We rejoin the saga of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye’s attempt to release the secret Earhart files by drafting Congressional legislation in 1993. Longtime Earhart researcher and author Col. Rollin Reineck (U.S. Air Force, retired) was far from a single-minded devotee of the truth, as we’ve already seen in several posts, but we also must give the colonel his just due. (Boldface and italics emphases mine throughout.)
If not for Reineck’s diligence, Inouye would never have become informed and motivated enough about the Earhart disappearance to actually step out from the establishment mob and risk his proverbial neck for the truth.
I find it beyond ironic that Inouye was not just the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files, but that he was a Japanese-American citizen who narrowly escaped internment during World War II. With 50 more like him, we might write “Case Closed” to the Earhart disappearance.
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. Sen. Robert J. Kerry (D-Nebraska), whose actions came in Vietnam in 1969, shares the 20th century senatorial distinction with Inouye, whose story is an inspiring chronicle of selflessness, courage and devotion to duty and comrades.
Born in Honolulu in 1924 to Japanese parents who had emigrated from the mainland, Inouye was surrounded by anti-Japanese sentiment during his childhood, graduating from high school in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor.
Inouye immediately tried to enlist in the military, but was rejected with a draft classification 4C, which stood for “enemy alien,” unfit for duty, but after more than a year, the Army finally dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese-Americans. He quickly enlisted and volunteered for the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Japanese-American combat unit that fought in southern France and Germany.
Promoted to sergeant in his first year, and after a major battle in the Vosges Mountains of France in the fall of 1944, Inouye received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant. During that offensive, he was hit by a German round right above his heart, but two silver dollars he had stacked in his shirt pocket stopped the bullet. He carried those coins with him through the rest of the war, but the worst was far from over.
On April 21, 1945, Inouye was near San Terenzo, Italy, leading his platoon on an attack on a mountain ridge against enemy troops who were guarding an important road junction when they were ambushed by three close-range machine guns. During the attack, he was shot in the stomach, but Inouye was undeterred and destroyed the first machine gun position by himself with grenades and gunfire. He and his squad then attacked the second machine gun nest, successfully destroying it. For the rest of the late Senator Daniel Inouye’s Medal of Honor story, please click here.
We come now to possibly the highest point of the 12 years Bill Prymak invested in producing the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter (1989-2000) for his friends and fellow researchers. As we can see below, Prymak’s February 1993 newsletter trumpets the news that his friend Rollin Reineck had persuaded Sen. Inouye to write legislation that would, if approved and enacted, end 56 years of government denial and deceit, as reflected by Inouye’s letter to Reineck, followed by the bill that he would soon introduce.
Prymak’s closing comment: “The above, hopefully, will be the fruition of many years of hard, dedicated effort to break down the doors of the State Department, where the Colonel is certain that files on Amelia Earhart never seen before by the American people lay sequestered. Everybody owes him a debt of gratitude for his untiring efforts and perseverance in what we all hope will be a major breakthrough in the Earhart mystery. GOOD SHOW, COLONEL.”
Nothing more was ever heard of Inouye’s proposed bill, and the AES Newsletters are silent as well. Thus has been the fate of all efforts aimed at breaking through the stone wall erected by the U.S. government and its agencies that protects the secrets of the Earhart disappearance from the public. Even an important, highly placed U.S. senator’s actual proposed legislation was dead on arrival, with no chance of passage whatsoever.
Congress has yet to do anything approaching a real investigation of the Earhart disappearance. When Fred Goerner’s bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart, rocked the nation in 1966, selling over 400,000 copies in an age when far more 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.
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. I have the record of Goerner’s congressional encounter only because I briefly had access to his 900-plus files, housed at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, which continues to ban Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last from its bookstore.
In 1997, Rollin Reineck took another shot at it — an extreme longshot, to be more accurate — and wrote an excellent letter to President Bill Clinton in hopes of achieving a miraculous breakthrough in the Earhart case. This time Reineck had no inside connection, and his missive probably never got past a GS-11 screener. This has been the fate of all attempts to reveal the truth about the Earhart disappearance — among the most sacrosanct of the U.S. government’s sacred cows — to the American public. And so it goes.
The late Rollin C. Reineck was a war hero, retired Air Force colonel and an original member of the Amelia Earhart Society, whose passion for Earhart research often produced fascinating, informative work. At other times, Reineck’s penchant for the spectacular and bizarre led him into areas populated by Fred Goerner’s “lunatic fringe,” and these ill-conceived forays have somewhat tainted his reputation among Earhart researchers.
Reineck’s authorship of the dreadful Amelia Earhart Survived (Paragon Agency, 2003), his failed attempt to resurrect the long-discredited Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart myth, was a sad day for the former B-29 navigator and the clueless who signed on to that travesty.
The below letter from Reineck to Ross P. Game reflects Reineck’s better angels, and touches on the theme of our previous post, to wit: the possible location of the grave site of Amelia Earhart, and he adds two additional, more important questions, which will be addressed forthwith. It also appears to be Reineck’s first contact and introduction to Game.
Rollin C. Reineck
1127 Lauloa St.
Kailua, HI 96734
Mr. Ross P. Game 24 October 1998
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
Dear Mr. Game,
Your letter of 9 October 1998 to Mr. Bob Ross was forwarded to me for information.
I have been studying the Earhart mystery for almost 29 years, and have been a admirer of Fred Goerner for the same period. His work helped everyone get interested in the Earhart affair. Hopefully, because of his tremendous research, we’ll solve this mystery same day.
I had corresponded with Mr. Goerner on several occasions and have a large file with his answers and views on all aspects of the Earhart Story. As a side note, we both graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Although I was a few classes ahead of him.
I find your anecdote about where the Earhart remains had been placed extremely interesting. I would have guessed Arlington, just as you did. l’m glad to know that you did a thorough investigation of that possibility.
I do have a couple of questions about the Goerner thinking that perhaps you can answer for me:
First, Fred Goerner originally believed that Earhart went down in the Marshalls and was taken captive by the Japanese. They, in turn, took her to Saipan. Later in life, he seemed to reject this theory and expressed the view that she went down about 80 miles southeast of Howland. My question is, what evidence did he have to validate or substantiate that later view?
Second, I have been told that Goerner made a tape just before he died concerning Earhart. What did he say on the tape? Where is the tape now and how can I hear the tape?
I would appreciate any assistance you can provide. We’re still actively looking.
Aloha Rollin C. Reineck
Colonel USAF (Ret.)
P.S. I am not associated in any way with TIGHAR.
In our next post, we’ll see how Game responded to Reineck’s questions. Reineck passed away in 2007 at his home in Kailua, Hawaii.
When it comes to the Amelia Earhart saga, even most of the well informed go blank when Ross Game’s name is mentioned. But Game, a close friend of Fred Goerner and a well-known and highly respected editor at the Napa (Calif.) Register during the late 1960s and ’70s, was among the smartest people in the world about the Earhart disappearance. At one point, Goerner and Game were within arm’s length of breaking through the stone wall that continues to separate us from official disclosure of the truth that’s been lying in plain sight for over 80 years. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
Unknown to everyone at the time, sometime in the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy allowed Goerner and Game to have a special, up-close look at the top-secret Earhart files, which revealed the long-suppressed truth about Amelia’s sad fate that Goerner had found on Saipan.
Nobody has ever had a similar opportunity, and as things stand now, it will never happen again. With JFK’s stunning, world-changing demise on Nov. 22, 1963, all the doors to the forbidden truth were slammed shut and have stayed that way. The Deep State murdered JFK for many reasons, and I have no doubt that Amelia Earhart was among them.
I never had the opportunity to meet Fred Goerner, who died of cancer in 1994 at age 69, but was privileged to talk briefly to Game in 2007, two years before his death at age 80 from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
During our September 2007 conversation, Game said he and Goerner were given unprecedented access to top-secret Navy and State Department records by the JFK administration, because “JFK was a great Earhart fan and wanted the truth to finally come out.” Kennedy’s problem was that his hands were tied by a “secret executive order” issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to Game, that prohibited release of any Earhart information that would expose FDR’s culpability “for abandoning her.”
This order applied to all subsequent U.S. presidents, Game said. The idea that FDR could prevent all future presidents from exposing his betrayal of Earhart on 1937 Saipan with an executive order doesn’t quite compute here. Kennedy’s “solution,” as it were, was to grant Goerner access to the secret files—but without cameras or recording devices of any kind, although pencils were allowed, Game said.
For more on Game’s involvement and contributions, please see Truth at Last, where a search on Game’s name will produce multiple pages and threads.
In 1998, Game wrote the following letter to Bob Ross, whose fanciful claim about finding the Earhart plane as a Marine during the Battle of Saipan in July 1944 was the subject of my most recent post. Apparently Game wasn’t quite up to speed about Ross at the time, but the letter nonetheless presents an intriguing possibility.
Ross P. Game
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
October 9, 1998
A friend happened to hear one of your recent discussions about your efforts to solve the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.
When she told me of your presentation I was particularly interested she recalled your indication that Amelia’s remains are in an unmarked grave at Arlington National Cemetery.
I am a bit curious about this matter because I worked closely with the late Fred Goerner, a long-time friend and media associate, from his earliest involvement in his “search” until his death after a long battle with cancer.
I travelled with Fred to the Pacific, Washington and other places through the years. Until the death of John F. Kennedy we had the assistance of the White House (JFK was fascinated with our work) and until Lyndon [B. Johnson] eliminated that support we had access to classified files and vital federal sources, including the CIA.
Fred authored The Search for Amelia Earhart at my Napa home; a majority of the photos were either taken by me or obtained by me; the Associated Press provided other help.
Just before the CIA assistance was cut off I pleaded with our contact to tell me where the Earhart remains had been placed after being brought from Saipan. The reply: “I can’t be specific, but why don’t you look in the most obvious place.”
Fred and I immediately focused our attention on Arlington National Cemetery. We spent a considerable amount of time there going through records and other data. Every burial for the period in question could be documented and we felt assured nothing was over-looked. Thus, my interest in what I’m told you said.
Perhaps sometime we can get together and discuss this. I’m retired after almost 60 years in the media business. Early this year I underwent cancer surgery and my health limits my movements. But I would like to chat with you if possible.
Ross P. Game
I don’t have Ross’ response to Game’s letter, if he did reply, but it probably contained little if anything substantial, based on what we already know about Ross. I don’t buy the idea that the fliers were buried at Arlington, as it would be far easier and less complicated to either destroy the bones or bury them at some secret, isolated location where the chances of discovery would be far more minimal than at Arlington.
Some have suggested that Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, and/or Muriel Earhart Morrissey, her sister, may have been told the truth by the U.S. government about Amelia’s wretched demise on Saipan, as well as her burial site, in exchange for their sworn oaths of secrecy. Muriel’s relative silence over the decades until her death at age 98 in March 1998 is particularly curious. It’s possible, I suppose, but we’ll probably never know for sure.
“Born in Chicago on July 29, 1929, Game died Oct. 18 in Napa, succumbing to ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Napa Valley Register staff writer Carlos Villatoro wrote in Game’s Nov. 4, 2009 obituary:
Game had a long and varied career that included serving as Register editor and holding top positions at other papers, including those in Lake Tahoe and Petaluma. He wrote a book about the disappearance of famed aviator Amelia Earhart*, served on the boards of various political and journalism organizations, wrote for the Associated Press, created international bonds that led to the sister city relationship between Napa and Launceston, Australia, and covered the war in Vietnam for the Scripps League chain of papers, of which the Register was once one. He was editor of the Register in the late 1960s and 1970s.
To read the complete story, please click here.
* I seriously doubt this, as I’ve never heard of an Earhart book by Ross Game, though he worked closely with Fred Goerner on many aspects of The Search For Amelia Earhart.
(Update: On Dec. 25, our good friend Marie Castro on Saipan wrote in an email: “After reading “Game’s letter suggests possible burial site,” I wonder if he read your TAL. I think people should consider reading the booklet [or the whole book!]. To me this is the conclusion of her saga. Saipan is the end of her story. Matilde [F. Arriola], Joaquina [Cabrera] and [Jose] Tomokane were the closest connection who witnessed the evidence of Amelia’s presence on Saipan. Mike, I believe you have the authority to end AE’s saga on TAL. Let’s put her to rest on Saipan.”
Marie’s confidence is greatly appreciated, but I have no power when it comes to declaring the true last resting place of Amelia Earhart. I certainly wish we could be certain that the fliers were buried on Saipan, or cremated there, as has strongly been suggested by certain witnesses, but we just don’t have enough evidence to establish that fact. To read more about the witnesses Marie cites in her message, please see my May 18, 2018 post, “Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts.”
In 1998, Ross Game knew little or nothing of the evidence for Amelia’s cremation. Game was the first media member to be notified in 1965 by former Marine Pvt. Everett Henson Jr., 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 in the Chapter 13 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, titled “Griswold, Henson, and Burks.”
In late October of 2017, Ms. Carla Henson, daughter of the late Everett Henson Jr., contacted me, completely out of the blue about her father’s experience on Saipan. To read more about Carla, her father and the Saipan gravesite incident in 1944, please see my Dec. 26, 2017 post, “KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga.”)
Today we take another look at the pioneering work of author Paul L. Briand Jr., whose findings revealed in his 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, sparked the true modern search for Amelia Earhart. Written in 1966, as far as I know, “Requiem for Amelia” is Briand’s last published piece; it’s an excellent summary of everything he learned in the years since Daughter of the Sky was published in 1960.
“Requiem for Amelia” is a succinct summation of the evidence presented by the original Saipan witnesses, based on the interviews done by Fred Goerner and the “Operation Earhart” duo of Air Force officers Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam and Saipan in 1960, following closely in Goerner’s heels, and presented to America by Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart (1966) and Joe Klaas’ Amelia Earhart Lives (1970).
“Requiem” comes to us courtesy of Broad Cove Media and Paul Briand (no suffix), the son of Paul L. Briand Jr., who “started the freelance business through Broad Cove Media in 2008 after retiring from the Seacoast Media Group of newspapers that includes the Portsmouth Herald and Foster’s Daily Democrat.” Thus I assume the editor’s note below was written by Paul Briand. Boldface emphasis is mine throughout; capitalization emphasis is Briand’s. We begin Briand’s story with a note from the editor, possibly Paul Briand, though it’s not possible to know for sure:
Editor’s note: “Requiem for Amelia” was written in 1966 as a follow-up to Paul L. Briand Jr.’s 1960 Amelia Earhart biography, Daughter of the Sky. It was written as Briand was about to retire as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. He was allowed to view the official Navy file on Earhart provided that this manuscript be reviewed for military security, which it was in February 1967. Briand died in 1986, still in pursuit of the truth behind Earhart’s disappearance.
“REQUIEM FOR AMELIA” (Part I of Two)
By Paul L. Briand, Jr.
“Where’s the rest of it?”
“That’s it. There is no rest.”
“No. That’s all there is.”
It was November 1, 1966. I had just finished reading the official Navy file on Amelia Earhart, and I wanted my theories confirmed. I had been waiting to see the file for more than five years, convinced that its pages had hidden for almost thirty years the secret to the mysterious disappearance of the famous flier. I was allowed to see the file as a scholar who would then submit his manuscript for clearance. It is a privilege allowed any scholar, writer or reporter working with official material.
According to the evidence in the file, Amelia Earhart was not on a spy mission for the United States Government when she disappeared in 1937. For years I had been convinced that she was. The findings in the official file also revealed that if Amelia ended her flight on Saipan, she did by accident and not by plan. I was cheered by this because it supported the conclusion in my biography about Amelia Earhart, Daughter of the Sky, published in April 1960. My evidence in the book was slight, however, based as it was on the eye-witness testimony of a Chamorro native girl who later married and emigrated to San Mateo, California.
But her testimony was so startling — that AE had crash-landed on Saipan, was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and later was executed as a spy — it appeared on the front pages of newspapers all over the country . One of the papers was the San Mateo Times, which featured the local tie-in with Josephine Blanco Akiyama, my native girl. It was this story that CBS Correspondent Fred Goerner ran with to best sellerdom six years later in his book, The Search for Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart had been America’s greatest woman flier. In 1928 she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger; in 1932 she flew across the Atlantic again, this time alone; in 1933 she broke her own transcontinental speed record from California to New Jersey; in 1935 she conquered part of the Pacific, from Hawaii to California. Not satisfied with these accomplishments, however, she wanted to face the one great challenge which remained … the world. She made her plans to girdle it at the equator, a 29,000 mile flight. No one had done it before. Not even Lindbergh.
In May of 1937 Ame1ia Earhart set out on her world flight from Miami. With her in the twin engine Lockheed Electra was one of the best navigators available, a pioneer from the Pan American flights to the Orient, Fred Noonan. By July, after flying 22,000 miles in forty days, they had reached Lae, New Guinea, the last stop before Howland Island, Hawaii, and home. Of these legs, the most difficult was the 2,556 miles to Howland, a tiny speck of island amid an eternity of ocean. To reach it, the navigation would have to be perfect.
The fliers never reached their destination. Although the Coast Guard cutter Itasca had been anchored off Howland to help beam them in, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were lost somewhere over a possible area of 450,000 miles in the South Pacific.
The Navy ordered a search. For a sixteen-day period Navy and Coast Guard ships, including at one time or another the aircraft carrier Lexington with its full complement of 63 planes, the battleship Colorado, the four destroyers Perkins, Cushing, Lamson, and Drayton, the minesweeper Swan, and the cutter Itasca, searched the Pacific where her plane could have been lost. Not a trace of the fliers was turned up. The world was stunned.
One of the great mysteries of the century remained unsolved, until in April of 1960, when it was first suggested in my Earhart biography Daughter of the Sky that the flier crash-landed on Saipan and was executed as a spy.
Amelia Earhart was lost and I had looked for her. I looked for her in 1957 and 1958 while conducting research for my book. I looked for her in 1960 and 1961 while two officer-colleagues of mine conducted investigations on Saipan and Guam. I looked for her again, most recently, this year in Washington, D. C., because I was convinced after almost ten years of research that her whereabouts were hidden in a government vault marked SECRET. During the summer of 1960, two Air Force officers stationed on Okinawa, Captains Joseph A. Gervais and Robert S. Dinger, read my book, wanted to believe my conclusion, but suggested that I needed more supporting evidence. I agreed.
We formed “Operation Earhart” and they went to Saipan and Guam to see what they could find. They interviewed 72 people, most of them natives who corroborated my testimony from Josephine Blanco. Gervais and Dinger also uncovered information to indicate that AE’s flight to Saipan was not accidental but deliberate, that she was on a spy mission. The evidence gathered by the captains, however, was immediately put under a security clamp by the U. S. Air Force in the Far East until it could be checked. Later, Gervais and Dinger took leave and brought their findings to me at the Air Force Academy. I wrote the story and submitted it to the Department of Defense for clearance in February 1961. I had decided later, on this title: “ONE LIFE FOR HER COUNTRY: The Last Days of Amelia Earhart.”
Then, because President Eisenhower was on a trip to the Far East and had cancelled a visit to Tokyo because of student riots, the Department of Defense denied clearance to the manuscript on the grounds that its contents would jeopardize Japanese–American relations. But I was convinced, nevertheless, that my conclusions about Amelia Earhart on Saipan were correct and that she must have been on a planned spy mission for her government.
I was silenced and I did not know what to do. In the spring of 1961 Arthur M. Sch1esinger Jr. came to the Air Force Academy to be the guest speaker at its annual Assembly. I prevailed on two officer colleagues to intercede with him on my behalf.
At Mr. Schlesinger’s suggestion, I wrote him a memo. Trying to help me, he wrote to Rudolph A. Winnacker, official historian of the Department of Defense. Mr. Winnacker, also trying to help, wrote in turn to the Army, Navy, and Air Force historians. They responded, but with no encouragement. The Navy answer was to the point: “ . . . the files contain nothing to indicate Amelia Earhart was a spy or that she was known or suspected to have landed on Saipan . . . ”
During the summer of 1961, Ambassador [Douglas, nephew of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who became the commander of the Allied occupation of Japan immediately after World War II] MacArthur in Tokyo was queried by the Secretary of State, Christian Herter, concerning Amelia Earhart. In his preliminary report on July 15, MacArthur said an initial search of Japanese files “has uncovered no indications Amelia Earhart was executed by the Japanese.” Then he added: “CHECK WILL BE CONTINUED, HOWEVER, AND GOJ (GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN) HAS LOCATED EIGHT PERSONS WHO MIGHT HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF CASE. THESE INCLUDE ADMIRAL HOSHINA AND FOUR FORMER STAFF MEMBERS CONCERNED WITH SAIPAN AREA; GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL NOW WORKING WITH FONOFF; MEMBER OF FORMER JAPANESE NAVAL LIAISON MISSION IN SAIPAN; AND CAPTAIN OF JAPANESE WARSHIP KOSHU WHICH SEARCHED FOR EARHART IN COLLABORATION WITH U S NAVY IN 1937.”
But on August 10, message number 445, at 3 p.m., he reported: “FOREIGN OFFICE INFORMS US GOJ HAS COMPLETED EXHAUSTIVE INVESTIGATION WHICH REVEALED NO BASIS WHATSOEVER FOR RUMOR JAPANESE EXECUTED AMELIA EARHART ON SAIPAN IN 1937. ALL AVAILABLE JAPANESE RECORDS SEARCHED AND ALL FORMER OFFICERS AND OFFICIALS CONTACTED (REFTEL) DURING COURSE INVESTIGATION. MACARTHUR”
Unfortunately for me, neither the Schlesinger-Winnacker correspondence, nor the MacArthur-Herter interchange, was shown to me; moreover, Mr. Schlesinger did not answer my memo to him — but he doubtlessly thought the Air Force would — which it did not. On November 21, 1961, after the supposed bones of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan had been found on Saipan by Fred Goerner, my manuscript was finally cleared by the Department of Defense for publication. The bones, however, proved to be those of Orientals, and there wasn’t a publisher in America interested in my story — not unless I had concrete proof-positive information, which didn’t have. Nor has anyone since.
Perhaps the most interesting document in the official file is an exhaustive report, a Navy investigative report [known to readers of this blog as the ONI Report] on the alleged location of Amelia Earhart’s grave. Compiled in November 1960, it is nine pages long and has a number of supporting documents, most of them photos of the Chamorran cemetery and surrounding area taken by Thomas E. Devine, from Connecticut, who had claimed he knew the location of the Earhart grave. Devine had written to me in the summer of 1960, telling me his story; but I was not interested. My Captains Gervais and Dinger had already written to me, telling me they had found the “one and only gravesite” of Amelia Earhart.
Here is the reporting official’s [ONI Special Agent Joseph M. Patton] synopsis:
Request was made for the evaluation of and comment on information furnished by Thomas E. DEVINE, who claimed that he had been told where Subject’s (Amelia Earhart’s) grave was located on Saipan, M.I. Enclosures (1) through (9) were furnished by DEVINE and their locations were described by DEVINE. Investigation at Saipan, M.I., developed that the location of enclosure (9) was erroneous as described by DEVINE. The building was located in Camp Susupe, several miles from the walk on fishing dock as mentioned by DEVINE. The Chamorran woman seen in enclosure (9) was in Camp Susupe and did not need rounding up. In 1937 the location shown in enclosure (9) was farm land under cultivation by the BLANCO family.
No evidence was disclosed by this investigation that Subject landed an airplane on Saipan. Mrs. Antonia BLANCO stated that her daughter (Josephine, the same who had furnished me with the conclusion for “Daughter of the Sky”) claimed to have seen a white woman of Subject’s description at Saipan prior to WW II. Mr. Jesus SALAS said he had overheard Japanese military people talking about the crash of Subject’s plane at Jaluit Atoll, in the Marshall Islands; and Mr. Jose VILLA-GOMEZ said that he overheard a similar conversation.
Some of the testimony in the report itself was very startling to me: Native guards during Japanese rule “stated they had known of no plane crash in Tanapag until the Military planes fell there during the bombing raids in 1944.” It refuted what I had learned from Gervais and Dinger. As startling is a copy of a letter from the civilian administrator, Saipan, to the Navy liaison officer to the trust territory high commissioner:
Now to the police. We contacted all presently available men who were policemen in 1937. None of them knew anything concerning the alleged incident. Next, we contacted all persons who were remembered as being jail wardens in 1937. Still no news of Amelia. Next, to Dr. Jose TORRES who worked in the Japanese hospital. Again no news. Jesus GUERRERO, a detective for the Japanese Government. No knowledge. Next, talked to Saipanese labor foremen who were in charge of labor gangs in the Garapan-Tanapag Harbor area. Again no soap.
Incredibly, the testimony of all these people as reported in the official file does not square with the testimony gathered for me by Captains Gervais and Dinger. It was as Department of Defense historian Rudolph Winnacker had said of my findings: “. . . contrary testimony by people who might have been expected to know.”
Contrary indeed! The evidence uncovered by Captain Joseph A. Gervais and Captain Robert S. Dinger in the summer of 1960 fully corroborates the story of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, first presented in Daughter of the Sky, in which the Saipan native girl saw a twin-engine silver plane fly overhead and crash land at Tanapag Harbor, about noon time one summer day in 1937. From the plane emerged two fliers, one of them a woman. Josephine, who later identified the fliers as Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart, learned later that they had died. Who is telling the truth and to whom?
Here my evidence: While Josephine Blanco was bicycling toward the Japanese installation with her brother-in-law’s lunch and looked up to see Amelia’s Electra fly over low and crash, other Chamorro natives witnessed the same event at the same time.
One was Josephine’s brother-in-law, J. Y. Matsumoto. Having been found and interviewed by Gervais and Dinger, he acknowledged that the incident was one that both he and Josephine witnessed, just as Mrs. Akiyama has related it. He confirmed that he did see the plane crash, that two Americans were apprehended, and that one of them was a woman.
Another Saipan native was Thomas [“Buko”] Blas, then 45, a construction worker at the time, who had just started to eat his lunch. As he sat looking out over Tanapag Harbor, Blas heard a plane overhead; looking up, he saw that it was very low, then watched with fright as it hit the tops of trees edging the Sadog Tasi area, pitch down out of control, and crash land on the beach 100 feet in front of him, very close to the Japanese Chico Naval Air Base.
Blas clearly remembers that the plane was two-motored, aluminum- colored, and had no Japanese markings. Many other workers, coming from all directions, gathered at the scene. Barred from getting too close to the plane by Japanese Navy personnel, Blas nevertheless saw that one of the pilots was lying face down on the ground, apparently injured, and that the other pilot had climbed out of the plane to help him.
Japanese officers and soldiers, however, kept the pilots separated, pushing and shoving the standing one away from the one lying on the ground, even knocking him down with the butt of a rifle. The injured one turned on his back, and as he tried to get up a Japanese soldier placed a bayonet at his throat.
Then a surprising thing happened. Blas could see that the fliers were certainly not Japanese; they looked more like Europeans, more like Americans because of their light coloring.
The Japanese, rather than search the pilots for concealed weapons, quickly stripped them and to their amazement, and embarrassment, one of the pilots, naked and undeniable, was a woman. Greatly disturbed, the Japanese quickly dressed the woman and the man; then with considerable irritability, they loudly complained that the poor Americans had no more men pilots and now had to use women for their military aircraft.
Blas said that both fliers wore flying jackets and well-washed khaki trousers, and that the woman wore a long-sleeved black shirt. But to his surprise, the woman had her hair cut short just like the man. The Japanese now took many photographs of the crash scene and the pilots. Then they dismissed all the workers in the Chico area, telling them to go home immediately. (End of “Requiem” Part I.)
Jesus Guerrero, the detective for the Japanese Government briefly referenced in a letter “from the civilian administrator, Saipan, to the Navy liaison officer to the trust territory high commissioner,” was in fact Jesús De Leon Guerrero, also known as Kumoi, a sinister character who collaborated with the Japanese police during the war, an enforcer whose job was to “keep the rest of the natives in line and his methods hadn’t been gentle,” Fred Goerner wrote in The Search for Amelia Earhart.
Many Saipanese said Guerrero was the man who could best answer his questions about events before and during the war, and Goerner had more than one unpleasant encounter with the surly Chamorro, whom he described as a “tough, bitter, hate-filled man who looks his reputation.” Goerner used the pseudonyms Francisco Galvan and Kobei for Guerrero in Search, but Guerrero was named correctly by Joe Klaas in Amelia Earhart Lives and by Thomas E. Devine in Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.
In my Nov. 2, 2018 post, “Did Earhart crash on purpose in Hawaii takeoff?,” we saw Fred Goerner’s Aug. 7, 1992 letter to Ron Reuther, in which Goerner discussed the sensational claims of Art Kennedy, an aircraft technician for the Pacific Airmotive Company in Burbank, Calif., during the 1930s. Kennedy claimed Amelia Earhart told him that she was ordered by unnamed government officials to crash her Electra on purpose during her March 20 takeoff from Luke Field in Hawaii, which aborted her first world-flight attempt.
Kennedy said Earhart told him she followed that directive “and did it the only way she knew how.” According to Kennedy, she said “a lot depended on my keeping quiet about what I’d seen because she was going on a special mission that had to look like a routine attempt to go around the world. She said, ‘Can you imagine me being a spy?’ then she sort of tittered and added, ‘I never said that!’ ” So wrote Art Kennedy in his 1992 autobiography, High Times, Keeping ‘em Flying.
“With respect to the Kennedy comments about Earhart, the proverbial grain of salt applies,” Goerner wrote in his August 1992 letter to Reuther. [Please see my Jan. 2, 2019 post, “Art Kennedy’s sensational Earhart claims persist: Was Amelia on mission to overfly Truk?”]
Reuther, who founded the Western Aerospace Museum, was a revered, original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, and had apparently been a close friend of Goerner. Reuther was unique among the elite of the aviation establishment in his support for the Marshalls Islands-Saipan truth in the Earhart disappearance, but these are mere footnotes in an impressive list his memorable achievements.
He was also a noted naturalist who curated and directed the Micke Grove Zoo (Lodi, Calif.), the Cleveland Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo. As director of the San Francisco Zoo, Reuther was instrumental in the creation of an amazingly successful project to teach the world-famous, now deceased gorilla Koko sign language. Following is Goerner’s follow-up 1992 letter to Reuther. All boldface emphasis is mine; capitalization emphasis is Goerner’s.
Today we present Goerner’s follow-up letter to Reuther, in which he briefly addresses one of several phony claims made by Robert H. Myers in his stranger-than-fiction 1985 book, Stand By To Die.
September 29, 1992
Mr. Ron Reuther
1014 Delaware Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
In further study of Reuther communications, I realize that I have not replied to your comments regarding Earhart author, Robert H. Myers.
Mr. Myers perfectly represents the totally irresponsible weirdo fringe which has been omnipresent in the Earhart matter since 1937.
I believe many of these people (including Mr. Myers) to be unstable, desperately grasping anything which will offer them identity and concocting total fiction to support their bogus claims.
With respect to Mr. Myers, I submit on classic example (of several hundred I could offer into evidence) of Myers’ outright fabrications.
Attached are copies of pages from two books. One is page 102 from Myers’ 1985 book titled STAND BY TO DIE [full title: Stand By To Die: The Disappearance, Rescue, and Return of Amelia Earhart]. The second is page 182 of James Sinclair’s 1978 book WINGS OF GOLD [full title: Wings of Gold: How the Aeroplane Developed New Guinea].
Myers maintains he met Eric Chater (he spells it ChaRter) while he (Myers) was in the military in 1943 during World War II.
The problem with that particular claim is that Eric Chater (who was the General Manager of Guinea Airways and who, together with his wife, hosted Earhart during her stay at Lae in 1937) was killed in a bizarre accident in October 1941 at the Lae, New Guinea airfield.
When I called this and other egregious distortions and untruths to the attention of Barbara Wiley, who ghosted STAND BY TO DIE, Wiley acknowledged to me that she had reached the conclusion (after having finished the writing of the book) that Myers was a liar some of the time, but she STILL believed Myers MUST have met Earhart as a boy sometime before the around-the-world flight began. Whew. What an aroma!
By the way, that IS Eric Chater (and his wife) with AE and Noonan in the photo on page 102 of STAND BY TO DIE. Photos of the Chaters, the Jouberts and Jacobs taken at Lae, New Guinea before the takeoff 2 July 1937 have been widely published and are readily available to any author. That has been Myers’ tactic: Use a photo or some item of accepted truth and then attach any piece of fiction onto them.
The same applies to Mr. Donohue and his [nearly unreadable] AE AND THE BRITISH CONNECTION [full title: The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection]. He 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.
Gillespie is much more subtle and sophisticated in his manipulation of the known facts, and he has clearly been more successful in gaining media acceptance than either Myers or Donohue, but it is truly amazing the number of persons who write to me of their belief in the creations of Myers and Donohue, to say nothing of Gervais, Klaas, Prymak, Reineck, Gillespie, Willi, Gannon, Wade, Loomis, Rafford and Brennan — to mention only a few.
The correctness of the Barnum thesis is therewith established.
Merla joins in sending the usual large collection of good regards and best wishes to you and yours.
P.S. Again, Ron, please, if you will, treat the above as privileged information. I don’t wish to see my comments turning up in someone else’s article or book.
Fred Goerner passed away in September 1994 at age 69, and is far beyond caring whether his missive to Ron Reuther is published on this blog. I never had the privilege of meeting Ron Reuther in person, but he was always cordial to me in our correspondence, sending me pieces of helpful information and once kindly telling me that I was a “good researcher,” when I’ve never had any such illusions. He passed away in 2007, and along with AES founder Bill Prymak, was among the most respected and influential of all the original AES members.