Today we remain in Fred Goerner’s mid-1960s heydays, a few years before the The Search for Amelia Earhart became a bestseller in 1966 and just as Goerner had departed for his fourth visit to Saipan. From the January 1964 issue of the now-defunct Argosy (“For Men”) magazine, we present “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart,” which, to my knowledge, is the first of just two nationally published accounts of Fred Goerner’s early 1960s investigations on Saipan, this one covering his first three trips, from 1960 to 1962. A few years later, the September 1966 issue of True magazine published a long preview of the soon-to-be-published Search.
I found this story only recently; I think, but am not entirely certain, that it’s Goerner’s earliest published national account of his Earhart investigations. The story reflects his passion for the truth and determination to succeed against the increasingly trenchant stonewalling policies of the U.S. government he was beginning to experience, as the feds circled their wagons around another sacred cow. At this stage of his research, Goerner had yet to fully understand the true nature of the forces arrayed against him. Once again, just as in my last post, you are invited to compare the below story with the mendacious, ridiculous fare about the Earhart “mystery” we’re force-fed today, as the U.S. government’s Earhart disinformation machine continues to click on all cylinders, and more people than ever are ignorant about the facts.
As I always try to do with original material, I’m reproducing this article as it appeared in Argosy as closely as possible, using the same photos and cutlines and editing only for mistakes that would distract. Because of the its length, I’ll present “I’ll Find Amelia Earhart” in four segments. Forthwith is Part I, as we return to January 1964.
“I’LL FIND AMELIA EARHART!” Continued from page 25
before the war and were taken to Saipan by the Japanese.”
• A United States Naval Manpower Division Expert, who says, “The fliers, according to the Marshallese natives, were taken away on a Japanese ship – presumably to Saipan.”
• One of the most respected natives in the Marshall Islands, who backs up the stories of both: “The Japanese were amazed that one of the flyers was a woman.”
• A former U.S. Naval Commandant of Saipan, who states: “The testimony of the Saipanese people cannot be refuted. An ONI man was there, and regardless of what they tell you in Washington, the story couldn’t be shaken. A white man and woman were undoubtedly brought to Saipan before the war. Quite probably they were Earhart and Noonan. I don’t believe they flew their plane in here. They were brought by the Japanese from the Marshalls. I think you’ll find the radio logs of four U.S. logistics vessels will prove that.”
• A series of strange discrepancies appearing in the official logs of the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, Earhart’s homing vessel at Howland Island in 1937, and the U.S.S. Lexington, the Navy carrier dispatched to search for her and Fred.
• Literally hundreds of bits of information, none of which have been satisfactorily answered by official sources, that point directly to the Saipan conclusion.
• A strong feeling that Earhart and Noonan may be the key that will make public the truth behind one of the most incredible and least-known periods in United States Military Intelligence history – the twenty years that led to Pearl Harbor.
The evidence is so great that, as you read this, I will once more be on Saipan. This is the fourth expedition in as many years, and this trip may well provide the final answer we have so diligently sought.
For me, it began in April 1960, with Josephine Blanco Akiyama of San Mateo, California. The San Mateo Times had printed a series of articles in which Mrs. Akiyama was quoted as having seen “two white people, a man and a woman, flyers, on Saipan in Japanese custody in 1937.”
More than a little skeptical, I called her to ask why she had been late in making the story public.
“I told about it a long time ago,” was her reply. “I told a Navy dentist I worked for on Saipan in nineteen forty-five.”
The Navy dentist turned out to be Casimir Sheft, now in civilian practice in Passaic, New Jersey. Sheft didn’t know that Mrs. Akiyama had come to the United States, but he did back up her story.
“I tried to do something about it,” said Sheft, “but the naval officers I discussed it with didn’t seem interested in starting an investigation. I felt sure Washington knew about it anyway, so, when I returned to the States after the war, I forgot about it.”
The possibility of corroborative testimony seemed to me to be sufficient to warrant an expedition to Saipan. There was a ring of truth to the stories of both Mrs. Akiyama and Dr. Sheft, and it seemed logical to assume that if Josephine Akiyama, as a young girl, had learned about “two white flyers,” there must be others still alive on that island who knew something.
Permission to visit Saipan wasn’t easy to obtain. At first, it was denied, then, after various appeals, the Navy Department relented. Early in June 1960, I left for the Marianas. I paused at Guam for clearance and Navy transportation to Saipan, and the aura of secrecy was deepened when naval officials told me that, on Saipan, I was to behave myself and if I were a member of the military.
From the air, Saipan, a twelve-by-five-mile dot, appears to be a tropical paradise. On the ground, the impression is entirely different. Scene of some of the most brutal fighting of World War II, Saipan still shows the scars. The rusting hulks of tanks and landing craft are scattered on her reefs, and the shattered superstructures of sunken Japanese ships protrude above the surface of her harbors. The jungles have covered the craters and foxholes, but in a day’s time, enough live ammunition to start a small revolution can still be collected.
In the 1944 invasion, the United States forces suffered more than 15,000 casualties. The cost to Japan and the natives was even more dear. Twenty-nine [thousand] of 30,000 Japanese troops and an estimated half the native population were killed.
The cloak-and-dagger atmosphere was not dispelled at Saipan. Immediately after landing, Commander Paul Bridwell, head of the Naval Administration Unit, whisked me to his quarters overlooking Tanapag Harbor, and spelled out some basic rules for my behavior while on the island. I was not to go further north on Saipan than the administration area, and under no circumstances, was I to go over to the east side of the island.
“What’s this all about, Commander?” I asked. “What does this have to do with the Earhart investigation?”
“Not a thing,” was the answer. “Are you sure you’re here about Amelia Earhart?”
“Of course I am,” I answered. “What else? Why all the secrecy? Why can’t I visit other parts of the island?”
“A lot of questions,” replied Bridwell, “but I’m afraid I can’t give you any answers. Just confine yourself to the area I’ve indicated and we’ll get along fine.”
You know about the bull and the red flag? Well, that’s how such a conversation affects a newsman. But I decided I had come on the Earhart story, and on the Earhart story I would work.
It’s an understatement to say that it’s difficult to conduct an investigation when half the territory is denied you, but Bridwell was very anxious to be of help. He gave me the names of some ten natives “who should know if Earhart and Noonan were on the island.” He personally led me to the natives and, to a man, they knew nothing. They were not only vague about everything before the war, I began to get the feeling I was listening to a phonograph record.
It was then I enlisted the aid of Monsignor Oscar Calvo, Father Arnold Bendowske and Father Sylvan Conover of the Catholic Church Mission at Chalan Kanoa. Nearly all of the 8,000 Chamorros and Carolinian natives who inhabit Saipan today embrace Catholicism. Monsignor Calvo, a native of Guam, Father Sylvan of Brooklyn, New York, and Father Arnold of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had not been on the island before the war. A Spanish Jesuit priest and a lay brother had operated the mission under the Japanese. Father Tardio returned to Saipan after the war, where he died. Brother Gregorio is stationed at the church mission at Yap.
Monsignor Calvo told me that the natives I had been led to by Commander Bridwell all worked for the Navy or a mysterious entity known only as NTTU, that inhabited the parts of Saipan I was not to visit, under penalty of no one knew what. Monsignor and the two priests had heard vague rumors about some white people help on the island before the war, but had not done any probing. They were glad, however, to help if they could.
I first laid some ground rules for the questioning: We would not ask people if they remembered the two white flyers captured by the Japanese before the war. We would first talk about recent years, then the period of the war, and finally pre-war Saipan. At a likely moment, Monsignor Calvo would ask, “Did you ever see or know of any white people on the island before the war?” If the reply was no, the questioning would be dropped. If the answer was affirmative, we would try to determine if a firm identification and a definite year could be established.
Here, I am going to lump together all the testimony gathered during the three trips, 1960, 1961 and 1962. In questioning nearly a thousand Saipanese, Monsignor Calvo, the fathers and I turned up twenty-three witnesses, and this is their story:
Two white flyers, a man and a woman, arrived at Tanapag Harbor in 1937. The woman had very closely cut hair, and at first, appeared to be a man. They were brought ashore in a Japanese launch and taken by command car into the city of Garapan to military headquarters. (Garapan was completely destroyed during the 1944 invasion.) After a period of time in the building, the pair was separated. The man, who had some kind of a bandage around his head, was taken to the military police barracks stockade at Punta Muchot, while the woman was placed in a cell at Garapan Prison. Shortly thereafter, probably after a few hours, the woman was taken from the prison back into Garapan to a hotel which served as a detention center for certain political prisoners.
The woman was kept at the hotel for a period of from six to eight months. Allowed a brief period of exercise each day in the yard, she was constantly kept under guard. After the aforementioned six to eight months, the woman died of dysentery. She was buried a day or so later, just outside a native cemetery near Garapan, in an unmarked grave. The man who had come to the island with her was taken with the woman’s body to the graveside, beheaded and buried with her. The Japanese said several times that the two had been American flyers spying on Japan.
Who are these witnesses? Men who worked for the Japanese at the Tanapag naval base; men and women who lived in Garapan near the Japanese military police headquarters; a native laundress who served the Japanese officers, and many times washed “the white lady’s clothes. In the beginning, she wore man’s clothes,” says this witness; a woman whose father supplied the black cloth in which the white woman was buried; a dentist who worked on the Japanese officers and heard what they said about the two American flyers; a woman who worked at the Japanese crematorium near the small cemetery and saw the man being taken to his execution, along with the woman who was already dead; a man who was imprisoned at Garapan prison by the Japanese from 1936 to 1944, and who saw the woman the Japanese called “flyer-spy.”
“Are you sure they are telling the truth?” I asked Monsignor Calvo.
“I’m certain,” he replied. “In the first place, these simple people couldn’t concoct a story like this. They come from different parts of the island. There would be immediate discrepancies. I’m a native myself, and I know when a lie is being told. Finally, they have no reason for telling a lie. Nothing has been paid to them. What can they gain?”
Another question was logical: “Why haven’t these people come forward before?”
Why should they?” Monsignor questioned back. “If you knew these people’s history, you wouldn’t wonder. They have never had self-determination. The Spanish conquered them first, then the Germans. The Japanese forced the Germans out in nineteen-fourteen, and used the island for their own purposes until the American invasion. The Japanese had so convinced the Saipanese that your forces would torture them if they were captured, that whole families committed suicide by throwing themselves off Marpi Cliff. Now you have a United Nations trust over Saipan, and they aren’t convinced you are going to stay. Two white people on Saipan before the war are of no interest to them. Why should they have told something that might have reflected badly on them?”
As we gathered testimony about the two flyers resembling Earhart and Noonan, a few tidbits about NTTU also came to light. NTTU, I learned stood for Naval Technical Training Unit. High wire fences surrounded the restricted area. Aircraft were landing at Kagman Field on the east side of the island in the dead of night. Large buses with shades drawn were regularly seen shuttling between the airfield and the jungle. There were a large number of American and civilian and military personnel within the restricted area, and they were seldom seen on the south end of the island. One native said he’d seen Chinese, presumably soldiers, moving through the jungle inside the restricted area. (End of Part I.)
In late October of this year, Ms. Carla Henson, daughter of the late Everett Henson Jr., contacted me for the first time, completely out of the blue. You will recall Pvt. Henson, who, along with Pvt. Billy Burks, was ordered by Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold to excavate a gravesite several feet outside of the Liyang Cemetery on Saipan in late July or early August 1944. This incident is chronicled in detail on pages 233-253 in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.
When the pair had removed the skeletal remains of two individuals and deposited them in a large container that Henson later described as a “canister,” Henson asked Griswold what the impromptu grave-digging detail was all about. Griswold’s reply, “Have you heard of Amelia Earhart?” has echoed down though the decades and continues to reverberate among students of the Earhart disappearance.
On Nov. 22, Carla, 66, long ensconced as the “Agent of First Impressions” at ABC10 in Sacramento, Calif., sent me the below KCBS press release in its original July 25, 1966 format, created about a month before The Search for Amelia Earhart was published. Thanks to Carla, on this day after Christmas 2017, I’m privileged to present this rare treat you will see nowhere else.
Because the remaining four pages of the 1966 release do not reproduce well in this format, I’m typing them afresh while making every effort to duplicate the original in every way possible, including paragraph indents and page numbers. Compare the content of the below piece, as true today as it was then, with the ambiguous and confusing information typified by the Nov. 25 Pacific Daily News story, “Chamorro man shares Earhart theory that she was a prisoner on Saipan,” discussed in my last post, “Recent Earhart stories aim to confuse and deceive,” and you can see how much real progress has been made in the Earhart case by our esteemed media — mainstream or any other kind — during the past 61 years. Less than none is the pathetic truth.
San Francisco, July 25 . . . A KCBS Reporter who spent six years investigating one of aviation’s greatest mysteries charged today that famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Frederick Noonan — who mysteriously disappeared during a Pacific Ocean flight 29 years ago this month — were in fact captured by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and accused of spying for the United States. Transferred to Japan’s Pacific military headquarters, Saipan Island in the Marianas, Miss Earhart later died of dysentery, and Mr. Noonan was executed. They were buried in an unmarked grave near a native cemetery on Saipan. (Bold face mine throughout.) In 1944, representatives of the U.S. Government, after Saipan had been wrested from the Japanese during World War II, recovered the Earhart-Noonan remains in secret. The public was never informed.
These incredible conclusions to one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries were revealed today by former U.S. Marines, and are supported by a six-year investigation into the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart by KCBS Radio of San Francisco, The Napa California Register, The Scripps League of Newspapers and the Associated Press. The investigation, begun in 1960 by Fred Goerner of KCBS Radio and joined three years ago by the other media, entailed four expeditions to the Marianas and Marshall Islands, the questioning of literally hundreds of persons, and probes in the Far East and Washington, D.C. Goerner has just completed a book, “The Search For Amelia Earhart,” detailing the investigation, which will be published next month by Doubleday and Company and The Bodley Head Press Ltd. of London, England.
First word of the recovery of the remains of Earhart and Noonan came from Everett Henson, Jr., now an appraiser for the Federal Housing Administration in Sacramento, California. In 1944, Henson served as a Private with the U.S. 2nd Marine Division during the invasion of Saipan, a 12 x 5 mile island 115 miles north of Guam.
“One day,” said Henson, “a Captain in Marine Intelligence took me and another Private to a small native graveyard. We searched around outside the graveyard until he found a grave that was marked only by some small white rocks. Then he had us open it up and take out the two people inside. I asked him what we were doing, and he said,
‘Did you ever hear of Amelia Earhart?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Then that’s all I should have to say.’ He warned us not to say anything about it, but that was more than twenty years ago. I can’t see any harm in telling the truth now.”
Henson recalled that the other Marine Private’s name was Billy Burks. After a search of several months, Burks was located in Dallas, Texas. When questioned, he told a story almost identical to Henson’s, although the former Marines had not seen each other since the end of World War II.
Contacted in Washington, D.C., General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., currently commandant of the Marine Corps, states, “I do not quarrel with the theory that Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan went down in the Marshall Islands, but the Marine Corps does not take a position on the recovery of any remains on Saipan Island.”
Two other former U.S. Marines, Captain Victor Maghokian, USMC, Ret., of Las Vegas, Nevada, and W.B. Jackson of Pampa, Texas, have testified they learned in 1944 that Earhart and Noonan were held for a period of time by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and that some of the personal effects of Miss Earhart were recovered and turned over to U.S. Intelligence. General Greene also declines to take a position for the Marine Corps in regard to the findings in the Marshalls. Additionally, three former U.S. Navy men, Eugene Bogan of Washington, D.C., Charles James Toole of Bethesda, Maryland and John Mahan of Berkeley, California, testify they learned that Earhart and Noonan were held for a period by the Japanese in the Marshalls.
With the help of Senator Thomas Kuchel of California and Ross P. Game, Editor of the Napa California REGISTER newspaper, access has been gained to classified files held by the U.S. Navy and State Departments. Both Departments have denied over the years that such files existed. Perusal of this data indicates a deep involvement on the part of the U.S. Government and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Earhart flight and the unavoidable conclusion that Amelia Earhart and
Frederick Noonan were on a several-fold mission for the United States at the time of the disappearance. It is believed that President Roosevelt was aware that Earhart and Noonan were quite probably in Japanese custody, but that he chose to avoid the issue because of strained relations between Japan and the United States and the isolationist policy that existed with the U.S. Congress at the time. It is further believed that the 1944 information and findings concerning Miss Earhart and Mr. Noonan were suppressed because of their possible bearing on the Presidential election of that year.
Literally hundreds of Pacific Island natives were interviewed during the four expeditions to Saipan and the Marshall Islands. Thirty-nine eyewitnesses, who were able to choose Miss Earhart’s photo from a series presented to them, were found. When the testimony of these witnesses is combined the story emerges:
Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan made a forced landing in the Marshall Islands in the vicinity of Jaluit and Mili Atolls. They were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, the Japanese headquarters for that area, and then transported to Saipan in the Marianas, Japan’s overall headquarters for the Pacific. Miss Earhart died of dysentery sometime between eight and fourteen months after her capture, and Mr. Noonan was executed after her death. They were buried in a common grave outside the perimeter of a small native cemetery south of the city of Garapan, Saipan.
Not aware that the remains of the “American man and woman flyers” had been removed in 1944, members of the 1961, ’62 and ’63 Saipan expeditions excavated around the same cemetery. In 1961, human remains were found, but a study by University of California anthropologist Dr. Theodore McCown indicated the bones represented four or possibly five people and were not those of Earhart and Noonan.
What happened to Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10-E ten-passenger airliner remains a mystery. Parts of a pre-World War II aircraft were recovered from Tanapag Harbor
Saipan, in 1960, but proved to be of Japanese manufacture. Some testimony exists that the plane was also taken to Saipan by the Japanese and was possibly destroyed in the 1944 U.S. invasion which leveled large areas of the island. Twenty-nine thousand of 30,000 Japanese troops were killed during the invasion along with hundreds of natives. The United States forces suffered more than 15,000 casualties.
Commenting on the Earhart “mission” a former member of U.S. military intelligence, who declines to be identified at this point, says, “If the Soviet Union had downed Francis Gary Powers’ U2 plane but not announced it for their own reasons, do you think the United States would have said that Powers was lost on a spy mission over Russian territory? The same principle applies to Earhart. If the Japanese didn’t announce her capture, the United States certainly was not going to make an issue out of it. Japan was ready for war. She launched the full-scale invasion of the China mainland just five days after Earhart and Noonan disappeared. Japan was militarily committed to that invasion and couldn’t afford an altercation with the League of Nations or the United States over what she had been doing to prepare the mandated islands of the Pacific for war. The truth is Japan was not ready to take on the United States until four years later.”
Goerner’s book in its closing chapter calls for an investigation by the U.S. Congress into the circumstances of Earhart’s disappearance. (End of KCBS press release.)
On the front page of the foregoing, it states, “Fred Goerner and Everett Henson Jr., mentioned in this release, will be available for recording interviews Monday morning, July 25 , Studio E, KCBS Radio, Sheraton-Palace Hotel, San Francisco,” and recipients are advised that “Long-distance telephone-tape interviews will be available also.” I’ve never found any evidence that even a single media organization accepted KCBS’s invitation to interview either Goerner or Henson. It might have happened, but precious little evidence reflecting any such interviews survives. Clearly, by 1966, our media’s aversion to the truth in the Earhart disappearance was already beginning its growth to the full metastasis we see today.
Congress has never done a real investigation of the Earhart disappearance. In an event that appears to have been completely suppressed from the public, in July 1968 Goerner appeared before a Republican platform subcommittee in Miami, chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn.
In his four-page presentation, “Crisis in Credibility — Truth in Government,” Goerner laid out the highlights of the mountain of facts that put the fliers on Saipan and appealed to the members’ integrity and patriotism, doing his utmost to win them to the cause of securing justice for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Nothing eventuated, of course, and I have the record of Goerner’s brief congressional encounter only because I briefly had access to his files, now housed at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, which continues to ban Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last from its bookstore.
Agent of First Impressions
In a recent email, Carla Henson described her job as “Agent of First Impressions,” an inventive title I hadn’t heard before, as “running the front desk and lobby at Sacramento’s ABC television station, focusing on giving clients and customers what they are looking for, selling the station and sending them away with a ‘human touch.’ The last impression can be as important as the first; we want them to come back.” Based on our correspondence, it’s quite evident that Carla is a valuable member of the ABC10 team.
Carla enjoyed a 30-year career working in sales and administration for Tower Records, spending the first 14 years in Sacramento, followed by 16 years at Tower’s Nashville, Tenn., headquarters before returning to Sacramento in 2001. “It is my good fortune to say that I got up every day for 30 years and loved my job!” Carla wrote of her Tower Records experience. “I traveled the world.”
Carla corresponded with Fred Goerner after her father’s death in 1982, and remains extremely interested in the Earhart case. She’s kindly forwarded many photos, documents and other war memorabilia her father left, and we doubtless will be hearing more from her in future posts.
Ten days ago, an annoying, unserious story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, “Chamorro man shares Earhart theory that she was a prisoner on Saipan,” appeared in the Pacific Daily News, headquartered on Guam and now “part of the USA Today Network,” which only means its editorial policies will ape the corrupt U.S. establishment line more than ever. This particular piece leaves no doubt about that.
As I will demonstrate by dissecting this disingenuous mix of misinformation and muddled rhetoric by Pacific Daily News reporter Jerick Sablan, this article was not produced with any intention of supporting or corroborating the facts in the Earhart case. When the story is read by the uninformed, which is nearly everyone, only confusion will result, which is its goal.
Soon after the story’s Nov. 25 publication, USA Today ran a dressed-up version with a slightly more cynical title, “Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were prisoners on Saipan and killed, according to uncle’s tale.” I shouldn’t need to tell anyone of the negative connotations inherent in any account that’s described as a “tale” in a headline. This is an immediate “tell” from USA Today that you don’t need to take this story seriously, because they certainly don’t.
The article follows a typical template for Earhart propaganda, created not to educate, but to confuse and deceive the ignorant into believing that the Earhart disappearance remains among the pantheon of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries, an eternal enigma that will never be solved. Sadly, most fail to grasp the fact that this is the purpose of virtually every Earhart-disappearance story in the American media, and every other information organization in the modern world, for that matter. Only here can you be confident you’re getting the truth, from someone who’s devoted 30 years to the Earhart saga, who recognizes this ubiquitous propaganda as well as the precious truth when he sees it.
In the Pacific Daily News story, Jerick Sablan writes that William “Bill” Sablan (relationship not clear) said his uncle, “Tun Akin Tuho, worked at the prison [Garapan] where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan.” What jumps out immediately is that Tun Akin Tuho has never been mentioned in any known Earhart literature before now. Why not?
Why doesn’t Jerick make any reference to the many known and documented Saipan witnesses, so that Bill Sablan’s uncle might have a historical leg to stand on, so to speak? He could have named people like Jesús Bacha Salas, who saw Amelia in Garapan prison for a few hours; Josépa Reyes Sablan, of Chalan Kanoa, who saw two white people taken into the military police headquarters in Garapan; Dr. Manual Aldan, the Saipanese dentist who was told by Japanese officers the name of the American woman flier in custody, “EARHARTO!”; José Rios Camacho, who saw the fliers shortly after their arrival at Saipan’s Tanapag Harbor; or any of the rest of Fred Goerner’s original 13 witnesses — and these are just those Goerner identified during the first of his four investigations on Saipan before The Search for Amelia Earhart was published in 1966.Jerick does none of that, but grudgingly writes, “According to news files, in 1960 a CBS radio man, Fred Goerner, spoke with at least a dozen reliable witnesses from Saipan, who shared that before the war, two white people arrived on Saipan — described as ‘fliers’ or ‘spies’ — and they were held in the Japanese jail.” Could a reporter assigned to write a story about the Earhart case really be this uninformed, especially one based in Guam, a stone’s throw away from Saipan, where the presence and death of Amelia Earhart in the pre-war years has become a part of the culture, an accepted historical fact among its elder Chamorros?
Fred Goerner was far more than a CBS radio man; he was the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart, the only bestseller in the history of Earhart disappearance literature, and is generally recognized among those without agendas as history’s greatest Earhart researcher, which Jerick also neglects to mention. I’d ask Jerick why he gives such short shrift to Goerner, if I didn’t already know the answer.
In fact, Goerner claimed he identified 39 eyewitnesses to Earhart’s presence on Saipan; all independently picked her photo out of a selection of about 10 similar-looking women. But in acknowledging Goerner, if only in a minimal way, Jerick departs from the worst of the false Earhart paradigms, such as the hundreds, if not thousands of insufferable TIGHAR infomercials posing as news stories we’ve been subjected to for 30 years. In these, any mention of Earhart in the Marshalls or Saipan is immediately branded “folklore” or “conspiracy theory,” shoved into the circular file and never mentioned again.
Jerick seems in a great hurry to direct readers to his main point, the July 9 abomination that the History Channel perpetrated on the public in a transparent attempt to discredit the truth. “The History Channel shared the theory that the two were taken prisoner in a recent TV special called “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” Jerick tells us, signaling that his story is little more than a weak attempt to keep the History Channel’s lies about the phony ONI photo viable enough to qualify for a few more advertising dollars in reruns.
“According to USA Today,” Jerick continues, bringing in the Pacific Daily News parent company without explanation, “the theory shared by History’s TV special says Earhart was captured and executed on Saipan by the Empire of Japan. The U.S. government and military knew it (and even found and exhumed her body). And both governments have been lying about it ever since.”
That’s it in a nutshell, but instead of recognizing or at least supporting the truth by respecting it as a likely scenario based on the huge amount of accumulated evidence, or something similar, Jerick reverts to the age-old establishment default position and defines the truth as a mere theory. He then compounds this misnomer by attributing this theory to USA Today and the History Channel, as if they just discovered the Earhart story. If the truth must be referenced as theory, why doesn’t he cite any of the host of investigations and books that have advanced this theory, in order that this theory might have more substance and relevance? As always, even when an aspect of the truth is presented in the media, it comes wrapped in so much flotsam and jetsam that its effect becomes minimized and obscured, which is the goal from the jump.
Soon after learning about the July 5 NBC News promotion of the forthcoming History Channel special, as glaring an example of “fake news” as you will ever see, its premise predicated upon and completely tied to the false claims about the ONI photo, I was the first to denounce it the same day with this post: “July 9 Earhart special to feature bogus photo claims.“
After watching “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” I concluded that it possessed many of the hallmarks of a classic disinformation operation. “’The Lost Evidence’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” I wrote, “a masterpiece of deceit, cleverly designed to discredit the long-established facts that reveal the truth about Earhart and Fred Noonan’s landing at Mili Atoll and deaths on Saipan at the hands of the prewar Japanese. . . . The onslaught of activity from the leaders of our fake news brigade that preceded the July 9 airing is all we need to tell us that a massive propaganda operation was under way, and remains so.”
For the entire review, posted July 12, please see “History’s ‘Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence’: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.“
I wasn’t alone in my assessment of the History Channel’s propaganda drill. Longtime news analyst David Martin (www.DCDave.com), author of the definitive work in the James V. Forrestal murder case (“Who Killed James Forrestal?”), and countless other commentaries that the mainstream media despise and will never acknowledge, soon joined the fray.
“For three-quarters of a century America’s press and its court historians have studiously ignored the voluminous evidence that aviation adventurer Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese and did not just mysteriously crash into the Pacific Ocean on her round-the-world venture,” Martin wrote in his July 7 commentary, “Press Touts Dubious Earhart Photo.” “Now, across the board, from NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN, to The Washington Post and the Associated Press, they all seem to have made a 180-degree turn based upon the supposed discovery of one very ambiguous photograph in the National Archives. What, we have to wonder, is going on?
“The New York Times, jumping the gun with its more skeptical approach, gives us a very big clue,” Martin went on. “The headline says it all, ‘Did Amelia Earhart Survive? A Found Photo Offers a Theory, but No Proof.’ Already, The Times is beginning to cast doubt upon the significance, if not the authenticity, of this photograph.” For the rest of Martin’s July 7 analysis, please click here.
Soon the shaky edifice built by the History Channel’s mendacity began to crumble, as the foundation of the entire production, the undated ONI photo of Jaluit Harbor, came under assault. The British publication, The Guardian, reported that a Japanese blogger had found the exact same photo in what was described as “an old Japanese travel book” that was published in 1935 — two years before the ONI photo of History Channel infamy was said to have been snapped.
“See the sleight of hand?” Martin wrote in his July 13 commentary, “Earhart photo story apparently debunked. The debunking of this photo does nothing whatsoever to undermine the little bit of good evidence that the History Channel presented for the flyers having been captured by the Japanese, much less the cornucopia of evidence that Mike Campbell has assembled in his book Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. That evidence remains as strong as it was before the program—with its big press build-up—ever aired.” I posted my agreement, “As usual, Dave Martin sees the truth in Earhart story,” later that same day.
Indeed, Jerick Sablan writes that the “History TV special theory rests on an ambiguous photograph, said to have been taken in 1937, that might show Earhart and Noonan alive on a dock in the Marshall Islands. At the time the islands were controlled by Japan.” But History’s special theory had no staying power, because, “According to USA Today,” Jerick tells us, “a Japanese military history blogger Kota Yamano undermined a new theory that Amelia Earhart survived a crash in the Pacific Ocean during her historic attempted around-the-world flight in 1937.” New theory?
Jerick’s description of the ONI photo as “ambiguous” is a blatant euphemism, a weasel way of saying the photo is worthless, as anyone not affiliated with a politicized media organization can see. It also developed that this Kota Yamano blogger person doesn’t appear to exist except as a convenient prop, as neither he nor his blog shows up in any online search as discrete entities. Regardless, the entire media herd happily jumped on the bandwagon immediately after The Guardian story broke, as if they were waiting for the green light to publish anything that would taint and discredit, simply by association, the hated Marshalls-Saipan scenario promoted by the “The Lost Evidence” in several segments it presented that were unrelated to the ONI photo.
If that weren’t enough, four days after The Guardian’s July 11 report on the Japanese blogger’s alleged findings that seemingly debunked the History Channel’s claims, the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a statement though its ministry of foreign affairs that appeared to “debunk the debunker.” According to the Marshallese government, the Jabor Dock, which it confirmed was the location of the photo, was built in 1936, not 1935, as the mysterious blogger Kota Yamano asserted. Further compounding the mess, the Marshallese statement did not specify when the photo was taken, which left the door open to the possibility that the American fliers could be in it, at least in the minds the extremely credulous and anyone associated with the History Channel.
The Marshallese release changed nothing about the ONI photo itself, which remains what it always has been, a reflection of Jaluit harbor and the Jabor Dock at some unspecified time, with the Koshu in the right background and a small group of unidentifiable people standing around — nothing more, nothing less. What was notable about the Marshallese statement was that nobody in the media paid any attention to it, which tells those of us who can discern the obvious what we already knew — the media does not want the photo to represent the presence of Earhart and Noonan at Jaluit, for reasons that I’ve explained ad nauseam.
I didn’t learn about the Marshalls statement until a few weeks later, when an interested reader, having found it on Rich Martini’s website, sent it to me. I posted my take on what had become little more than a tedious soap opera on July 28: “Marshalls release is latest twist in photo travesty,”
Getting back to Jerick Sablan’s Pacific Daily News story: If you had any doubts about the real reason it was written, his closing statement, or “telling point” as it was called at the military journalism school I attended in 1978, should clear up any misconceptions. “The mystery surrounding her disappearance continues to keep her memory alive and remains one of history’s greatest mysteries,” Jerick is compelled to remind us, as if we might overlook his tawdry story’s raison d’être. Question for Jerick: What is the point of presenting Bill Sablan’s uncle Tun Akin Tuho, who “worked at the prison where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan,” if the fate of Amelia Earhart is going to remain such an irresolvable mystery?
I wrote an email to Jerick, welcoming him to the Earhart story, telling him a bit about my own 30 years of study and work on the subject. “Just as the truth in the Earhart matter is NO mystery,” I wrote, “there are also no “THEORIES” about her fate. We have the truth that Earhart and Fred Noonan died on Saipan sometime after crash-landing at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, and we have two major LIES — that she crashed and sank, or the ridiculous Nikumaroro “hypothesis,” which have been promoted to the status of theories and perpetuated as such in order to protect the obvious truth that anyone can discover for themselves by reading Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last or the handful of books that preceded it and presented various aspects of the truth, including The Search for Amelia Earhart, Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller. . . . The U.S. government has known since 1937 exactly what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and continues to go to great lengths though its media toadies to deny and obfuscate the truth, which is available to anyone who seeks it in the few places where it’s available, which sadly do not include the PDN or USA Today.”
Jerick did not reply to my message, so he’s clearly part of the problem, not the solution in the Earhart matter, as are virtually all of his media counterparts.
The day after the Pacific Daily News-USA Today story hit the streets, the UK’s Daily Mail ran its own, fancied-up version, replete with several large, blown-up photos in UK tabloid style with three reporters’ bylines. The Nov. 26 story, “Amelia Earhart ‘was executed by the Japanese’: New ‘witness’ account claims aviation pioneer was held in Saipan before being killed – and the US military collected her body and covered it up,” surpasses its progenitors, if only because it features a photo of the original Saipan eyewitness, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, and a passing reference to Fred Goerner’s work.
The Daily Mail is no stranger to the Earhart story. Its recent coverage has not been as deceptive or negative in its approach to the truth as its overseas counterparts, and it seems more unconcerned with protecting the American establishment’s sacred cows. In 2015 the Daily Mail published three pieces about Dick Spink’s Mili Atoll investigations, on May 29, June 26 and July 9.
Those are the positive aspects of the Daily Mail’s Earhart work, but this bunch suffers from some serious shortcomings too, and the rest of the story isn’t so pretty. In my July 17, 2015 commentary, “Daily Mail sets new ‘standard’ in Earhart reporting,” I pointed out the “glaring lack of references to any previous investigative work on the Earhart disappearance as related to Mili Atoll. To the low-information reader, it appears as if the Daily Mail discovered this story all by itself, and is presenting it to the world for the first time! . . . [T]he way the Daily Mail has presented these stories is too disturbing for me take much satisfaction.”
In its Nov. 26 story, the Daily Mail, continuing its policy of non-attribution, refused to ascribe Josephine’s original account to Goerner, Paul Briand Jr., and Linwood Day of the San Mateo Times, foremost among those in the early 1960s who brought Josephine’s account to the world, and implied, though did not outright state, that NBC News had just discovered her story: “And in July, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who grew up on Saipan but now lives in California, said she saw the pair as a child,” the Daily Mail reported. “ ‘I didn’t even know it’s a woman, I thought it’s a man,’ Akiyama told NBC’s Today that month.”
In its favor, the Daily Mail quoted me for the first time ever, writing that “another recognized Earhart investigator, Mike Campbell, has lashed out at what he described as ‘bogus photo claims,’ ” but they wouldn’t call me a blogger or an author, or name Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, fearing they might lose a few readers who might actually leave their page and seek more details elsewhere. At least the Daily Mail had the decency to spare us the “one of history’s greatest mysteries” closing line. You can read the story and judge for yourself what the Daily Mail’s real agenda is by clicking here.
Much of media’s newly feigned interest in Amelia Earhart’s Marshalls and Saipan presence can be traced to the July 9 History Channel’s residual influence; after all, some legitimate witness accounts were presented, though none in any depth. Some in the media are becoming more aware that the hated truth is being sought by more people than ever — though we’re decades away from any popular uprising that would force government disclosure, if it ever happens at all. Thus these dishonest practitioners of deception are trying harder than ever to discredit the truth by planting phony stories and then undermining them, using two of Dave Martin’s Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression, “Knock down straw men” and “Come half clean.” They’re playing with fire.
(Editor’s note: Some readers may not agree with the views expressed in this commentary. If so, you are invited to send your comments, as is everyone. The moderator reserves the right to decide whether incoherent or hostile messages will be posted.)
Newly released JFK assassination files tell old story: Like Earhart, only goal is to protect sacred cow
From the moment I saw the Oct. 21 New York Times story announcing that President Donald Trump had ordered the release of the last declassified JFK assassination files, I smelled an old rat, whose familiar stench has permeated the Earhart disappearance for nearly 80 years. I’m no expert on the Kennedy case, and though I won’t advocate any specific scenario that contradicts the official line here, I will certainly assert with confidence that the infamous Warren Commission Report could well be the most dishonest document in U.S. government history.
With 30 years of focus on the Earhart travesty, however, I’m quite familiar with the phony 1967 Navy release of the “remaining” Earhart files. It’s transparently obvious that the current drill is more of the same, another huge disinformation operation, this time on a scale meant to permanently stifle the predictable complaints of the hated “conspiracy theorists,” who won’t be pleased with what they find in the Kennedy documents — or more accurately, what they won’t find.
Ironically, it was President John F. Kennedy who allowed Fred Goerner and Ross Game to view top-secret Earhart files in Washington in 1963, according to Game, files that chronicled the abandonment and betrayal of Amelia Earhart on Japanese-controlled Saipan by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. For a detailed discussion of the 1967 Earhart files fiasco, as well as Goerner’s role in exposing the corruption and dishonesty that has plagued the Earhart case from day one, see pages 259-261 and 271-275 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.
Even the New York Times, in its Oct. 21 announcement, didn’t bother to pretend that the forthcoming documents would shed any new light on what most informed Americans are convinced was a complex conspiracy to kill the president:
In a statement to reporters, the White House left open the possibility that Mr. Trump might halt the release of some documents. “The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” the statement said. It is not known what revelations might be contained in the unreleased documents, though researchers and authors of books about Kennedy say they do not expect any bombshells that significantly alter the official narrative of the assassination — that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in Dallas — delivered in 1964 by the Warren Commission.
As expected, Fox News reported Oct. 27, that “Just before the release Thursday, Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had ‘no choice’ but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility that releasing the information could still harm national security.” In fact, the only security that those who control the Kennedy files care about is their own, anyone still living who could be connected to the Kenney hit, and their families, of course — a small battalion of criminals — or a large nest of vipers. The fox not only watches the henhouse these days, he owns it.
All manner of stories proliferate, but they all have one thing in common: They offer nothing but fluff, harmless innuendo and distraction designed to titillate and entertain, but most of all, their purpose is to even more convincingly convict — if only in the eyes of the most ignorant — Lee Harvey Oswald, the “Communist nut,” the “lone wolf,” as the lunatic who brought off the most incredible marksmanship feat in world history from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, killing JFK and practically blowing his entire head off in the process. No point in linking to these countless stories here, as they’re almost impossible to avoid. Take your pick.
Most of age can recall our exactly locations when we heard the news. I was in an eighth-grade classroom at St. Marks School in Adelphi, Md., when the announcement came over the loudspeaker, delivered by the school’s autocratic principal, a Catholic nun named Mother Jerome. For a healthy, sports-addled 13-year-old without any political education or compass, it was just another exciting development in a place far away.
Who could have dreamed that Kennedy’s death would usher in the whole horrendous panoply of the 20th century’s remaining decades? Beginning with the Vietnam War, a newly insatiable political and cultural liberalism gave us LBJ’s Great Society, the world’s biggest welfare state and the attack on the family; Woodstock, the hippie movement, the drug plague and the phony War on Drugs; the sexual revolution, the normalization and glorification of homosexuality, and the current transgender abomination; the April 4 and June 5, 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy by the same malevolent forces responsible for JFK’s slaughter; the lie of political correctness; radical feminism; Roe v. Wade (1973) and the Culture of Death, with 56.5 million Americans murdered in the womb as of 2013; the pornography explosion; HIV and the AIDS epidemic; affirmative action, race quotas and reverse discrimination that have yet to be addressed; left-wing public education’s degenerate emphasis on atheism, secular humanism and so-called “social activism,” resulting in a national pandemic of illiteracy; the eight-year Clinton blight; and the continued degradation and downward trajectory of American society into the 21st century.
We can’t begin to know how different things would have been had JFK lived; many who possess a basic understanding of history point to the assassination as the day that true evil took over in the halls of our government. It’s hard to imagine an America without the aforementioned social, political and economic disasters that have so largely defined the past 50 years, but it’s equally difficult to doubt that our world today wouldn’t be better for most of us had JFK lived.
We know that Kennedy wanted to get the United States out of Vietnam, and the billions it would have cost corporate America was enough motivation for certain establishment wolves to take him out. In his Jan. 1, 1961 farewell speech, JFK’s predecessor, World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower, suggested that something dire might be looming. “In the councils of government,” Eisenhower famously said, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
For those who want to know more about what happened at Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, I asked an expert on American history, Dave Martin (DCDave.com) for his top book recommendations. “There’s a lot of great work out there on the JFK assassination,” Martin told me in a recent email. “You might start by reading my 50th anniversary article. Phil Nelson’s two books [LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination and LBJ: From Mastermind to “The Colossus“] on LBJ’s involvement are hard to top. Sylvia Meagher’s early analysis of the Warren Commission Report, Accessories After the Fact has not been matched through all the years that have passed. She really exposes the FBI for the cover-up artists that they are. Mark Lane’s Rush To Judgment is also still worth reading. . . . You could also do a lot worse than just reading my other various articles on the subject.“
America’s sacred cows don’t come any bigger than the JFK hit — but the truth about the Earhart disappearance is close — and both of these sacred cows will be protected at all costs. The only certainty is that nothing significant will ever be found in these or any released documents related to the Kennedy assassination or the loss of Amelia Earhart.
After the smoke and BS clears, the hapless patsy Lee Harvey Oswald will again be convicted and certified as the lone shooter, per the mendacious Warren Commission whitewash, and this sacred cow will be preserved into perpetuity. Donald Trump can’t or won’t expose the deep state’s refusal to reveal how LBJ, the CIA and others murdered JFK. They will never come clean, just as they will never admit the truth about poor Amelia and Fred Noonan.
From forgotten files of the Earhart lunatic fringe: The incredible tale of Ellis Bailey and USS Vega
In Chapter 13 of the second edition of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, titled “Griswold, Henson and Burks,” I present the story of Capt. Tracy Griswold and Privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, the three Marines who excavated what might well have been the remains of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan from a gravesite just outside the Liyang Cemetery, on the outskirts of southern Garapan, in late July or early August 1944.
The original version of the chapter included the strange account of Ellis Bailey, whose incredible story, if true, would have lent great credibility to the claims of Henson and Burks, who were told by Griswold that they had just excavated the remains of Amelia Earhart. Twenty-one years later, they both separately identified Griswold from photo lineups, while the former Marine Intelligence captain denied ever knowing them or ordering them to excavate skeletal remains on Saipan.
I was reluctant to include Bailey’s story in The Truth at Last, because it did nothing to advance the truth, so I decided to cut his section from the final manuscript. I still feel it’s quite instructive, in that it shows the extreme lengths that some of the Earhart-addled will go to gain attention. The Earhart chase has badly infected some with its own peculiar strain of fever, and those carrying the bug can usually be identified by their ridiculous claims. The recent History Channel imbroglio, which I have written about at length, is a prime example of this awful malady. Earhart lore is replete with many other examples, but Bailey’s fantasy, at least for me, was one of the most believable, well-conceived fabrications ever; it certainly caught my attention and spurred me to make a serious effort to confirm it.
For a time, it did appear that a series of amazing letters forwarded to me by Bill Prymak in 2008 might hold the key to unlocking the next stage of the government’s top-secret operation to return the fliers’ bones to the United States in 1944. Below is the unpublished section of Chapter 13 of Truth at Last, “Griswold, Henson, and Burks.” Obviously, this passage will make far more sense to those who have the book, and can place it in the original context.
Between 1991 and 1999, Ellis Bailey, of Middletown, Iowa, wrote seven letters to Prymak, describing a series of remarkable events he witnessed aboard the USS Vega (AK-17), a Capella class cargo ship that carried a crew of 439 and displaced 11,500 tons, during operations off Saipan and in the Marshall Islands during July and August 1944. Bailey’s recollections of the remarkable incidents remained clear and consistent throughout his letters, and though he offered his own strange ideas about the meaning and the significance of the events, the core of Bailey’s account never changed. He never indicated his Navy rating, or job, in his letters, but a copy of the “Muster Roll of the Crew” of USS Vega for Sept. 30, 1944, shows that Bailey was a storekeeper first class (SK1).
In Bailey’s final letter to Prymak, titled “Amelia Earhart,” he recalled that Vega came to Saipan the “first part of July 1944,” and that after dropping anchor a group of Marines came aboard and informed Bailey and others that someone had just found “Amelia Earhart’s helmet,” somewhere on the island, but they offered no details.
The next day, Bailey “got permission to go ashore,” and “tried to visit Aslito Airfield” but was told it was restricted and off-limits. “While waiting for a ride back to the ship I talked to boat crew members who were discussing an important meeting of top General and Admirals,” he wrote. “One had come in that day. The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, was there and he probably called the meeting.” With this, Bailey joined the handful of GIs claiming knowledge of Forrestal’s presence on the island during the invasion – an allegation that has never been officially confirmed, and which further research indicated was not possible.
The scuttlebutt Bailey said he heard about Amelia Earhart, Aslito Airfield, and Forrestal during Vega’s early July stop at Saipan was mere prologue to the astonishing episode he claimed he witnessed when the ship returned to Saipan later that month. The morning after the crew unloaded 61 tons of dynamite, the captain received orders to “take on fuel and supplies, enough to go 1,000 miles to Majuro and to take a government intelligence officer and two boxes of human remains that were two Caucasian flyers lost at sea seven years earlier,” Bailey wrote. “One was a woman.” [Italics mine.]
The next day, the intelligence officer, who had “no insignia but lots of authority,” came aboard with two boxes, “the remains of the flyers,” according to Bailey. “They were taken to the bridge and put under 24-hour guard,” he wrote, and the captain was ordered to steam to Majuro. Four days later Vega reached the Marshalls capital, Majuro, and while waiting for a “whale boat to be lowered to take him to shore,” the intelligence officer, apparently addressing Bailey, said, “I expect you are wondering why you are here. Seven years ago two Caucasian flyers were lost at sea. One was a woman. I came to see and talk with the two natives that had seen and talked with the flyers.” The agent returned to the ship the next morning, and ordered the captain to set sail for Kwajalein.
Upon arrival at Kwajalein, a small contingent of Marines came aboard and “told us that the day before one of their group was on . . . Roi Namur, [and] found Amelia Earhart’s suitcase of clothes and her diary in a barracks,” Bailey continued. “They had taken it to the man in charge of Kwajalein [Rear Admiral Alva D. Bernhard, who died in 1955]. The government officer with no insignia took the guarded boxes of the remains and left the U.S.S. Vega at once.” According to Bailey, the agent never mentioned any names in connection to the boxed remains, and Bailey himself didn’t believe the bones were those of Earhart or Noonan. The remains “weren’t the American flyers, they were British, which makes the whole situation so confusing,” Bailey wrote.
The Marines’ story about the discovery of Earhart’s suitcase, clothes, and diary on Roi Namur mirrored W.B. Jackson’s 1964 account to Fred Goerner, but Bailey’s story began to unravel when it became apparent their find did not occur “the day before,” Vega arrived, as Bailey wrote, because Kwajalein was secured in early February 1944, and by April 1, four months before Vega allegedly arrived at Kwajalein, 14,000 thousand Americans occupied the main island, with 6,500 more on Roi-Namur.
Bailey’s repeated references to the “British flyers” lost at sea at the same time as the Earhart flight must have originated with The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection, by James A. Donahue, among the most bizarre Earhart conspiracy books ever. Contrary to Donahue’s fanciful scenarios, no evidence has ever supported the idea that two British flyers, male and female, were operating anywhere in the Pacific area at that time. Writing to Ron Reuther in 1992, Goerner described The British Connection with Robert Myers’ Stand By To Die as one that “perfectly represents the totally irresponsible weirdo fringe which has been omnipresent in the Earhart matter since 1937.” In The British Connection, Donahue “has used photos and benign basic research and stitched the wildest kind of fiction to them and it is without any proof or ANY reference to source,” Goerner wrote.
“You’ll see that Ellis read too many AE books,” Prymak, who met Bailey in the “very early ‘90s,” wrote in a note attached to Bailey’s original letters. As a researcher who had seen and heard nearly everything during his four-decade investigation into the Earhart mystery, Prymak never put much stock in Bailey’s story. “Ellis spoke at the [August 1993] Flying Lady Symposium in [Morgan Hill] CA and at Atchison [Kansas],” Prymak wrote in a March 2008 email. “Both times he was a very ineffective and poor speaker, losing his thought process as he went along. He became very ‘unbelievable,’ and that is why I never seriously wrote about him in the AES Newsletters.”
Bailey’s imaginative ramblings reflected a few of the most implausible scenarios found in Earhart literature, but the remote possibility that his story about the intelligence agent and the canisters might be true was too compelling for me to immediately dismiss out of hand. Admittedly, I hoped against hope that Bailey’s story would prove to be true. If it were, another missing piece in the Earhart puzzle — the transport of the fliers’ remains off the island of Saipan — could be placed into the final solution.
My efforts to find any surviving members of the 1944 Vega crew who might have corroborated Bailey’s story were unsuccessful, but Tony Gellepis, of Santa Clara, Calif., a fireman aboard Vega from 1940 to 1942, was skeptical about Bailey’s alleged shore visit at Saipan during early July 1944. “In all my six years experience on various supply ships, shore leave was never granted while the ship was ‘swinging on the hook [anchored in the harbor],’ especially so during war time,” Gellepis, 87, told me in a July 2008 email. “Shore leave was granted only after the ship was docked and secured, if at all. And Bailey claims he went ashore the next day while Vega was at anchor! And this guy was set to go to Aslito Field? Incredible! I consider this to be a stretch, an embellishment.” Gellepis passed away in 2016 at age 96.
Much to my disappointment, a November 2008 trip to the nearby National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md., to verify Bailey’s affiliation with Vega and its purported movements during the key dates, confirmed that Prymak and Gellepis’ doubts were well founded.
Vega’s deck logs for July and August 1944 reveal the ship was not at Saipan in early July, as Bailey claimed, but anchored at Eniwetok Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, though July 21, when it left for Saipan, arriving July 25. Vega anchored in Tanapag Harbor until July 31, per Bailey’s account, but then departed for Guam – not Majuro – in convoy with the cargo ship USS William Ward Burroughs (AP-7), LST (landing ship tanks) 341, and the destroyers USS Stockham (DD-683) and USS Trisdale (DE-33), reaching Guam Aug. 1.
On Aug. 15, Vega left Guam en route to Eniwetok, its home operating base in the Pacific war zone, arriving Aug. 20. The muster roll of the Vega for the quarter ending September 1944 does establish that Ellis Orrin Bailey, a storekeeper first class (SK1), was a member of its crew, having joined the ship’s company Nov. 16, 1942. Otherwise, as Prymak observed, it seems obvious that Bailey, who died in 2004, had indeed read too many Earhart books. And though he didn’t author one himself, Ellis Bailey’s serial letter-writing adventures qualify him to join James A. Donahue, Robert Myers and others who will remain unnamed here among the disreputable ranks of Fred Goerner’s “totally irresponsible weirdo fringe” in the annals of Earhart lore. (End of unpublished Ellis Bailey section.)
Without doubt, the ranks of the Earhart-addled have not been yet filled, as the lure of instant attention and imagined fame is usually sufficient to ensnare these unprincipled characters in its unsavory web. Your humble correspondent will keep a sharp lookout, and if the story is wild or ridiculous enough to merit mention, you’ll see it here.