In a March 2, 2015 post titled “Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga,” I introduced the late Jim Golden, a close friend of Fred Goerner and, in the day, a near-legendary figure in Earhart research circles. Golden remarkable career included eight years as a Secret Service agent in the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, two years as Howard Hughes’ chief of security in Las Vegas, and several years as a top U.S. Justice Department official, from where he tried to help Goerner search for the elusive top-secret Earhart files that President John F. Kennedy had allowed Goerner and California newspaperman Ross Game to view briefly in 1963, just before JFK’s assassination in Dallas.
Among the Earhart-related information Golden shared with Goerner was the revelation that Earhart and Fred Noonan were brought to the islands of Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll by air from Jaluit Atoll by the Japanese in 1937, a fact he learned from Marine Intelligence officers during the American invasion of Kwajalein in January 1944.
The below story appeared in the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Tribune, on Oct. 4, 1977.
“Prober says Amelia Earhart death covered up”
By Richard Williams, Tribune Sun Writer
A high-level Washington official claims the disappearance 40 years ago of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and the mystery shrouding the matter may have been President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own “Watergate.”
In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, James Golden, director of the Enforcement Division of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), said his years of study of the Earhart case led him to believe Roosevelt knew of her whereabouts and did nothing about it on purpose.
Golden, in Albuquerque to watch city police make arrests in connection with an LEAA-funded storefront operation Friday and Saturday, said all evidence points to Miss Earhart’s being held captive for a year and a half by the Japanese on the South Pacific Island of Saipan.
“And the Japanese reportedly executed her copilot, Fred Noonan, by chopping off his head,” Golden said. “Miss Earhart died the following day of dysentery, the Japanese said, even though she was seen by Saipan natives walking in a compound the day before.”
Golden, who was a Marine intelligence officer when he landed with the fourth wave of Marines in the Marshall Islands in January 1944, said he personally read native accounts of Miss Earhart’s and Noonan’s presence in the islands. [Ed. note: Golden was not an officer, but an enlisted Marine combat photographer assigned to independent duty with the intelligence section of the 4th Marine Division in 1944.)
Miss Earhart, a world-famous pilot, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on a flight from Lea, New Guinea, to Howland Island in the South Pacific. Golden said the subsequent years of his interest in the case and talks with other intelligence officers closely involved with the islands during and after their capture from the Japanese have indicated that Miss Earhart may have been on a spying mission for the U.S. government.
Golden said he used to be an employee of Lockheed Aircraft, which built Miss Earhart’s plane and outfitted it for the flight on which she disappeared. [Ed. note: Golden told me that this was absolutely false. He had never worked for Lockheed.]
“I learned that the aircraft’s regular engines, capable of cruising at 160 miles an hour, were replaced with engines which gave the plane capability of cruising at 220 miles an hour,” Golden said. [Ed. note: To my knowledge, we have no evidence to support this.]
He said that although Miss Earhart’s flight path was originally to avoid islands such as Saipan and Tinian, held by the Japanese since World War I, the greater flying speed could allow her to have made a photographic sweep over the heavily fortified area and still arrive at Howland in the same time it would have taken her to fly direct at the lower speed.
“What really bothers me about the whole thing is that if Miss Earhart was on such a mission and was a prisoner of the Japanese, as she seems to have been, why won’t the government acknowledge the facts and give her the hero’s treatment she deserves?” Golden said.
The reason, Golden has determined, is that Roosevelt hid the truth about Miss Earhart and Noonan, fearing public reaction to the death of a heroine and voter reaction at the polls.
Golden said he bases his feelings on his own knowledge of the affair and the subsequent revelations dug up by Fred Goerner, a freelance investigative reporter from San Francisco, in years of interviews.
As he related the actions of high-level military and government officers in the time around Miss Earhart’s disappearance, it sounded like a cloak-and-dagger story of the first magnitude.
Two Marines [Privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks] ordered to dig up the remains of two persons near a hotel in Garapan, a town on Saipan, there remains placed in yellow containers and sent back to the U.S.
A Marine general who personally pulled an airplane from a Japanese hangar on one of the islands and set it afire in the middle of the night after the island was captured from the Japanese. An extensive file, of which Golden read a part, which contained Japanese accounts of the Earhart capture — a file which has floated through several government agencies and “gets thinner every year” and the whereabouts of which are unknown at the moment, Golden said.
“And how about the fact that two of the men who donated $25,000 to Purdue University to fund Miss Earhart’s flight were members of Roosevelt’s National Security Council?” Golden asked. “And how about the fact that the last person to walk Miss Earhart to her plane before the flight was a Navy intelligence officer?”
Golden said his information is that Miss Earhart over-flew Howland and was forced to crash-land on an uninhabited dot of land far from her target. “Apparently, the Japanese had homing devices better than ours, and they captured her and Noonan and the airplane before we could find her,” Golden said.
Golden said he personally read translated native accounts from the island of Roi-Namur in the Marshalls which said the natives recalled a “woman dressed like a man with her short blond hair cut like a man’s and a man with a bandaged head” being held prisoner there for a short time by the Japanese.
The natives said the two were placed on a Japanese freighter and sent away later, apparently to Saipan, Golden recounted.
“The natives said the Japanese referred to the two prisoners as ‘American flier-spies,'” Golden said. Golden said he cannot understand why the government would continue to hide the facts behind the disappearances. “I just hope that someday justice is done, and the woman receives the honor due her for her service to her country,” Golden said. [End of Albuquerque Tribune story.]
Golden passed away suddenly at his home on March 7, 2011 at age 85, though he had encouraged me to hasten my efforts to publish the first edition of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (2012), because he felt his time was coming soon. As I wrote in closing “Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga,” in 2015, “We’ll never see the likes of Jim Golden again, and I hope someday we’ll meet in a much better place.”
More on Jim Golden’s amazing life and contributions to the Earhart saga can be found in the pages of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.