Ujae Atoll in 1952.  Loomis didn’t find the unidentified aircraft he hoped was the Earhart Electra, but in four trips to the Marshalls he gathered considerable eyewitness and witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is the definitive tome in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili Atoll, 1979.  In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Loomis went to Tokyo in 1981 seeking confirmation of statements contained in a 1949 CIA inter-office memorandum he found in National Air and Space Museum files.  The G-2 intelligence document revealed the United States was extremely interested in the Earhart case, and in 1949 had asked Japan to provide any and all relevant information it possessed.

“The Japanese lied quite convincingly both in 1937 and in 1949,” Loomis wrote, “but their statements could not be proven as such until the ships’ movements were determined through research in Japan in 1981.  Why did Japan lie about the role of Kamoi in the Earhart search?  Though no official explanation will ever be issued, almost certainly they had the fliers in custody when they assured the United States of their cooperation in the search, and merely pretended to be engaged in a goodwill humanitarian mission.”

Loomis died on June 13, 1996 at age 75 in Pensacola, Fla.  For more on his significant contributions to the search for Amelia Earhart, please click here and see pages 134-141 and 149-151 of Truth at Last. 

BILL PRYMAK:  Bill’s selfless contributions to our knowledge of the Earhart matter are legendary.  In the erudite, largely unknown circles of Amelia Earhart research – real investigative work, not the fabricated-for-public-consumption propaganda the media has force-fed the masses since the earliest days – Bill left a lasting, indelible mark of excellence that will be always be remembered and honored by those who know and respect the truth about Amelia’s fate that he helped to establish. 

Through his networking skills and Earhart expertise, Bill was able to collect, evaluate and disseminate an astonishing volume of information in an entertaining and enlightening format to the Amelia Earhart Society membership.  Bill’s AES Newsletters totaled 421 letter-size pages of original Earhart research from countless sources, which he meticulously compiled and snail-mailed – at significant cost to himself — to the AES membership every few months from December 1989 to March 2000.

These priceless documents are among the most important ever produced in the search for the truth in the Earhart case, extraordinary in their variety and wealth of content – true collector’s items that will never be duplicated.  Without these remarkable references, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, would have been a far lesser book. 

Founder and first president of the Amelia Earhart Society (AES) of Researchers, a giant of Earhart research and a special friend whose generosity of spirit will never be forgotten, he passed away July 30, 2014 in a Louisville, Colo., hospice.  Bill had recently undergone surgery for colon cancer; he was 86.

For much more on Bill Prymak’s legacy, please click here.

PAUL RAFFORD JR.:  Rafford was the “Elder Statesman” of Earhart research and the last of the original members of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society of Researchers.

Earhart fans will recall Rafford from Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 bookAmelia Earhart: The Final Story (Random House), wherein he presented his then-current ideas about the Electra’s radio propagation capabilities and Amelia’s strange decisions during the final flight.

In 2006, Rafford’s book, Amelia Earhart’s Radio, was published by the Paragon Agency, and though it wasn’t a commercial success, it remains a gem of invaluable information unavailable anywhere else.

Paul Rafford Jr., at 95, the elder statesman of Earhart researchers.  As a Pan Am radio flight officer from 1940 to 1946, Rafford is uniquely qualified as an expert in Earhart-era radio capabilities.

Rafford began his aviation career with Pan American Airways as a flight radio officer in 1940, flying with Pan Am until 1946.  He worked with crew members who had flown with Fred Noonan, and talked with technicians who had worked on Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E.  After a promotion with Pan Am, he continued to fly as a technical consultant before transferring to the U.S. Manned Spaceflight Program in 1963.  During the early space shots he was a Pan Am project engineer in communications services at Patrick Air Force Base, and joined the team that put man on the moon.  He retired from NASA in 1988.

Rafford passed away on Dec. 10, 2016  in a hospice in Rockledge, Fla., at 97Michael Betteridge, Paul’s nephew and general manager of WTHU AM 1450, a talk radio station in Thurmont, Md., said his uncle passed peacefully with his daughter, Lynn, at his side.  “We lost a great man on that day,” Betteridge said in an email.

For much more on Paul Rafford Jr.’s contributions to Earhart researchplease click here.

ROLLIN C. REINECK: A war hero, retired Air Force colonel and an original, longtime member of the Amelia Earhart Society, Reineck’s passion for Earhart research often produced interesting, informative results.  At other times, his unrestrained enthusiasm for the spectacular and bizarre led him into areas populated only by Fred Goerner’s lunatic fringe, and these ill-conceived forays have tainted his reputation among top Earhart researchers.

Reineck was among the most avid promoters of the notorious Weihsien Telegram, or Weihsien Speedletter, discovered in U.S. State Department archives in 1987.  The unsigned telegram reads, “Camp liberated — all well — volumes to tell — love to mother.”  Sent from Weihsien, north China, and dated Aug. 28, 1945, this document created a huge buzz among researchers who speculated it could have been sent by Amelia herself.  In 2001, this hot potato was relegated to the dustbin of dead-end myth, when AES researcher Ron Bright definitively disproved the idea that Amelia Earhart had been confined at the Weihsien, China civilian internment camp during World War II.   

Rollin C. Reineck, circa 1945, served as a B-29 navigator in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Bronze Star.  A true patriot in every sense of the word, Reineck passed away in 2007, but left some very controversial writings about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Reineck’s authorship of the dreadful Amelia Earhart Survived (Paragon Agency, 2003), his unsuccessful attempt to resurrect and validate the long-discredited Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth was his greatest blunder in the Earhart arena.  Reineck was among the most prominent and vociferous of those who continued to believe in and promote Joe Gervais’ absurd idea, introduced to the public in Joe Klaas’ 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives.   

Incredibly, what Joe Klaas and Joe Gervais had strongly suggested in Amelia Earhart Livespulled from circulation 33 years earlier – that Amelia Earhart, having been held captive by the Japanese since July 1937, had returned to the United States sometime after World War II and assumed the identity of a New Jersey woman named Irene Bolam – Kailua, Hawaii’s Reineck stated as unequivocal fact.

For much more on this unfortunate aspect of Reineck’s legacy, please click here.

Reineck was a also prolific letter writer and Freedom of Information advocate, and he sometimes got real results.  In March 1991, Senator Daniel  Akaka (D-Hawaii) signed a letter written by Reineck to the Secretary of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush, requesting that all classified material relative to the Earhart disappearance be released.  For more details from my March 31, 2015 post, “Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection: What did FDR’s treasury secretary really know?” please click here.

Like Joe Klaas, Reineck was a genuine World War II hero, amassing an outstanding record as a navigator with B-24s in the 8th Air Force over Europe, and later in B-29s on Saipan, flying missions against mainland Japan.  Reineck’s awards included the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

Reineck passed away at age 87 on Oct. 9, 2007 in Castle Medical Center, Kailua, Hawaii.  For much more on Rollin Reineck’s contributions to Earhart research, please click here.

RON REUTHER:  An original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, Reuther was perhaps the most cerebral and historically erudite of all.  Reuther often provided previously unknown background information that brought new perspective to heated discussions, and was known to introduce new and enlightening topics to enhance learning.   

Reuther founded the Oakland Aviation Museum in 1981, directed the San Francisco Zoo from 1966 to 1973, and helped to catalog and prepare Fred Goerner’s papers for their placement at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

While director of the San Francisco Zoo, Mr. Reuther took a sickly baby gorilla named Koko into his home and, with his children’s help, nursed her back to health.  A few months later, a Stanford psychology graduate student who had been studying the zoo’s apes asked for permission to work with Koko.  Mr. Reuther agreed and the student, Penny Patterson, began a life’s work teaching American Sign Language to Koko and researching apes’ capacity for language.  

Undated photo of Ron Reuther in front of the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California, where Amelia Earhart’s plane was kept prior to her 1937 flight.  Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia zoos, among others. (Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle.)

In 1978, Koko gained worldwide attention and was pictured on the cover of National Geographic magazine.  The cover photo was an image of Koko taking her own picture in the mirror.  Koko was later featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 with a picture of her and her kitten, All Ball.  At the preserve, Koko also met and interacted with a variety of celebrities including Robin WilliamsFred RogersBetty WhiteWilliam ShatnerFleaLeonardo DiCaprioPeter Gabriel and Sting.

Ron Reuther passed away on Oct. 4, 2007.  For more on Reuther’s work in Earhart research, please click here.

ROBERT E. WALLACK: Although he wasn’t a researcher or writer in the sense of the others on this page, Robert E. Wallack’s contributions to our knowledge of the Earhart truth are more than enough to earn him a place among them. 

Wallack was the best known of all the former GIs who came forward to share their eyewitness experiences relative to the presence and death of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan after the 1987 publication of Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.

I first met the amiable Wallack on the phone in 1992, as he took me back to July 1944 Saipan, when Fate intervened to change his life forever.  The former Marine machine-gunner told of his hellish experience on the Saipan beach, watching helplessly as his comrades of the 29th Regiment were cut down during the early stages of the invasion, as if he was recounting the gruesome opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.  

Saipan veteran Robert E. Wallack, whose claim of finding Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe on Saipan in July 1944 is among the best-known Earhart-on-Saipan testimonies, pauses in his Woodbridge, Conn., home during a November 2006 interview.  The media- friendly Wallack appeared on several national television specials, including Unsolved Mysteries and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung.

A few weeks later, as if Providence were directing him, the Marine private discovered Amelia Earhart’s briefcase, dry and in perfect condition in a blown Japanese safe, containing “official-looking papers all concerning Amelia Earhart: maps, permits and reports apparently pertaining to her around-the-world flight,” Wallack wrote in a notarized affidavit.  “I wanted to retain this as a souvenir, but my Marine buddies insisted that it may be important and should be turned in.  I went down to the beach where I encountered a naval officer and told of my discovery.  He gave me a receipt for the material, and stated that it would be returned to me if it were not important.  I have never seen the material since.”

His story never changed, and the outgoing veteran shared it with countless listeners including millions in a 1990 Unsolved Mysteries segment with Robert Stack, a 1994 appearance on CBS’s Eye to Eye with Connie Chung and a 2006 interview for The National Geographic Channel’s Undercover History special on Amelia Earhart

Over the years Wallack generously sent me all manner of fascinating memorabilia, including copies of his honorable discharge papers, maps of Saipan, battle photos taken during the invasion, letters from other GIs with their own stories to tell, videotapes of his TV appearances and news articles.  

Wallack has an informational page devoted to him on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and elsewhere on this blog you can read a moving tribute from his son Bill.

Robert E. Wallack passed away in a Branford, Conn., hospice on July 7, 2008, after a courageous battle with cancer.  He was 83.

For much more about Wallack’s important role in the Earhart saga, please click here.

Though MARIE S. CASTRO is alive and well on Saipan at 87 despite recent health setbacks, she too occupies a unique place in the Earhart pantheon.  Marie is the last living link to two of the major Saipan eyewitnesses to the presence of Earhart on Saipan, Matilde F. Arriola and Joaquina Cabrera, and she founded the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. group in September 2017, determined to honor the brutal deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan at the hands of the Japanese military.

Maria S. Castro holds a copy of her memoirs, Without a Penny in my Pocket, as she as speaks to Saipan Rotarians in February 2018 about her experiences with eyewitnesses to the presence and death of Amelia Earhart on Saipan. (Photo by Junghan B. Todino, for Marianas Variety.)

To read much more about Marie S. Castro and her ongoing and significant contributions to the truth in the Earhart disappearance, please click here.

This list of unique researchers, authors and other important contributors to what is now a wealth of knowledge about the Earhart case is respectfully submitted for the information and entertainment of all.  Within a week or so, I’ll combine Parts I and II and post them as one piece at the top of this blog’s front page under the heading, “In Memoriam,” so that all who visit this blog will have quick and easy access to this gallery of those who played the vital roles in bringing us the truth about the Earhart disappearance.

9 responses

  1. Mike, this is an excellent summary of the men and women who came before you in their quest to find truth — against the tremendous avalanche of fabricated lies and myths deviously inserted into what is purported to be the “official record” of Amelia Earhart’s last flight. Yet there is one name missing (hint: initials “M.C.”) in that roll call, the man who is now “carrying the ball” that these heroes passed on. You have already earned your position as the ultimate truth seeker of A.E.’s demise, the one who has sorted through all of it, eliminated the fabricated and deceitful “evidence” and false leads, identified the real bona fide truths and curated it accordingly for future generations.

    Congratulations! Your website should be enshrined forever as the official repository for “The Real Truth of Amelia Earhart’s Fate”

    Like

    1. Phil,

      You are most kind, thanks so much. Your comment is especially meaningful, since it comes from one who has done more than anyone living to keep the light of truth burning in the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. (Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.?: The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover), JFK (LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination) and LBJ’s betrayal in the the USS Liberty travesty (Remember the Liberty!: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas).

      All the Best,
      Mike

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike- thanks so much. A beautiful tribute to all those who refused to swallow the lie about Earhart and Noonan. I’m certain they all met much resistance and ridicule in their search for the “truth at last.” There must be a lot of shining, smiling faces looking down on you right now, encouraging you to keep up the good fight, as difficult as it is.

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  3. Mike,

    Nice touch including Robert Wallack and Marie Castro. Their contributions to the truth have been significant, and they are deserving of all recognition and honors.

    All best,

    William

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  4. Mike,

    When you retire from your mission of keeping the flame alive of seeking the truth of Amelia and Fred’s disappearance, I’m afraid darkness will descend on the subject and whatever lie the Deep State at the time conjures up will become part of the basic “furniture” of American history, that is, it will be one of those axioms from which all other theories derive. Lies built upon more lies. Already is no one left now for me to discuss the AE subject with, let alone any of the other lies the government has promulgated over the years. No one under 70 wants to hear about these forbidden subjects. I may have the quote all wrong, but didn’t William Casey the former CIA director say something like “WE will have succeeded when everything the public believes is false.” ??? I guess they’re just about there.

    So I received my copy of Brennan’s book 2 days ago, and started to skim through it around pages 117-118. I accept that the Akagi wasn’t there when the Jap pilot says he shot down Amelia’s plane. Was there a different carrier there? One has to remember that apparently a Jap spoke to a Saipanese in Japanese and he was translated from Saipanese into English, leaving some room for error. The statement in the book is somewhat ambiguous in the sense of lacking in many details.

    To me, the pilot’s version is very plausible but that is my interpretation. Others see it differently, of course. What struck me was the concept that the CIA would be angry with people (natives) that talked too much about what they saw concerning AE. Why was that? Why did the CIA pick that island for a spy training camp? Did they do it partly because of the AE angle there? It just made me wonder if it served to keep the AE story “under wraps.”

    Our government is never going to release any secret files on AE now, anymore than they will release any secret JFK files. The shelf life of those stories and many similar stories has expired and those items have all been removed to be replaced by NEW IMPROVED less fattening and better for your teeth legends. I’m going to miss these forums when Mike ends them but it will also save me a lot of frustrating pondering trying to make sense of this AE story.

    All Best,
    Dave

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    1. Dave,

      Thanks for your thoughtful message. I’m 70 now and in good health, and have no plans to shut this down anytime soon. You can take a breath, for now anyway. Otherwise I can’t find anything in your missive that I can disagree with.

      All Best,
      Mike

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    2. David,

      The exact quote is, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” This can be positively attributed to O.S.S. alumni, and 13th Director of Central Intelligence (1981-1987), William J. Casey. The paragraph below, which provides attribution, setting, and context, is taken directly from TRUTHSTREAM MEDIA at truthstreammedia.com

      “I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration. The meeting was in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Cabinet Room. I was present at the meeting as Assistant to the chief domestic policy adviser to the President. Casey first told Reagan that he had been astonished to discover that over 80 percent of the ‘intelligence’ that the analysis side of the CIA produced was based on open public sources like newspapers and magazines. As he did to all the other secretaries of their departments and agencies, Reagan asked what he saw as his goal as director for the CIA, to which he replied with this quote, which I recorded in my notes of the meeting as he said it. Shortly thereafter I told Senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, who was a close friend and colleague, who in turn made it public.”
      — Barbara Honegger

      As for U.S. Government (USG) activities on Saipan, not everything is a conspiracy or cover-up related to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. The USG was supporting the Tibetans (at least up into the early 1960s) in their fight against the Communist Chinese occupying Tibet and used Saipan as a site for paramilitary training of Tibetan freedom fighters. Saipan was a logical choice as a training base as it was remote, under tight U.S. control, the terrain was ideal for training purposes, it was outside the Continental United States, the Saipan natives minded their own business and didn’t ask awkward questions, and a strange face on the island would have been noticed, and reported immediately. The alarm bells that Fred Goerner set off with his visit to Saipan were probably not so much about that he was going to discover the truth about AE and FN (although there is no doubt in my mind that that was a concern among certain parties in-the-know), but that he was actually there on behalf of CBS News to expose and report on clandestine USG paramilitary training activities in support of the Tibetans that had been taking place on the island.

      At the time of AE and FN’s loss, there were no Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) aircraft carriers — that is to say, “flattops” — in the vicinity of the Marshall Islands. The Imperial Navy had four aircraft carriers (not counting ships capable of launching an aircraft, seaplane tenders, etc.). They were IJN Akagi, IJN Hosho, IJN Kaga, and IJN Ryujo. Of course, as we’ve discussed at length, IJN Akagi was undergoing a major refit at Sasebo Naval Arsenal. The other three were deployed to the East China Sea in support of ongoing combat operations in China. IJN Soryu was new and had not yet entered fleet service. Needless to say, Fujie Firmosa’s story as told to Manny Muna, and recounted in “Witness To The Execution The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart” (1988), by author and researcher T.C. Buddy Brennan is totally without merit. Firmosa did not launch from the Akagi on 2 July 1937, and he did not shoot down Amelia Earhart. Firmosa’s story is a complete fabrication, and totally busted.

      All best,

      William

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      1. Thanks Bill, excellent response. I never supported Firmosa’s story either, but got a bit lazy in my response to David. Also was not smart about the locations of two of the Jap carriers at the time of AE’s loss, Hosho and Ryujo. Nice work with the Casey quote as well.

        Mike

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  5. For some reason the Firmosa srory has me in its grip and I can’t let it go. `I keep thinking there has to be a logical `explanation. The story as Brennan tells it does not make logical sense. So, yesterday I had an insight. I mulled it over for a day to see if it is just silly and would I be exposing myself to great ridicule if I expounded my hypothesis. Probably yes, but I can handle ridicule at this stage of my life so I’m going to plunge ahead.

    You all probably recall a notorious TV special a while ago where the magic picture was said to be exposedas a fake. Mike, you claimed this was the purpose of the show all along in order to discredit the Japanese Capture persuasion. It probably successfully did that amongst the contingent of people who are only mildy interested in the AE saga. I believe you had a name for such a psyop and you cited your friend Martin? for reinforcement. It didn’t really matter if the photo was legitimate (I tend to think it was) and the rebuttal to the immediate debunking of the photo was lost in the shuffle. If your take was correct, the show purposely threw into doubt the capture theory and paved the way for Gillespie’s bones and the Ballard fiasco because now the public’s mind had been opened.

    Here’s where I saw a parallel. Firmosa’s story sounds very plausible. It may very well be that he shot down Amelia as he claimed. Or maybe not, but that’s not the point. You see, one way or the other, it doesn’t matter. He’s conveniently dead so we can’t ask him. What matters is that his story is so easily de bunked. I never followed up on William’s link to the whereabouts of the IJN flat tops in those days but I’m sure William is correct, none in the vicinity. So the one and only reference to shoot-down that we know of is exposed as a fabrication and Firmosa appears as a buffoon. Here’s where the psychological trick comes in. Since Firmosa is a fraud, by association any shoot down scenatio is discredited in advance.

    THEREFORE, all sily follow each otherhoot down suggestions are absurd on their face and THEREFORE the Japs did not shoot down or force down Amelia who THEREFORE was never spotted by the Japs. To me, these steps do not necessarily follow each other. What happens though, is neither the Japs nor the Americans have to issue a denial of shoot-down which would be suspicious and make our new friends the Japs look like they were hiding something. Because the story was surrepititiously discovered by clever American sleuths, it can’t possibly be Japanese subterfuge. In otger words te mean old Japs are innocent and any mishap that befell Amelia was due to her incompetence and not the case that she was sent into a trap which the Japs were smart enough to apprehend. So everybody, Japs and Americans, now look as pure as the driven snow. The public is fooled, which was the purpose of this trick to begin with. That’s my take.

    All Best,
    David

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