Tag Archives: Marie Soledad C. Castro

Finally, some good Earhart news from Saipan

On Feb. 8 an alert reader, Ken McGhee, informed me about an amazing story he’d seen on the website of the Marianas Variety (Micronesia’s Leading Newspaper Since 1972) titled “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan.”  The headline captures the essence of this most unexpected and welcome news, and I’ve reproduced the story, which appeared on Feb. 7, as closely as possible below, or you can view the original article by clicking here.  All shading and boldface emphasis is mine throughout.

“Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan”

07 Feb 2018
By Junhan B. Todiño – junhan@mvariety.com – Variety News Staff

AN Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument will be constructed near the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

The monument committee, which was formed in Sept. 2017, is led by Rep. Donald Barcinas (Republican, Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature) who is now seeking funds for the project. “We need at least $200,000 for the project,” he told the Rotary Club of Saipan during a meeting on Tuesday.

He said the project will further enhance Saipan as a Pacific tourist destination.

Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and was one of the most famous Americans of her day. In July 1937, she and navigator Fred Noonan were trying to circumnavigate the world aboard a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, a twin-engine, all-metal monoplane, when they disappeared somewhere in the South Pacific.

Local architect Herman Cabrera shows Rotarians an artist’s rendition of the proposed monument for Amelia Earhart. (Photo by Junhan B. Todiño for Marianas Variety.)

At the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at Giovanni’s Restaurant on Tuesday, memorial committee member Herman Cabrera, a local architect, said the monument will be an 18-foot bronze statue of Earhart.

In an interview, Barcinas said they will reach out to the Legislature, the governor’s office and organizations such as the Rotary Club for funding assistance.

He said they have also met with the Marianas Visitors Authority to discuss the committee’s plan.

Memorial committee secretary Frances Sablan said she joined the group after learning about the many “theories” that try to explain Earhart’s disappearance.

Marie Soledad C. Castro, who mentioned Earhart’s disappearance in her 2014 memoirs titled “Without a Penny in My Pocket: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After WWII,” said the monument will announce to the world that Earhart was on Saipan in 1937.  Castro was 4 years old at the time.

She told Rotarians about her interview in 1983 with Matilde Arriola who, Castro said, met Earhart when the aviator was detained by the Japanese authorities on island.  According to Arriola, Castro said, Earhart died of dysentery.  The body was cremated, Castro added, quoting a Japanese agriculture instructor who married a Saipan resident.  “There was no Japanese cemetery at that time,” Castro said.

Marie Soledad C. Castro holds a copy of her memoirs as she as speaks to Rotarians about the stories she has heard about Amelia Earhart’s detention on Saipan. (Photo by Junghan B. Todiño, for Marianas Variety.)

“There is strong evidence that Earhart was here on Saipan,” she added. (End of Marianas Variety story.)

Indeed there is, Marie, and most sincere thanks for having the fortitude to stand up and tell your Saipan countrymen about some of this mountain of evidence that attests to Amelia’s presence and lonely, miserable death on Saipan, abandoned by a president whose checkered legacy continues to require the protection of a cowardly, dishonest media to protect it from falling into historic disrepute.  As the elderly population of Saipan dwindles with each day, the island’s cultural heritage continues to degrade, and without some new injection of the true history of the island into the community, Saipan will be no different than anywhere else, completely ignorant of the Earhart truth.  The proposed Earhart monument is exactly what is needed.

The day after I was informed of the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety story, I wrote this letter to the editor, which was published Feb. 14:

“OPINION: Amelia Earhart’s Saipan fate”

        14 Feb 2018
        By Mike Campbell

JUNHAN B. Todiño’s Feb. 7 story, “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan” is the best news this Earhart author and researcher has heard in many years.

I heartily congratulate the monument committee, led by Rep. Donald Barcinas, for their wisdom and fortitude in coming to their decision to memorialize this great American on the island where she met her untimely death at the hands of the pre-war Japanese who so mercilessly tyrannized the Saipan people.

The truth about the wretched deaths of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, has long been a sacred cow in the U.S. government establishment and it’s media allies, and practically since the earliest days of Earhart’s July 1937 disappearance, virtually everything disseminated about Earhart’s fate has been aimed at disinforming and misleading not only the American public, but the entire civilized world.

First it was the “Crashed-and-Sank” lie, an echo of the original Navy-Coast Guard 1937 report; then, after that canard became too ridiculous to swallow, a more recent but still long-debunked idea, that the fliers landed on Nikumaroro Atoll, in the Phoenix Chain, was pushed down our throats without surcease.  Ignoring the massive body of available evidence supporting the fliers’ presence and deaths on Saipan, big media and history books tell us the fate of Amelia Earhart remains as much a mystery now as in the desperate days of the Navy’s futile search for the lost Electra.  Nothing could be further from the truth; although numerous unanswered questions about the final flight remain, the common belief that the “Amelia Earhart Mystery” is an irresolvable enigma is known to be utter nonsense by those familiar with the facts.

Contrary to the Navy’s conclusion that Earhart’s Electra “most probably” crashed and sank within 120 miles of Howland Island, or the Nikumaroro myth that Earhart and Noonan found Nikumaroro and soon starved to death on an island where plentiful food sources and drinkable water were available, the lost fliers crash-landed at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Saipan, where they suffered wretched, lonely deaths, falsely accused as spies by their barbaric captors.  The elder population of Saipan is well aware of this fact, but the insidious influence of decades of American media propaganda have taken its toll, and the truth is not to be found among most of Saipan’s younger people.

Saipan International Airport, also known as Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, is the site of the planned Amelia Earhart Memorial, although its exact location has not been announced.  Following the Japanese attack against the United States in 1941, the field was named Aslito Field.  The airfield was liberated by the U.S. Army 27th Infantry Division on June 18, 1944 during the Battle of Saipan, and later named Isley Field.  Saipan International Airport commenced operations on July 25, 1976, taking over from the nearby Kobler Field.  According to Thomas E. Devine, author of the 1987 book Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E was bulldozed with tons of other war rubble and buried in a deep pit under Aslito Field after it was burned beyond recognition by American forces soon after its discovery in a hangar at Aslito Field.

The establishment of the new memorial should bring renewed attention to Earhart’s Saipan fate to a degree not seen since Fred Goerner’s early 1960s Saipan investigations focused the light of truth on the Earhart case, and produced the great 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart,” a book that galvanized significant numbers of Americans to demand the truth about Amelia’s demise — a demand that fell on the deaf ears of a Congress and president who stonewalled all attempts to break through to the Earhart truth.

The U.S. government has long possessed the answers in the Earhart disappearance, but obstinately persists in its longstanding intransigence, insisting all the files in the case have been released, and dictating the terms of the debate at every turn.  The solution to the so-called “Earhart Mystery” will never be found at the bottom of the Pacific or on a picked-over island in the Phoenix Group, myths the media regularly depicts as the only possible answers.  The “hard evidence” that can bring final closure to the Earhart case has been locked away for nearly seventy years in the deepest recesses of our national security apparatus, its precise location known to a scant few caretakers of the priceless evidence — if it exists now at all.

It’s darkly ironic that Earhart’s Electra 10E, NR 16020, was buried with tons of other war refuse under the Aslito Airfield (now the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport) after it was burned beyond recognition in July 1944 by American forces during the invasion of Saipan, according to former Army sergeant and Saipan veteran Thomas E. Devine, author of the 1987 book, “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident,” and others who witnessed the plane’s destruction.  Since nobody apparently knows exactly where the plane was bulldozed into rubble, we likely will never know how close the Earhart memorial will be to the true burial place of Amelia Earhart’s plane.

Thanks to the selfless efforts of Rep. Donald Barcinas and his committee, those of us who cherish the memory of Amelia Earhart and long for Goerner’s “Justice of Truth” regarding her tragic disappearance have renewed hope that we might live to see the only real and acceptable solution to the Earhart case — full U.S. government disclosure of the Saipan truth.

Mike Campbell is the author of “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.” For more information, go to http://www.EarhartTruth.com.

Donald Barcinas and his committee apparently have indeed “Got it done,” and if all goes well, soon an 18-foot statue of Amelia Earhart will grace a special area of the Saipan International Airport.

Marianas Variety editor Zaldy Dandan was especially helpful, publishing my letter as an opinion piece, giving it better visibility, linking to the Truth at Last blog and displaying a huge photo of the cover of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, which encouraged his readers to procure it.  Unfortunately, no discernible increase in book sales or page visits to this blog ensued, confirming the relative paucity of interest on in the Earhart disappearance on Saipan.

Jennings Bunn, a former civilian Navy archeologist who spent 14 years on Guam, as well as several months on Saipan during the power outage caused by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015,  agrees.  “From what I saw in Saipan, it is over run by Chinese and Koreans, and the local folks aren’t real interested in ‘Haole’  [defined here as a white person who is not a native Chamorro]  history,” Bunn told me in a recent email.  “My experience on Guam was that the local Chamorro knows very little about their own history, and few really care.  That’s why people like R’lene Steffy [columnist at The Guam Daily Post] are so appreciated by those who do care about their own history.  I did many class presentation to school kids, and told them they should be ashamed to have a Haole tell them their history.  That’s the same situation on Saipan, Rota, Tinian, etc.”

But a few good souls still care, and on Feb. 18 I received a surprising email from one of them, Marie S. Castro, 84, one of the principal movers in the Saipan initiative to build the Earhart memorial.  “I read your most appreciated article about Amelia Earhart from the Marianas Variety on 2/14/2018,” Marie wrote, going on to say she lived in Kansas City, Mo., for 50 years, teaching in the Kansas City Public School System for 25 years before her retirement in October 2016 and her return home to Saipan.  In 2014 Marie published her personal memoir, WITHOUT A PENNY IN MY POCKET: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II and in 2015 she was one of nine authors who attended the annual Amelia Earhart festival at Atchison, Kansas.

Outside the dorm and dining court that bear her name at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., a symbol of one of Purdue’s most famous icons has a permanent home on campus. This bronze statue of Amelia Earhart stands eight feet tall and holds an airplane propeller. The statue is a duplicate of one made by California artist Ernest Shelton in 1969. Earhart worked at Purdue from 1935 to 1937 as a counselor for women and as an adviser to the Department of Aeronautics.  Will the new Earhart Memorial at Saipan International Airport resemble this one? 

“Since I came back home,” Marie continued, “I had an urge [to do] something dating back to 1937 . . .  Amelia Earhart’s fate. On Feb. 2/ 2017, I approached Congressman Barcinas about my idea of building a Memorial Monument for Amelia Earhart here on Saipan to celebrate her 80th year.  All our elders who witnessed the American woman pilot’s presence here on Saipan are long gone, however, in 1983 I interviewed a local woman who had personal contacts with Amelia Earhart in 1937, who was living next door from the political detainee hotel called the Kobayashi Royokan Hotel. [Mrs. Matilde Shoda San Nicholas (the former Matilde Fausto Ariola), see pages 102-103 of Truth at Last.]  I want to pursue the Monument for Amelia Earhart and finalize the biggest lingering unsolved mystery of the 20th Century. . . . What is holding us now is funding. We need $200 thousand for the project.  We greatly appreciate any assistance you could give us for this project.”

After thanking Marie for her work on Saipan, I gently corrected her about her misuse of the word “mystery” in connection to the Earhart disappearance, and pledged my sincere support for this worthy and long-overdue development.  Of course I will happily send her a check, but even better, I’ll ask readers of this blog to support the memorial in any ways they can.

“Wow, Mike you gave me more push to pursue this project no matter how rough the road might be,” Marie wrote in her Feb. 19 reply.  “I will stand firm on my ground of the truth.  According to the local woman she observed one day that the American woman pilot was not feeling well.  She used the toilet very often that day and that was the last day Matilde saw the woman. She died of dysentery the next day. . . . Thanks again for your support.  We need every assistance we could get.  I am confident that with you together we will erect the Memorial Monument as a testimony to the whole world that this famous first American woman pilot definitely ended her life on the island of Saipan.”

I’ve never asked for money on this blog, and you’ll never see distracting ads or pop-ups when you come here.  But the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan is the most worthy cause we’ve seen in decades, and its successful completion would be a very large step toward realizing our ultimate goal — complete U.S. government disclosure of the truth. 

Please make your checks payable to:

Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc.

and send to:

AEMMI
c/o Marie S. Castro
P. O. Box 500213
Saipan MP  96950

Marie also has sent an artist’s rendition of the proposed Earhart Memorial Monument, and it looks great, far more elegant and stylish than I would have expected for $200,000.  I will be unveiling it here soon. Please check back often. 

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