When Fred Goerner’s bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart rocked the nation in 1966, selling over 400,000 copies in an age when many Americans actually read books, untold numbers of congressmen and senators from coast to coast were besieged by constituents demanding that they get to the bottom of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Nothing happened. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
In 1968, Goerner appeared in Miami before a Republican platform subcommittee chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn. Calling his presentation “Crisis in Credibility—Truth in Government,” a title that perfectly describes the appalling corruption that so pervades our current ruling class, Goerner appealed to the members’ integrity and patriotism, and did his utmost to win them to the cause of securing justice for Amelia and Fred Noonan. Nothing happened then, either.
Occasionally someone suggests that I should write to the president, or that they’ve written to their congressmen, to demand action in the ongoing Earhart travesty. I tell them it’s a waste of time, based on what we know and all that’s gone before, but I never try to actually discourage these vain appeals to our rulers. Those who care enough about the truth to actually sit down and write a letter are to be respected and applauded for their diligence, despite the fact that all their letters will be ignored.
In 1997, well-known Earhart researcher Rollin Reineck thought he’d take a shot at it, and he sent the below missive to President Bill Clinton in hopes of effecting a miraculous breakthrough in the Earhart case. Reineck could have saved a stamp, but then we wouldn’t have this letter to serve as a fine example of the sort of good-faith appeals to our nation’s leaders that continue to be ignored.
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
8 June 1997
Subject: Public release of information relating to Amelia Earhart.
Dear Mr. President:
The second of July, this year, will mark the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. This single episode remains the greatest unsolved air mystery of our time.
The issuance of your 17 April 1995 Executive Order (12958) declassifying all government documents that were 25 years old should have shed some light on this specific area of interest. However, it has produced no results to this date.
From circumstantial evidence, most researchers feel they know the answer to this 60-year-old mystery, but they also feel that the “HARD COPY OF FACTS“ are still sealed away in the files of the intelligence community in Washington, D.C.
Consequently, I am writing to ask you, as President of the United States, to issue another Executive Order. This time directing that the various military and other intelligence agencies as well as the CIA immediately release — to the public — all materials in their files relating to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart so the world may finally know the truth.
Ms. Earhart was the heroine of her era. She epitomized the ideals of women and American feminism, and is still an inspiration to all women today. The cheers, accolades and outpouring of emotion received by another young lady who just completed emulating the Earhart around-the-world flight in the same type vintage airplane reaffirms the desire of the world to know the facts and the truth about the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
I, and others like me, have been trying to piece together exactly what happened on that fateful day of 2 July 1937. Personally, I have spent over 26 years — a third of my life — searching for the truth about this great and courageous lady of the air. From this research, I have concluded:
Without presenting supporting evidence of any kind, the United States Government has always taken the position that Miss Earhart died at sea after ditching her airplane (attachment I). Yet, in direct contradiction, we researchers have evidence, including statements made by noted Americans, as well as others, who were in a position to know the facts and the truth about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. For instance:
1. The late Henry Morgenthau Jr., Secretary of the Treasury for President Roosevelt, stated (attachment 2) in a telephone conversation with Malvina Scheider, secretary for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, “Amelia Earhart absolutely disregarded all orders. We have evidence that the thing is all over. And, if we ever release the report of the Itasca (Coast Guard vessel standing off Howland Island) on Amelia Earhart, any reputation she’s got is gone.”
2. Mr. Carl Heine, a missionary who had lived in the Marshall Islands for 48 years (executed by the Japanese during the war), reported seeing a letter in the Jaluit Post Office on 27 November 1937, addressed to Amelia Earhart. The address read: Amelia Earhart, Marshall Islands, Ratak Group, Maloelap Island, South Pacific Ocean (Attachment 3). Mr. Heine felt it interesting that someone would be writing to Amelia Earhart in the Marshall Islands, and that the return address on the envelope was the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, California. It appears to be more than a coincidence that Ms. Earhart’s personal secretary lived at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at that time.
3. The late five-star Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Pacific Operations during WW II said, “She did go down in the Marshall Islands and was taken prisoner by the Japanese.” This statement by Admiral Nimitz (attachment 4) can be seen today in the Earhart Room of the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.
4. General Alexander Vandegrift, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps during WW II, said (attachment 5), “It was substantiated that Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan. This information was given to me by General Tommy Watson, who commanded the Second Division during the assault on Saipan.”
5. Graves P. Erskine, who commanded the 5th U.S. Marine Corps Division at Iwo Jima and was on the staff of Gen. Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith during the invasion of Saipan and served in intelligence capabilities, said (attachment 5), “We did learn that Earhart was on Saipan and that she died there.”
6. Mr. Robert Reimers, native of the Marshall Islands, was born in 1909, when the Germans occupied the Islands. He has spent his life as an entrepreneur and is the genius behind the Robert Reimer Enterprises Inc. of the Marshall Islands. In a recent interview Mr. Reimers stated among other things, “It was widely known throughout the Islands by both the Japanese and the Marshallese that a Japanese fishing boat found Amelia Earhart, her navigator and the airplane near Mili Atoll. They were brought to Jabor where one of our people (Billamon Amoron [sic] attachment 6) treated them. They were then taken to Kwajalein, and from there to Truk and then to Saipan. There was no mystery . . . everybody knew it.”
7. In addition, there have been numerous reports by our GIs in the Marshall Islands and on Saipan of seeing photographs and other memorabilia of Ms. Earhart in the Marshalls and on Saipan. Each and every one of these reports states that the found material related to Earhart was turned over to Officers in the field never to be seen again.
8. After the liberation of the Japanese Weihsien Internment Camp, China, messages (attachment 7) were dispatched, dated 21 August 1945 to the next of kin, or other interested parties of the internees. One of those messages was addressed and delivered to G.P. Putnam, 10042 Valley Spring Lane, North Hollywood, California. The message read, “CAMP LIBERATED, ALL WELL, VOLUMES TO TELL, LOVE TO MOTHER.” G.P. Putnam was Amelia’s husband and 10042 Spring Valley Lane, North Hollywood, California, was where they lived as man and wife before she departed on her around the world flight. Although the message was unsigned, there is little doubt as to who wrote the message. G.P. Putnam responded to the message 10 days later.
(Editor’s note: Reineck’s claim was later proven to be absolutely false by Earhart researchers Ron Bright and Patrick Gaston. The telegram was actually sent from the Weihsien Camp by a man named Ahmad Kamal, a close personal friend of George Putnam. Amelia Earhart was never at Weihsien, but this idea survives among some inhabitants of the Earhart fringe.)
Although I have worked with both the State and Treasury Departments, as well as the National Archives, I have not been able to obtain information to reconcile these various viewpoints and happenings on what should be a matter of fact.
Which version concerning Earhart’s disappearance are we to believe? Why can’t the people of the United States be told the truth about this event that took place almost 60 years ago? How could the release of the true facts of this historical event possibly affect the security of this country today, or have any other significant consequences? What will it take to set the record straight and get the truth about the fate of Amelia Earhart?
In May 1938, the Honorable Hattie W. Caraway, Senator, of your State of Arkansas, said on the floor of the U.S. Senate: “Amelia Earhart was a courageous woman who was one of the 12 most notable women of the past 100 years.” Senator Caraway went on to say that: “She was a woman who symbolized, to a remarkable degree, the courage, the pioneering spirit and the broad achievements of American womanhood” (Attachment 8).
What Senator Caraway said on the floor of the Senate in 1938 was true then and it is true today. Amelia Earhart was indeed a very courageous woman who served her country well in time of need. It is only fitting that the truth now be known and that her name be placed in the HALL OF FAME with other great Americans so that her countrymen and women of today and tomorrow are made aware of her noble deeds. Mr. President, you can make it happen by directing the immediate release to the public of all CIA, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard and other intelligence files relating to Ms. Amelia Earhart.
Your early response to this letter would be appreciated.
Rollin C. Reineck
Colonel USAF (Ret.)
Of course, Reineck received no response from Bill Clinton, not early nor at any other time. Clinton likely never even saw Reineck’s letter, which was probably deposited into the nearest circular file by one of an army of lackeys paid exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars to screen White House mail and remove these little annoyances from the president.
This is the inevitable fate of any attempts by our good citizens to appeal to the better angels of those who keep our national secrets. To begin with, these people have no better angels, as their spiritual protectors likely gave up on most of these lowlifes long ago. Secondly, and most importantly, the Earhart case remains among Washington’s most precious sacred cows, a status that will almost certainly remain unchanged for decades to come. Welcome to the Earhart saga.
Did Amelia Earhart’s secretary send the mysterious letter found at Jaluit Post Office in November 1937?
With the recent passing of my dear friend Bill Prymak at age 86, we can write finis to a great era of Earhart research. Bill has joined a host of Earhart researchers whose myriad contributions have made an enormous impact in establishing the facts about Amelia’s tragic end on Saipan, and although our current national zeitgeist stands in vehement opposition to their findings becoming widely known anytime soon, the truth will stand the test of time and will someday be revealed to all when the U.S. government finally finds the fortitude to do so. Bill’s death leaves only Paul Rafford Jr., 95, the former Pan American Airways radio flight officer and author of Amelia Earhart’s Radio: Why She Disappeared (2008) and Joe Klaas, 94, Joe Gervais’ close friend who penned the infamous 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives as the only surviving old timers.
Beginning with today’s post, as a tribute to Bill and his formidable contributions to the Earhart saga, I will republish some of the great research articles that graced the pages of his remarkable Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, which he produced, without fanfare or remuneration, and solely for the limited membership of the Amelia Earhart Society in his Broomfield, Colo., office from December 1989 until March 2000. I know Bill would be happy that his fine work, and that of many others, is honored and shared with the remaining few who continue to seek and value the truth.
Due to the columnar format of this blog, it won’t always be possible to exactly reproduce the letter size that comprised Bill’s newsletters, but I’ll do everything possible to present these entries as close to their original look. I’ll also make it clear when the material presented is taken directly from Bill’s AES Newsletters. Today’s article is taken from the May 1991 issue of the newsletters, and looks like this:
FROM: PACIFIC ISLANDS MONTHLY MAGAZINE 5/25/38
“POSTAL MYSTERY, UNCLAIMED LETTER FOR AMELIA EARHART”
From: Mr. Carl Heine a special correspondent and German missionary in the Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll, March 17, 1938
Here is a curious thing. On November 27, 1937 in the Jaluit Post Office, in the Marshall Islands (Japanese), among the unclaimed mail a certain letter attracted my attention. In its upper left corner was printed “Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood California.” A little lower down appeared the postal date stamp with “Los Angeles, California, October 7, 10 pm,” within the circle, L ower down in the usual place appeared the following stating address:
“Miss Amelia Earhart (Putnam); Marshall Islands (Japanese); Ratak Group, Maloelap Island, (10); South Pacific Ocean.”
Written diagonally across one corner was this, “Deliver Promptly.” On the back of envelope ”Incognito” was penciled in very small, fine handwriting. The letter was unopened, and consequently I have no idea of its contents. Now, it seems to me that anyone in U.S.A. writing as late as October, ought to be well aware that Amelia Earhart had been given up as lost long before. Hence, it would appear that the letter may have been written by some one desirous of hoaxing the public. Still, it is just possible that such may not be the case at all.
Certainly, the writer of the address on the envelope, while making some errors such as anyone at a distance might make, displays a little more geographical knowledge of these parts than one would expect of the average individual, but which one would certainly expect of anyone about to traverse the Pacific, and would be passing this group at a distance of a few hundred miles.
It is conceivable that Amelia Earhart may have told some trusted friend in America, before setting out on her ill fated journey, that she intended to take a look-see in at the Marshalls en route or that she might possibly do so if in any danger as she passed by. And it is possible that this hypothetical friend in Hollywood might think that Amelia had reached this group, and might be lying low for some reason or other at Maloelap. It seems curious that anyone without specific interest in the group should know the name of that particular atoll which is of no great importance. What the number (10) might mean in connection with that island I have no idea. (End of Carl Heine’s original narrative.)
HISTORICAL NOTE: “Maloelap Island” (Bill Prymak’s comments follow.)
Prior to WWII in the Pacific the Japanese built its first military operational airfield among the Marshall Islands Group on this island. During the invasion of the Marshall Islands by the U.S. Forces during WWII, Maloelap Island was bypassed and not occupied. The Japanese on this island did not surrender until after the signing of the surrender in Tokyo Bay.
Editor’s note: Isn’t it coincidental that Margot DeCarie, AE’s personal secretary, was living in the Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel during Sept-Oct. 1937? It is stated that with her death in 1983, the true answers to the AE mystery were buried with her . . . ” (End of entry.)
This is all we know about the letter. Carl Heine obviously respected privacy rights — even of those believed deceased — too much to open and read its contents, and no one else has ever indicated what became of it. It’s quite possible that the letter was confiscated by U.S. intelligence assets soon after they learned of its existence, and it’s joined Robert E. Wallack’s briefcase and the photos of Amelia and Fred reportedly discovered by Seabee Joe Garofalo and other GIs on Saipan, deep in top secret archives where nobody can get to it.
We do know that DeCarie wasn’t shy about expressing her ideas about what happened to her boss in July 1937, but we can also wonder whether she told people like Fred Goerner all that she really knew. In a phone interview sometime in the early 1960s, she told Goerner that she had “promised secrecy” to an unknown party, but still gave him plenty to think about. “Do you really think Purdue University bought that plane for Amelia,” she asked, “and do you think that it was intended for some kind of vague experimentation? Second, if the whole thing was a publicity stunt . . . why did the government assign some of its top experts to the flight, and why did President Roosevelt have an airfield built for her? Last, do you believe the President ordered the Navy to spend four million dollars on a search for a couple of stunt fliers?” DeCarie was sure Earhart “died a long time ago,” and that the Japanese captured her “within moderate range of Howland Island. . . . President Roosevelt knew everything,” she said. “He knew the price Amelia paid.” Margot DeCarie passed away in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1983 at the age of 79.
In his 1997 book, Where Nets Were Cast: Christianity in Oceana Since World War II, John Garret wrote that during the war, Carl Heine was given the option to leave the Marshalls, but he chose to stay. He was detained, along with his wife, at times in isolation by the Japanese. “In January 1944 US bombing became heavier at Jabor, preceding the full counter-attack on fortified positions,” Garret wrote. “Many Marshallese – but few, if any Japanese – died in the most intensive bombardment in March. In April, Carl R. Heine was beheaded and his body burned at Enijet, Jaluit.” (Garrett was clearly in error about the location of Heine’s beheading, as Enijet is an island on Mili Atoll, not Jaluit Atoll.)
Heine’s grandson John would later tell Earhart researchers about the barge with the silver airplane with the broken wing he saw at Jaluit as a child. “It was the plane an American lady had been flying when she crashed,” Heine told T.C. “Buddy” Brennan in 1983, and he believed that after leaving Jaluit the ship “went on to Kwajalein . . . then on to Truk and Saipan.”