Monthly Archives: January, 2022

IFF rejects Calvin Pitts’ appeal, refuses to engage

Today we return to the unpleasant subject of the International Forest of Friendship (IFF) and its recent request to unsubscribe from this blog and reject the honest work that’s done here on behalf of an extremely worthy cause.  Now it’s not only this blog that they have no respect for, it’s the iconic aviator Calvin Pitts who they’ve decided is also unworthy of their merest acknowledgement. (* See update at bottom.)

The IFF organization in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart’s birthplace in the Heartland of America, prides itself as aliving, growing memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace. On the IFF’s idyllic landscape you can find a life-size statue of Amelia Earhart and The Amelia Earhart Earthworks, among other family-friendly attractions.  

Calvin Pitts in 1981, with The Spirit of Winnie Mae and the thermos Amelia Earhart carried with her on her solo Atlantic Crossing in 1932. The thermos was on loan from Jimmie Mattern, Wiley Post’s competitor who flew The Century of Progress Vega in an attempt to beat Wiley in the 1933 solo round-the-world race, but Mattern crashed in Siberia.  Calvin brought Amelia’s thermos along with him on his own successful world flight in 1981.

Most regular readers are familiar with my post of Nov. 21, 2021, Forest of Friendship rejects Earhart truth, which described my response to the IFF’s terse unsubscriberequest after years of receiving this blog, albeit without comment.  I’ve linked it above so that anyone can understand the basics of this odious situation.  Calvin responded to this post that same day, and he wrote in closing his comment:

Personally knowing some of Amelia’s close associates, I have serious doubts that she would approve of anything so cheap. I knew Wiley’s wife and brother, and they would not have approved.  I knew several of Amelia’s associates, and they were all professionals of class.

Such rudeness is so unlike the Amelia-world I knew, that it is surprising.  I will let you know the response I receive, if any. You and your historic Blog deserve better than this.  People like Wiley, Amelia, Fay, and a host of others I associated with, were not only courteous, but people of class.  On their behalf, I apologize.  Will be in touch.

To see Calvin’s entire comment, please click here or go to comments of Nov. 21, 2021.

Of course Calvin followed through on his pledge to contact the IFF and find out for himself why they feel this blog is beneath their attention.  But such is the IFF leadership’s aversion to the light of public knowledge that we couldn’t find the name of the IFF’s president or any of its officials, so Calvin addressed his letter to the IFF office manager, asking that she kindly pass up the chain to the appropriate parties, hoping to reach the still nameless IFF president.

Here is his letter of Dec. 7, 2021 in its original format.  You can click on each page for a larger view.  

No one has replied to Calvin’s kind letter, exceptional on so many levels, and by this late date it’s safe to assume that the IFF has no plans to do so.  We can only imagine the level of arrogance and contempt required to ignore such a sincere, good-faith appeal to the better angels of the still-unnamed IFF president and others of the IFF leadership.  Whoever they are, they should be ashamed of their abject failure to fulfill even the lowest, most basic public call to civility and transparency, and the entire IFF is now culpable for this feckless affront and insult to Calvin Pitts.  It is also a glaring example of the establishment’s thorough hatred for the Marshalls-Saipan Truth in the Earhart disappearance, and its refusal to even consider it. 

The envelope of a March 1994 letter from Fay Gillis Wells to Captain Calvin Pitts, who shared a 20-year friendship and correspondence with Wells, who played a key role in Wiley Post’s 1933 round-the-world flight by setting up fuel stops across Siberia.  “Her stories to me about Post were another lasting treasure,” Pitts wrote in his letter to the still unnamed IFF president. 

What more can one say about the IFF at this point?  Their abject silence screams volumes about these creatures, who have gone out of their way to sink to a level that’s beneath even the contempt with which they regard us. 

I asked Calvin, who has recently suffered medical problems that he’s asked me not to mention and remains undaunted, if he’d like to make a closing statement to complete this dreary post.  Ever the Christian gentleman, Calvin replied thusly:


In times like this, when we encounter those who out of fear, misplaced loyalties and willful ignorance refuse to do the right thing, the best we can do is try to forgive them and move on.  We can also try to pray that someday the light will come on in their dim minds, and they might consider joining those of us who can honor the legacy of Amelia Earhart and revere and honor the truth in the same breath — something they’ve proven themselves incapable of at this time.

Fortunately, due to the professional research, the tedious work, and a love for truth as displayed in Mike Campbell’s stellar book, THE TRUTH AT LAST, coupled with other gifted researchers, writers, and eyewitnesses, we were introduced to some of the private, unpublished knowledge of men like Adm. Chester Nimitz Jr., Gen.  Alexander Vandegrift, Gen. Graves Erskine, Gen. Tommy Watson, and a host of eyewitnesses who told their stories.  Because of men and women like that, we know the end of the Earhart story, and are able to lay to rest the amazing life of a beautiful woman who has earned her rest.


What more is there to say?

* Jan. 25 UPDATE: Longtime reader Tom Williams has informed me that he’s found an overview of the International Forest of Friendship as of 12/2019, which lists its major officers as follows:

Linton Wells II, Chairman

Leonard Buddenbohm, Vice Chairman

Shannon Osborne, Treasurer

Cheryl K. Smith, Secretary 

Researcher Tony Gochar also contributed information to this update.  Tom Williams informs us that Linton Wells II is the son of the great Fay Gillis Wells, who Calvin Pitts praised so glowingly in his brief tribute above.  Here’s Fay Gillis Wells 2002 obituary.


Eyewitness Josephine Blanco Akiyama dead at 95

Josephine Blanco Akiyama, a name that needs no introduction to anyone interested in the history of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and inarguably the most important and well known of the original Saipan eyewitnesses, died at 95 of a heart attack on Jan. 8 at her home in Foster City, Calif. 

Earlier today, Josephine’s son, Ed, sent me the news:

Hi Mike,

I am sending you this message to inform you that my mother passed away peacefully at home on Saturday January 8, 2022.  She was 95 years old . . . and suffered a heart attack.

She and I enjoyed reading your newsletters and the many comments by your readers and supporters.  Of course, like many, she had her own opinions and viewpoints.

If you do write of her passing, please be kind but concise of her contributions to the Amelia Earhart story and legacy.

Thanks for the many newsletters that have been a joy for my mother to read and to discuss with me.

. . . I once told her that “fate” chose her to let the world know of AE.  The rest is history.

Best Regards,


Josephine Blanco circa 1960, the most important and influential of the Saipan witnesses.  Few photos of Josephine are available.  She never sought fame, money or publicity for sharing her momentous story with Paul Briand Jr, the San Mateo Times and Fred Goerner, just for starters. 

Josephine’s childhood sighting of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan at Saipan’s Tanapag Harbor in the summer of 1937, first revealed in Paul Briand Jr.’s 1960 book Daughter of the Sky, ignited the true modern search for America’s First Lady of Flight. 

She returned to Saipan in October 2018 and was honored at an Oct. 9 reception dinner by Marie Castro and other members of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI).  The event was also attended by reporters from the Marianas VarietySaipan Tribune and Saipan’s KSPN2 News.

Josephine, appearing well at 92, who’s lived in the San Mateo, California area since 1957, said she still “still vividly remembers her only encounter with the American aviator,” Lyn C. Lirio wrote in her Marianas Variety story Oct. 11, headlined, 2 say they saw Amelia Earhart on Saipan.” 

Josephine Blanco Akiyama (second from left sitting) with family and friends at the reception dinner hosted by Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. AEMMI members including Marie Castro and then-Rep. Donald Barcinas were on hand at Fiesta Resort & Spa on Oct. 9, 2018.  (Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio.)

Here’s Josephine’s obituary, courtesy of the Sneider & Sullivan & O’Connell’s Funeral Home, in San Mateo, Calif.  Visitation, for anyone in the area who’s interested in paying their respects to this great lady, will be Sunday, Jan. 30 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the funeral home.

Josephine Blanco Akiyama passed away peacefully on Saturday January 8, 2022 at her home with family and friends by her side.  She was loved by her family and will live in the hearts of her countless relatives and friends.  She loved life and brought joy to all she met.

She was born on the island of Saipan located in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific. She was the youngest daughter of Juan T. Blanco and Antonia Blas Blanco.  Her parents, three brothers and six sisters all survived the hostilities and battles of World War II, between the Empire of Japan and the United States of America.

In 1937, as a young 11-year-old, she witnessed the landing and capture of two flyers which later were identified as Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  After hostilities ended on Saipan in 1945, she worked as a Dental Assistant at a U.S. Naval Medical station located in Garapan, Saipan.  General inquiries about an American flyer on Saipan by Naval staff officers revealed her eyewitness account of the plane landing and subsequent event of 1937.

Josephine Blanco Akiyama, left, the first and arguably most important of all the eyewitnesses to the presence of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan in 1937, and Marie S. Castro answer a few questions at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Committee’s reception for Josephine at the Garapan Fiesta Resort and Spa Oct. 9, 2018.

In 1956, she moved and relocated with her husband, Max R. Akiyama, and son to California where they settled in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She worked at Mills Hospital in San Mateo and later open her own business, Josephine’s Beauty Salon, in which she enjoyed over thirty years of success.

She is survived by her loving son Edward B. Akiyama and daughter-in-law Donna H. Akiyama of Concord, Calif.  Her generous and good-natured sprit will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

For much more about Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s life and legacy, please click here.

Requiescat in Pace.

Kanna’s letter among first of GI Saipan witnesses

Today we return for further examination of the remarkable deposit of evidence that American miliary personnel provided to Earhart researchers that solidified the undeniable fact of the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

In my March 13, 2020 post, Veterans recall seeing Earhart photos on Saipanwe began with Ralph R. Kanna, of Johnson City, New York, assigned to the Army’s 106th Infantry Regiment on Saipan, who was among the first of the former GIs to contact Fred Goerner during his early Saipan investigations.  In 1961, Kanna told Goerner that as platoon sergeant of his intelligence unit on Saipan, his duty was to insure [sic] that we would take as many prisoners as possible for interrogation purposes. 

In this undated photo from the mid-1960s, Fred Goerner holds forth from his perch at KCBS Radio, San Francisco, at the height of his glory as the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart.

The below letter from appeared in the July 1996 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  The headline is taken directly from the AES original; editor Bill Prymak’s note that the letter was sent to Fred Goerner in the mid-1960sis incorrect.  Kanna sent the letter sometime in 1961, as noted in Goerner’s 1966 classic, The Search for Amelia Earhart.  Underline emphasis in original, boldface emphasis mine unless noted. 

Dear Mr. Goerner: 

I assume this letter will be of some importance to you.  In it I shall endeavor to state some facts concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

I was Platoon Sergeant of the I & R Platoon of Headquarters Co. of the 106th Infantry, 27th Inf. Division during the assault on Saipan.  It was my duty at the time to insure (sic) that we would take as many prisoners as possible for interrogation purposes.

This photo accompanied the original July 1996 AES Newsletter presentation of Ralph Kanna’s letter to Fred Goerner circa 1961.

On Saipan we captured one particular prisoner near an area designated as Tank Valley.”  This prisoner had in his possession a picture which showed the late Amelia Earhart standing near Japanese aircraft on an airfield.  Assuming the picture of the aircraft to be of value, it was forwarded through channels to the S-2 (Intelligence Officer).   

But more important, upon questioning this prisoner by one of our “Nesei Boys” (interpreters), he stated that this woman was taken prisoner along with a male companion and subsequently he felt that both of them had been executed.

From time to time I have told these facts to associates, and they finally have convinced me to write you.  I obtained your address from an article in the NY Herald Tribune of Nov. 25, 1961.  The article stated your interest in this case.

My memory is not accurate as to dates and times of the actual contact with the prisoner, but I had only three interpreters during my tour as Platoon Sergeant of the Intelligence Section.  They were: Mr. Roy Higashi; Mr. William Nuno; Mr. Richard Moritsugu.  I am sure that if contact could be made with these persons they would corroborate my story.  I assure you I am not a crank.

This picture I spoke of must be somewhere in U.S. government files.  I wish you continued success in your investigation, because I am positive that your assumptions are correct.

Ralph R. Kanna

The names Kanna provided Goerner were three men who had served as interpreters for his unit.  Goerner located only one of them, Richard Moritsugu, in Honolulu, whose voice “quavered and broke” on the phone when Goerner asked about Saipan and Sergeant Kanna.  Moritsugu told Goerner he had no desire to discuss the war.

The late Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps during the World War II, told Fred Goerner in a 1971 letter that Amelia Earhart died on Saipan.

Several other former GIs later contacted Goerner, among them ex-Marines Everette Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, whose stories are well known to those who’ve read Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart, Truth at Last or this blog. 

Later, 26 such individuals reached out to Thomas E. Devine in response to his plea at the close of his 1987 book, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.  Their stories were recorded in our 2002 book, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, and especially Truth at Last, in which I devoted an entire chapter, “Saipan Veterans Come Forward,” to chronicling this phenomenon so unique to the Earhart disappearance, one that the establishment deniers, haters and nay sayers have no coherent response to.

These were just some of the American witnesses to the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

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