Tag Archives: Robert Reimers

Reineck’s 1997 letter to Bill Clinton one of many ignored by U.S. leaders through the years

When Fred Goerner’s bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart rocked the nation in 1966, selling over 400,000 copies in an age when many 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.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

In 1968, Goerner appeared in Miami before a Republican platform subcommittee chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn.  Calling his presentation “Crisis in Credibility—Truth in Government,” a title that perfectly describes the appalling corruption that so pervades our current ruling class, Goerner appealed to the members’ integrity and patriotism, and did his utmost to win them to the cause of securing justice for Amelia and Fred Noonan.  Nothing happened then, either.

Fred Goerner at KCBS San Francisco, circa 1966. (Courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

Fred Goerner at KCBS San Francisco, circa 1966. (Courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

Occasionally someone suggests that I should write to the president, or that they’ve written to their congressmen, to demand action in the ongoing Earhart travesty.  I tell them it’s a waste of time, based on what we know and all that’s gone before, but I never try to actually discourage these vain appeals to our rulers.  Those who care enough about the truth to actually sit down and write a letter are to be respected and applauded for their diligence, despite the fact that all their letters will be ignored. 

In 1997, well-known Earhart researcher Rollin Reineck thought he’d take a shot at it, and he sent the below missive to President Bill Clinton in hopes of effecting a miraculous breakthrough in the Earhart case.  Reineck could have saved a stamp, but then we wouldn’t have this letter to serve as a fine example of the sort of good-faith appeals to our nation’s leaders that continue to be ignored.

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

8 June 1997

Subject: Public release of information relating to Amelia Earhart.

Dear Mr. President:

The second of July, this year, will mark the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. This single episode remains the greatest unsolved air mystery of our time.

President William J. Clinton, circa 1997.

President William J. Clinton, circa 1997. After six decades of government suppression of the truth in the Earhart disappearance, can anyone imagine this president breaking the mold and revealing the facts about Amelia’s sad end on Saipan?

The issuance of your 17 April 1995 Executive Order (12958) declassifying all government documents that were 25 years old should have shed some light on this specific area of interest.  However, it has produced no results to this date.

From circumstantial evidence, most researchers feel they know the answer to this 60-year-old mystery, but they also feel that the HARD COPY OF FACTS are still sealed away in the files of the intelligence community in Washington, D.C.

Consequently, I am writing to ask you, as President of the United States, to issue another Executive Order.  This time directing that the various military and other intelligence agencies as well as the CIA immediately release — to the public — all materials in their files relating to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart so the world may finally know the truth.

Ms. Earhart was the heroine of her era.  She epitomized the ideals of women and American feminism, and is still an inspiration to all women today.  The cheers, accolades and outpouring of emotion received by another young lady who just completed emulating the Earhart around-the-world flight in the same type vintage airplane reaffirms the desire of the world to know the facts and the truth about the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

I, and others like me, have been trying to piece together exactly what happened on that fateful day of 2 July 1937.  Personally, I have spent over 26 years — a third of my life — searching for the truth about this great and courageous lady of the air.  From this research, I have concluded:

Without presenting supporting evidence of any kind, the United States Government has always taken the position that Miss Earhart died at sea after ditching her airplane (attachment I).  Yet, in direct contradiction, we researchers have evidence, including statements made by noted Americans, as well as others, who were in a position to know the facts and the truth about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  For instance:

1. The late Henry Morgenthau Jr., Secretary of the Treasury for President Roosevelt, stated (attachment 2) in a telephone  conversation with Malvina Scheider, secretary for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, “Amelia Earhart absolutely disregarded all orders.  We have evidence that the thing is all over.  And, if we ever release the report of the Itasca (Coast Guard vessel standing off Howland Island) on Amelia Earhart, any reputation she’s got is gone.”

2. Mr. Carl Heine, a missionary who had lived in the Marshall Islands for 48 years (executed by the Japanese during the war), reported seeing a letter in the Jaluit Post Office on 27 November 1937, addressed to Amelia Earhart.  The address read: Amelia Earhart, Marshall Islands, Ratak Group, Maloelap Island, South Pacific Ocean (Attachment 3).  Mr. Heine felt it interesting that someone would be writing to Amelia Earhart in the Marshall Islands, and that the return address on the envelope was the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, California.  It appears to be more than a coincidence that Ms. Earhart’s personal secretary lived at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at that time.

The late Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps during the World War II, told Fred Goerner in a 1971 letter that Amelia Earhart died on Saipan.

The late Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps during the World War II, told Fred Goerner in a 1971 letter that Amelia Earhart died on Saipan.

3. The late five-star Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Pacific Operations during WW II said, “She did go down in the Marshall Islands and was taken prisoner by the Japanese.”  This statement by Admiral Nimitz (attachment 4) can be seen today in the Earhart Room of the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

4. General Alexander Vandegrift, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps during WW II, said (attachment 5), “It was substantiated that Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan.  This information was given to me by General Tommy Watson, who commanded the Second Division during the assault on Saipan.”

5. Graves P. Erskine, who commanded the 5th U.S. Marine Corps Division at Iwo Jima and was on the staff of Gen. Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith during the invasion of Saipan and served in intelligence capabilities, said (attachment 5), “We did learn that Earhart was on Saipan and that she died there.”

6. Mr. Robert Reimers, native of the Marshall Islands, was born in 1909, when the Germans occupied the Islands.  He has spent his life as an entrepreneur and is the genius behind the Robert Reimer Enterprises Inc. of the Marshall Islands.  In a recent interview Mr. Reimers stated among other things, “It was widely known throughout the Islands by both the Japanese and the Marshallese that a Japanese fishing boat found Amelia Earhart, her navigator and the airplane near Mili Atoll.  They were brought to Jabor where one of our people (Billamon Amoron [sic] attachment 6) treated them.  They were then taken to Kwajalein, and from there to Truk and then to Saipan. There was no mystery . . . everybody knew it.”

7. In addition, there have been numerous reports by our GIs in the Marshall Islands and on Saipan of seeing photographs and other memorabilia of Ms. Earhart in the Marshalls and on Saipan.  Each and every one of these reports states that the found material related to Earhart was turned over to Officers in the field never to be seen again.

Marine General Graves B. Erskine, deputy commander of the V Amphibious Corps at the Battle of Saipan. In late 1966, Erskine told Jules Dundes, CBS West Coast vice president, and Dave McElhatton, a KCBS radio newsman, "It was established that Earhart was on Saipan. You'll have to dig the rest out for yourselves."

Marine General Graves B. Erskine, deputy commander of the V Amphibious Corps at the Battle of Saipan. In late 1966, Erskine told Jules Dundes, CBS West Coast vice president, and Dave McElhatton, a KCBS radio newsman, “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan.  You’ll have to dig the rest out for yourselves.”

8. After the liberation of the Japanese Weihsien Internment Camp, China, messages (attachment 7) were dispatched, dated 21 August 1945 to the next of kin, or other interested parties of the internees.  One of those messages was addressed and delivered to G.P. Putnam, 10042 Valley Spring Lane, North Hollywood, California.  The message read, “CAMP LIBERATED, ALL WELL, VOLUMES TO TELL, LOVE TO MOTHER.” G.P. Putnam was Amelia’s husband and 10042 Spring Valley Lane, North Hollywood, California, was where they lived as man and wife before she departed on her around the world flight.  Although the message was unsigned, there is little doubt as to who wrote the message. G.P. Putnam responded to the message 10 days later.

(Editor’s note: Reineck’s claim was later proven to be absolutely false by Earhart researchers Ron Bright and Patrick Gaston.  The telegram was actually sent from the Weihsien Camp by a man named Ahmad Kamal, a close personal friend of George Putnam.  Amelia Earhart was never at Weihsien, but this idea survives among some inhabitants of the Earhart fringe.)

Although I have worked with both the State and Treasury Departments, as well as the National Archives, I have not been able to obtain information to reconcile these various viewpoints and happenings on what should be a matter of fact.

Which version concerning Earhart’s disappearance are we to believe?  Why can’t the people of the United States be told the truth about this event that took place almost 60 years ago?  How could the release of the true facts of this historical event possibly affect the security of this country today, or have any other significant consequences?  What will it take to set the record straight and get the truth about the fate of Amelia Earhart?

In May 1938, the Honorable Hattie W. Caraway, Senator, of your State of Arkansas, said on the floor of the U.S. Senate: “Amelia Earhart was a courageous woman who was one of the 12 most notable women of the past 100 years.”  Senator Caraway went on to say that: She was a woman who symbolized, to a remarkable degree, the courage, the pioneering spirit and the broad achievements of American womanhood(Attachment 8).

Senator Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway presides over the U.S. Senate in May 1932. Caraway, of Arkansas, was the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator.

Senator Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway presides over the U.S. Senate in May 1932.  Caraway, of Arkansas, was the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator.

What Senator Caraway said on the floor of the Senate in 1938 was true then and it is true today.  Amelia Earhart was indeed a very courageous woman who served her country well in time of need.  It is only fitting that the truth now be known and that her name be placed in the HALL OF FAME with other great Americans so that her countrymen and women of today and tomorrow are made aware of her noble deeds. Mr. President, you can make it happen by directing the immediate release to the public of all CIA, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard and other intelligence files relating to Ms. Amelia Earhart.

Your early response to this letter would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Rollin C. Reineck
Colonel USAF (Ret.)

Of course, Reineck received no response from Bill Clinton, not early nor at any other time.  Clinton likely never even saw Reineck’s letter, which was probably deposited into the nearest circular file by one of an army of lackeys paid exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars to screen White House mail and remove these little annoyances from the president.

This is the inevitable fate of any attempts by our good citizens to appeal to the better angels of those who keep our national secrets.  To begin with, these people have no better angels, as their spiritual protectors likely gave up on most of these lowlifes long ago.  Secondly, and most importantly, the Earhart case remains among Washington’s most precious sacred cows, a status that will almost certainly remain unchanged for decades to come.  Welcome to the Earhart saga.

An interview with Marshalls icon Robert Reimers: “Everyone knew” of AE’s landing, tycoon said

Once again we dip into the archives of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters to present another of  the late Bill Prymak’s invaluable contributions to Earhart research, an interview with the legendary Robert Reimers just a year before his death in 1998.  Without Prymak’s efforts, the voice of this well-known Marshallese entrepreneur would likely never have been heard outside of his beloved islands.  The following piece appeared in the May 1997 issue of the AES Newsletters, and is presented for your information and entertainment, as always.

“INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT REIMERS”
by Bill Prymak

The passengers queuing up at the Majuro International Airport for the Air Micronesia flight to Honolulu were getting restless.  The flight was already one hour late, there were no seat reservations, the plane was overbooked (as usual) and the terminal was crowded and hot.

Quite inconspicuously, but with obvious authority, an elderly couple (the man deeply tanned and spry), were ushered to the head of the line and escorted to the airplane.  Not feeling slighted, but curious, I asked one of the airport security men who the couple was.

With great reverence he whispered, “Why that is our Mr. Robert Reimers, with his wife.”

Robert Reimers, founder, CEO, and genius behind the sprawling Robert Reimers Enterprises, Inc. (RRE as it is known), has hotels, shopping centers, hardware stores, travel agents and dive boat operations at Majuro.  And flung across the vast length and breadth of the Marshall Islands, RRE owns perimeter hotels, fuel depots, stores and nearly every commercial enterprise that exists on the outer atolls and islands.  He is number ONE.  Even his address: P.O. Box 1, Majuro, Marshall Islands, tells you of his station. 

Robert Reimers, the top businessman in the Marshall Islands in 1991, told Bill Prymak that the Mili Atoll landing of Amelia Earhart in 1937 was common knowledge among his people. Reimers passed away in 1998.

Robert Reimers, the top businessman in the Marshall Islands in 1991, told Bill Prymak that the Mili Atoll landing of Amelia Earhart in 1937 was common knowledge among his people.  Reimers passed away in 1998.

This man, I said to myself, has got to be interviewed!

Once we were aboard and seated on the plane, I was able to finagle Mr. Reimers’ grandson into swapping seats with me, and for the next three hours I had a fascinating insight to one of the most powerful and influential men in the whole Marshall Islands.  My interview:

 AES:  Mr. Reimers, we just came back from Jaluit . . . do you personally know much about the Island?

REIMERS:  Bill, I was born at Jabor (Ed. note: main island and town at Jaluit Atoll) in 1909, and was raised there until 1935, when our family moved to Likiep Atoll.  Tourists never visit Jaluit; what made you go there?

AES:  Some of my group had been there before.  We wanted to see the children again, and we were looking for additional information on Amelia Earhart.

REIMERS:  Ah, yes, the Earhart woman . . . why are you Americans still looking for her and her airplane?

AES:  Mr. Reimers, she has never been found, and her sister, still living, and other family have been searching for so many years . . . they deserve to know.

REIMERS:  Ah yes, family.  I know family very well; do you know I have 11 children and 67 grandkids?

AESThat is remarkable.  We have observed that family ties are very strong in the outer islands.  Can you tell me some of your experiences with the Japanese before Word War II?

REIMERSThe Germans had made Jaluit their commercial headquarters before WWI, but you’re not interested in events that far back.  When the Japanese Navy kicked out the Germans, they sealed the (Marshall) Islands to all foreigners.  Those very few Americans and other foreign nationals that did sneak under the curtain were shown only what the Japanese wanted them to see, and that was very little.  About 1930, I had established myself with the Japanese as a responsible trader, and I did much commerce with them right up until and through WWII.  I even supplied them with construction materials and local labor for their island projects.

AES:  In what kind of projects were you involved?

REIMERS:  Well, before 1935, it was mainly commercial and communication facilities: harbor dredging; wharves; docks; hospitals; and big, tall radio towers.  But after 1935, the Japanese began some military projects like the airfields at Wotje and Maloelap.  I had a good business relationship with them.  But after 1936, they began bringing in foreign construction laborers, and conditions got worse for my local people.

AES:  When did construction work begin at Emidj?

In June of 1946 Dr. Leonard Mason snapped this shot of Robert Reimers standing on the stern of an outrigger canoe with two friends as they sailed across the lagoon, probably at Kwajalein.

In June of 1946 Dr. Leonard Mason snapped this shot of Robert Reimers standing on the stern of an outrigger canoe with two friends as they sailed across the lagoon, probably at Kwajalein.

REIMERSEmidj was a very secret place, and even my local people had little access to this area. I was one of the few Marshallese allowed in because I delivered construction materials regularly.  Jabor docks were built in 1936, and the seaplane ramps and docks for the naval base at Emidj were started about the same time.  My shipping records were all taken by the Japanese when the great war started, but I am sure of the dates I just mentioned.  Military construction projects at Mili did not start until 1940.

AES:  What hospital facilities were available in 1937 at Jaluit?

REIMERSThe Japanese converted the old German hospital at Jabor to a very small medical facility, and at Emidj they built a hospital because so many workers, mostly Korean, were there working on the concrete phase of the seaplane naval base.

******************************

A meal break was taken at this point, so I had time to reflect on what he had stated so far.  Mr. Reimers has a remarkable memory, and perfect command of the English language.  At first glance, and after listening to him, you’d swear he was only sixty or so.  His wife, hearing the conversation but not participating, obviously understood every word, with her smiles, nods, and concurrence to her husband’s words.  Without any doubt, this man was telling it as it indeed happened. When everyone finished their meal, we continued:

AES:  Many of your people that we interviewed at Jabor and Emidj, notably the elders, speak of the brutality of the Japanese against your people during the war years.  They described how for the theft of a coconut, a head was severed . . . how Emidj became the execution center for both Allied prisoners of war, and the local population.  Can you comment on this tragic chapter in your country’s history?

REIMERSRemember, Mr. Bill, I called Likiep Atoll my home during the war period, but I was conscripted by the Japanese military to continue my supply lines of materials to their many island bases. And some of my travels took me back to Jabor.  Emidj was very secretive, but the stories you hear today from the elders ring true.  I must add that towards the end of the war, when things were going badly for the Japanese, my people feared for their lives, and fled to unoccupied islands to escape what they expected as mass slaughter for those who stayed.  These times were very bad for the Marshallese . . . the elders remember as I do.

AESIn July of 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator disappeared, and the Western world did not hear from them again.  Can you help me, and her family, with any information you may have regarding the possibility of her being down in your islands?

REIMERS:  It was widely known throughout the Islands by both Japanese and Marshallese that a Japanese fishing boat first found them and their airplane near Mili.  They then transferred them to a bigger boat. They were brought to Jabor, where Bilimon [Amaron] treated them.  Oscar deBrum, and the Carl Heine family (including the boys), were living there and knew of this.  They were then taken to Kwajalein and from there to Truk and then Saipan.  There was no mystery . . . everybody knew it!

AES:  But Mr. Reimers, the Japanese strongly denied seeing the two American aviators.  They even sent airplanes and ships out to search for her.  How can this be?

REIMERS:  Even in 1937, an intrusion in these islands was a very serious offense.  And in the case of Earhart, a woman pilot, great cover and secrecy was placed upon them by the Japanese.  But, of course, these are our islands.  And my people — even in their fear — proved very resourceful knowing about such things.

AESDid you personally know Bilimon [Amaron], and the Heine family?

REIMERSI knew Bilimon very well, and rest easy if you worry about his story of treating the two Americans.  You will never find a more honest man.  You know, of course, he died last year.  He was a good man And the Heine family . . .  John and Dwight’s parents were executed during the war.  I grew up with them, and they were the finest missionary people I had ever met.  John and Dwight knew about the Americans, but would never talk much.

Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais pause with the iconic Earhart eyewitness Bilimon Amaron at Amaron's Majuro home in 1991.

Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais pause with the famed Earhart eyewitness Bilimon Amaron at Amaron’s Majuro home in 1991.

AESResearchers like Joe Gervais, sitting across the aisle, have visited your islands several times.  Even as far back as 1960, he made several trips to SAIPAN where he met the same curtain of silence.  Do the natives not care, or are they still fearful of the Japanese?

REIMERS It is difficult for Americans to understand the fright and fear of my people during the war.  At any moment the Japanese could come smashing into your house and take away any possession you may have, and then march you off to prison — or even worse.  After the war, these fears did not die easily. There are some old timers who still think the Japanese might come back.  It would not be wise to discuss things deemed secret during the great war.  People saw so much killing, they may say, “Why the big fuss over one lady flyer?  We saw thousands die!”

AES: Ah, but Amelia was special to the American people.

******************************

I could hear the 727’s engines power back for descent, and Mr. Reimers’ eyes told me the interview was concluded.  After expressing my deepest gratitude, I wished him well, and told him our group would come back again to his Islands.

Don’t forget, he chided with a parting smile, call me, and I’ll  find the right boat you.  Maybe one of mine will do the job.  Good Luck!  Find your Amelia.”

POSTMORTEM THOUGHTS:  Three hours with Mr. Reimers certainly taught me a great deal more about the man and his country than the above highlights reveal.  Here was a man of intense pride, unquestioned integrity, and now in his mid-eighties, a very private person.  I kept imagining what it would be like, to be at his side in the mid-thirties, sailing with his men and boats between the islands, dealing with the Japanese as they prepared for their inevitable confrontation with America.  Couldn’t we magically just once turn that clock back, only for a day, to be with Bilimon that summer morning in Jabor, 1937, and truly see the cast of characters that played out that historic event?  Oh, my kingdom for a camera, and all I ask for is only one photograph.  (End of Prymak article.)

Robert Reimers died on Sept. 27, 1998; his wife Lupe followed on July 23, 2000.  They are survived by seven children: Richard (Kietel), Francis (Teruo), Vincent, Ramsey, Minna, Ronnie and Reico; and hundreds of grand-, greatgrand and great-greatgrandchildren.  For more information on the life of Robert Reimers, please click here. 

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