POW submariner becomes another Earhart witness

TM3c (torpedoman third class) Robert W. Lents was aboard USS Perch (SS-176), when its entire crew was picked up by the Japanese destroyer Ushio after being forced to scuttle their badly damaged boat on March 3, 1942.   Most of Perch’s crew then endured 1,298 days of captivity without their families ever being told that they were still alive.  Of Perch’s 54 enlisted men and five officers, all but five — who died of malnutrition in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps — return alive to the United States after V-J Day.

In the opening paragraph of Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America’s Submarine POWs during the Pacific War, Stephen L. Moore’s remarkable tribute to the brave submariners of World War II, the author writes: “submariners accounted for some 55 percent of all Japanese vessels sunk in the war, although their service accounted for only 1.5 percent of the U.S. Navy. . . . Of some 16,000 men who fought in the ‘Silent Service’ during World War II, more than 20 percent did not come home.  This casualty rate was the highest of all American armed forces and was six times greater than that in the surface navy.”

The amazing, inspirational stories of Robert Lents, Perch and the other six U.S. submarine crews captured by the Japanese during the war are told in Stephen L. Moore’s 2021 book, Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America’s Submarine POWs during the Pacific War Here’s more about the book, taken from its Amazon page:

When submarines failed to return to port from patrol, they were officially listed by the Navy as overdue and presumed lost. Loved ones were notified by the War Department that their siblings, spouses, and sons were missing in action and presumed lost. While 52 U.S. submarines were sunk in the Pacific, the Japanese took prisoners of war from the survivors of only seven of these lost submarines. Presumed Lost is the compelling story of the final patrols of those seven submarines and the long captivity of the survivors. Of the 196 sailors taken prisoner, 158 would survive the horrors of the POW camps, where torture, starvation, and slave labor were common.

Robert Lents’ son, Brian Lents, 76, of Great Falls, Mont., recently informed me not only about his father’s incredible survival as a Japanese prisoner of war, but to add Robert Lents’ name to the still-growing list of World War II GIs including Thomas E. Devine, Robert E. WallackEarskin J. Nabers and many others who learned the truth about Amelia Earhart’s presence and death on Saipan, either through their own eyewitness experiences, local natives or through the accounts of her Japanese captors.  

Robert W. Lents married Carolyn Snyder in Greenfield, Iowa on Feb. 1, 1946, and to this union three children were born, Brian, Barbara and Susan. They were married for 73 years and made their home in Iowa where he farmed and worked for the U.S. Postal Service.  After Robert retired from the Post Office, they moved to Mountain Home, Ark., in 1975. 

In a Feb. 7 email, Brian wrote that he’d seen me in an Earhart-related YouTube presentation, and that he wanted to tell me about his father, who was on USS Perch when it was lost in the battle of Java Sea in March 1942.  Wounded twice he and others were picked out of the water by Jap Destroyer and taken to Makassar Celebes to POW camp,Brian wrote.  “One day the ramrod of the Jap guards who could speak some broken English told them that he had dealt with Americans before, in 1937 he was stationed on Saipan and two American prisoners were brought in.  Flyers, one was a woman dressed like a man and had short hair other was a man whom was hurt.”  Brian continued:

He even said the word Earhart a few times.  He had guarded them and they were later executed.  Robert was liberated Sept 1945.  Shortly after he was being debriefed about his experiences by a young Naval Intelligence Officer and he related this incident to him.  The officer seemed to get very interested in this and told Robert to stay put till he returned.  Shortly he came back with a senior officer who said, “This is a matter that you are not to discuss again.  And that’s an order. Chief.”  So the old Navy Chief didn’t talk about till towards the end of his life.  For whatever its worth that’s the story.

                   Robert W. Lents circa 1941.

Brian said his father met the prolific World War II author Stephen L. Moore at a submarine convention several years back, when there still a few POWswith us.  Moore was sending Dad his rough drafts of the chapters as he wrote them, Brian told me in a Feb. 20 email.So I also got to read them.  Lord how wish I had made copies.  Moore told Dad the book had to be cleared by Naval Intelligence before it could be published.  Well, when I read the book it certainly wasn’t the one I had read.  All the vivid details of the torture that was inflicted on these men had been censored out.  Kind of like the AE case where the real victim is truth.”  For the record, Amelia Earhart is never mentioned in Presumed Lost.

Of all the incredible elements of the Robert Lents story, probably the most amazing is that the former third-class torpedoman lived to the ripe old age of 99 — virtually unheard-of feat among former Japanese POWs — and was married to his wife Carolyn for 73 years!

Japs took them to Celebes to Pow camp,Brian wrote in a Feb. 9 email.  “Liberation came after 42 months of hell.  About a year or so after the war Robert was medically discharged from the Navy as Chief Petty Officer.  He then was an Iowa farmer, postmaster and rural mail carrier.  He retired and moved to Arkansas.  He died in the Vets home at Fayetteville, Ark., in Nov 2020 at the age of 99.  He still had Jap iron in his body.  The old body was worn out, but his mind was sharp right up to the end.”

To view his obituary, please click here.

For even more on Robert Lents, here’s a profile by Art Randall that appeared in the American Submariner, originally published in 2005: A Profile of a Submarine POW Veteran:  Robert W. Lents.”



16 responses

  1. What an amazing story, Mike. Even at this late point in time, more than 85 years after Amelia and Fred’s loss, they continue to speak to us down through the ages through eyewitnesses like this brave submariner. Reports like this one give us hope that all is not lost and the truth will prevail, even after this long. Thanks for continuing to report the truth, Mike.


  2. Mike- wow! A great revelation!!! Fascinating and yet another vindication of the Earhrart/Noon truth on Saipan. It is interesting, though, how the reports seem to vary on the fate of Earhart herself. It would seem, according to eye witnesses that she died of dysentery, while others were told that like Noonan, she was executed. This may be a minor point in the big picture, but i think it adds to the confusion about the veracity of the story..maybe not, I would like to hear your opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave,

      I think it’s more likely that she died of dysentery and was cremated, as Marie Castro’s alleged eyewitness, Mr. Jose Sadao Tomokane, told some close to him. See https://earharttruth.wordpress.com/2018/05/18/marie-castro-a-treasure-chest-of-saipan-history-reveals-previously-unpublished-witness-accounts. Also, so very few were actual eyewitnesses — and those Japanese military that didn’t survive the war — that it’s nearly impossible to be sure about how AE died. I disagree that this should add “confusion about the veracity” of the story, at least to those who understand the facts and the situation surrounding her sad demise, as well as that of Fred Noonan.

      Thanks as always for your support.



  3. I look forward to reading the book; what surprises me is the part about Naval Intelligence (?) having to clear/approve it before being published, and did in fact censor it. You wouldn’t think that subject matter that old would need to be kept secret, but then again, we know that it continues to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Mike for the latest news. Somone needs to write an article citing all of these eye witness reoirts. It could be sent to a military journal, so that it gets peer reviewed. This would be a fine way to discover if the censors are still active.
    Stanley Krippner

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re still active, Doctor Stan, you can be sure of that. What do you think this blog is, except the largest compilation of witness and eyewitness Earhart testimony ever assembled, among other things?

      Not only them, but nearly every elected official and bureaucrat in Washington is currently working on taking all of our free speech rights away. You must be getting your news from the networks and other establishment sources to even make such a suggestion. Try https//www.thegatewaypundit.com for starters if you’d like a taste of the truth. It’s quite bitter of course, but it’s far better than the lies we’re constantly fed about everything in the stinking world.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. But I was not suggesting a TV special. I was suggesting appearing on podcasts. There are dozens of them and they are eager to host provocative guests.
        My other suggestion was to write a piece for a scholarly journal . The mainstream media does not control those journals. You could not do this but perhaps there is someone from academia who could do so.


      2. Doctor Stan,

        I’ve been on numerous podcasts and radio programs; many local radio hosts treated me very well in the early years after Truth at Last was published. See the media page on this blog. I stopped querying media years ago, but this blog will stand and speak for itself for years to come. Nowhere can you find anything approximating what we do here, whether in content, quality or quantity. I’ve put my heart into this blog since 2012.

        NO scholarly journal is interested in the truth in the Earhart matter, as nearly all are funded directly or indirectly by federal money. Even those that are not could care less, and whatever appears in them is seen by a scant few. I submit to you that my book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, which is the best researched, most documented Earhart book ever, is in fact a scholarly work for the masses, and most have found it on their own, without being directed by media. This is not a boast, but a fact supported by solid numbers.

        Simply compare our number of reviews on Amazon to the mainstream media’s favorite Earhart books such as those by Ric Gillespie, Susan Butler, Doris Rich, Elgen M. Long etc., and you will see that Truth at Last has far more reviews, which directly reflects sales. Only a few Earhart children’s books have outsold Truth at Last in recent years, and of course you know what these books are telling our youth.

        The problem, as always, is that so few care. The things you see on TV (Sellevision) and on the Net about Amelia Earhart are never real news, but are manufactured, transparently phony, fake news produced only for clicks and dollars. The reason you see so little of it nowadays is that Gillespie’s scam has run its course and even the morons are sick of seeing and hearing about Nikumaroro.

        I continue to present the truth for those few who care, and who are becoming fewer every day in this godless, illiterate, nearly hopeless society of ours.



  5. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    That the stunning, late-in-life revelation by CPO Lents about the Japanese POW camp guard’s claim regarding Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and Lents’ subsequent admonishment by Office of Naval Intelligence personnel in a post-war debriefing not to discuss it didn’t make it into Stephen Moore’s “Presumed Lost” does not surprise me in the slightest. It’s part of an old, demonstrated, established pattern of U.S. Government cover-up and denial. Despite USNI’s published mission statement “To provide an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write…” as well as it’s claim of being “independent, non-partisan, and innovative” as it proclaims on it’s website, we know from the gross omission of Lents’ statement that USNI dares and challenges nothing. For USNI, when it comes to the July 1937 capture of AE and FN by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands, and their subsequent deaths on Saipan, it’s “Damn the Truth, Full Speed Ahead!”

    All best,



    1. William,

      I should add that it’s notable that Ric Gillespie’s book, Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance, was published by Naval Institute Press, in 2009, the same year as Presumed Lost in its original hardcover edition. The establishment’s policy of pure deceit in their editorial policy about the Earhart disappearance is crystal clear.



      1. William H. Trail


        I should have caught that. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve looked at Gillespie’s book. I’d totally forgotten that it too was published by the Naval Institute Press. Publishing Gillespie’s Nikumororo fantasy nonsense while at the very same time censoring the truth from Moore’s history sets a whole new standard for mendacity.

        All best,



  6. David Atchason | Reply

    I did not realize that Naval Intellugence censored this book at least. How do they choose what books to censor? I think you told me no one has ever told you what to write.

    I understand in Devine’s book he makes reference to being told or learning that some things must not be said as “they” want to clean up the Japanese wartime image so as to make the (probably long planned) US/Japan alliance after the war more palatable to the gullible American people. Actually, I would think that the Japanese image was purposely painted much worse than reality for wartime purposes. This is one of the principal roles of the MSM in wartime. The Japanese MSM was doing the same, of course.

    What motivated me to write today was when I linked to Wallach’s story. There is this quote “”Therefore, these items could not have been obtained from a plane that had been reported down at sea, some seven years prior to this event. “Of course referring to the briefcase he found. It makes me think of the image of the fishermen watching them come ashore in a litle yellow life raft that is in TAL, I believe. It makes it sound like the plane landed in a lagoon or at least on an underwater reef somewhat offshore from Barre Island. The witnesses do not report that she was clutching a briefcase. If the plane was actually winched onto a barge through water deep enough to float a heavy barge, how does the briefcase survive in pristine condition? Of course it’s not impossible, but to me it’s unlikely to happen. What I’m getting at is, of course, my absurd hypothesis that she actually landed on the runway of Aslito Field and that all her documents were very much undisturbed so that the Japanese could simply pack them up and carry them to safekeeping in a nearby building. If it happened like I just conjectured, Naval Intelligence sure wouldn’t let that news get out even to this day.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. The U.S. Navy pursued a long term effort at significant expense to develop their concept of the fleet submarine during the Thirties. That effort resulted in the very effective Gato, Balao, and Tench class subs of WW2. Since a submarine is inherently stealthy, covert surveillance is a natural mission. Officially, the USN did not deploy fleet submarines to the far Pacific until just weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, one has to question if the USN would not have used the surveillance capability of their progressively more advanced subs in the mid- to late Thirties to monitor activity in the Japanese “Mandates” in the manner which proved so valuable during WW2.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. William H. Trail | Reply


    “Officially” is the operative word here. If the Navy used submarines for pre-WWII clandestine reconnaissance of the Japanese Mandates, it’s highly classified and buried deep. The file on that is probably next to the one on AE. One has to wonder about any recon parties that might have been inserted for a quick “sneak and peek,” and never returned to the subs. Next-of-kin of any lost personnel would have been given a plausible cover story (for example, at-sea training accident, body not recovered).

    On a related note, the Navy did not use submarine periscope photography for reconnaissance until late 1943 in the planning for Operation GALVANIC, the invasion of Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Prior to that, submarine periscope photography had been used primarily to document the sinking of enemy vessels.

    All best,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. William–

      According to the source linked below, Eastman Kodak & Co. manufactured the Sub-Periscope Still Camera 35 mm. Mark 1 from 1938 to 1947. It appears to be a single lens reflex camera with a simple image splitter and adapter for the periscope.


      There was also a Periscope Motion-Picture Camera 16 mm. Mark 2 also manufactured by Eastman Kodak with a similar adapter.

      Images of both cameras are easy to find with a quick search.

      If the still cameras were available from some time in 1938 it’s surprising that the cameras were not used, or not used “officially,” for photo- reconnaissance until late ’43.

      An interesting article about covert sub operations during WW2:


      – Dale


      1. William H. Trail


        Many thanks for the links. Interesting reading, and much appreciated.

        After somehow misplacing it in my computer files, and much searching to locate it, here’s the link to the source material upon which I based my comments:


        In the referenced article from the Naval History and Heritage Command’s “The Sextant” “… attack submarine Nautilus (SS-168) would perform the first combat periscope photography leading to the capture of the Apamama Atoll in the South Pacific Nov. 19-24 1943.”

        As the Mk. I was developed by Kodak in 1938, I’m a bit surprised that Operation GALVANIC in Fall ’43 was the first use of combat periscope photography for reconnaissance purposes. Surely there were prior opportunities to make use of that technology. For instance, the battle for Guadalcanal was 1942.

        All best,



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