Today we present Ross Game’s reply to Rollin Reineck’s October 1998 letter, in which the retired Air Force colonel and noted Earhart researcher asked him if he could shed any light on Fred Goerner inexplicably dropping his well-known conviction that Amelia Earhart had landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, a belief that has long been supported by a variety of witnesses.
As was Reineck’s letter in our previous post, this one appeared in the February 1999 edition of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. (Boldface and italic emphases mine throughout.)
Ross P. Game
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
Telephone (707) 255-4693
October 27, 1998
Dear Colonel Reineck,
I received your letter of October 24 and I hope in the next day or two, health permitting, to contact Bob Ross to arrange a meeting in the near future.
Up to the time of his death I didn’t ever get the impression from Fred Goerner that he had any doubts about the Earhart plane coming down in the Marshalls. It was known, beyond doubt, that Amelia and Fred Noonan were brought to Saipan by the Japanese. We found evidence (obtained in interviews with natives — recalling the “white woman and white man” when they were children) on Saipan and in the Marshalls and had fantastic assistance in that phase of the investigation from Catholic missionary-priests able to speak the native languages.
Jose Quintanilla, trained at the FBI Academy and head of the police on Guam, took a leave of absence to assist us. He came up with evidence identical with what we had obtained from natives of the islands.
Without exception those who recalled the “white people” were able to pick Amelia’s photo from a series of pictures spread out on the ground. When she first was brought to Saipan in 1937 she was indeed a novelty because Earhart and Noonan were the first Caucasians they’d ever seen and the woman was wearing a coat which was most unusual to the natives (her leather jacket) and had hair cut like a man.
In Washington files we learned that George Palmer Putnam was secretly brought to the Saipan gravesite after the island had been captured by U.S. Marines and the remains “secretly” removed under the direction of an intelligence officer (we even obtained his name, thanks to the CIA).
Let’s keep in touch.
Clearly the most notable aspect of Game’s letter is that he fails to answer Reineck’s question — and mine as well — about what might have caused Goerner to change his mind about where he believed Amelia Earhart landed her Electra on July 2, 1937. To this day, no substantial, or perhaps more accurately stated, acceptable reason, has surfaced to explain why Goerner decided to unceremoniously dump his formerly rock-solid belief that Amelia landed her Electra at Mili Atoll.
By 1998, when Rollin Reineck contacted him, Game was obviously far removed from his former role as a confidant to Goerner. In my inch-thick file of correspondence between Game and Goerner, the last letter, from Game to Goerner, was sent in August 1992. In none of the material does Goerner inform Game of his remarkable rejection of his original Mili belief, so succinctly stated in the close of The Search for Amelia Earhart.
Precisely when Goerner changed his mind isn’t known, but it could have been as early as 1970, when in an April 17 letter to Fred Hooven, he discussed his plans to search the area southeast of Howland and Baker Islands, and northeast of McKean Island in the Phoenix group for “a reef and sandbar which have been most recently reported in 1945 and 1954, but have never been landed upon or investigated at a distance closer than two miles.”
Game’s response to Reineck certainly leaves no doubt that he was unaware of Goerner’s change, which we can find emphatically spelled out in Goerner’s stunning April 1993 letter to J. Gordon Vaeth, in which he flatly announced, “I now can state without equivocation that I DO NOT BELIEVE THE AE ELECTRA LANDED AT MILI.” (Emphasis Goerner’s.)
For much more on this, please see Chapter VII, “Goerner’s Reversal and Devine’s Dissent,” pages 172-176 of Truth at Last.
I have nothing that indicates Reineck and Game ever “kept in touch,” after this letter from Game, though it’s entirely possible, and have no evidence that Game and Bob Ross ever got together for a meeting. Bill Prymak’s AES Newsletters, although full of information unavailable anywhere else, are far from exhaustive.
For more on G.P. Putnam’s visit to Saipan, please see pages 239-241 in Truth at Last.