Tag Archives: Mike Campbell

AE’s last flight anniversary arrives without change

Another anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight is upon us, this one the 82nd, and once again we have nothing but lies and silence from our media.

Instead of absolutely nothing, I awoke to an email from a faithful reader informing me of the latest propaganda broadside from our reliably dishonest establishment, this one from National Geographic.  Predictably titled, “Missing: The Unsolved Mystery of Amelia Earhart’s last flight,” it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect, more absurd genuflecting to TIGHAR’s falsehoods and delusions.  Here are the two sentences that National Geographic spared for the truth:

Some believe that Earhart and Noonan, flew north, toward the Marshall Islands, where they crashed and were captured by Japan, who controlled that area.  Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Earhart in a prison camp on Saipan, but physical evidence supporting their testimony is scarce.

Prison camp? Where did this never-before-heard red herring come from, if not from the mendacious minds of the National Geographic writer or editors?  They also made sure to include another loser, the infamous, thoroughly discredited ONI photo from the July 2017 History Channel disinformation operation, apparently to ensure that their clueless readers remain as ignorant and misinformed as they did before they began reading the article. It’s pathetic and worse than nothing.  Better silence and dead air than more of the same old lies after 82 years.

Members and officers of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee gather at Saipan’s Fiesta Resort & Spa July 2.  From left, Allen K. Castro, technologist; Herman Cabrera, architect; Ambrose Bennett, member;  Ed Williams, member; Oscar Camacho, site planning;, Avelyna Yamagata, member; President Marie S. Castro; Carlos A. Shoda, member; Evelyna E. Shoda, secretary;  Vice President Frances M. Sablan.

Only on Saipan and in the Marianas Variety can we find any semblance of truth and hope in the Earhart caseOn July 1, the local newspaper published “Committee to commemorate anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance” by reporter Junhan B. Todiño, who has consistently supported the good cause.  Todiño’s story begins:

THE Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee will meet on Tuesday to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the famous aviator’s disappearance while attempting to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe.

Committee president Marie S. C. Castro said members and friends of the memorial monument committee will meet at Fiesta Resort & Spa.

She said they are hoping that their friends on the U.S. mainland could join their meeting at least in spirit as we honor the memory of the two great aviators, referring to Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Mike Campbell, author ofAmelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, told Castro in an email: “I truly believe Amelia and Fred know and appreciate the love and respect you’ve given them throughout your life and especially in these past few years.”

He added,Whether or not we succeed in our goal of erecting a memorial monument to Amelia and Fred on Saipan — and if we are not, it won’t be because you have not done everything in your power.

To read the rest of the story, please click here.

Of course the comments at the bottom of the story, as always, reflect the “militantly ignorant” status of most of the benighted population of Saipan.  “Ambrose Bennett came to me before we all departed and encourage me not to bother by the negative comments,” Marie wrote me in a July 1 email.

On July 2, Marie told me, “Mike, I plan to dedicate the month of July to put piece by piece of the AE story if possible two or three times a week what happened here on Saipan in 1937. This is one way of educating the locals.”

Hope springs eternal, even in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

 

 

“Truth at Last” returns to “Spingola Speaks”

On June 22, I rejoined veteran talk-show host Deanna Spingola on her Republic Broadcasting Network program, Spingola Speaks.”  To listen to the podcast, please click here.

  Deanna Spingola

Deanna is the author of six books, including The Ruling Elite Trilogy and Screening Sandy Hook: Causes and Consequences, and she brings a wealth of knowledge, talent and experience to her shows.  She was among the first in the “alternative” media — i.e., the scant few independent, honest, responsible and courageous journalists who dot the earth here and there but are becoming closer to extinction with every passing day — to support Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last when the first edition was published in 2012.  Since then, she’s invited me on several times. 

Thanks for supporting Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

Part II of “1001 Heroes” interview available June 5

Jon Hagadorn, host of “1001 Heroes, Legends, Histories and Mysteries” recently asked me to appear on his program, and we did two parts of about 90 minutes each.  Jon did his homework before we produced the programs, and we discuss the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument movement on Saipan, which I haven’t had a chance to do recently.

Part I aired Sunday night, June 2., and Part II is available as of Wednesday, June 5.  To listen, please click here and scrawl down to “EARHART: THE FINAL TRUTH.”

Hosted by Jon Hagadorn, these fast-paced, compelling audio shows have set a new standard for history storytelling, often placing the listener at a crucial moment in history from the outset, and always managing to deliver on tense human drama based upon accurate and painstaking research.

Navy’s 1988 assignment to write newspaper feature, Devine’s letter spark 31-year Earhart journey

Occasionally I’m asked how my preoccupation — some might call it an “obsession” — with the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, now in its 31st year, began, sometimes in tones that victims of rare, terminal diseases might hear when questioned by the insensitive.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

In March 1987, I left active duty in San Diego after nine years working in radio and newspapers as an enlisted Navy journalist, confident that a good civilian job was just around the corner.  But the radio stations in the Southern California area weren’t impressed, and so I returned to my hometown Washington, D.C. area, where I found employment as the sports editor of a small Northern Virginia weekly newspaper.   

After a brief but intense stint with the paper, where the pay was low and the hours long, I was fortunate to find more lucrative and stable employment — though not in sports writing, my preference and strength —  and returned to the Navy as a civilian writer with the Navy Internal Relations Activity, in Rosslyn, Va., as assistant editor at Navy Editor Service (now defunct).  The NES was a monthly publication that was sent to all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ships and shore stations for use in their local publications.  The stories focused on Navy and Marine news and policies, but occasionally I was asked to write about less mundane subjects.   

Thomas E. Devine, circa 1987, about the time that Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident was published and about four years before I met him in person and spent the day with him at his West Haven, Conn., home in early February 1991.

In late March 1988, just a few months after re-joining the Navy, so to speak, such an opportunity arose, when I was tasked to write a story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart for the odd occasion of the upcoming 51st anniversary of her last flight.  Much later, the irony of a Navy civilian employee and former sailor writing about an event that was so intimately connected to the Navy in so many ways — both overt and covert — eventually struck me, but at the time my knowledge of the big picture in the Earhart travesty was nonexistent. 

To research the story, I read the only four books on the Earhart disappearance available at the Washington Navy Yard Library, now the Naval History & Heritage Command.  In order, these were Amelia Earhart Lives, by Joe Klaas, the 1970 sensation that burned brightly and briefly before Irene Bolam filed suit for defamation against the publisher of that scandalous tome; Amelia Earhart; The Myth and the Reality (1972) by Dick Strippel, a Navy apologist whose fish-wrapper simply restated the official Navy-Coast Guard crashed-and-sank finding, as it was already beginning to wear thin; Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985), the best collection and presentation of evidence for Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing ever; and Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 opus, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the former Army postal sergeant’s eyewitness account of his amazing experience on 1944 Saipan.  There, Devine, along with at least a few dozen other GIs, witnessed the presence and destruction of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, a key event in one of the greatest cover-ups of the 20th century.

I was captivated from the very first pages of Amelia Earhart Lives, swept up in the Earhart saga for reasons I couldn’t even explain to myself.  And upon finishing Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the only Earhart book ever written by an eyewitness, I found Devine’s address and sent him a copy of my story’s first draft, along with a letter expressing my interest and admiration for his book, not really expecting him to reply,

I don’t have a copy of my first letter to Devine, but when I received his April 7 reply, below, I was elated, despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly bubbling over with praise for my initial effort.  In retrospect, he was more tolerant and polite than I would have been, considering his long and contentious involvement with the Earhart story:

My April 12 response needs little introduction, but I assured Devine that I wason your team in all this, and that his letter had moved me to make some adjustments to my original draft.  Following are the first three paragraphs:

Devine replied right away, and in his April 16 response he informed me that Eyewitness “was published to disseminate my own eyewitness involvement in this matter, and to counteract much misinformation already published.”  After discussing a few of the problems he had with my story, including “misinformation” from Vincent V. Loomis and Fred Goerner’s books, he closed by writing,Mike, I do appreciate your interest in this very serious matter, and would be pleased to acquire the report when it is released.

Here’s the lead of the six-page story published in the May 1988 issue of Navy Editor Service, not available online:

The story presented the views of Klaas, Strippel, Devine and Loomis, was among the most popular I wrote during my two years at Navy Editor Service, and was published in countless Navy and Marine Corps newspapers and other publications.  My Earhart education was in its infancy in 1988, as my reference to the disappearance as a great mysteryattested.  But I had already become another victim of Earhart fever, thanks in part to Devine’s letter, which meant so much to me and helped to cement my resolve to learn as much as possible about this captivating story.

Thus began a 15-year correspondence that lasted until just a few months before Devine’s death in September 2003 at age 88, and which resulted in the 2002 book that we co-authored, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia EarhartFollowing is the review I wrote for Eyewitness on Amazon.com in December 2012:

Thomas E. Devine’s “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident” joined the ranks of Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart,” Paul Briand Jr.’s “Daughter of the Sky” (1960) and Vincent V. Loomis’ “Amelia Earhart: The Final Story” (1985) as one of the most important works ever written on the Earhart disappearance the moment it was published in 1987 by a small Colorado publisher.  By 1987 the truth about Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s presence and deaths on Saipan was being blacked out in almost every corner of the mass media, and thus this book was largely suppressed and sold less than 4,000 copies; compare that to the over 400,000 that Goerner’s book sold in 1966, when the government and media establishment were caught unprepared to deal with the truth that Goerner discovered on Saipan.

As a result of Devine’s call for Saipan veterans to come forward to support his eyewitness experience on Saipan that established Earhart’s presence there, more than two-dozen former soldiers, Marines and sailors called and wrote to Devine, and their accounts are presented for the first time in the book I wrote in cooperation with Devine, “With Our Own Eyes,” published in 2002.

Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, changed my life in ways I never could have dreamed.

Ten years later, “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” (2012) presents many stunning new findings, eyewitness accounts and analysis, and never-before-published revelations from unimpeachable sources including famed U.S. military generals and iconic San Francisco newsman Fred Goerner’s files that reveal the truth about Amelia Earhart’s death on Saipan, as well as the sacred-cow status of this matter within the U.S. government.  “Truth at Last” explodes the popular myths that Amelia Earhart’s Electra, NR 16020 crashed and sank in the waters off Howland Island on July 2, 1937, or landed on the reef of Nikumaroro Atoll, where the hapless fliers perished soon thereafter of thirst and/or starvation, which has become the most popular falsehood ever perpetuated about Earhart’s fate.

Without Devine’s book, this writer may never have become engaged in the more than 20 years of intense research that went into the production of “Truth at Last,” which presents the most comprehensive case ever for the Saipan destiny of Earhart and Noonan. Anyone remotely interested in the Earhart disappearance would be wise to purchase “Eyewitness” before supplies run out.  It is a book for the ages, firmly in the line of truth established by Briand and Goerner in the early 1960s.  (End Amazon review.)

My Amazon review of Eyewitness focused on the positive aspects of Devine’s book and its vital connection to the creation of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at LastIn itself, Devine’s Saipan experience as an eyewitness to the Earhart Electra’s presence and destruction was more than enough to recommend Eyewitness as an extremely important piece of the Earhart saga.

But Devine was never content with what he had learned “with his own eyes” on Saipan; instead, he claimed expertise in areas about which he knew nothing, and eventually I realized that the man I thought was the world’s leading Earhart expert had feet of clay. 

For example, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the fliers’ Mili Atoll landing, Devine refused to  consider it, insisting that Amelia flew directly from Lae, New Guinea to Saipan, an unthinkable 90-degree error.  He attributed this to an imaginary injury on takeoff to Fred Noonan that left him unable to navigate or even communicate with Amelia from the earliest moments of the flight. 

To my knowledge, no researcher has ever joined Devine in this delusion, and his obstinate refusal to take off his blinders and see the Marshall Islands truth isolated and reduced him to a sad, solitary figure for which the Earhart research community — in itself a small, diverse group of eccentric characters who, for the most part, are no longer with us — had little use.  For more on Devine and his tunnel vision regarding Earhart’s Marshall Islands landing, please see Truth at Last pages 176-178.

Devine’s errors weren’t limited to his ideas about how the Electra reached Saipan.  His claim that James Vincent Forrestal, secretary of the Navy in 1944, was personally present on Saipan when the Earhart plane was destroyed in July 1944, has also been shown to be false.  Worse, Devine resorted to fabricating evidence to support this claim.  I won’t elaborate here on that unfortunate chapter of my relationship with him, but those interested can find all the unhappy details in Truth at Last, pages 210-215.

Devine’s failings were significant and self-imposed, but without his generosity and willingness to share his findings with me over the 15 years of our association — I wish I could say friendship — I would never have begun my own search for Amelia Earhart.  I’ll forever cherish Devine’s 714-page unpublished manuscript, “Bring Me Home,” which he gave me in June 2001, when it seemed he wouldn’t live another day.

I sometimes ask the audiences I address at my infrequent presentations, “Who has ever aspired to become an Earhart researcher?  Can you imagine your son or daughter telling you that they’ve decided to devote their lives to studying and solving the ‘Earhart mystery’?  You’d probably send them to a psychiatrist or some other mental health professional as soon as possible.”  At that, a few politely laugh, but most just look at me blankly. 

It’s lonely, frustrating work, but it’s real, and somebody has to do it.  I know Amelia and Fred appreciate it, wherever they are.

Castro speaks on Earhart, Saipan in new booklet

If 2018 was memorable for anything in Earhart circles, it was the news of the birth of the grass-roots movement to erect an Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan, which actually occurred in September 2017.  The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Incorporated (AEMMI) committee is the brainchild of Marie S.C. Castro, 85, the current committee vice president, who is essentially responsible for its existence.  Former AEMMI President Rep. Donald Barcinas (Republican, Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature, who has since lost his seat), said in February 2018 that at least $200,000 is needed for the successful completion of the monument.

I learned about the AEMMI on Feb. 8, 2018, when reader Ken McGhee told me that he’d seen the initial story, “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan,” on the website of the Marianas VarietyYou can read the original article, which appeared on Feb. 7,  by clicking here.   Several stories followed in quick succession.  My near-joyous announcement,Finally, some good Earhart news from Saipanwas posted March 2, followed by Saipan architect unveils planned Earhart MemorialMarch 16.

Artist’s rendition of the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial on Saipan, displayed by local architect Ramon Cabrera in the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety story that announced this promising and long-awaited development for the first time.

In my May 18 story, Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts,” Marie produced a photo of Jose Sadao Tomokane, who told his wife in 1937 that he was late coming home because he had “attended the cremation of the American woman pilot.”

In the March 28 edition of Marianas Variety, my post about Marie S.C. Castro appeared under the headline, Marie Castro: An iron link to Saipan’s forgotten past, and an extended version, Marie Castro: Iron link to Saipan’s forgotten history,” was published here April 2.  The stories presented Marie’s accounts of her experiences with Matilde Arriola, one of the best known of the Saipan eyewitnesses, introduced by Fred Goerner in his 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart Marie’s interview with another of Goerner’s eyewitnesses,Revisiting Joaquina Cabrera, Earhart eyewitness,” was published here April 17.

Marie continues as the prime mover and virtual sole voice in the movement to erect the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument.  With the exception of a few very generous individuals, the response to our year-long fundraising campaign has been cool on this side of the Pacific, and ice cold on Saipan. 

In an effort to change hearts and minds, in early January 2019 Marie was inspired to write a small booklet about her life and devotion to Amelia’s legacy, intended for distribution on Saipan,mostly for the locals to educate and induce them to read, she told me.  She sent me a 20-page draft, which I tuned-up and expanded, and by mid-February, the first of three boxes of Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, arrived on Saipan.

Saipan’s Marianas Variety newspaper published a story about the booklet, New book about Amelia Earhart on Saipan now available,” by reporter Junhan B. Todiño, on Feb. 25, 2019, and on March 4, Saipan TV’s Ashley McDowell interviewed Marie for a story you can watch by clicking here.

The 35-page booklet is available at the Saipan’s Bestsellers bookstore and the Saipan Library, and Marie will ask for donations when she distributes it to those she hopes might be willing to help make the Earhart Memorial Monument a reality someday.  I think it’s appropriate that readers everywhere see it, and hope that some might be moved to help Marie on Saipan, at the address listed at the top right of the front page of this blog.

Beginning with the back-cover narrative, here is the first of three parts of Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy.  (Boldface mine throughout and not in the booklet.)

In My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, Mike Campbell, author of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (Second Edition 2016), and Marie Castro, author of Without a Penny in My Pocket: My Bittersweet Memories  Before and After WWII, her 2013 autobiography, present a brief summary of the facts in the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and their tragic deaths on prewar Japanese-controlled Saipan.

Marie, 85, is the leading light in the grass-roots initiative to erect the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan. Along with Campbell and a few others, she persists in her determination to bring long-overdue justice to the famed aviatrix and her navigator.

My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy is Marie’s unique way of continuing her mission to thank America for saving Saipan, in a way no one else has ever done, by educating her own people about Earhart, Noonan and  the unhappy truth about their lonely ends on Saipan.  Seeing the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument project  through to its completion has become among the most daunting challenges of Marie Castro’s long life, but one in which she is determined to succeed.

Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy
By Mike Campbell with Marie S.C. Castro (Part 1 of 3)

Kansas City

I’m currently 85 years old, and what has happened in my life is quite amazing.  For starters, and quite briefly, I lived in Kansas City, Missouri for 50 years and decided to sell my great home at 100 Garfield Avenue, also known as Tiffany Castle, and move back home for good to Saipan, the largest island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI.

In 1966 I was sent to Kansas City as a nun to complete my higher education.  During the 1960s and ‘70s a big transitional movement was under way in the Catholic Church for clergy and religious to reflect on their vocations.  I believe it was Pope St. John XXIII who issued a Decree for priests and nuns who questioned their vocation to go on sabbatical leave for one year.  I prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide me in my decision, and I decided to relinquish my vows as a nun.  I believed I made the right decision.  Although I am no longer in the religious life, I maintain my Catholic Faith and training that has served as a strong guide and anchor in my secular life.

I never forget what the American military endured in World War II in order to free the people of Saipan from oppression, and I dedicated my life to education.  I decided to remain in Kansas City and teach in school, where I could help children and reciprocate in my own small way to this great country.  I taught two years at Ozanam Home for Boys, an institution for emotionally disturbed youngsters, and then applied to the Kansas City Missouri Public School System, where I taught for 25 years and retired in 1998.  I felt it was a big accomplishment in my life in helping children to make a difference.  Later I spent time doing voluntary work, as well attending courses and lectures until I came back home for good in 2016.

I took lots of pictures of the castle to show to my mother and my family before I went to Saipan in the summer of 1989.  Everyone admired the beauty of the woodwork and the stained glass around the house. 

When I came back to Kansas City from that vacation, I called the realtor to make an appointment to see the castle once more, so I could definitely decide what to do.  I met with the realtor at the castle at 2 o’clock one afternoon.  As she opened the big front door, I was mesmerized with the beauty of the woodwork, the high ceiling and a big mantle with a huge mirror built over it.  The realtor led me up to a beautiful spiral stairway to the second floor and a big master bedroom with five other bedrooms.  Next we went on to the turret, where we could see the Missouri River, overlooking Kansas City, downtown and the residential areas all around.

As we went back down and proceeded to the dining room, I looked over the stained glass door entrance, and I felt so humbled for the opportunity to see it again.  While I stood in the dining room, suddenly I remembered what my brother Gus told me, “If you see something you like and you can do it, go for it.  You only live once in your lifetime.”

I thought if I don’t take this house, it would haunt me all my life, and I will be sorry if I pass up this opportunity.  At that moment I turned to the realtor and said, I will purchase the castle.

It wasn’t easy to sell that big historic mansion, but finally after four years on the market an interested person made an offer after touring the castle.  After 26 years in this house, leaving was an emotional and difficult experience.  It was a special home for me, not only considering it as my home on earth, but especially after having found out through my research on the castle that it was built in 1903.  Right then, the connection with my mother became even more meaningful to me.  It seemed to be a sign, in that my mother was also born in 1903.  Although I was over 8,000 miles away from her, I always felt the closeness between the two of us.  The castle served as a therapeutic home, a kind of extension of the intimate love of a mother.

I had sold my property on Saipan during the economic boom in the late 1970s-early ‘80s when the Japanese were investing on the island.  The castle was badly in disrepair and the price was affordable, so I was able to put a down payment and then applied for a mortgage. 

The Tiffany Castle, one of the historic mini-mansions in Kansas City, Missouri, and my home for 26 years.

After a month this huge commitment began to sink in, but my determination to own it was stronger than the financial burden.  I thought nothing is easy in this world.   

I went back home feeling satisfied at my accomplishment that day.  That evening I wasn’t able to sleep until 3 a.m. for that incredible decision I made.  Later I remembered my realtor told me,Marie, the house was meant for you.”  I believed she was right, because for the 26 years I lived in that house I enjoyed every minute and every corner of the house.  It was my heaven on earth.  I wish my mother would have had the opportunity to taste the beauty of that house. 

It was a daring decision and huge undertaking for a single person like me to plunge into a big investment.  Above: The stone fireplace flanked by four stained glass windows flanking the big mirror.  Below: the dining room at Christmas.

My nephew, Joe C. Weaver, lived with me while attending the
University of Missouri Kansas City.

The castle was completely empty when I bought it.  To find the most appropriate set of furniture to furnish the castle was not easy, but finally after over three years the house was well furnished, appropriate to its unique style.

My mother, Virginia C. Castro, left, was recovering from her minor heart problem at the hospital when I came for my yearly summer vacation to Saipan. I spent as much time as I could with her that summer; the thought of leaving her was so painful to me.      

Three days after I arrived back in Kansas City, I got a call from my brother Gus, who said,If you want to see Mother for the last time, come home as soon as possible.  She is in critical condition.”  I made my plane reservation and flew the next day back to Saipan.  I prayed so hard during my flight that I would see my mother alive before she departed.

I arrived at Saipan at 8 p.m. the next day.  My brother was at the airport to meet me, and we went directly to the hospital.  As I entered her room the family had just finished praying the Rosary by her bedside.  As I bent and kissed her, I said “Mother I am here, si Daling.” Mother opened her eyes and smiled at me, and I knew she was waiting for her daughter.  I was fortunate to stay at my mother’s bedside, giving her my last assistance for five days until she died on Aug. 6, 1990. 

In 2013, my book, Without a Penny in my Pocket, was published through funding provided by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.  Its subtitle, My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II, well summarizes its contents.

William H. Stewart, former senior economist for the Northern Marianas and a career military-historical cartographer and foreign-service officer in the U.S. State Department, wrote a very nice, comprehensive review of Without a Penny in November 2014.

Marie Castro’s fascinating book, Without a Penny in my Pocket, takes the reader back to a period on Saipan long ago swept away on the waves of time,” Stewart wrote in beginning his two-page review.  “Recalling the days of her youth she provides vivid and rare insight of bygone days of a peaceful Saipan before the ravages of war destroyed much but not the memories of what used to be. . . . Today’s youth would be well-advised to learn from the experiences of the author and her family and friends, of the heartbreak and suffering the people of Saipan endured and the faith they all exhibited to overcome such adversity. . . . She is an inspiration for all who aspire to make a contribution by helping others through education and good deeds.”

I urge interested readers who want to learn more than I can offer in this small booklet to obtain a copy of Without a Penny in my Pocket.

Return to Saipan

Two years later, on Oct. 13, 2016, I returned to Saipan for good and wondered, What am I to do now?” Perhaps I would be bored, but interestingly enough, a few months later I remembered Matilde F. Arriola, whom I interviewed about Amelia Earhart in 1983. Perhaps this was what had been bothering me in the back of my mind the year 2017 in connection with 1937, 80 years ago when Amelia Earhart’s plane came down in the Pacific with her navigator Fred Noonan and eventually was brought to Saipan by the Japanese. 

I began considering this event that happened in 1937 on Saipan.  At that time, people were subject to strict Japanese governance.  We had no rights on our own island.  People were ordered to comply with any ordinance given by the Japanese regime.  Any infraction would result in punishment, and depending on the severity of the offense, the price could be terrible and devastating.  The people lived in constant fear, which had become the normal daily environment on Saipan.

Japan’s economic interests on Saipan were mainly to subsidize her own people.  Much of the land was used to cultivate tapioca and cotton, but most of it was devoted to sugarcane plantations.  The production of sugarcane became so large that the country decided through an entrepreneur businessman named Matsue to build a sugarcane factory on Saipan.  He brought in large numbers of workers from the island of Okinawa to work in sugarcane fields as well as in the factory.

Interestingly enough, only a few Saipanese who were conscripted by the government in 1937 happened to witness an event that the locals had suppressed in their minds until the war ended.  After the liberation of Saipan in the summer of 1944 and people were encamped at Camp Susupe, fears suppressed by the people for so long during the Japanese regime began to unravel, and the seeds of freedom the American victory had planted began to bear fruit. 

I remember Joaquin M. Seman and his friend Frank Deleon Guerrero, who came to our house one evening for a social visit and told the story about an American woman pilot who wore a man’s outfit with short hair.  The woman pilot was the great Amelia Earhart.   It was so strange to them, as they had never seen a woman dressed like that, as according to the Chamorro culture, woman always wore dresses.  

In early February 2017 I met with Robert Hunter at his Department of Community and Cultural Affairs (DCCA) office and Rep. Donald Barcinas and explained my idea.  The presence and death of Amelia Earhart on Saipan is a very unpopular subject here; however, I believe that it should be recorded in our history, for many important reasonsThese include recognizing Amelia as the American woman pilot who so exemplified the fearless spirit of adventure that so characterized the early aviation pioneers, and to finally offer those who are interested in Amelia a monument on Saipan, where she met her tragic fate.

Amelia Earhart endures in the American consciousness as one of the world’s most celebrated aviators, and she remains a symbol of the power and perseverance of women who are determined to achieve a lofty goal, and the adventurous spirit so essential to the American persona.  The last time I checked, the CNMI is still a part of America.

End of Part I.

 

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