Grounds for a Possible Search for Amelia Earhart: E.H. Dimity’s 1939 argument for new search, Part I
The author of today’s disputation, E.H. “Elmer” Dimity, was a parachute manufacturer during the late 1930s who knew Amelia and established an Amelia Earhart Foundation following her disappearance in hopes of organizing a new search. Though not a well-known figure in Earhart lore, Dimity owned the only autographed souvenir envelope, or stamped flight cover, known to have survived Earhart’s 1937 round-the-world flight, because it actually didn’t accompany her in her Electra.
The Sept. 13, 1991 New York Times, Auctions Section, page 00015, in a brief titled “Airmail,” explains:
On March 17, 1937, when Earhart left Oakland, Calif., on her first attempt to circle the globe, the envelope was in one of the mail packages aboard her plane. The plane’s landing gear gave way in Honolulu, and when the plane was sent back to Oakland for repairs, the mail was returned with it. Before Earhart left again on May 21, the damaged mail packages were re-wrapped under the direction of the Post Office. It was then, Elmer Dimity reported later, that he removed the envelope as part of a joke he planned to play when Earhart returned. He said he had hoped to meet her with the envelope in hand, saying the mail had arrived before she did.
“Mr. Dimity sold the envelope in the 1960’s on behalf of the Amelia Earhart Foundation to a dealer,” said Scott R. Trepel, a Christie’s consultant, who organized the auction house’s sale. The collector who bought the envelope from that dealer is the unidentified seller of the Earhart memento, which is to be sold with an affidavit from Mr. Dimity. Christie’s estimates that the envelope will bring $20,000 to $30,000.
In perhaps the best Earhart biography, The Sound of Wings (1989), author Mary Lovell discusses Dimity and his ineffective foundation briefly, but for now we turn our attention to his 1939 paper, “Grounds for a Possible Search for Amelia Earhart,” which appeared in the August 1994 issue of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.
“Grounds for a Possible Search for Amelia Earhart” (Part I of Two)
by E.H. Dimity, August 1939
Walter McMenamy was thoroughly familiar with Miss Earhart’s voice. He knew it perfectly, could detect it when others heard but a jumble of sound. This was proven during earlier flights. His familiarity with the Earhart voice began in January 1935, when Miss Earhart made her solo flight to the mainland. During this flight, McMenamy was the only radio receiver in constant touch with her ship, working with station KFI in Los Angeles which was broadcasting to her plane. His work on this flight brought warm and written recognition from both the station and Miss Earhart. His set, built for experimentation in a laboratory, was the only one which reported her position through this flight, bringing in the signals when the equipment of the station itself could not do so.
The hope that Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Capt. [sic] Fred Noonan may be found alive on some tiny island in the South Pacific is a thrilling hope, one that awakens sentiment in the American public who knew her as the heroine of the skies, and particularly strikes a sentimental chord in those who knew her before her disappearance.
There would be sadness in the thought, too, for she has been given up, long since. The hope would appear to be vain, born of wistful thinking. But there are cold, indisputable facts which have never been made public, and which must demonstrate to anyone of open mind that no sufficient search was ever made for Miss Earhart and Capt. Noonan, and that either they are now alive on land in the lonely, untraveled nowhere of their disappearance, or have died since, praying that they would be found.
It is the purpose of this brief memorandum to state these facts, in their order and without elaboration, and to let them argue the case for a new search.
Before offering the evidence, however, it might be well to list those who believe that either Miss Earhart may be found alive, or that evidence to solve the mystery may be found, and that a new search should be made as soon as possible.
This group includes the following:
Amelia Earhart’s mother, who has made an intimate study of the data and believes steadfastly that her daughter will be found.
Clarence A. Williams, pilot and navigator who charted Miss Earhart’s course around the world.
Paul Mantz, Miss Earhart’s flying instructor and friend, who accompanied her on her flight to Honolulu.
Margot DeCarie, Amelia Earhart’s secretary.
E.H. Dimity, longtime friend of Miss Earhart, who took care of many details for her in planning her flights, and who once refused to let her pilot his plane because she was just learning to fly then. Mr. Dimity established, and is the President of the Amelia Earhart Foundation [now defunct], in Oakland, Calif.
Walter McMenamy, radio expert who was in constant touch with her by air on her solo flight from Honolulu to the mainland, and who probably saved her life by quick thinking on that occasion, when she was flying off her course. McMenamy also helped guide by radio the first Clipper ship flight to Honolulu. He charted Miss Earhart’s radio course around the world, and heard her last signals. [Editor’s note: Pure speculation. See my April 30, 2014 post, “Earhart’s ‘post-loss messages’: Real or fantasy?”]
The reader, perhaps surprised at the suggestion that there may be good reasons for believing Miss Earhart still alive, no doubt will have many questions in his mind, which this memorandum will seek to answer. Some of these questions are:
1. Didn’t Navy and Coast Guard search the area where she might have gone down, completely and fruitlessly?
2. If she landed on an island, how could Miss Earhart and Capt. Noonan be alive now, without food or water?
3. If they are still alive, why have they not been heard from?
The first important fact to be recorded was known to only a few at the time of Miss Earhart’s flight and disappearance, has never been made generally know to the public, and is of tremendous importance. This fact is that Miss Earhart’s plane and radio equipment were such that the plane could broadcast only from the air or while on land. The plane could not have broadcast from water. This is proven not only by the testimony of those who helped in the flight preparations, but by the Lockheed factory which made the plane, and by the radio experts who installed the equipment. The radio transmitter had to be powered by the motor generator, which would be submerged and inactive in the water.
The importance of this fact is, briefly, that it can be proven beyond doubt that the Earhart plane DID broadcast radio signals many hours after it had to be down somewhere, and the plane must have been on land.
The third fact is that radio signals were received from the Earhart plane days after it had landed. These signals were heard in various parts of the world, by several radio operators, including ships at sea, government stations, and her radio contact man, Walter McMenamy. Proof of this is in official records and affidavits. These signals, and the time they were heard, will be described later.
These facts can and will be proven, and they lead directly to the conclusion that the Earhart plane landed in a place not searched, and must be still there with its occupants alive or dead. Their last radio signal had a decided ripple or sputter, which any radio expert recognizes immediately as evidence that the power was failing.
Immediately two questions arise. First, what chance could they have for survival on a tiny, deserted island, with little food and no water? History provides an answer. There are many cases on record where persons shipwrecked, stranded, and believed lost were found years later, alive, in this same area where the Earhart plane landed. One party, without food, lived on fish, shellfish, and bird’s eggs, and captured rainwater for drinking. A monotonous diet, but they survived and were rescued from an island which appeared to be incapable of sustaining life.
The second question is: If they were safe, why have they not been picked up, or heard from? There is a single answer to this. Their course took them over a sea area strewn with hundreds of islands, which had never been seen from the air, and parts of which have never been visited by civilized man. Hundreds of miles from the steamer lanes, thousands from communication. Many of the islands, on their course have never been charted, and appear on no map.
What could anyone do but wait, and pray for rescue?
To complete the story, let’s review the events of the disappearance and search point by point.
Miss Earhart and Capt. Noonan had an excellent aircraft, a Lockheed Electra, powered with two 550-horsepower motors and equipped with the latest instruments devised. They cruised at an average speed of 150 mph. At no time during the flight, even when their gas supply was running low and they were lost, did they report any trouble of any kind, with the motor or otherwise. No wreckage of the plane has ever been sighted or found, no evidence of an explosion or a sudden crash into the sea caused by faulty motors.
The two left Miami, Florida, on their flight around the world June 1, 1937. The first leg of the trip to South America was completed without difficulty. On their flight 1,900 miles across the South Atlantic to Africa, it was reported that the plane’s radio did not function properly, but the span was successfully accomplished. The trip then took them across Africa and to India. In the Bay of Bengal, the plane encountered a monsoon which forced it close to the water, but their objective was won, and the fliers safely reached Lae, British New Guinea.
At Lae they drew breath for the most difficult leg of the trip, one never before attempted. This was a 2,570- [exactly 2,556] mile flight from Lae to Howland Island, a distance greater than from Los Angeles to New York, over a lonely, poorly charted sea. The navigation must be perfect, for they were aiming at a pinpoint in the ocean, tiny Howland Island less than two miles square and 20 feet above sea level at its highest point. Their aim, at such a distance, must be flawless.
Few navigators would stake their lives, as Capt. Noonan did, on such a gamble.
Navigators say that even with the gentle prevailing winds that were blowing at the time, a drift of ten degrees off course in such a distance might easily occur, even with the most expert navigation.
If the plane did drift, from its last know bearing, it might have come down somewhere in a triangle stretching nearly 1,500 miles long and about 500 miles wide at its base. This fateful triangle includes nearly a million square miles and hundreds of unexplored islands, and only a small part of it has ever been searched for the missing pair.
Miss Earhart and Capt. Noonan took off from Lae on the morning of July 1, Pacific Standard Time [10 a.m., July 2, Lae Time]. The first 500 miles of their flight took them over sea and islands fairly well known, where they could take bearings without difficulty. Shortly after 5 p.m., they reported they were 725 miles out, and directly on course. Although regular broadcasts were heard from the plane hours later, this was the last position definitely reported, and our triangle starts from the 800-mile mark, for these reasons.
The last 1,000 miles of the flight were the most difficult. There were no landmarks to aid in navigation, and the slightest drift off course could take them miles from their destination.
Stationed at Howland Island to aid the flight was the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, to keep in radio contact with the ship and to advise on weather. Miss Earhart’s radio could transmit on two wave lengths, 3105 kilocycles and 6210 kilocycles. There was only one thing wrong with the arrangements, and this mistake may be the cause, perhaps, for the disaster.
Although the Itasca had a radio direction finder which would show the course of signals it received, and thus make it possible to give bearings to a lost plane, the direction finder could not work on the Earhart wavelengths.
Miss Earhart, in the last desperate hours of her flight, asked the Itasca again and again to give her a report on her position. Evidently she did not know the Itasca was not equipped with a direction finder which could aid her.
An ironic comment can be made here of the flight preparations at Lae. During the earlier part of her trip, Miss Earhart’s plane was equipped with a “trailing antenna.” This wire trailing under the plane made it possible for the plane to broadcast on the regular ship wavelength of 500 meters (kc). With the trailing antennae, she could have transmitted signals on that wavelength, and the Itasca direction finder, tuned to this frequency, could have reported her position in the air. But, for mysterious reasons, Miss Earhart left the trailing antennae at Lae [most say Miami]. Then she canceled, irrevocably, her chance to learn from the Itasca or other ships where she was, lost in the skies seeking tiny Howland Island. The Itasca direction finder could not help her.
(End of Part I)
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with David Martin (DCDave.com), the award-winning writer and retired federal economist who reviewed both editions of Truth at Last, “Hillary Clinton and the Amelia Earhart Cover-up,” in August 2012, and “Amelia Earhart Truth Versus the Establishment” in May 2016. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
In summer 2017, Martin helped clear up the confused mess surrounding the media’s relationship to the bogus claims in the History Channel’s presentation of the 1930s-era Office of Naval Intelligence photo of the dock at Jaluit, in which Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were mistakenly identified, writing three pieces focusing on “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” the History Channel’s odious July 9, 2017 Earhart special — “Press Touts Dubious Earhart Photo,” “Earhart Photo Story Apparently Debunked,” and “ ‘Earhart Photo’ Debunker Debunked?”
In March 2018, Martin teamed with Hugh Turley to publish their groundbreaking book on the 1968 death of famed Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton, whose sudden demise in a Thailand hotel has been unanimously accepted as accidental electrocution by an electric fan. The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation claims that a “careful examination of the official record, including crime scene photographs that the authors have found that the investigating police in Thailand never saw, and from reading the letters of witnesses, they have discovered that the accidental electrocution conclusion is totally false,” and leaves no doubt that Merton was murdered, likely by an element of the U.S. deep state — another cover-up, another sacred cow exposed, another important book to which the establishment media will never direct the public.
Now, at last, Martin has turned his lengthy, six-part 2003 disquisition, “Who Killed James Forrestal?” into his long-awaited The Assassination of James Forrestal, published on May 21, just one day short of the 70th anniversary of Forrestal’s murder.
Forrestal’s shocking death in the early morning of May 22, 1949 at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland was particularly disturbing to Thomas E. Devine, the late author of the 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, who was certain that Forrestal was on Saipan in July 1944 when Amelia Earhart’s Electra was burned and later buried along with hundreds of tons of other war refuse below Aslito Airfield, which is now Saipan International Airport.
Whether the Navy Secretary was actually on Saipan or not in July 1944 — and we’re virtually certain he was not physically there, as I discuss at length in Truth at Last (pages 72-75) — Forrestal was very close to the top of the chain of command that ordered and executed the burning beyond recognition of the Earhart Electra on Saipan.
Whether the first secretary of defense’s death was connected to his involvement in the Earhart case remains unknown, but his passing was a crushing blow to Devine’s hope that the truth would eventually be revealed. “However James Forrestal met his death,” Devine wrote, “he took with him what he knew about Amelia Earhart’s plane, which he examined and ordered burned on Saipan in July 1944.”
Navy hospital officials were quick to label Forrestal’s death a suicide, but “many question the theory that Forrestal entered a sixteenth-floor diet pantry, tied one end of his bathrobe sash to a radiator, looped the other end around his neck, and stepped out the pantry window,” Devine wrote. “Neither do skeptics believe that Forrestal deliberately leaped from the sixteenth-floor window to the third-floor bridge which connected the two wings of the hospital. The skeptics are convinced that Forrestal was murdered.”
Devine was unaware of The Death of James Forrestal, a virtually unknown 1966 book by Cornell Simpson (a pseudonym) that presented a compelling case for Forrestal’s murder and was entirely ignored by the American media, and before Martin’s “Who Killed James Forrestal?” in 2003, the only previous work of any significance to shine light on Forrestal’s murder.
Forced to resign by President Harry Truman in March 1949 after less than two years in office as the nation’s first secretary of defense, Forrestal was soon taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital to undergo treatment for operational fatigue, at the recommendation of noted psychiatrist Dr. William C. Menninger. Ten days after his admission, Captain B.W. Hogan, the hospital’s commandant, reported that Forrestal was “underweight, had low blood pressure, a secondary anemia and a neuromuscular weakness characteristically found in cases of exhaustion . . . [but] the only psychiatric symptoms present are those associated with a state of excessive fatigue.” Forrestal’s condition, Hogan said, was “directly the result of excessive work during the war and post-war years.”
Forrestal was held for seven weeks as a virtual prisoner in his sixteenth-floor room in the hospital’s tower. He was allowed visits only from his wife, two sons, Truman, and Louis Johnson, his successor as defense secretary. His attending physician, Dr. (Captain) George N. Raines, prohibited Forrestal from seeing four people he specifically wanted to see: his brother Henry; two priests, Monsignor Maurice S. Sheehy and Father Paul McNally, S.J.; and a friend whose name has never been disclosed. Sheehy, a former Navy chaplain and close friend, made seven trips to the hospital from nearby Catholic University in Washington, and each time was barred without explanation from seeing Forrestal. “His blood is on the hands of those who kept me from seeing him,” Sheehy wrote in the American Mercury after Forrestal’s death.
Henry Forrestal was finally allowed to see James after threatening to go public about his brother’s confinement and virtual isolation. At the hospital, Henry said James was “acting and talking as sanely and intelligently as any man I’ve ever known.” Johnson also found Forrestal “was like his old self and in good health” during an April 27 visit. When Raines admitted that James was “fundamentally all right,” Henry made train reservations for Washington and notified Raines that he intended to take James out of the hospital May 22 to complete his convalescence in the country, “where he would not be cooped up in a room with nothing to do and nobody to talk to,” according to Simpson. But at approximately 1:50 a.m. that very morning, James Forrestal was found dead.
At his Beacon, New York home, Henry told Simpson that James “positively did not kill himself. He said his brother was the last person in the world who would have committed suicide. . . . James was having a good time planning the things he would do following his discharge. Henry Forrestal recalled that Truman and Johnson agreed that his brother was in fine shape and that the hospital officials admitted that the patient would have been released soon.” Monsignor Sheehy also “seriously suspected that Forrestal had been murdered.”
The Death of James Forrestal presented a compelling case for the murder of the staunch anti-Communist, likely at the hands of Soviet operatives and spies within Washington’s heavily infiltrated establishment, including the Truman White House. “This outrageous treatment of the Forrestal case meshed perfectly into the standard Washington practice of concealing from the public Communist-connected scandals,” Simpson — whoever he was, and Martin has a very good idea — wrote.
Martin disagrees with Simpson’s verdict as to the killers’ identities and motivations, but I won’t spoil that aspect of The Assassination of James Forrestal by naming his most likely villains in this review. He draws from the Willcutts Report, likely made public and declassified in 2004 as a result of his third Freedom of Information Act request; key witness Edward Prise, the Navy hospital corpsman who was the last to admit seeing Forrestal alive; and many other sources to convincingly demonstrate the absurdity of the idea that Forrestal would throw himself out of a 16th floor window at Bethesda Naval Hospital to a death he most certainly did not desire.
No soothsayer is required to foresee that The Assassination of James Forrestal, because of its very nature as the slayer of yet another establishment sacred cow, will be ignored or dismissed by our esteemed national opinion molding apparatus (NOMA, a term Martin has coined, which he says is comprised to “various degrees by the GAME: government, academia, media, and entertainment”) in the coming months and years. Only the extent of the media blackout of this book, already under way, has yet to be determined.
The Assassination of James Forrestal begins with a poignant note of praise from Phillip F. Nelson, the eminent author of LBJ, the Mastermind of the JFK Assassination; LBJ, from Mastermind to “The Colossus”; Remember the Liberty; and Who Really Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.?
David Martin’s book The Assassination of James Forrestal focuses on the historic truths related to the systemic harassment and consequent death of James Forrestal in May, 1949, at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. It is a long-overdue, hugely important, work of “revisionist history.” The timeworn myths intended to support his “suicide” – which had originally been planted by such muckraking columnists as Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell, then repeated by the authors of several biographies of Forrestal – have been systematically deconstructed by Martin (a.k.a. “DCDave”).
This profoundly important book describes in detail one of the earliest plots of the “Deep State” as it was constituted post-WWII: The plot to remove all impediments to the creation and successful launch of the nation of Israel, through silencing the most influential and prescient voice cautioning his country, and the world, about the long and possibly endless tail of retaliations, recriminations and retributions that lay ahead. The history of that land, still resonating with the repercussions he predicted, proves James V. Forrestal’s legendary wisdom.
The findings of the still unknown Willcutts Report were presented in a brief summary released Oct. 11, 1949, stating Forrestal had died from his fall from the sixteenth story. Nothing was said about what could have caused it, except to make it clear that the Navy was in no way responsible. Suicide was not cited as a cause of death despite the original press reports and propaganda perpetuating the idea that the first secretary of defense killed himself, nor did the Willcutts Report, comprising hundreds of pages of witness interviews, conclude that Forrestal committed suicide.
In Chapter 1 of The Assassination of James Forrestal, “The Case for Assassination,” Martin discusses the shortcomings of the well-known 1992, 587-page Forrestal biography, Driven Patriot, the Life and Times of James Forrestal, by Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley. In concluding his “Secret Investigative Report” subsection, Martin tells us:
The willingness of the authorities to withstand the thoroughly justified charge of cover-up by not releasing the results of their investigation, including the transcripts of witness testimony, speaks volumes, as does the extraordinarily deceptive description of the case by the likes of such establishment figures as Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley. Their account is replete with deceptions, but there is none greater than this withholding of the information that all the key witness testimony has been kept secret, along with the results of the investigation itself, and that the investigation did not conclude that Forrestal committed suicide.
. . . By leaving out the vital information that the official record of the case has been suppressed, Hoopes and Brinkley, cobbling together an account based on a hodgepodge of dubious sources, leave the reader with the impression that we know more about what happened than we really do.
“From their Wikipedia pages we learn that Hoopes, a former Under Secretary of the Air Force, among many government positions he held, was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale University and that Brinkley, who is a commentator on CNN, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,” Martin writes in a Chapter 1 footnote. “He was also the protégé of popular historian, Stephen E. Ambrose. As establishment historians, Hoopes and Brinkley’s credentials are impeccable.” Indeed, Hoopes, who died in 2004, and Brinkley, who continues to occasionally haunt cable news, were and are highly respected creatures of the establishment, and it is precisely therein that the problem lies.
Ironically — or coincidentally — I had my own experience with Hoopes, and it was anything but pleasant. Early in my Earhart education, in September 1992, I wrote to Hoopes. a former undersecretary of defense under Forrestal from 1948 to 1949, and then an international affairs executive at the University of Maryland, College Park. I described Thomas Devine’s work and asked Hoopes for his thoughts, naively figuring he must have known something, based on his close relationship to Forrestal. Hoopes feigned interest initially, but lost the first information package I sent, and after receiving another, he flatly and rudely rejected Devine’s account, telling me our “correspondence should end” and suggesting legal action should I use anything he wrote to me without his permission. Nine years later, Hoopes ignored my request for permission to quote from his letter in the 2002 book I wrote with Devine, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart. A real sweetheart and a class act, was Mr. Hoopes.
There’s far more in The Assassination of James Forrestal that will convince the reader that the universally accepted story that James V. Forrestal committed suicide is a blatant falsehood, thanks to David Martin’s singular perseverance in finding the truth. Martin, who has a doctorate degree and is a historian of the first rank, is also a gifted poet whose singular epigraphs flavor the beginning of each of his chapters and lend added depth to his already captivating narrative.
For example, here’s the one from Chapter 1, “The Case for Assassination”:
Not for Human Consumption?
The water from the well of truth
Is to most folks undrinkable.
That is because of their distaste
For things they find unthinkable
Or another, from Chapter 13, “Historians Unmoved”:
In the universities
You’ll find our finest minds.
The problem isn’t with their brains
Oh no, it’s with their spines.
The Assassination of James Forrestal is a 335-page masterpiece to which our feckless, corrupt media will not be directing the masses, a historical tour de force that only the scant few of our wise and enlightened will discover and enjoy. It’s a steal at an inexpensive price that I strongly encourage all who care about our nation’s history to purchase and read.
Jon Hagadorn, host of “1001 Heroes, Legends, Histories and Mysteries” recently asked me to appear on his program, and we did two parts of about 90 minutes each. Jon did his homework before we produced the programs, and we discuss the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument movement on Saipan, which I haven’t had a chance to do recently.
Part I aired Sunday night, June 2., and Part II is available as of Wednesday, June 5. To listen, please click here and scrawl down to “EARHART: THE FINAL TRUTH.”
Occasionally I’m asked how my preoccupation — some might call it an “obsession” — with the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, now in its 31st year, began, sometimes in tones that victims of rare, terminal diseases might hear when questioned by the insensitive. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
In March 1987, I left active duty in San Diego after nine years working in radio and newspapers as an enlisted Navy journalist, confident that a good civilian job was just around the corner. But the radio stations in the Southern California area weren’t impressed, and so I returned to my hometown Washington, D.C. area, where I found employment as the sports editor of a small Northern Virginia weekly newspaper.
After a brief but intense stint with the paper, where the pay was low and the hours long, I was fortunate to find more lucrative and stable employment — though not in sports writing, my preference and strength — and returned to the Navy as a civilian writer with the Navy Internal Relations Activity, in Rosslyn, Va., as assistant editor at Navy Editor Service (now defunct). The NES was a monthly publication that was sent to all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ships and shore stations for use in their local publications. The stories focused on Navy and Marine news and policies, but occasionally I was asked to write about less mundane subjects.
In late March 1988, just a few months after re-joining the Navy, so to speak, such an opportunity arose, when I was tasked to write a story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart for the odd occasion of the upcoming 51st anniversary of her last flight. Much later, the irony of a Navy civilian employee and former sailor writing about an event that was so intimately connected to the Navy in so many ways — both overt and covert — eventually struck me, but at the time my knowledge of the big picture in the Earhart travesty was nonexistent.
To research the story, I read the only four books on the Earhart disappearance available at the Washington Navy Yard Library, now the Naval History & Heritage Command. In order, these were Amelia Earhart Lives, by Joe Klaas, the 1970 sensation that burned brightly and briefly before Irene Bolam filed suit for defamation against the publisher of that scandalous tome; Amelia Earhart; The Myth and the Reality (1972) by Dick Strippel, a Navy apologist whose fish-wrapper simply restated the official Navy-Coast Guard crashed-and-sank finding, as it was already beginning to wear thin; Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985), the best collection and presentation of evidence for Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing ever; and Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 opus, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the former Army postal sergeant’s eyewitness account of his amazing experience on 1944 Saipan. There, Devine, along with at least a few dozen other GIs, witnessed the presence and destruction of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, a key event in one of the greatest cover-ups of the 20th century.
I was captivated from the very first pages of Amelia Earhart Lives, swept up in the Earhart saga for reasons I couldn’t even explain to myself. And upon finishing Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the only Earhart book ever written by an eyewitness, I found Devine’s address and sent him a copy of my story’s first draft, along with a letter expressing my interest and admiration for his book, not really expecting him to reply,
I don’t have a copy of my first letter to Devine, but when I received his April 7 reply, below, I was elated, despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly bubbling over with praise for my initial effort. In retrospect, he was more tolerant and polite than I would have been, considering his long and contentious involvement with the Earhart story:
My April 12 response needs little introduction, but I assured Devine that I was “on your team” in all this, and that his letter had moved me to make some adjustments to my original draft. Following are the first three paragraphs:
Devine replied right away, and in his April 16 response he informed me that Eyewitness “was published to disseminate my own eyewitness involvement in this matter, and to counteract much misinformation already published.” After discussing a few of the problems he had with my story, including “misinformation” from Vincent V. Loomis and Fred Goerner’s books, he closed by writing, “Mike, I do appreciate your interest in this very serious matter, and would be pleased to acquire the report when it is released.”
Here’s the lead of the six-page story published in the May 1988 issue of Navy Editor Service, not available online:
The story presented the views of Klaas, Strippel, Devine and Loomis, was among the most popular I wrote during my two years at Navy Editor Service, and was published in countless Navy and Marine Corps newspapers and other publications. My Earhart education was in its infancy in 1988, as my reference to the disappearance as a great “mystery” attested. But I had already become another victim of “Earhart fever,” thanks in part to Devine’s letter, which meant so much to me and helped to cement my resolve to learn as much as possible about this captivating story.
Thus began a 15-year correspondence that lasted until just a few months before Devine’s death in September 2003 at age 88, and which resulted in the 2002 book that we co-authored, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart. Following is the review I wrote for Eyewitness on Amazon.com in December 2012:
Thomas E. Devine’s “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident” joined the ranks of Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart,” Paul Briand Jr.’s “Daughter of the Sky” (1960) and Vincent V. Loomis’ “Amelia Earhart: The Final Story” (1985) as one of the most important works ever written on the Earhart disappearance the moment it was published in 1987 by a small Colorado publisher. By 1987 the truth about Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s presence and deaths on Saipan was being blacked out in almost every corner of the mass media, and thus this book was largely suppressed and sold less than 4,000 copies; compare that to the over 400,000 that Goerner’s book sold in 1966, when the government and media establishment were caught unprepared to deal with the truth that Goerner discovered on Saipan.
As a result of Devine’s call for Saipan veterans to come forward to support his eyewitness experience on Saipan that established Earhart’s presence there, more than two-dozen former soldiers, Marines and sailors called and wrote to Devine, and their accounts are presented for the first time in the book I wrote in cooperation with Devine, “With Our Own Eyes,” published in 2002.
Ten years later, “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” (2012) presents many stunning new findings, eyewitness accounts and analysis, and never-before-published revelations from unimpeachable sources including famed U.S. military generals and iconic San Francisco newsman Fred Goerner’s files that reveal the truth about Amelia Earhart’s death on Saipan, as well as the sacred-cow status of this matter within the U.S. government. “Truth at Last” explodes the popular myths that Amelia Earhart’s Electra, NR 16020 crashed and sank in the waters off Howland Island on July 2, 1937, or landed on the reef of Nikumaroro Atoll, where the hapless fliers perished soon thereafter of thirst and/or starvation, which has become the most popular falsehood ever perpetuated about Earhart’s fate.
Without Devine’s book, this writer may never have become engaged in the more than 20 years of intense research that went into the production of “Truth at Last,” which presents the most comprehensive case ever for the Saipan destiny of Earhart and Noonan. Anyone remotely interested in the Earhart disappearance would be wise to purchase “Eyewitness” before supplies run out. It is a book for the ages, firmly in the line of truth established by Briand and Goerner in the early 1960s. (End Amazon review.)
My Amazon review of Eyewitness focused on the positive aspects of Devine’s book and its vital connection to the creation of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. In itself, Devine’s Saipan experience as an eyewitness to the Earhart Electra’s presence and destruction was more than enough to recommend Eyewitness as an extremely important piece of the Earhart saga.
But Devine was never content with what he had learned “with his own eyes” on Saipan; instead, he claimed expertise in areas about which he knew nothing, and eventually I realized that the man I thought was the world’s leading Earhart expert had feet of clay.
For example, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the fliers’ Mili Atoll landing, Devine refused to consider it, insisting that Amelia flew directly from Lae, New Guinea to Saipan, an unthinkable 90-degree error. He attributed this to an imaginary injury on takeoff to Fred Noonan that left him unable to navigate or even communicate with Amelia from the earliest moments of the flight.
To my knowledge, no researcher has ever joined Devine in this delusion, and his obstinate refusal to take off his blinders and see the Marshall Islands truth isolated and reduced him to a sad, solitary figure for which the Earhart research community — in itself a small, diverse group of eccentric characters who, for the most part, are no longer with us — had little use. For more on Devine and his tunnel vision regarding Earhart’s Marshall Islands landing, please see Truth at Last pages 176-178.
Devine’s errors weren’t limited to his ideas about how the Electra reached Saipan. His claim that James Vincent Forrestal, secretary of the Navy in 1944, was personally present on Saipan when the Earhart plane was destroyed in July 1944, has also been shown to be false. Worse, Devine resorted to fabricating evidence to support this claim. I won’t elaborate here on that unfortunate chapter of my relationship with him, but those interested can find all the unhappy details in Truth at Last, pages 210-215.
Devine’s failings were significant and self-imposed, but without his generosity and willingness to share his findings with me over the 15 years of our association — I wish I could say “friendship“ — I would never have begun my own search for Amelia Earhart. I’ll forever cherish Devine’s 714-page unpublished manuscript, “Bring Me Home,” which he gave me in June 2001, when it seemed he wouldn’t live another day.
I sometimes ask the audiences I address at my infrequent presentations, “Who has ever aspired to become an Earhart researcher? Can you imagine your son or daughter telling you that they’ve decided to devote their lives to studying and solving the ‘Earhart mystery’? You’d probably send them to a psychiatrist or some other mental health professional as soon as possible.” At that, a few politely laugh, but most just look at me blankly.
It’s lonely, frustrating work, but it’s real, and somebody has to do it. I know Amelia and Fred appreciate it, wherever they are.
The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. Committee held a new election on Saipan March 28. Marie S. Castro, the beating heart of the AEMMI, without whom the movement would not exist, was named the new president, with former Secretary Frances Sablan moving up to the vice president spot. Manny Borja is the treasurer and Evelyna Shoda takes over as secretary. Manuel F. Borja, Carlos Shoda, Oscar Camacho, Chailang Palacios, Bruce Bateman and Donald C. Barcinas, former president, round out the new board of directors.
Created in September 2017 as Marie’s inspired brainchild, the AEMMI has not been fondly embraced by the locals on Saipan. Although the Marianas Variety has supported the grass-roots initiative with several stories about Marie and her wealth of Earhart-related experience that have been faithfully noted on this blog, it’s painfully clear that the vast majority of the citizens of Saipan are determined to oppose the monument.
The unpleasant evidence reflecting what one reader of this blog has dubbed the “militant ignorance” of the Saipan locals — which runs depressingly parallel to the thoroughly propagandized U.S. populace — is on display in the comments sections that follow each of the several stories run locally, the most recent of which, “Amelia Earhart monument to help boost NMI tourism, says local author,” was published on May 13. Only a small fraction of the architect’s initial $200,000 estimate for the monument has been raised.
Undeterred, Marie, 86, refuses to surrender to the mindless crowd in her quest to achieve long-denied justice for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. She is becoming an iconic figure in the Saipan community, slowly and begrudgingly recognized for her courage and unflappable determination. Marie’s latest initiative is the identification and elucidation of 10 reasons that the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument should be built on Saipan.
Forthwith are the reasons that Marie and the AEMMI have advanced, introduced by a personal note from Marie Castro herself.
Dear Friends in the United States and our People of Saipan,
It is our desire to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation in joining this significant, worthy cause to recognize and acknowledge the two great aviators, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. When their plane came down in the Pacific in July 1937, they were brought to Saipan by the Japanese military.
We cannot continue to deny and ignore the great courage, the unimaginable sacrifice they endured under the Japanese regime for the cause of humanity. Many reasons for building the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument are expressed loud and clear in the book Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last by Mike Campbell. Here are some that immediately suggest themselves:
1. In 1937 Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan entered into the historical record of Saipan. Whether the fact is recognized or not, the fliers became the first American casualties of World War II. Amelia was not executed, but she contracted dysentery and was cremated. According to witnesses, Jose Sadao Tomokane attended the cremation of the American woman pilot.
2. Saipan has an obligation to recognize and give every human being the honor and respect they deserve. Although it was impossible to do such a thing under the Japanese regime, 82 years and counting is far too long for the two fliers who met their final days on Saipan soil to be honored.
3. Many of our elders saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan in days, weeks and months following their arrival here in the summer of 1937, beginning with the well-known sighting by Josephine Blanco in summer 1937, which began the modern day search for Amelia Earhart.
4. Amelia Earhart was a pioneer in the male-dominated aviation field. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and was also a best-selling author who wrote about her adventures as an aviator. Among her many accomplishments, she was instrumental in forming an organization of female pilots called the Ninety-Nines. While Amelia earned the respect and admiration of people all over the world, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Amelia’s statue will inspire the daughters of the CNMI to embrace Amelia’s pioneering spirit and aspire towards fulfilling their utmost potential.
5. Saipan would become widely recognized internationally and our island’s history and culture would attract worldwide attention.
6. It is time for Saipan to take ownership of the Earhart-on-Saipan Truth and to spread that Truth not just in the region, but worldwide. The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument would focus attention on the Earhart disappearance in ways never before imagined.
7. We need to expand this idea to eventually encompass a museum, library and gift shop, as well as a research institute for worldwide Earhart researchers to come, do their work and discuss their findings. The Earhart Monument again gets this process rolling by providing a single focal point to key interest on.
8. With the proper infrastructure in place, visitors from all over the world with an interest in Amelia, her story and her “mysterious” end will come to Saipan, becoming a permanent income base for the CNMI economy. They will want to see firsthand the sites mentioned in the literature. They will buy souvenirs, paraphernalia and books commemorating their visit to Saipan, and this can add a profit center that provides funds for salaries, overhead and maintenance.
9. The Memorial Monument will be the first tangible symbol of the Earhart-on-Saipan Truth. It will become the “trademarked brand” of the Earhart saga, and the site will be instantly recognizable as the focus of Saipan’s Earhart tourism industry, with its products, attractions and services. Over the years, the museum, shop, library and research institute can grow from the first step — the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument!
10. Finally and most importantly, as international attention on Saipan and its vital historical importance as the location of the tragic deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan continues to increase, the lies, myths and endless propaganda about theories and the “Earhart Mystery” will come to an end, and the Truth will be accepted and known by all. The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument will be revered worldwide as the ultimate shrine to the heroic sacrifices of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
To contribute to the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan, please make your tax-deductible check payable to: Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc., and send to AEMMI, c/o Marie S. Castro, P.O. Box 500213, Saipan MP 96950. The monument’s success is 100 percent dependent on private donations, and everyone who gives will receive a letter of appreciation from the Earhart Memorial Committee. Thank you.