Newly released JFK assassination files tell old story: Like Earhart, only goal is to protect sacred cow
From the moment I saw the Oct. 21 New York Times story announcing that President Donald Trump had ordered the release of the last declassified JFK assassination files, I smelled an old rat, whose familiar stench has permeated the Earhart disappearance for nearly 80 years. I’m no expert on the Kennedy case, and though I won’t advocate any specific scenario that contradicts the official line here, I will certainly assert with confidence that the infamous Warren Commission Report could well be the most dishonest document in U.S. government history.
With 30 years of focus on the Earhart travesty, however, I’m quite familiar with the phony 1967 Navy release of the “remaining” Earhart files. It’s transparently obvious that the current drill is more of the same, another huge disinformation operation, this time on a scale meant to permanently stifle the predictable complaints of the hated “conspiracy theorists,” who won’t be pleased with what they find in the Kennedy documents — or more accurately, what they won’t find.
Ironically, it was President John F. Kennedy who allowed Fred Goerner and Ross Game to view top-secret Earhart files in Washington in 1963, according to Game, files that chronicled the abandonment and betrayal of Amelia Earhart on Japanese-controlled Saipan by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. For a detailed discussion of the 1967 Earhart files fiasco, as well as Goerner’s role in exposing the corruption and dishonesty that has plagued the Earhart case from day one, see pages 259-261 and 271-275 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.
Even the New York Times, in its Oct. 21 announcement, didn’t bother to pretend that the forthcoming documents would shed any new light on what most informed Americans are convinced was a complex conspiracy to kill the president:
In a statement to reporters, the White House left open the possibility that Mr. Trump might halt the release of some documents. “The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” the statement said. It is not known what revelations might be contained in the unreleased documents, though researchers and authors of books about Kennedy say they do not expect any bombshells that significantly alter the official narrative of the assassination — that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in Dallas — delivered in 1964 by the Warren Commission.
As expected, Fox News reported Oct. 27, that “Just before the release Thursday, Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had ‘no choice’ but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility that releasing the information could still harm national security.” In fact, the only security that those who control the Kennedy files care about is their own, anyone still living who could be connected to the Kenney hit, and their families, of course — a small battalion of criminals — or a large nest of vipers. The fox not only watches the henhouse these days, he owns it.
All manner of stories proliferate, but they all have one thing in common: They offer nothing but fluff, harmless innuendo and distraction designed to titillate and entertain, but most of all, their purpose is to even more convincingly convict — if only in the eyes of the most ignorant — Lee Harvey Oswald, the “Communist nut,” the “lone wolf,” as the lunatic who brought off the most incredible marksmanship feat in world history from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, killing JFK and practically blowing his entire head off in the process. No point in linking to these countless stories here, as they’re almost impossible to avoid. Take your pick.
Most of age can recall our exactly locations when we heard the news. I was in an eighth-grade classroom at St. Marks School in Adelphi, Md., when the announcement came over the loudspeaker, delivered by the school’s autocratic principal, a Catholic nun named Mother Jerome. For a healthy, sports-addled 13-year-old without any political education or compass, it was just another exciting development in a place far away.
Who could have dreamed that Kennedy’s death would usher in the whole horrendous panoply of the 20th century’s remaining decades? Beginning with the Vietnam War, a newly insatiable political and cultural liberalism gave us LBJ’s Great Society, the world’s biggest welfare state and the attack on the family; Woodstock, the hippie movement, the drug plague and the phony War on Drugs; the sexual revolution, the normalization and glorification of homosexuality, and the current transgender abomination; the April 4 and June 5, 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy by the same malevolent forces responsible for JFK’s slaughter; the lie of political correctness; radical feminism; Roe v. Wade (1973) and the Culture of Death, with 56.5 million Americans murdered in the womb as of 2013; the pornography explosion; HIV and the AIDS epidemic; affirmative action, race quotas and reverse discrimination that have yet to be addressed; left-wing public education’s degenerate emphasis on atheism, secular humanism and so-called “social activism,” resulting in a national pandemic of illiteracy; the eight-year Clinton blight; and the continued degradation and downward trajectory of American society into the 21st century.
We can’t begin to know how different things would have been had JFK lived; many who possess a basic understanding of history point to the assassination as the day that true evil took over in the halls of our government. It’s hard to imagine an America without the aforementioned social, political and economic disasters that have so largely defined the past 50 years, but it’s equally difficult to doubt that our world today wouldn’t be better for most of us had JFK lived.
We know that Kennedy wanted to get the United States out of Vietnam, and the billions it would have cost corporate America was enough motivation for certain establishment wolves to take him out. In his Jan. 1, 1961 farewell speech, JFK’s predecessor, World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower, suggested that something dire might be looming. “In the councils of government,” Eisenhower famously said, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
For those who want to know more about what happened at Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, I asked an expert on American history, Dave Martin (DCDave.com) for his top book recommendations. “There’s a lot of great work out there on the JFK assassination,” Martin told me in a recent email. “You might start by reading my 50th anniversary article. Phil Nelson’s two books [LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination and LBJ: From Mastermind to “The Colossus“] on LBJ’s involvement are hard to top. Sylvia Meagher’s early analysis of the Warren Commission Report, Accessories After the Fact has not been matched through all the years that have passed. She really exposes the FBI for the cover-up artists that they are. Mark Lane’s Rush To Judgment is also still worth reading. . . . You could also do a lot worse than just reading my other various articles on the subject.“
America’s sacred cows don’t come any bigger than the JFK hit — but the truth about the Earhart disappearance is close — and both of these sacred cows will be protected at all costs. The only certainty is that nothing significant will ever be found in these or any released documents related to the Kennedy assassination or the loss of Amelia Earhart.
After the smoke and BS clears, the hapless patsy Lee Harvey Oswald will again be convicted and certified as the lone shooter, per the mendacious Warren Commission whitewash, and this sacred cow will be preserved into perpetuity. Donald Trump can’t or won’t expose the deep state’s refusal to reveal how LBJ, the CIA and others murdered JFK. They will never come clean, just as they will never admit the truth about poor Amelia and Fred Noonan.
Today we conclude our brief excursion into the still unspeakable — as far as official Japan is concerned, anyway — prewar and World War II crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese military in numbers that still stun to contemplate. Undoubtedly the most notable atrocities Japan has never admitted and for which it has never made amends are the murders of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan sometime after their July 2, 1937 disappearance. As I wrote in my Sept. 25 post, “Earhart’s murder among first of Japan’s War Crimes,“ this section was originally created for inclusion in the closing chapter of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. My intent was to demonstrate how easily the American fliers became among the very first victims of the bloodthirsty Japanese regime upon their still-unexplained landing at Japanese controlled Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937. Here, then, is part two of “Japan’s War Crimes.”
JAPAN’S WAR CRIMES
Former Japanese soldier Akira Makino, of Osaka, assigned to Unit 731 for four months in 1945, described his dissection and dismemberment of 10 Filipino prisoners of war, including two teenage girls, for the U.K.’s Daily Mail in March 2007. “We removed some of the organs and amputated legs and arms,” Akira recalled. “Two of the victims were young women, 18 or 19 years old. I hesitate to say it but we opened up their wombs to show the younger soldiers. They knew very little about women — it was sex education.” Akira’s victims were luckier than some, according to reporter Christopher Hudson, who wrote that Makino “anaesthetized them before cutting them up,” while others were not so fortunate.
Suspicions persist that some American POWs were subjected to the always-fatal experiments at the Japanese BW units in Manchuria. In 1980, journalist John W. “Bill” Powell Jr., writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, briefly galvanized public attention on Japan’s BW atrocities when he reported that “among the human guinea pigs were an undetermined number of American soldiers, captured during the early part of the war and confined in prisoner-of-war camps in Manchuria.” The sensational charges in Powell’s article, “Japan’s Biological Weapons: 1930-1945, a Hidden Chapter in History,” were broadcast in the American media on the CBS news weekly Sixty Minutes, and featured in People Magazine.
Powell was best known for his sedition trial after he published an article in 1952 that reported on allegations made by Mainland Chinese officials that the United States and Japan were carrying out germ warfare in the Korean War. In 1956 the Eisenhower Administration pressed sedition charges against Powell, his wife, Sylvia, and Julian Schuman, after grand jury indictments that had been sought by Federal prosecutors were handed down against the three North Americans who had published the allegations about bacteriological warfare. However, the prosecutors failed to get any convictions.
Powell’s 1980 efforts led to Congressional hearings and an acknowledgement by Japan’s Diet that Unit 731 had existed and “committed heinous war crimes,” but no formal apologies have even been issued by Japan, which awarded Ishii a handsome retirement pension, despite government knowledge of his BW experiments. In fact, neither Ishii nor anyone else associated with the vast Japanese biological warfare program were ever brought to justice by the United States, despite fitting the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal’s definition of “A” level war criminals.
Ishii and more than two dozen Japanese BW experts were granted immunity from prosecution for sharing “the fruits of their research” with American scientists involved in their own, more benign research. At House Veterans Subcommittee hearings at Helena, Montana, in 1982, and Washington, D.C., in 1986, former POWs testified that they had been involved in Japanese BW experiments, but no report was issued, no action was taken and no further investigations resulted. “The Mukden POWs were thanked for their service to their country, and sent on their way home,” Sheldon wrote.
Nationally syndicated columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta interviewed Congressman Pat Williams (D-Montana), a leader in the lobbying campaign for the Helena and Washington hearings, in 1987. Williams told them he had “encountered cover-up, denials and an intolerable cloud of secrecy” from U.S. Army and State Department officials who testified at the proceedings. Three years later, a front-page New York Times story about the “discovery of thirty-five non-Japanese human skulls and thighbones . . . just steps from the site of the wartime laboratory of Lieut. Gen Shiro Ishii” briefly returned attention to the issue. “Under General Ishii’s direction, prisoners of war – primarily Chinese, but by some accounts Americans and Russians as well – died gruesome deaths in secret camps set up in Japanese occupied territory,” the Times noted.
Japan’s feckless inability to come to terms with its sordid past was demonstrated once again in August 2002, when a Tokyo court rejected a claim for an apology and compensation by 180 Chinese, either victims or the family of those killed at Unit 731. The significance of the story, which received scant attention in the United States but was covered extensively in Japan, Australia and Britain, lay in the fact that it was the first time a Japanese court had acknowledged that Unit 731 and other units had engaged in “cruel and inhumane” biological warfare in China, costing countless lives. Still, the Japanese panel of three judges refused to apologize to victims or their families, nor did they offer them any compensation for Japan’s wartime atrocities, claiming there was no legal basis for the claims, because all compensation issues were settled by a treaty with China in 1972.
“While it had an authoritative legal ring to it, there was a deep sense of injustice around the courtroom and among supporters waiting outside,” Shane Green wrote in the Australian newspaper The Age. “How could a court acknowledge a crime had been committed, yet fail to do anything about it? In the only official comment on the day of the decision, the Japanese Justice Ministry said the court’s decision verified the validity of the Japanese Government’s position in refusing compensation and an apology to the victims of Unit 731.”
The inconceivable Nanking butchery, the innumerable victims of Japan’s biological warfare experiments and the dehumanizing sexual slavery of the comfort women were atrocities of unimaginable proportions, but those crimes were perpetrated almost exclusively against Chinese, Filipino, Korean and other Asian peoples. Though Westerners were aghast at the specter of Japan’s barbarity against its neighbors, when its inhuman cruelty was unleashed against 140,000 U.S. and Allied prisoners of war, with too many dying horribly under the merciless yoke of their captors, Japan’s wartime depredations struck home in a far more personal way. Australian historian and author Gavan Daws, now living in Hawaii, spent 10 years interviewing hundreds of survivors of Japanese POW camps, capturing their stories in his remarkable 1994 book, Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific.
The exhaustive litany of torment and death Daws recites should give pause to all but the most fanatical of Japan’s wartime apologists. In opening his grim narrative, Daws succinctly describes the vast scope of Japan’s perfidy against its confined enemies: “They sacrificed prisoners in medical experiments. They watched them die by the tens of thousands from diseases of malnutrition like beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy, and from epidemic tropical diseases: malaria, dysentery, tropical ulcers, cholera. Those who survived could only look ahead to being worked to death. If the war had lasted another year, there would not have been a POW left alive.”
The cold statistics confirm the desperate plight of POWs in Japanese captivity. Thirty-four percent of Americans, 33 percent of Australians, and 32 percent of British POWs in the Pacific theater died in Japanese hands, while the Allied death rate in Nazi POW camps was just 4 percent. “The undeniable, incontrovertibly documented record of brutality, disease, and death in the POW camps,” Daws wrote, “plus what happened in the civilian internment camps for white men, women, and children, and the massacres and atrocities perpetrated on native Asian people in occupied territory – all this shows the national tribe of Japan at its worst as a power in the world. That worst was humanly dreadful, a terrible chapter in the world’s twentieth-century book of the dead.”
Following the surrender of Bataan in April 1942, about 70,0000 American and Filipino soldiers were force marched, without food or water, for 75 of the 100 miles from the Bataan Peninsula north to Camp O’Donnell in central Luzon, in the infamous Bataan death march, the worst single atrocity against American POWs in history. Starving men were beheaded or bayoneted at such a rate that one dead body was left every 15 yards for a hundred miles, “every death a Japanese atrocity,” Daws wrote. The Japanese “would see a man desperate for water, catch him throwing himself down at some filthy pond and chop his head off. They would kill a man squatting with dysentery, leave him bleeding to death, fouled, with his pants down around his ankles. They killed men for going too slow, exhausted men dropping back through the column, Japanese buzzard squads coming along behind them to finish them off. The Japanese might order prisoners to dig graves and dump corpses in, one on top of the other. Some were thrown in alive, and the Japanese made other prisoners bash them down with shovels, or be bashed themselves and buried, alive or dead.”
Japan’s education system continues to perpetuate the myth of that nation’s innocence in World War II, and only its oldest and best-educated citizens are even vaguely aware of their forebears’ bloody legacy of incalculable wartime criminality. “Typically, Japanese school and college textbooks gave only half a dozen or so pages to the war in its entirety, phrased in sanitized language officially enforced by the Ministry of Education,” Daws explained. “In the orthodox teaching of the Japanese national tribe, Japan was the victim of white aggression, and the atrocities of the war began and ended with the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. World-scale atrocities like the Rape of Nanking were reduced to incidents, and POW camps were cleansed out of existence altogether.”
In a 1995 interview, Daws told The Washington Post he didn’t know why “the Japanese refuse to acknowledge these things the way the Germans have their atrocities. It’s not like there’s any question about their authenticity. After all, there are newsreel films showing Japanese soldiers tossing live Chinese babies onto their bayonets. Atrocities like the Rape of Nanking . . . are a matter of indelible record. Obviously these true stories muddy Japan’s increasingly sanitized image of itself as merely the innocent victim of the atom bomb. And that makes them very nervous.”
In Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes (1996), Jonathan Vankin explored America’s “supersociety” or “ruling class,” and its symbiotic relationship with the Japanese corporate state. Vankin cites the November 13, 1989 issue of U.S. News and World Report, announcing the sale of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan as well as 51 percent of the Rockefeller Group to the Japanese corporation Mitsubishi. “The press recorded the transaction as evidence of Japanese encroachment into American affairs,” Vankin wrote. “Little mention was made of the long alliance between the Rockefellers, American industrial leaders, and Mitsubishi, which plays a similar role in the Japanese corporate state. The press also failed to scrutinize the assumption that the Rockefeller organization is actually ‘American.’ In fact, it is global, and the guiding philosophy of the family in its business dealing is not nationalistic, but ‘one world.’. . . Many of these people hold the highest positions in government and in big business. They sit on the boards of banks and control the money circulating around the world. They decide what gets manufactured, and how much. Educational institutions and mass media outlets are under their control, which means the information we receive — the very stuff of our thoughts — is also shaped by this elite, this Establishment. This conspiracy.”
Would this establishment’s interests be served if the truth of Japan’s guilt in the deaths of Earhart and Noonan were acknowledged? Further evidence of the overwhelming efficacy of our government-media establishment’s inbred policy of deceit in the Earhart case is indirectly reflected in Vankin’s book itself, where not a whisper can be found about the Earhart disappearance. Did Earhart simply escape Vankin’s attention, or did something else compel him to refrain from any discussion of the Earhart matter?
In “The San Francisco System at Fifty,” the introductory chapter to the 2002 Brookings Institution-published U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World, editor Steven K. Vogel discusses the September 1951 peace treaty Japan signed with forty-eight nations, forging an alliance with the Unites States under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. This arrangement, known as the San Francisco system, has defined relations between the two nations ever since. “Japan effectively committed itself to military, diplomatic, and economic dependence on the United States,” Vogel wrote. “Japan allowed the United States to station troops on Japanese soil and to maintain control over Okinawa. Japan acted as a member of the Western camp, following the U.S. lead on crucial foreign policy issues. The United States protected Japan from external threats, but Japan developed military forces to help defend itself and to support U.S. forces in regional conflicts. The United States also supported Japan’s economic recovery by allowing Japan to limit the reparations paid to war victims, by creating a liberal international trade regime, and by maintaining open markets at home while tolerating Japanese trade protection and an undervalued yen.”
The Embassy of Japan’s web site offers similar language about the Japan-U.S. alliance: “Japan and the United States share interests and fundamental values, including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The two countries are building significantly interdependent and cooperative relationships across a broad range of areas in the political, security and economic cooperation.”
By itself, the United States’ conciliatory, almost paternal postwar attachment to its former enemy would be enough to keep the secrets of the Earhart disappearance buried in the deepest recesses of our national security apparatus – if the records still exist at all. One wonders whether the San Francisco arrangement would have proceeded as smoothly if President Harry S. Truman had broken ranks with his deceased former boss and revealed Japan’s guilt in the deaths of Earhart and Noonan, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s gag order to suppress public knowledge of it.
But FDR’s sanitized legacy as the New Deal savior of the American middle class, who rid the world of the Nazi and Japanese menaces, could never have withstood the revelation of his abandonment of Earhart and Noonan in the prewar years, or even his failure to reveal Japan’s guilt upon learning of the fliers’ fate. In either case, FDR had no stomach for the public outcry and endless questions, and his alleged secret executive order that permanently embargoed the truth in the Earhart disappearance was FDR’s way of permanently dealing with the problem. The world has been left with the “Earhart mystery” ever since.
When I wrote Chapter XIV of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, “The Care and Nurture of a Sacred Cow,” I closed the chapter with a subsection titled “Japan’s War Crimes” (pages 286-289), for a very specific purpose. I felt it was vital to demonstrate to a wide swath of the generally uninformed American public the ghastly barbarities the Imperial Japanese military had been practicing against its perceived enemies long before Pearl Harbor, for obvious reasons.
“For those too young to understand the Japanese military’s capacity for barbarity in the several years before and during World War II,” I wrote in the original lead to the subsection, “a brief overview is instructive, because Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were among the first American victims of Imperial Japan’s war machine, an ugly fact our establishment has always been loath to admit.”
The version of “Japan’s War Crimes” that finally appeared in both editions of The Truth at Last is less than half of the original. The Sunbury editor saw no reason at all why a brief section on Japan’s gruesome history was necessary, and actually suggested that I drop the entire section! When I vehemently objected, the matter was kicked upstairs to Sunbury publisher Larry Knorr, whose decision to split the difference seemed to mollify both parties. Of course I didn’t lose the original subsection, which you can read now in its entirely and decide for yourself whether I went too far in describing Japan’s prewar and World War II depredations, which, in my opinion, were among the most villainous in all world history.
Here, then, is the first of two parts of the original, unedited and unabridged version of “Japan’s War Crimes“:
In late July 2007, the Germany-based Reuters News Agency ran a small item that went largely unnoticed, but the reaction it elicited from the White House offers an instructive glimpse into the politics of the Washington-Tokyo alliance, and why this cozy relationship offers so little hope for those who seek a final solution to the Earhart case. The story, headlined “House seeks Japan’s apology on ‘comfort women,’” announced that the “U.S. House of Representatives on Monday called on Japan to apologize for forcing thousands of women into sexual servitude to its soldiers during and before World War II”:
On a voice vote, the House approved a nonbinding resolution intended as a symbolic statement on the Japanese government’s role in forcing up to 200,000 “comfort women” into a wartime brothel program starting in the 1930s.
The vote marked a rare rebuke by Washington politicians of Washington’s closest ally in Asia. An official at the Japanese Embassy in Washington would not comment on the House vote, leaving it to government officials in Tokyo.
“Today, the House will send a message to the government of Japan that it should deliver an official, unequivocal, unambiguous apology for the indignity the comfort women suffered,” said Rep. Mike Honda, the California Democrat who pushed the legislation through the House.
California Congressman Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee approving the resolution, was among the more vocal critics of Japan’s blasé attitude about its wartime comfort women program. “There can be no denying the Japanese Imperial military coerced thousands upon thousands of Asian women,” he said. “Those who posit that all of the ‘comfort women’ were happily complicit and acting of their own accord simply do not understand the meaning of the word rape,” added Lantos, a Holocaust survivor. Honda, 66, is a Japanese-American who spent his early childhood in a World War II internment camp in Colorado.
According to Reuters, in 1993 Japan had acknowledged “a state role in the wartime program, which mostly victimized Chinese and Korean women. Japan’s government later established a fund, which collected private donations and offered payments of about $20,000 to 285 women.” But this was a token gesture, as “Japanese officials including the Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, have [recently] denied there was evidence the government or military were directly involved in procuring the women.” In June 2007, the Japanese government, deeply offended by the prospect of the forthcoming House resolution, warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Honda’s resolution “will almost certainly have lasting and harmful effects on the deep friendship, close trust and wide-ranging cooperation our two nations now enjoy.”
The American media, aghast at the House’s callous breach of protocol with our closest Asian allies, ignored the story. But the Bush administration, tripping over itself to assure Japan of its unconditional loyalty, trotted out mouthpiece Tony Snow the next day to send a conciliatory bouquet to the Japanese prime minister. The French news outlet, Agence France Presse, an unlikely U.S. ally, apparently was the only available messenger, but Snow availed himself of its willingness to carry the White House water. The AFP story, “US [sic] supports ‘valued ally’ Abe, mum on ‘comfort women’ row,” appeared the next day:
We support the prime minister. He is a valued and important ally, and the president supports him,” spokesman Tony Snow told AFP one day after US lawmakers voted to demand an “unambiguous apology” on the wartime issue.
But Snow declined to say whether the White House sided with the US House of Representatives or Japan’s government, which says it has addressed the criticism over the use of an estimated 200,000 Asian “comfort women. “At this point I don’t fall on either side,” Snow said.
The French release also cited the House resolution as “calling on the Japanese prime minister to make a public apology, urges the government to refute any claims that the episode never happened and wants future generations to be told of ‘this horrible crime.’ “
The New York Times weighed in August 1, with its Tokyo bureau reporting that the Japanese Prime Minister was not pleased by this reminder of his government’s lack of public remorse over its despicable abuse of women during the war. “Call by U.S. House for Sex Slavery Apology Angers Japan’s Leader,” the Times headline announced:
Prime Minister Shinzō Abe expressed some irritation on Tuesday at the resolution approved by the House of Representatives in Washington that calls on Japan to acknowledge its wartime sex slavery. His reaction indicated strongly that the Japanese government would not offer surviving victims an official apology. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan called a House resolution on sexual slavery “regrettable.”
The resolution’s approval was regrettable,” said Mr. Abe, who caused a furor in Asia and the United States in March by denying that the Japanese military had directly coerced women into sex slavery in World War II. . . . This spring, Mr. Abe rejected any demand for an apology. But since then, he has avoided discussing the issue in detail.
“Japan had lobbied hard against the [U.S. House’s] resolution in Washington, warning that it could harm relations, ” the Times reported. The Tokyo office of the British newspaper Guardian Unlimited ran a similar account, but otherwise the comfort women story was ignored. The House resolution condemning Japan’s wartime abuse of women came just a few months before the first World Conference on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, held at the University of California-Los Angeles from October 4-7, 2007. “HR 121 is the biggest reason why we came to the conference,” panelist Haruko Shibasaki of the Tokyo-based Action Network for the Military Sexual Slavery Issue told the Los Angeles Times. But the conference was a well-kept secret, and its only advance publicity came from the Web site of its sponsor, UCLA’s Asia Institute, announcing that the event would build on the “momentum of House Resolution 121 demanding the Japanese government to apologize for its war crimes against ‘comfort women.’”
While the L.A. Times supported the comfort women’s cause, running two stories during the three-day session, no other news organizations touched it. In the weeks following the event, a few college newspapers including Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, and Emory University in Atlanta, ran stories about the appearances a few surviving comfort women made at their campuses, but the 24/7 American media never mentioned the UCLA sex slavery conference.
In May 1999, The Rape of Nanking author Iris Chang told Salon.com she was “not welcome in Japan,” and addressed the ongoing phenomenon of that nation’s failure to fully acknowledge, adequately apologize for or pay restitution to its countless wartime victims. “To this day, Japan has never paid a penny in reparations to the victims of the Nanking massacre,” Chang said, “or, to my knowledge, adequate restitution to its other victims, like Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military or the American and Chinese POWs who were used as human guinea pigs for Japanese medical experimentation. . . . I find it extremely disturbing that the newly elected governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, is an outspoken revisionist of World War II history. He told Playboy magazine back in 1990 that the Rape of Nanking was a ‘lie’ and ‘a story made up by the Chinese.’ He’s enormously popular in Japan, and he won the election by a landslide.”
Chang’s comments came a week after the Japanese company Kashiwashobo announced it had canceled plans to publish The Rape of Nanking in Japan. And though her book brought long-overdue attention to Japan’s forgotten war atrocities and international fame to the driven young journalist and mother, in early November 2004 she was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in her car along a rural road south of Los Gatos, California. Chang, 36, had been battling clinical depression, and was hospitalized, treated and released five months before her death.
Whether threats and media attacks from Japanese ultranationalists and others, who, as her husband Brett said, didn’t “take kindly to what she wrote in the Rape of Nanking,” exacerbated the mental illness that precipitated Chang’s suicide, is uncertain. But as Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Iris scraped away the scar tissue of something that had been half forgotten and half healed over, and to this date, it’s still a very raw wound. She ventured into a minefield of unexploded ordnance” when she exposed Japan’s guilt in the wholesale slaughter of more than 300,000 innocent men, women and children at Nanking, China – upwards of half the total population of Nanking and its surrounding area — in December 1937.
Another appalling example of Imperial Japan’s cruelty toward her conquered neighbors can be found in the massive biological and chemical warfare program it began shortly after seizing Manchuria in 1931. In towns and cities throughout Manchuria and occupied China, at Beiyinhe, Changchun, Mukden, and even Nanking, in death pits with benign names like Unit 100, Unit Ei 1644, and Unit 565, the secret Japanese biological warfare experiments subjected countless human and animal subjects to the most deadly pathogens known to science without restraint from 1931 until Japan’s surrender in August 1945.
In Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-Up (1994), Sheldon H. Harris writes that “Japan, during its occupation, in effect, turned Manchuria into one gigantic biological and chemical warfare factory. . . . They worked with human subjects on diseases that ranged from anthrax to typhoid A and B, typhus, smallpox, tularemia, infectious jaundice, gas gangrene, tetanus, cholera, dysentery, glanders, scarlet fever, undulant fever, diphtheria, pneumonia, brysipelas, epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis, venereal diseases, tuberculosis, salmonella, frostbite and countless other diseases that were endemic to the communities and surrounding regions. . . . No one has been able to catalogue completely all the maladies that the various death factories in Manchuria visited on human guinea pigs.”
The mastermind of Japan’s biological warfare program was Lieutenant General Ishii Shiro, who performed his most notorious work at Unit 731, the enormous biological warfare facility at Ping Fan, about 15 miles south of Harbin. At least 3,000 Chinese, Koreans, Russians, and other Asians died at Unit 731, where they were sent after their convictions for capital crimes, sentenced to death and sent to Ping Fan for use as “experimental material.” Outside the death factories, Japanese and Chinese scholars have estimated as many as 270,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians died as a result of Japanese biological warfare attacks, but the exact numbers are impossible to determine.
In the conclusion of “Japan’s War Crimes” we’ll examine many of the gruesome details of the Japanese atrocities at Unit 731, as well as the everlasting infamy the Imperial Japanese Military achieved by their barbaric treatment of their prisoners of war, including the worst single atrocity ever perpetuated against American POWs, the Bataan death march.
When the Almighty made Thomas E. Devine, He broke the mold. What He said when Devine returned to Him in September 2003 at age 88, only He and Devine know. But if I had never met the Saipan veteran and author of one of the most important Earhart disappearance books, I wouldn’t have become involved with the Earhart story, and today I’d be doing something entirely different with my life. I can’t conceive of what that might be.
I read Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, for the first time in the spring of 1988, as I researched an assignment to do a news story about the so-called Earhart “mystery” as a civilian writer for the Navy Editor Service in Arlington, Va. The piece went out to the fleet worldwide, as well as all Navy shore stations and Marine Corps bases, for use in their local newspapers, radio stations and other official media. I’ve always considered it extremely ironic that the first story I ever wrote about the Earhart case was facilitated by the same U.S. Navy that has been so intimately involved with the cover-up and suppression of the truth, practically from the very beginning of the Earhart search.
I’ll have more to say about Thomas Devine and his contributions to the Earhart saga, as well as the strange and sometimes tenuous nature of our relationship, in future posts. But today, for those who haven’t read Devine’s extraordinary Eyewitness, this brief, cryptic chapter from the book provides a glimpse into the sometimes bizarre world of the man who once stood on the wing of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, NR 16020, at the captured Japanese Aslito Airfield on Saipan in July 1944.
As Sgt. Thomas Devine peered into the famed Electra’s cluttered interior, which he once described as “littered with broken glass” in a letter to me, he was looking into already forbidden American history, as well as a vision that would define and shape his life from that day until his last.
FROM SAIPAN TO BOSTON
Since Mrs. Odlum could not supply the dental records, I arranged to visit Earhart’s sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey, of West Medford, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. (Bold emphasis mine throughout.) I arrived at the Boston depot early on Sunday, 16 July 1961. While proceeding with a crowd of passengers to find local transportation, a man about thirty years old pushed his way through the crowd. There was nothing remarkable about him, except that he stepped directly in front of me and called a peculiar invitation to the crowd.
“Anyone here on their way to West Medford?” he asked. “I’m taking my cab to the garage and I have a ride – a free ride.”
So many quickly accepted the driver’s offer that I decided against the free ride to West Medford. Yet for some reason, the man singled me out.
“Are you going to West Medford?” he inquired. “Yes,” I replied, “but I’ll find another cab.”
“Wait right where you are; don’t go away,” he ordered. “I’ll get the cab and be right back.”
Others in the crowd persisted, but he put them off saying, “I don’t have any more room.”
The cabbie again told me to wait and amazingly he did return, and escorted me to his cab. Oddly, there were no other passengers in the vehicle. Since I expected others to be joining us, I sat in front. But when three prospective passengers arrived to claim their free ride, the cabbie turned them away!
“Turn on the meter,” I said as the driver got in. “I’ll be more than happy to pay.”
“It’s a free ride,” he countered. “I’m returning the cab to the garage. You’re lucky you ran into me because cabs don ‘t operate on Sundays.” Reluctantly he accepted a dollar tip, and off we drove. The driver never asked my destination; we had little conversation. Shortly after entering West Medford, he stopped.
“This is as far as I go,” he said.
“Thanks. Do you have any idea where Vernon Street is?”
“This is it, right up the hill. It’s that corner house,” he said, pointing.
“Oh, I’m looking for number one,” I remarked absently. “That’s it, the corner house on the hill, where Amelia Earhart’s sister lives.”
“Thanks again,” I replied.
Completely baffled by this whole encounter, I walked up the short hill and was greeted by Mrs. Morrissey. Her husband [Albert Morrissey, who died in 1978], a former Navy man, had hoped to be there, but he had to work. She had advised the Navy of our appointment, she said, but had received no reply. I was curious why she had contacted the Navy, but I didn’t ask.
Mrs. Morrissey was charming and gracious. The resemblance to her famous sister was so striking that she could be taken, for Amelia herself. We enjoyed an amiable discussion for several hours. She said she knew of my efforts, and was interested in the real solution to her sister’s mysterious disappearance. I related the information I had concerning the gravesite on Saipan, as well as a summary of my efforts to obtain a dental chart. Mrs. Morrissey said both she and her sister had dental work done in Boston many years before, although she could not recall the name of their dentist. Later, I spent many hours in Boston attempting to locate Earhart’s dental chart, but to no avail.
Mrs. Morrissey said she had sought information about her sister’s fate from the Japanese government, but her requests went unanswered. Their mother [Amy Otis Earhart], who was bedridden and living in the Morrissey home, believed Amelia was on an intelligence flight* for the United States government when she and Fred Noonan disappeared. I could not corroborate Mrs. Earhart’s belief, but I assured Mrs. Morrissey, “I am certain of the events that occurred while I was on Saipan. I only want an opportunity to bring forth the proof, and your sister’s dental chart would be of prime importance in doing so.”
Mrs. Morrissey mentioned that she had been visited recently by Paul Briand [Jr.], who was associated with Joseph Gervais and Robert Dinger. Briand, she said, was writing a thesis about Earhart which he hoped would evolve into his second book.
Over the years, she said several people had brought information to her, which they irresponsibly claimed would solve the Earhart mystery. These sensational disclosures had put a tremendous strain on the family. I hoped Mrs. Morrissey was not classing my investigation with those. After years of investigative failures, she said she had accepted the 1937 report that Amelia Fred were lost at sea near Howland Island.* I pointed out that no physical evidence substantiated this conclusion. I reviewed how the gigantic sea and air search for Earhart and Noonan had fail to turn up one scrap of wreckage or equipment.
We both enjoyed our conversation, but an odd thing happened as I was preparing to leave. Mrs. Morrissey went to a window where the shade was pulled. She raised and lowered the wind shade its full length, then made a remark about protecting room from the effect of the sun. Saying she would be right back to see me off, she excused herself to look in on her mother. After Mrs. Morrissey left, I peeked out the window. A short distance from the house, I saw two men. One was the cabbie who had driven me from the depot. I did not recognize the other, who was shorter and stockier.
Saying goodbye, I left the house and walked down the hill. The two men were nowhere to be seen. As I rounded the corner, looking for transportation to Boston, there was the cab driver! Without the slightest awkwardness, he directed me to a stop on the MTA which would shuttle me back to Boston. While I was waiting for the local train, I noticed the man who had been talking to the cab driver, standing a short distance from me.
Back at the depot, I stopped for a quick lunch. Except for two people at a table, the restaurant was empty. Presently two men and a woman entered the restaurant and claimed a table. The woman then walked behind the counter where I was seated, and went into the kitchen with my waiter. I caught only a portion of their whispered conversation, but she asked him for an apron. I paid no particular attention to the woman, who was apparently serving the two men at the table behind me. Suddenly she said, “You’ll have to sit at one of the tables, or I can’t serve you.”
Since I was nearly finished, I said nothing, but the woman persisted.
“You’ll have to sit at one of the tables.”
Contemplating another cup of coffee, I agreed to move. Turning, I saw the cab driver and the man who had been talking with him outside the Morrissey home. I pretended not to recognize them and took a seat a few tables away. They seemed oblivious to me. After I was seated, the two men began a real show. The woman encouraged me to speak to the men about their foul language, but I declined; then they pretended to argue. “Here I invite you in for a drink,” the cab driver roared, “but you don’t reciprocate!”
I stole a glance at their table and saw three full beers in front of the man. Again the woman prodded me to speak up, but I refused.
The cab driver pounded on the table, threatening to beat up the other man. They rose and left. Amazingly, the woman urged to go out and intervene, but I had seen enough of this ridiculous charade. I was not about to be relieved of my briefcase. Instead, I left the restaurant by another door. Shortly, who should I spy amidst a group of passengers in the depot but the cab driver! As I looked toward him, he turned his head. Finally my train arrived, and I boarded, but there was the cab driver, also boarding. Thoroughly unnerved, I walked to the last car and stepped off just as the train started moving.
Unfortunately, there was a long interval before the next train to New Haven. I wandered around in the railroad station until I found myself back at the restaurant, deciding to risk a cup of coffee.
The same waiter was behind the counter, but I did not see the man.
“Where’s your waitress?” I asked.
“She left,” was his only response. After several cups of coffee and a little conversation, I boarded the next train and arrived home without out further incident.
In 1963 when I visited the Hartford station of the Office of Naval Intelligence, I read a confidential report on the location of Amelia Earhart’s gravesite. Later I made a second visit to the facility to determine if the ONI were still active in its investigation. I was ushered into an office where two men and a woman were seated. One of the men opened the safe to get the Earhart file, shuffled through some of the pages, and pointed out certain passages for the woman to read. She was obviously acquainted with the file and understood the significance of the noted passages. During this exchange, the second man left.
I was haunted; the woman looked familiar to me. Slowly, I came to the astounding realization that this woman was the “waitress” in the Boston depot! The woman must have sensed that I recognized her, for she immediately excused herself. Hastily, the remaining ONI agent informed me that there had been no further investigation of Amelia Earhart’s grave. I left the meeting convinced that the people who had accosted me in Boston were agents of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Why their presence in Boston on the day of my visit with Mrs. Morrissey? I cannot say. Mrs. Morrissey did tell me that she had informed the Navy of my intended visit. But why would the ONI trail me to West Medford? I don’t know. What was the purpose of the ONI agents’ peculiar antics in Boston? That I do not know, either. Perhaps they were trying to frighten me into curtailing my investigation.
Although Mrs. Morrissey was unable to assist me in locating her sister’s dental charts, I was pleasantly surprised to receive from her a portrait of Amelia. On the back of the photograph, Mrs. Morrissey graciously wrote:
To Thomas Devine,
who is genuinely and unselfishly interested in
Amelia’s fate, I am happy to give this
photograph of her.
Muriel Earhart Morrissey
August 19, 1961
Devine’s Notes to Chapter 7
*Mrs. Morrissey said her sister used a new plane for her second attempt. Supporters of the spy theory contend that this faster, more sophisticated aircraft would have enabled her to deviate from her flight path and avoid detection. Mrs. Morrissey herself never believed that her sister had been sent to spy on the Japanese Mandates.
*Fred Goerner claims Mrs. Morrissey abandoned the belief that her sister had crashed near Howland Island after hearing his progress report in September October, 1961, and after his second expedition to Saipan. By 26 June 1962, however, Mrs. Morrissey had returned to her original conclusion. She wrote to me somewhat bitterly, “The claims of Captain Briand and the CBS have been shown to be completely false and unsubstantiated, so why continue the discussion? Amelia’s plane went down near Howland Island [and] because of a radio failure – the Coast Guard Cutter could not home her in.” (End of Chapter 7.)
Editor’s Note: To my knowledge, no Earhart researcher or author has ever been physically harmed by any U.S. government agency or operative while pursuing information in the Earhart disappearance, but the foregoing situation might have produced a different result had Devine behaved with less caution. Sixteen years earlier, in August 1945, Devine was probably even closer to serious harm when he was ordered to board a Navy plane by a man who was likely an Office of Naval Intelligence agent, who told Devine, “You can’t go back. . . You know about Amelia Earhart!” (See pages 64-66 in Eyewitness.)
In February 1991, while I was visiting at his home in West Haven, Conn., Devine told me he was “flabbergasted,” with the situation he faced in August 1945. “I don’t know what they were going to do with me,” he said. “Was I going to be interviewed? Would they have offered me a government position or something for silence? Because I think that might have happened to [Pfc. Paul] Anderson. The thought persists that if I had boarded the plane at Tanapag Harbor on Saipan in 1945 at the insistence of the ONI agent, I might never have arrived at any destination.”
Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey died in her sleep on Monday, March 2, 1998 at the age of 98.
From forgotten files of the Earhart lunatic fringe: The incredible tale of Ellis Bailey and USS Vega
In Chapter 13 of the second edition of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, titled “Griswold, Henson and Burks,” I present the story of Capt. Tracy Griswold and Privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, the three Marines who excavated what might well have been the remains of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan from a gravesite just outside the Liyang Cemetery, on the outskirts of southern Garapan, in late July or early August 1944.
The original version of the chapter included the strange account of Ellis Bailey, whose incredible story, if true, would have lent great credibility to the claims of Henson and Burks, who were told by Griswold that they had just excavated the remains of Amelia Earhart. Twenty-one years later, they both separately identified Griswold from photo lineups, while the former Marine Intelligence captain denied ever knowing them or ordering them to excavate skeletal remains on Saipan.
I was reluctant to include Bailey’s story in The Truth at Last, because it did nothing to advance the truth, so I decided to cut his section from the final manuscript. I still feel it’s quite instructive, in that it shows the extreme lengths that some of the Earhart-addled will go to gain attention. The Earhart chase has badly infected some with its own peculiar strain of fever, and those carrying the bug can usually be identified by their ridiculous claims. The recent History Channel imbroglio, which I have written about at length, is a prime example of this awful malady. Earhart lore is replete with many other examples, but Bailey’s fantasy, at least for me, was one of the most believable, well-conceived fabrications ever; it certainly caught my attention and spurred me to make a serious effort to confirm it.
For a time, it did appear that a series of amazing letters forwarded to me by Bill Prymak in 2008 might hold the key to unlocking the next stage of the government’s top-secret operation to return the fliers’ bones to the United States in 1944. Below is the unpublished section of Chapter 13 of Truth at Last, “Griswold, Henson, and Burks.” Obviously, this passage will make far more sense to those who have the book, and can place it in the original context.
Between 1991 and 1999, Ellis Bailey, of Middletown, Iowa, wrote seven letters to Prymak, describing a series of remarkable events he witnessed aboard the USS Vega (AK-17), a Capella class cargo ship that carried a crew of 439 and displaced 11,500 tons, during operations off Saipan and in the Marshall Islands during July and August 1944. Bailey’s recollections of the remarkable incidents remained clear and consistent throughout his letters, and though he offered his own strange ideas about the meaning and the significance of the events, the core of Bailey’s account never changed. He never indicated his Navy rating, or job, in his letters, but a copy of the “Muster Roll of the Crew” of USS Vega for Sept. 30, 1944, shows that Bailey was a storekeeper first class (SK1).
In Bailey’s final letter to Prymak, titled “Amelia Earhart,” he recalled that Vega came to Saipan the “first part of July 1944,” and that after dropping anchor a group of Marines came aboard and informed Bailey and others that someone had just found “Amelia Earhart’s helmet,” somewhere on the island, but they offered no details.
The next day, Bailey “got permission to go ashore,” and “tried to visit Aslito Airfield” but was told it was restricted and off-limits. “While waiting for a ride back to the ship I talked to boat crew members who were discussing an important meeting of top General and Admirals,” he wrote. “One had come in that day. The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, was there and he probably called the meeting.” With this, Bailey joined the handful of GIs claiming knowledge of Forrestal’s presence on the island during the invasion – an allegation that has never been officially confirmed, and which further research indicated was not possible.
The scuttlebutt Bailey said he heard about Amelia Earhart, Aslito Airfield, and Forrestal during Vega’s early July stop at Saipan was mere prologue to the astonishing episode he claimed he witnessed when the ship returned to Saipan later that month. The morning after the crew unloaded 61 tons of dynamite, the captain received orders to “take on fuel and supplies, enough to go 1,000 miles to Majuro and to take a government intelligence officer and two boxes of human remains that were two Caucasian flyers lost at sea seven years earlier,” Bailey wrote. “One was a woman.” [Italics mine.]
The next day, the intelligence officer, who had “no insignia but lots of authority,” came aboard with two boxes, “the remains of the flyers,” according to Bailey. “They were taken to the bridge and put under 24-hour guard,” he wrote, and the captain was ordered to steam to Majuro. Four days later Vega reached the Marshalls capital, Majuro, and while waiting for a “whale boat to be lowered to take him to shore,” the intelligence officer, apparently addressing Bailey, said, “I expect you are wondering why you are here. Seven years ago two Caucasian flyers were lost at sea. One was a woman. I came to see and talk with the two natives that had seen and talked with the flyers.” The agent returned to the ship the next morning, and ordered the captain to set sail for Kwajalein.
Upon arrival at Kwajalein, a small contingent of Marines came aboard and “told us that the day before one of their group was on . . . Roi Namur, [and] found Amelia Earhart’s suitcase of clothes and her diary in a barracks,” Bailey continued. “They had taken it to the man in charge of Kwajalein [Rear Admiral Alva D. Bernhard, who died in 1955]. The government officer with no insignia took the guarded boxes of the remains and left the U.S.S. Vega at once.” According to Bailey, the agent never mentioned any names in connection to the boxed remains, and Bailey himself didn’t believe the bones were those of Earhart or Noonan. The remains “weren’t the American flyers, they were British, which makes the whole situation so confusing,” Bailey wrote.
The Marines’ story about the discovery of Earhart’s suitcase, clothes, and diary on Roi Namur mirrored W.B. Jackson’s 1964 account to Fred Goerner, but Bailey’s story began to unravel when it became apparent their find did not occur “the day before,” Vega arrived, as Bailey wrote, because Kwajalein was secured in early February 1944, and by April 1, four months before Vega allegedly arrived at Kwajalein, 14,000 thousand Americans occupied the main island, with 6,500 more on Roi-Namur.
Bailey’s repeated references to the “British flyers” lost at sea at the same time as the Earhart flight must have originated with The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection, by James A. Donahue, among the most bizarre Earhart conspiracy books ever. Contrary to Donahue’s fanciful scenarios, no evidence has ever supported the idea that two British flyers, male and female, were operating anywhere in the Pacific area at that time. Writing to Ron Reuther in 1992, Goerner described The British Connection with Robert Myers’ Stand By To Die as one that “perfectly represents the totally irresponsible weirdo fringe which has been omnipresent in the Earhart matter since 1937.” In The British Connection, Donahue “has used photos and benign basic research and stitched the wildest kind of fiction to them and it is without any proof or ANY reference to source,” Goerner wrote.
“You’ll see that Ellis read too many AE books,” Prymak, who met Bailey in the “very early ‘90s,” wrote in a note attached to Bailey’s original letters. As a researcher who had seen and heard nearly everything during his four-decade investigation into the Earhart mystery, Prymak never put much stock in Bailey’s story. “Ellis spoke at the [August 1993] Flying Lady Symposium in [Morgan Hill] CA and at Atchison [Kansas],” Prymak wrote in a March 2008 email. “Both times he was a very ineffective and poor speaker, losing his thought process as he went along. He became very ‘unbelievable,’ and that is why I never seriously wrote about him in the AES Newsletters.”
Bailey’s imaginative ramblings reflected a few of the most implausible scenarios found in Earhart literature, but the remote possibility that his story about the intelligence agent and the canisters might be true was too compelling for me to immediately dismiss out of hand. Admittedly, I hoped against hope that Bailey’s story would prove to be true. If it were, another missing piece in the Earhart puzzle — the transport of the fliers’ remains off the island of Saipan — could be placed into the final solution.
My efforts to find any surviving members of the 1944 Vega crew who might have corroborated Bailey’s story were unsuccessful, but Tony Gellepis, of Santa Clara, Calif., a fireman aboard Vega from 1940 to 1942, was skeptical about Bailey’s alleged shore visit at Saipan during early July 1944. “In all my six years experience on various supply ships, shore leave was never granted while the ship was ‘swinging on the hook [anchored in the harbor],’ especially so during war time,” Gellepis, 87, told me in a July 2008 email. “Shore leave was granted only after the ship was docked and secured, if at all. And Bailey claims he went ashore the next day while Vega was at anchor! And this guy was set to go to Aslito Field? Incredible! I consider this to be a stretch, an embellishment.” Gellepis passed away in 2016 at age 96.
Much to my disappointment, a November 2008 trip to the nearby National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md., to verify Bailey’s affiliation with Vega and its purported movements during the key dates, confirmed that Prymak and Gellepis’ doubts were well founded.
Vega’s deck logs for July and August 1944 reveal the ship was not at Saipan in early July, as Bailey claimed, but anchored at Eniwetok Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, though July 21, when it left for Saipan, arriving July 25. Vega anchored in Tanapag Harbor until July 31, per Bailey’s account, but then departed for Guam – not Majuro – in convoy with the cargo ship USS William Ward Burroughs (AP-7), LST (landing ship tanks) 341, and the destroyers USS Stockham (DD-683) and USS Trisdale (DE-33), reaching Guam Aug. 1.
On Aug. 15, Vega left Guam en route to Eniwetok, its home operating base in the Pacific war zone, arriving Aug. 20. The muster roll of the Vega for the quarter ending September 1944 does establish that Ellis Orrin Bailey, a storekeeper first class (SK1), was a member of its crew, having joined the ship’s company Nov. 16, 1942. Otherwise, as Prymak observed, it seems obvious that Bailey, who died in 2004, had indeed read too many Earhart books. And though he didn’t author one himself, Ellis Bailey’s serial letter-writing adventures qualify him to join James A. Donahue, Robert Myers and others who will remain unnamed here among the disreputable ranks of Fred Goerner’s “totally irresponsible weirdo fringe” in the annals of Earhart lore. (End of unpublished Ellis Bailey section.)
Without doubt, the ranks of the Earhart-addled have not been yet filled, as the lure of instant attention and imagined fame is usually sufficient to ensnare these unprincipled characters in its unsavory web. Your humble correspondent will keep a sharp lookout, and if the story is wild or ridiculous enough to merit mention, you’ll see it here.