Rollin Reineck, perhaps best known for his failed attempt to resurrect the Irene Bolam-was-Amelia Earhart lie in his 2003 book Amelia Earhart Survived, is familiar to readers of this blog, and so I will forego further introductions.
This letter from the retired Air Force colonel who once navigated B-29s launched from Saipan against the Japanese mainland, appeared in the November 1998 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. Here Reineck discusses with friends Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais an official response he received to one of many requests he had sent to Washington, D.C., this one to then-President Bill Clinton — which Clinton certainly never saw — seeking answers to the Earhart question. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
Dear Joe and Bill,
Friday I received a response to my recent letter to the President, in which I asked that he direct the release from the various military intelligence sources and the CIA of all AE matter.
The response from the Director, Freedom of Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, is not exactly what I had in mind, and practically puts us back to square one. However, there may be some information we can use.
Paragraph four of the letter is a brief summary of the Executive Order that releases all classified information that is over 25 years old. I have a copy of the Executive Order, and made reference to it in my letter. Mr. Passarella points out that there are some exceptions concerning the release of info, and to be sure that I understand them, he has enclosed a copy of the pertinent parts to the Executive Order.
I am aware of the exceptions, but find it odd that he would point them out. I can’t help but have the feeling that he is trying to tell me something. Generally the exceptions do not fit the Earhart case except Sec. 3.4.(b)(6). – . . . “reveal information that would seriously and demonstrably impair relations between the United States and a foreign government.” If my gut feeling about this is right, we might just as well fold up our tent and move on, as the foreign government involved is Japan, and no one is going to upset relations with Japan at this time over Amelia Earhart.
In the Goerner book, he talks about an aide to the Secretary of Defense who pointed out that there was more to the Earhart matter than anyone suspected and, “There are some possible international repercussions.” (pp. 314) It would appear that we now have gone the whole circle and we are no further ahead than we were in 1966. However, there is always the chance that we will find something that has been overlooked by the government that could add to our knowledge.
Passarrella also includes part of another Executive Order (#12937) dated 10 Nov. 1994. This EO would appear to offer some help as it is already effective and deals with the type of information we are interested in. Note the second half of the first page (just below the President’s signature), are record groups RG127 and RG226. I am trying to get an index of the material contained in these two groups. Perhaps you may have some ideas about the other groups. Let me know what you think.
I also got a letter (enclosed) from Senator [Daniel] lnouye [D] (rhymes with “annoy me”), which is in response to a letter that I sent to [Senator] Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D). It is typical of the innocuous trash we get from our representatives. Aloha, RCR
Just five years earlier, Bill Prymak couldn’t restrain his enthusiasm when he saw a September 1992 letter from the same Senator Inouye (below) to Reineck promising legislation that would finally break open the longstanding stone wall that has surrounded the Earhart case since its earliest days. Prymak was so overcome that he devoted the front pages of two AES Newsletters, the November 1992 (“Special Newsletter”) edition, headlined, in all caps, “Senator Dan Inouye, Hawaii, To Help Solve 55 Year Old Amelia Earhart Mystery,” and few months later, his February 1993 edition (below), screamed “FINALLY, PAYDIRT FOR COLONEL REINECK!!!”
Inouye was the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files. Ironically, he was a Japanese-American citizen who narrowly escaped internment during World War II. Inouye was one of only seven members of the U.S. Senate to be awarded the Medal of Honor; five of those were cited for their valor during the Civil War. With 50 more like him, we might write “Case Closed” to the problem of the Earhart disappearance — it’s never been a mystery to the Deep State in Washington.
For much more on Rollin Reineck’s attempts to break down the stone walls Washington long ago erected around the Earhart case, please see my Jan. 28, 2020 post, “Rollin Reineck’s 1990s Earhart work bears fruit: Hawaii senator pledges to open secret Earhart files,” and “Senator Inouye’s Earhart legislation would ‘declassify any records that have been classified’” of Feb. 11, 2020.
Today we conclude our review of the 1993 Amelia Earhart Symposium, held at The Flying Lady restaurant in Morgan Hill, Calif., organized by AES founder and President Bill Prymak and attended by nearly all the leading researchers and authors of the Earhart disappearance.
Names in bold capitals and other caps emphasis Prymak’s; all other bold emphasis mine.
A.E.S. SYMPOSIUM AUGUST 27-29th, 1993
LIST OF PRINCIPAL SPEAKERS
IRV PERCH: You can’t describe this guy as a “character”; there’s’ simply too much depth, warmth and charisma behind this man . . . his welcoming speech will be well remembered for the story of his 150 pair of white overalls . . . “What a character!” Hey! . . . I did say it! He IS a character!
BILL PRYMAK: Introducing principal speakers, special guests such as Bill and Nandine Southern, Bill being Neta Snook’s son; Irene & John Bolam, and a host of others. Pat Ward of the 99s a very special attendee; helped Bill immeasurably thru the early days of AES.
DON WILSON: Author of upcoming book Amelia Earhart: Lost Legend, has done a superb job of putting together an anthology of all the eye witnesses in the South Pacific associated with events immediately after July 2, 1937.
COL. ROLLIN REINECK: Describing his untiring efforts to initiate Congressional legislation to release State Dept. files that are still precluded from public scrutiny. His handouts to all attendees to be forwarded as detailed on the handout are vital to our cause: every attendee is urged to act on it! It only takes five minutes: Let’s do it NOW!
JOE GERVAIS: 1960, first AE investigation. Went to Saipan several times to interview native witnesses, first trip 1961. Visited Japan, Howland Island, Lae, Truk, Marshall Islands all in search of information leading to a solution. Joe supplied all research data for Joe Klaas’ book Amelia Earhart Lives (1970), which was nominated for COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PULITZER PRIZE in 1971 [and later pulled from all bookstores after Irene Bolam sued the publisher for defamation]. Joe to this day still keeps up a torrid pace on his quest for the truth. One of the true icons in Earhart research.
JOE KLAAS: Author of Amelia Earhart Lives (see above) . . . book now a rare classic fetching upwards of $125/copy. Felt Howard Hughes put substantial “heat” on himself and Gervais after their book suggested that possibly Japanese obtained Zero Fighter blueprints from Hughes. Hughes had great respect for the two Joes, who jointly earned approximately 30 combat medals between them. They were told by Hughes’ henchmen, “If it were not for their combat records, they would have been squashed like bugs.” A very strange story indeed.
ELGEN LONG: Put forth his theory that AE simply ran out of fuel and ditched approx. 40-75 miles NW of Howland Island. Mr. Long was heatedly contested on his position by several researchers, but, as is with AES policy, all sides are given time to plea their case.
ED MELVIN: A close associate of Art Kennedy, who was her chief engine mechanic prior to her last flight, and Ed thinks AE was approached by one of the military services to survey, not spy, on Japanese installations in the Pacific. Gave detailed insight on the personal life and accomplishments of Kennedy.
PAUL RAFFORD: Gave a detailed lecture on the radio analysis of the final flight . . . brought up serious questions re: events at Miami, where she spent one week, touching on issues as removing the 250 ft. reel-in antenna, how she blatantly refused a Pan American radio crystal that would give better coverage over the vast Pacific, how a ADF loop was installed on a “new” airplane, and the strange conduct by Amelia re: radio transmissions during her final hours. Technically, a superb presentation.
ANN PELLEGRENO telling of her appearance at the 1976 99/Zonta meeting at which a “shorter” Irene Bolam was to speak. (I wish the SYMPOSIUM could have made more time for Ann to tell of her fascinating trip around the world in an Electra 10, replicating the Amelia Earhart flight thirty years later–ED.) Ann was our helpful GOFER GAL!
BUDDY BRENNAN who has done much research in the Pacific, and is author of the book Eyewitness to the Execution: The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart (1988), tells of his interview with BILAMON AMARON, who treated in 1937 at Jaluit the wounds of two American flyers, one a woman, and who saw a twin-engine silver airplane, Japanese, on the fantail of the Japanese ship.
GENE TISSOT related how his dad was her mechanic on the VEGA and went to Hawaii with her to prep the plane for its historic flight to Oakland. “Amelia was an average pilot,” states his dad.
ELLIS BAILEY told how during the Saipan invasion in WWII remains of two flyers, purportedly downed before the war, were secretly transported away from the Island of Saipan.
JO ANN RIDLEY: Co-author of the fascinating book High Times, Keeping ‘Em Flying, recounting interesting tidbits from her book regarding Art Kennedy and his close relationship with Amelia. Jo Ann did for AES all the grunt work of putting together a superb detailed record of the entire SYMPOSIUM . . . available upon request.
ALBERT BRESNIK: set up a magnificent display of photos he personally took of Amelia. Albert was the only person at the SYMPOSIUM who had personal contact with Amelia Earhart, and his talk sharing with us his private time with Amelia was very moving.
NOTICE! Albert has shown the AES a proof of the group photo taken at the SYMPOSIUM: it’s a great memento, and it’s a MUST for everybody who attended: Send $10.00 for each mounted copy (8½ x 11) to:
16843 Sunset Blvd.
Pacific Palisades, CA. 90272
Telephone 310 454-1825
JERRY STEIGMANN: Our most provocative speaker of the entire SYMPOSIUM. Jerry is an ex-NYPD forensic specialist who has carried on his research on the AE mystery for over 40 years, and his dogged investigations have led him to some startling conclusions:
1. Amelia Earhart was a “double agent” working simultaneously for the Marine Corps, ONI, plus the Japanese JOHOKYOKU.
2. Since the early 1920s, AE had been in contact with Admiral YAMAMOTO and the Japanese naval intelligence.
3. The “staggering revelations” gleaned from Japanese intelligence, services survivors, and former members of the Japanese Imperial Household guards, who are now dispersed, to the far flung corners of the globe, have avoided news media in an effort to thwart any uncover the of the mystery of “Mata Hari of the Pacific Skies.”
4. Amelia Earhart was the real reason that Gen. MacArthur declined to prosecute Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal, and why he covered up the many atrocities committed by the Japanese Army Medical Corps in the Pacific.
5. MacArthur feared that Hirohito would disclose to the world the role that Amelia Earhart played in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Steigmann claims to have documentation to all of the above statements, and will in short time present it in book form to the American Public. Good luck! (End of A COMPENDIUM ON THE SYMPOSIUM.)
Jerome Steigmann may have been the most “provocative” speaker at the three-day symposium, as Prymak euphemistically described Steigmann’s disturbed exploration into Earhart fantasy, but he was far from the most credible, nor was the nearly incoherent spillage of Ellis Bailey, who joined Steigmann in capturing top honors in the Earhart lunatic fringe category. Steigmann never produced the book he promised, nor any evidence to support his outrageous claims, and passed away in Phoenix, Ariz., in May 2003 at age 77.
Bailey, who died in 2004, also didn’t author a book, but his serial letter-writing adventures qualified him to join Steigmann, James A. Donahue, Robert Myers and others among the disreputable ranks of Fred Goerner’s “totally irresponsible weirdo fringe” in the annals of Earhart lore.
For much more on Ellis Bailey’s extensive Earhart fantasies, please see my Aug. 17, 2017 post, “From forgotten files of the Earhart lunatic fringe: The incredible tale of Ellis Bailey and USS Vega.”
We continue with our visit to the first and only Amelia Earhart Symposium held and sponsored by the Amelia Earhart Society, in August 1993 in Morgan Hill, Calif., an event that AES founder Bill Prymak modestly labeled a “measured success.”
Today we present the first-person account of the symposium proceedings as recorded by AES member Jo Ann Ridley, who, with Art Kennedy, co-authored High Times: Keeping ‘Em Flying: An Aviation Autobiography (1992). Boldface emphasis mine throughout; underline and caps emphasis author’s.
“AMELIA EARHART SYMPOSIUM
AUGUST 27-29, 1993”
By: Jo Ann Ridley
When Amelia Earhart failed to reach Howland Island during a 1937 attempt to fly around the world, her disappearance in the South Pacific created a mystery that after fifty-six years intrigues the American public nearly as much as the JFK assassination, and seems no closer to a solution.
But not for want of trying. As 70 members of the Amelia Earhart Society heard during a recent members-only symposium in Morgan Hill, California, twin bills introduced by Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye and Congresswoman Patsy Mink would declassify and transmit all relevant government records to the Library of Congress for public perusal.
Col. Rollin Reineck, USAF (Ret.), responsible for gaining the collective ear of his Hawaii congressional contingent, is suspicious of government protestations that all Earhart material has been released. Major Joe Gervais, USAF (Ret.), after thirty-three years of investigation considered the “dean” of Earhart research, claims that until the United States government does release classified documents he believes still are kept hidden from view, the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance never will be solved.
During the three-day closed session in August, impressively accredited researchers took to the podium to offer persuasive and well-documented hypotheses about what really happened to Amelia Earhart, and why. Not surprisingly, their theories are as diverse as their backgrounds.
A retired Pan American Airways radio man, recreating with charts her radio transmissions and presumed flight path, wondered why Earhart initially refused his airline’s offer to help track her across the Pacific. A retired airline pilot totally committed to an assumption that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan perished when they crashed in the ocean, pleaded for acceptance of the flyer’s last radio transmissions as evidence of the truth of her predicament and ultimate fate. On the other hand, AES president, Bill Prymak, the Denver business man who has traveled the world and sailed the South Pacific with Gervais in pursuit of Earhart data, told of their encounter with “uncontaminated” Marshallese witnesses who confirmed published reports that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese.
A retired New York Police Department forensic expert presented a sheaf of government documents he says indicate that as early as 1923 Earhart had been selected by the U.S. military to participate in a secret “Orange Plan” and was on a photo mission when she vanished. Like Gervais, he believes Earhart returned to the United States after the war, but not as the Irene Bolam described in the book “Amelia Earhart Lives” by California writer Joe Klaas, based on material furnished by Gervais.
It was Klaas who related in spine-tingling detail the harassment he and Gervais experienced at the hands of minions of Howard Hughes, who Klaas intimated in his book may have provided the Japanese with a design for the Zero fighter in an attempt to gain Earhart’s release. The harassment ended with Hughes’s death, but not before the powerful millionaire recluse sent the two a message to the effect that had it not been for their distinguished combat records in World War II, he’d have “squashed you like bugs,” to quote the Hughes messenger Klaas heard say it. Thanks to efforts either of Hughes or the U. S. government and a cooperative publisher, Amelia Earhart Lives is virtually unobtainable today, with first editions fetching up to $100 a copy.
[Editor’s note: Amelia Earhart Lives was republished by iUniverse in March 2000 and has been available ever since for a pittance on Amazon. Not that I recommend it for casual readers, but the 1960 interviews by Operation Earhart operatives Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam and Saipan were valuable contributions; otherwise the rest of AE Lives presents only bizarre and ridiculous speculation, and probably did more damage to honest Earhart research than any book ever published.]
As if that weren’t enough on-the-spot intrigue, the final day of the symposium featured several witnesses to the possibility that Earhart, having survived capture and imprisonment when her country failed to extricate her from a mission of their own making, was quietly repatriated by an embarrassed U.S. government under the assumed identity of a New Jersey woman.
Julie Perch, whose father operates the famous aviation theme restaurant “The Flying Lady,” where the symposium took place under 120 model airplanes circling overhead, related her bizarre encounter with Irene Bolam in New York City in 1976. For many, it was bizarre enough to force a conclusion that Bolam either was Earhart or, slightly confused, was afraid that she was. The late Bolam’s best friend was a special guest at the Symposium and confirmed that she saw stacks of files in a closet marked “AE,” and that a silver hair brush set bore the initials “AE.” Bolam’s brother-in-law and his wife said they remembered an intelligent, “classy” lady who was a world traveler, had famous friends, and could talk knowledgeably about airplanes of the twenties and thirties. But all agreed that if you dared to ask if she were Amelia Earhart, you were no longer her friend. None would admit they thought Bolam was Amelia Earhart, but none of them would positively claim that she was not. Photographs of both women elicited various opinions about a resemblance.
[Editor’s note: Only the blind could see any resemblance between the slim, attractive, 5’8″ Earhart and the far shorter, stodgy Irene Bolam. In late December 2015, I began a four-part analysis and overview of the entire Irene Bolam fraud. If you’re new here or want to revisit one of the most ridiculous chapters of the Earhart saga, please click here for the entire series.]
The symposium ended on the following note: no solutions yet, but banding together presents a united front for the record in Earhart research. More information constantly is being retrieved and someday the truth will be known.
The only unanimous conclusion during the sometimes hot and heavy debate was that The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) did not find remains either of the Earhart Electra nor her belongings on Nikumaroro (Gardner) Island as claimed by its director Richard Gillespie. Cited were independent reports from three former Lockheed employees who worked on the plane emphatically denying that a piece of the belly of an aircraft located by Gillespie could be from the Earhart Electra. Nor was it possible that the size 9 shoe sole Gillespie offered as having belonged to the famed aviatrix actually was hers. Earhart wore a size 6 shoe, which Gillespie already had been told by Lou Foudray, curator of the Amelia Earhart birth-home in Atchison, Kansas, before releasing the information.
Amelia’s presence at the symposium was all the more palpable by the affectionate display of photographs taken by Albert Bresnik of Los Angeles, who was Earhart’s personal photographer and originally was slated to fly with her to record the journey. Others among the intent participants, who came from all over the U.S., were several members of Ninety-Nines, the women flyers organization Amelia Earhart helped to establish. Michelle Stauffer, a Kansas aircraft dealer and the first woman ever to fly a Russian SU-27 jet fighter, and Ann Pellegreno, who in 1967 successfully duplicated and completed Earhart’s 1937 flight represented two generations of women pilots devoted to Earhart’s memory.
Two more books about Earhart are due out within the next few months. An anthology of eyewitness accounts assembled by Don Wilson of Rochester, New York, will be published in November under the title Amelia Earhart: Lost Legend. Bloomsbury Publishing will bring out Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart by Gervais associate Randall Brink in November.
End of Part II.
Although not flattering in its editorial opinion of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, this USA Today cartoon from May 1995 might represent the high point in national publicity for the obscure and selective AES, which counted less than 80 researchers, authors and other Earhart-obsessed individuals among its members at the height of its activities in the late 1980s to mid-1990s.
The piece was reproduced in the July 1995 issue of the AES Newsletter.
Since we’re on the subject, some might be interested in reading about the beginning of the once vibrant but now basically defunct AES, which was solely the brainchild of its founder and first president, Bill Prymak. Bringing together such a disparate group of humans as “Earhart researchers” was like herding cats, but Prymak was able to befriend and network with the many strange and weird characters that made up the original plank owners of the AES.
In the early pages of Volume I (of two) of Bill Prymak’s An Assemblage of Amelia Earhart Newsletters, following a list of all articles from the May 1991 issue through the final edition of June 2002, we find what might be described as AES’s “founding principles,” or even its constitution, for want of a better term.
Like Prymak himself, the brief, page-and-a-half statement was succinct and to the point, and was presented under two major headings: Statement of Purpose and Preliminary AES Charter Principles. Herewith, for your information and entertainment, is the original AES Constitution, so to speak. All boldface emphasis except headings is mine.
The summer of 1990 saw invitations extended to some of the world’s most respected and dedicated Amelia Earhart researchers to meet on a remote mountaintop in the White River National Forest near Aspen, Colorado. Many attended; those unable were there in spirit to support us.
Statement of Purpose
1. To officially announce the cessation of our participation from the Amelia Earhart Research Consortium (AERC).
2. To give birth to a new organization embracing principles and objectives dedicated to the collection, substantiation, collation, recording, and appropriate dissemination of all contributed materials relating to the Amelia Earhart disappearance July 2, 1937.
3. To name this new organization Amelia Earhart Society (AES).
4. To obtain the support of serious scholars and technical researchers of the verifiable events of the flight, correlated with the political, military, and world history of the era, as well as individuals who wish to engage in or gain knowledge of the Amelia Earhart phenomenon as a hobbyist.
Why the need for AES? The preponderance of evidence overwhelmingly suggests that something covert did occur prior to, during, and after the final flight. Literally hundreds of people — GIs, island natives, government employees, even the man on the street — all have their individual thread. The thread might be a personal experience, a photograph, a recounter by a buddy on the front lines, or a curious letter. These are threads which, individually, stand meaningless, unconfirmed, isolated, without support, and in desperate need of a collective union with other threads.
It is AES’s principal objective to weave these loose and isolated threads into a meaningful mosaic, bringing us ever closer to the final solution.
Preliminary AES Charter Principles
1. An Advisory Council will be formed, consisting of persons actively performing Amelia Earhart (AE) research, and willing to assimilate fragments of information into a more comprehensive and credible reference source.
2. The Advisory Council shall be responsible for distributing the quarterly newsletter and organizing semi-annual or annual AES conferences.
3. The Advisory Council will be the central recipient and depository for new and old AE data. Information received and stored shall be distributed only upon the concurrence of the contributing AES member.
4. There shall be no salary structure for the Advisory Council; operating costs, including telephone, mailings, and printing shall be covered by the AES membership contributions.
5. The Advisory Council shall move towards formatting and distributing an anthology of all contributed materials. Only responsible media exposure will be sought to encourage the sharing of fresh material from untapped sources, and to encourage new membership.
6. AES will avoid sensationalism and irresponsible reporting of frivolous theories.
The associate membership of the AES shall consist of those seriously interested in the Earhart enigma, possibly having a thread to contribute, but who are unable to actively take part in the chores and responsibilities borne by the Advisory Council. These associate members will assume a more passive role, but are expected to attend AES meetings, contribute to funding needs, and solicit other Earhart scholars and enthusiasts to join this new organization.
These associate members will be the heart and soul of AES, for somewhere out there, from the most unexpected source, may well be the crucial thread that will tie our mosaic together.
Every person receiving this letter has been selected as a candidate for the AES, and is urged to respond with comments, suggestions, and extent of anticipated participation. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION.
A Must Date: November 7, 1990 on prime time Unsolved Mysteries, Robert Stack will feature our Colonel Rollin Reineck on the Earhart Mystery. Colonel Reineck will have fascinating new data on AE, including his latest efforts towards the “final solution.” Other scheduled guests are:
• Tom Devine, author of Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.
• Fred Goerner, author of Search for Amelia Earhart.
• Robert Wallack, finder of the leather attaché case on Saipan.
• Elgen Long, esteemed researcher on his special theory.
• T.C. “Buddy” Brennan, author of Witness to the Execution.
Get your VCR cranked! You won’t want to miss this vital piece of AE history.
We tried to get a commercial spot on the program expounding our new AES but $150,000 for the slot didn’t fit our budget this time–maybe next year.
Summation: AES has the potential to gather together the greatest group of Earhart researchers ever put together, and as one body we will solve the mystery.
Everyone is encouraged to contact us if they have even the slightest thread on the following:
• Lockheed’s involvement not publicly stated.
• U.S. Government’s involvement.
• Irene Bolam connection.
• Knowledge of other people’s experiences.
• Any documentation or identifiable photographic evidence applicable.
Please respond to:
Bill Prymak, Broomfield, Colo.