Tag Archives: Muriel Earhart Morrissey

Another look at Muriel: What did she know?

Once again we return to Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey, Amelia’s younger sister and only sibling, and what she might have known or believed about Amelia’s fate in view of some additional writings that haven’t been considered on this blog. 

First, some excerpts from my Sept. 4, 2017 post,Devine’s bizarre 1961 visit to Amelia’s sister Muriel,in which Devine recalled his August 1961 visit to Muriel at her home in West Medford, Mass.:

. . . Mrs. Morrissey mentioned that she had been visited recently by Paul Briand [Jr.], who was associated with Joseph Gervais and Robert Dinger.  Briand, she said, was writing a thesis about Earhart which he hoped would evolve into his second book.

Over the years, she said several people had brought information to her, which they irresponsibly claimed would solve the Earhart mystery.  These sensational disclosures had put a tremendous strain on the family.  I hoped Mrs. Morrissey was not classing my investigation with those.  After years of investigative failures, she said she had accepted the 1937 report that Amelia Fred were lost at sea near Howland Island.*  I pointed out that no physical evidence substantiated this conclusion.  I reviewed how the gigantic sea and air search for Earhart and Noonan had failed­ to turn up one scrap of wreckage or equipment.

Muriel Morrissey Earhart’s note to Thomas E. Devine, Aug. 19, 1961:  

To Thomas Devine,

Who is genuinely and unselfishly interested in Amelia’s fate.  I am happy to give this photograph [sic] of her.


Muriel Earhart Morrissey

August 19, 1961

The undated drawing of Amelia Earhart that her sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey gave to Thomas E. Devine upon his visit to Muriel’s home in West Medford, Mass., in August 1961. (Courtesy Thomas E. Devine.)

. . . In 1963 when I visited the Hartford station of the Office of Naval Intelligence, I read a confidential report on the location of Amelia Earhart’s gravesite.  Later I made a second visit to the facility to determine if the ONI were still active in its investigation.  I was ushered into an office where two men and a woman were seated.  One of the men opened the safe to get the Earhart file, shuffled through some of the pages, and pointed out certain passages for the woman to read.  She was obviously acquainted with the file and understood the significance of the noted passages.  During this exchange, the second man left.

I was haunted; the woman looked familiar to me.  Slowly, I came to the astounding realization that this woman was the “waitress” in the Boston depot!  The woman must have sensed that I recognized her, for she immediately excused herself.  Hastily, the remaining ONI agent informed me that there had been no further investigation of Amelia Earhart’s grave.  I left the meeting convinced that the people who had accosted me in Boston were agents of the Office of Naval Intelligence.  Why their presence in Boston on the day of my visit with Mrs. Morrissey?  I cannot say.  Mrs. Morrissey did tell me that she had informed the Navy of my intended visit.  But why would the ONI trail me to West Medford?  I don’t know.  What was the purpose of the ONI agents’ peculiar antics in Boston?  That I do not know, either.  Perhaps they were trying to frighten me into curtailing my investigation.

Muriel’s inexplicable actions when Devine visited her in 1961 could lead one to reasonably conclude that despite her encouraging note to Devine, Muriel was already working with the Office of Naval Intelligence to thwart or frustrate Devine’s good-faith efforts to determine Muriel’s degree of knowledge about her sister’s disappearance.  

Closely following with Devine’s strange visit with Muriel, we have Fred Goerner’s late August 1961 letter to her:


Mrs. Albert Morrissey                                                  August 31, 1966
One Vernon Street
West Medford, Massachusetts

Dear Mrs. Morrissey:

Your letter of the 27th meant a great deal to me.

I can’t begin to tell you how I have agonized over continuing the investigation into Amelia’s disappearance and writing the book which Doubleday is just now publishing.  I know how all of you have been tortured by the rumors and conjectures and sensationalism of the past years.

I want you to know that I decided to go ahead with the book last December at the advice of the late Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz who had become my friend and helped me with the investigation for several years.  He said, “it (the book) may help produce the justice Earhart and Noonan deserve.”  The Admiral told me without equivocation that Amelia and Fred had gone down in the Marshalls and were taken by the Japanese and that this knowledge was documented in Washington.  He also said that several departments of government have strong reasons for not wanting the information to be made public.

Grace Muriel Morrissey Earhart, Amelia’s beloved “Pidge,” passed away at 98 on March 2, 1998. “She was really a very sweet, gentle woman and she was really devoted to Medford,” her son-in-law Adam Kleppner told the Atchison Daily Globe. “She embodied a lot of old-fashioned virtues, responsibility, loyalty — things we seem to be in short supply of today.”

Mrs. Morrissey, regardless of what the State and Navy Departments may have told you in the past, classified files do exist.  I and several other people, including Mr. Ross Game, the Editor of Napa, California REGISTER and Secretary of The Associated Press, actually have seen portions of these files and have made notes from their contents.  This material is detailed in the book.  I am sure that we have not yet been shown the complete files, and General Wallace M. Greene Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps in Washington, refuses to confirm or deny the testimony of many former marines that the personal effects of Amelia and Fred and their earthly remains were recovered in 1944.

Please believe what I am saying.  If justice is to be achieved, it may require your assistance.  You know I have the deepest respect for Amelia and Fred.  My admiration for their courage has no limits.  They should receive their proper place in the history of this country.  A San Francisco newspaper editor wrote the other day that Amelia and Fred should be awarded the Congressional Medals of Honor for their service to this country.  I completely concur.

I shall be in Boston sometime toward the end of September or early October.  I hope that I can meet with you at that time and bring you up to date on all of our efforts.

My very best wishes to you and Chief.” 


Fred Goerner
CBS News, KCBS Radio
San Francisco 94105

Goerner had known Muriel since October 1961, when he traveled to West Medford, to ask her for permission to submit the remains he had recovered on Saipan during his second visit there, about a month earlier, for anthropological analysis.  For a time, Goerner thought it possible that the bones and teeth he excavated during his second Saipan visit, in September 1961, might have been those of the fliers, but he was soon disabused of that idea when Dr. Theodore McCown determined that the remains were those of several Asians.

Before he engaged with Muriel and her husband, Albert, better known as Chief, Muriel told Goerner she believed that Amelia was lost at sea, and that a crash-landing on the ocean was more likely than capture by the Japanese.  But after her meeting with the charismatic newsman, Muriel changed her mind, and sent letters to officials granting Goerner permission to have the remains evaluated.

For more on Goerner and Devine, please see my Oct. 12, 2015 post, Goerner and Devine reach out to Muriel Morrissey: Did Amelia’s sister know more than she let on?

Now we’ll look more closely at her 1970 letter to airship author J. Gordon Vaeth, following by a 1986 letter to her from the Consulate General of Japan, which raises new questions.

In her letter to Vaeth she thanked him for sending her a copy of the little known 1970 book, Before the Eagle Landed, an aviation history by the editors of the Air Force Times.  She then told Vaeth that she appreciated his “factual, unemotional reporting, which will, I am sure, do much toward debunking the tales begun by Captain Paul Briand [Jr.] and continued with a sad, poorly written, unproven story, Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan [1969] by a Cleveland veterinarian [Joe Davidson].”

If this letter to Vaeth, once a staunch Goerner supporter before he transformed into a stubborn, confirmed crashed-and-sanker, is any indication, she had apparently changed her mind about the Saipan truth and again was endorsing the official line.  

Dear Mr. Vaeth,

Thanks you for sending me the copy of Before the Eagle Landed.  I of course read your account of Amelia’s flights first, though the other stories are excellent and bring before the public several men whose names are not well known except to historians and fliers.

I appreciate your factual, unemotional reporting which will, I am sure, do much toward de-bunking the tales begun by Captain Paul Briand and continued with a sad, poorly written, unproven story, Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan by a Cleveland veterinarian [Joe Davidson, 1969].

My only criticism of the Air Force Times editors’ book is their failure to include at least two other women, Jackie Cochran and Anne Pellegrino, both of who I fell have contributed to the saga of aviation.  I doubt there will be much support for the book from the Ninety-Nines!

The Chief (my husband) and I would be happy to have you come to our home in Medford if you are ever in this area.  As we have both retired now, we are home during the day, so just call us – 395-4787.

Cordially, gratefully,

Muriel Morrissey

Finally, we add another piece, one entirely new to this blog, to the Muriel Earhart Morrissey file for consideration, one that doesn’t easily fit her earlier statements to Devine, Goerner and Vaeth.  This is a letter, not from Muriel, but from the Consulate General of Japan to Muriel, responding to her Oct. 20, 1986 missive to the Emperor of Japan (which I do not have), requesting any information Japan had about her sister or her Lockheed Electra.  (Click on image for larger view.)

Note Bill Prymak’s comment underneath the Japanese official’s letter: “VERY STRANGE . . . . . . What was Muriel trying to accomplish at this late date in her life (1986) re: her sister’s fate????  One can only speculate as to the nature of Muriel’s request to the Emperor of Japan . . . she was certainly seeking information re: Amelia’s life AFTER July 2nd, 1937.”  Strange indeed.

Some have suggested that Muriel, at some point in time, could have been informed of the truth by the U.S. government in exchange for her silence.  If that was the case, could this knowledge have been gained at some time after 1986, when she wrote to the Consulate General of Japan about Amelia, or did she known much earlier, possibly before Thomas E. Devine’s 1961 visit to her at her home in New Bedford, Mass., when she acted so strangely in apparently cooperating to ONI or federal agents? 

Muriel Earhart Morrissey, circa 1989, West Medford, Mass. Did she know the truth about her sister’s sad fate all along?

Muriel made few public statements from then until her death in 1998, and what she may have learned or believed during the intervening years is anyone’s guess.  

For Amelia Earhart, another unhappy birthday

Well, Amelia, another year has passed since Amy Otis Earhart brought you into this world in your grandparents’ Atchison, Kansas home on July 24, 1897, eons ago, in a much simpler and, some would say, far better America. Because you were so unexpectedly taken from us sometime after you turned 40, you’ll be forever young to those who remember and celebrate your life.

I’m sure you can read these comments or receive this message somehow, and I’m certain you’re in a place where the free flow of all information is enjoyed by all, and where no secrets exist.  I’ll bet there’s plenty you’d like to tell us, but the rules up there prevent it.

Admittedly, it’s a stretch to think you might still be with us at 117 if a few things had gone differently for you and Fred Noonan, and had you reached that exclusive club, you’d surely be a contender for world’s-oldest-person honors.  But considering the amazing feats you managed in your brief life that earned you nicknames like Lady Lindy and the First Lady of Flight, an equally lofty and hard-earned title 77 years later doesn’t seem impossible, does it? After all, Amy was an impressive 93 and lived the majority of her years before penicillin was discovered, and your sister, Muriel, made it all the way to the venerable age of 98 before she cashed in, so I’d say the odds were about even money that you could have been your family’s first centenarian.

In a highly publicized July 1949 interview, Amelia's mother, Amy Otis Earhart told the Los Angeles Times, "I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me. I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing in the sea. She landed on a tiny atoll—one of many in that general area of the Pacific—and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall Islands, under Japanese control.”

In a highly publicized July 1949 interview, Amelia’s mother, Amy Otis Earhart, who died in 1962 at age 93, told the Los Angeles Times, “I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me.  I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing in the sea.  She landed on a tiny atoll—one of many in that general area of the Pacific—and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall Islands, under Japanese control.”

Of course, wishing you a Happy Birthday is just something the living do to make ourselves feel better; where you are, every day is far better than any grand birthday bash we could imagine, and birthdays there must be quite passé.  For your devotees down here, though, at least for those who know the truth about what’s been going on for so long, it absolutely is another unhappy birthday, because nothing of substance has changed in the past year, and what little news we have ranges from the mundane to the depressing.

The big lie that your disappearance remains a great mystery continues to dominate nearly all references to you, often followed by another well-publicized whopper from TIGHAR that they’re just about to find your Electra on Nikumaroro, if only they can raise the money for the next search, ad nauseam.  Such unrelenting rigmarole must bore you, but this and other ridiculous claims are what has passed in our despicable media for “Earhart research” since Time magazine trashed Fred Goerner’s bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart  in 1966.

Amelia at 7

Amelia at 7:  Even as a child, Amelia Earhart had the look of someone destined for greatness. In this photo, she seems to be looking at something far away, not only in space, but in time. Who can fathom it? 

You’ve likely heard that a young woman, Amelia Rose Earhart, a pilot and former Denver TV weatherperson who happens to have your first and last names but isn’t otherwise related, completed a relatively risk-free world flight July 11 following a route that roughly approximated your own.  At least three others have already done this, all Americans: Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock in 1964, Ann Pellegreno in 1967 and Linda Finch in 1997, so there was nothing notable in Amelia Rose’s flight, especially considering that she had the latest GPS navigational technology to ensure her safe journey.

Her motivation was to honor your memory, said Amelia Rose, who was the featured speaker at the annual festival held in your name at Atchison last week.  I don’t attend these pretentious galas, and unless and until event organizers find the courage to come to terms with the truth of your untimely and completely unnecessary demise on Saipan, I never will. Last week she must have been making the rounds of the TV talk shows, as someone on FOX News announced she would be on soon, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

If Amelia Rose actually cared a whit about your legacy, she’d learn the truth that so many insist on avoiding but is available to all.  She would then use her public platform to stand up and call attention to this great American travesty and cover-up – rivaled only by the Warren Commission’s “lone gunman” verdict in the John F. Kennedy assassination in its mendacity, but unlike the JFK hit, completely ignored in the popular culture – and demand that our government stop the lies about her namesake’s true fate.  

Unfortunately and all too predictably, based on what I know about this grandstanding pretender, Amelia Rose has never uttered a word that had any relationship to the truth about what happened to you 77 years ago.

Amelia’s younger sister by two years, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey of West Medford, Massachusetts, died in her sleep Monday, March 2, 1998 at the age of 98. Muriel was an educator and civil activist, participating in many organizations and benevolent causes. Muriel and Amelia were inseparable as children, sharing many tomboyish activities, riding horses together, loving animals and playing countless imaginative games.

Amelia’s younger sister by two years, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey of West Medford, Massachusetts, died in her sleep Monday, March 2, 1998 at the age of 98. Muriel was an educator and civil activist, participating in many organizations and benevolent causes. Muriel and Amelia were inseparable as children, sharing many tomboyish activities, riding horses together, loving animals and playing countless imaginative games.

Facts are stubborn things

Amelia Rose’s supporters say she doesn’t know about all the investigations and research that tell us that you and Fred Noonan landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Jaluit, Roi-Namur and finally Saipan, where you suffered wretched deaths.  This gruesome scenario, as well as the fact that our fearless leader at the time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, refused to lift a finger to help you, much less inform the public that you were the first POWs of the yet-undeclared war to come, continue to be denied by the corrupt U.S. government and suppressed by our media big and small.  But facts are stubborn things, and they don’t cease to exist because the local PTA, the Atchison Chamber of Commerce or Amelia Rose Earhart wishes it were so.

Many hundreds of books celebrate your remarkable life, but only a handful dare to reveal the facts surrounding your miserable demise at the hands of barbarians on that godforsaken island of Saipan.  Now that the Japanese are among our best friends and allies in the Pacific Rim, we don’t want to offend their delicate sensibilities with public discussions of their World War II barbarities, do we?

Speaking of which, you might know Iris Chang, author of the 1997 bestseller The Rape of Nanking, which exposed the long-suppressed Japanese atrocities against the Chinese in December 1937, only months after your disappearance. Despite the book’s notoriety and widespread acceptance of its findings, the Japanese ambassador refused to apologize for his nation’s war crimes when Chang confronted him on British TV in 1998. In 1999 she told Salon.com that shewasn’t welcome in Japan, and she committed suicide in 2004.

We’re still not sure why Chang perpetrated the ultimate atrocity against herself, but it’s been said that the years of research into such horrific subject matter disturbed her greatly.  The parallels are obvious, but the depravities the Japanese committed against the Chinese, despite the overwhelming numbers of the murdered, don’t rankle Westerners nearly as much as the mere consideration of what befell you and Fred on Saipan.  Chang may have been unpopular in Japan, but her work was celebrated by the U.S. media, which avoids anything or anyone that hints at the truth about you like the plague.

The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang'e 1997 bestseller that exposed the World War II depravities of the Japanese military, was embraced by the U.S. media, which continues to suppress and cover up the truth about that same Japanese military's atrocities against Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang’e 1997 bestseller that exposed the pre-World War II depravities of the Japanese military, was embraced by the U.S. media, which continues to suppress, deny and ignore the truth about that same Japanese military’s atrocities against Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

Amelia Rose may not know the sordid details, but she’s heard the story and has shown no inclination to learn about the truth, falsely marginalized as an “unsubstantiated fringe theory” for many decades by our trusted media.  So at best, Amelia Rose is among the willfully ignorant about you; this strain of ignorance is just another form of cowardice, another excuse to avoid the truth, and of course it’s dishonesty in spades.

How can I say this so blithely?  At last year’s Amelia Earhart Festival, an Earhart researcher engaged Amelia Rose, on hand to collect another dubious honor, in a conversation that began well but abruptly turned to ashes when he brought up the subject of your death on Saipan.  Amelia Rose, upon hearing this, flew from this man as if he had leprosy. Almost a year earlier, she ignored my email missives that not only politely informed her of the truth, but offered her a free copy of my book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

So Amelia Rose Earhart, rather than being a special person, is just one of many hundreds of similar mainline media lemmings who assiduously avoid the truth.  Those who aren’t part of the solution are part of the problem, and excuse me if I repeat myself, but they are cowards as well.

So the lies continue without surcease, and 99.99 percent of the public continues to hear, read and without reservation buys the myth that your disappearance remains among the greatest aviation mysteries of the 20th century.  A few of us know better, and are doing our best to rectify this appalling situation, but we aren’t having much success.  Few will admit it, but the word has long been out that it’s not acceptable to talk about what really happened to you.  Nobody wants to hear it, so it’s fallen to outsiders like this writer to do justice to your story.  We’re called conspiracy theorists and wing nuts, and are strenuously shunned.

So Amelia, that’s how it looks to at least one of us down here on your 117th birthday.  Sadly, you and Fred Noonan are as far from realizing Fred Goerner’s justice of truth as ever, and there’s nothing coming from our government that gives us the slightest glimmer of hope.  But the difficulty of this mission doesn’t deter those of us who truly believe in the worthiness of the cause.  And so we continue.

 See also: Veterans News Now


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