We continue with the conclusion of Rollin C. Reineck’s “Inside the Earhart Flight: Government Conspiracy?” which appeared in the October 1993 issue of Air Classics magazine.
Please understand that this and all other articles and “news stories” that are taken from other sources and presented on this blog do not necessarily reflect the truth, the facts as they were later discovered or the opinions of the editor of this blog. Where appropriate, I try to emphasize and clarify any differences that might lead to serious confusion about my beliefs. As always, the posts on this blog are presented for the information and entertainment of readers who are interested in learning more about the history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
To bring more realism to the article, I’ve scanned the original pages. Some may be hard to read, but if you left click on each page, it will enlarge and you can easily read it.
Editor’s note: Reineck was among the most avid promoters of the notorious Weihsien Telegram, or Weihsien Speedletter, discovered in U.S. State Department archives in 1987. The unsigned telegram reads, “Camp liberated — all well — volumes to tell — love to mother.” Sent from Weihsien, north China, and dated Aug. 28, 1945, this document created a huge buzz among researchers who speculated it could have been sent by Amelia herself. In 2001, this hot potato was relegated to the dustbin of dead-end myth, when AES researcher Ron Bright conclusively disproved the idea that Amelia Earhart had been confined at the Weihsien, China civilian internment camp during World War II.
Rollin Reineck, perhaps best known for his failed attempt to resurrect the Irene Bolam-was-Amelia Earhart lie in his 2003 book Amelia Earhart Survived, is familiar to readers of this blog, and so I will forego further introductions.
This letter from the retired Air Force colonel who once navigated B-29s launched from Saipan against the Japanese mainland, appeared in the November 1998 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. Here Reineck discusses with friends Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais an official response he received to one of many requests he had sent to Washington, D.C., this one to then-President Bill Clinton — which Clinton certainly never saw — seeking answers to the Earhart question. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
Dear Joe and Bill,
Friday I received a response to my recent letter to the President, in which I asked that he direct the release from the various military intelligence sources and the CIA of all AE matter.
The response from the Director, Freedom of Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, is not exactly what I had in mind, and practically puts us back to square one. However, there may be some information we can use.
Paragraph four of the letter is a brief summary of the Executive Order that releases all classified information that is over 25 years old. I have a copy of the Executive Order, and made reference to it in my letter. Mr. Passarella points out that there are some exceptions concerning the release of info, and to be sure that I understand them, he has enclosed a copy of the pertinent parts to the Executive Order.
I am aware of the exceptions, but find it odd that he would point them out. I can’t help but have the feeling that he is trying to tell me something. Generally the exceptions do not fit the Earhart case except Sec. 3.4.(b)(6). – . . . “reveal information that would seriously and demonstrably impair relations between the United States and a foreign government.” If my gut feeling about this is right, we might just as well fold up our tent and move on, as the foreign government involved is Japan, and no one is going to upset relations with Japan at this time over Amelia Earhart.
In the Goerner book, he talks about an aide to the Secretary of Defense who pointed out that there was more to the Earhart matter than anyone suspected and, “There are some possible international repercussions.” (pp. 314) It would appear that we now have gone the whole circle and we are no further ahead than we were in 1966. However, there is always the chance that we will find something that has been overlooked by the government that could add to our knowledge.
Passarrella also includes part of another Executive Order (#12937) dated 10 Nov. 1994. This EO would appear to offer some help as it is already effective and deals with the type of information we are interested in. Note the second half of the first page (just below the President’s signature), are record groups RG127 and RG226. I am trying to get an index of the material contained in these two groups. Perhaps you may have some ideas about the other groups. Let me know what you think.
I also got a letter (enclosed) from Senator [Daniel] lnouye [D] (rhymes with “annoy me”), which is in response to a letter that I sent to [Senator] Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D). It is typical of the innocuous trash we get from our representatives. Aloha, RCR
Just five years earlier, Bill Prymak couldn’t restrain his enthusiasm when he saw a September 1992 letter from the same Senator Inouye (below) to Reineck promising legislation that would finally break open the longstanding stone wall that has surrounded the Earhart case since its earliest days. Prymak was so overcome that he devoted the front pages of two AES Newsletters, the November 1992 (“Special Newsletter”) edition, headlined, in all caps, “Senator Dan Inouye, Hawaii, To Help Solve 55 Year Old Amelia Earhart Mystery,” and few months later, his February 1993 edition (below), screamed “FINALLY, PAYDIRT FOR COLONEL REINECK!!!”
Inouye was the only U.S. senator to ever actively advocate for total disclosure of the secret Earhart files. Ironically, he was a Japanese-American citizen who narrowly escaped internment during World War II. Inouye was one of only seven members of the U.S. Senate to be awarded the Medal of Honor; five of those were cited for their valor during the Civil War. With 50 more like him, we might write “Case Closed” to the problem of the Earhart disappearance — it’s never been a mystery to the Deep State in Washington.
For much more on Rollin Reineck’s attempts to break down the stone walls Washington long ago erected around the Earhart case, please see my Jan. 28, 2020 post, “Rollin Reineck’s 1990s Earhart work bears fruit: Hawaii senator pledges to open secret Earhart files,” and “Senator Inouye’s Earhart legislation would ‘declassify any records that have been classified’” of Feb. 11, 2020.
Today we return to the matter of the “one-way” phone conversation between Henry Morgenthau Jr., U.S. treasury secretary and confidante of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Malvina Thompson “Tommy” Scheider, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary, on the morning of May 13, 1938. Via Dictaphone, we have long had Morgenthau’s side of this conversation, which is interesting indeed. The document first appeared in the 1987 book Amelia: My Courageous Sister, by Muriel Earhart Morrissey, Amelia’s younger sister, and researcher Carol L. Osborne.
The late Col. Rollin Reineck’s distinguished Air Force career spanned 30 years, and his work is well known to readers of this blog. The mercurial Reineck served with great distinction as a B-29 navigator flying from Saipan in action against mainland Japan. In his Earhart work, Reineck was at times brilliant, at others less than coherent (see my Dec. 29, 2015 series of posts, starting with “Irene Bolam and the Decline of the Amelia Earhart Society: Part I of IV”).
During a patch of clarity, Reineck wrote at length about the Morgenthau incident in a piece titled “Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection,” which appeared in the January 1997 edition issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. “Today, it ranks as one of the most compelling pieces of circumstantial evidence we have in our search for the truth about the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart,” Reineck wrote. “The memo is unclassified and was probably overlooked when they screened the Morgenthau files that were to be made public and put in the Hyde Park Library. To date, it is the only document concerning Earhart in his archival material. . . . [T]here was one person, more than anyone else, who probably knew the answer as to what happened on the fateful day in early July, 1937. That one person was Henry Morgenthau Jr., the secretary of the treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
My own take on the Morgenthau phone conversation, “Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection: What did FDR’s treasury secretary really know?” appeared on this blog on March 31, 2015. The below letter from Joe Gervais to Bill Prymak was presented in the October 1999 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. Boldface, italic and caps emphasis both mine and in original AES Newsletter article.
EDITOR’S [Prymak] NOTE: The following reveals that secret papers relating to the Earhart mystery, are still cached in the basement of the US TREASURY DEPARTMENT, labelled “TOP SECRET” after 62 years! Why can’t the papers be released? Do we need to send Harrison Ford or Rambo to retrieve these papers’? Are these papers being denied because they could damage US-Japanese relations? Far Fetched? Read and judge for yourself.
Reference the below page of Senator [Daniel] Akaka’s report of March 1991. Gervais, [Randall] Brink, [John] Luttrell, [Dean] Magley, [Rollin] Reineck, Senator [Daniel] Inouye, and Senator Akaka have all been denied access to those 12 boxes. This cover-up by the executive branch of government is similar to the [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower/Gary Powers affair. This is a case of international magnitude between the U.S. and Japan. We have received no help from our ambassadors to Japan, such as [Edwin] Reischouer, [Douglas] McArthur [II], [Michael J.] Mansfield, [Walter F.] Mondale, etc. Why not put this on the Internet?
[Below is from Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hawaii) March 1991 report]
Senator Henry Morgenthau Jr.:
I’ve been given a verbal report. If we’re going to release this it’s just going to smear the whole reputation of Amelia Earhart. . . . and if we ever release the report of the ITASCA on Amelia Earhart, any reputation she has is gone. . . . and I know now Amelia Earhart disregarded all orders. . . . What happened to her the last few minutes. I hope I’ve just got to never make it public . . . I mean what happened. It isn’t a very nice story. . . . And, we have the report of all those wireless messages and everything else.
After reading the referenced memo of Secretary Morgenthau and comparing it with what we know today about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, I can certainly understand Col. Reineck’s assertion that there is a great deal more Amelia Earhart material in Secretary Morgenthau’s files or in the Treasury Department that has not been released and is still being withheld from the public.
In this regard, I also understand why Col. Reineck believes it is strange that of all the Henry Morgenthau, Jr. papers in the F.D.R. library at Hyde Park, only this one — albeit very significant, makes any reference to Amelia Earhart. Col. Reineck wonders whether this material was somehow accidentally overlooked when the Secretary’s papers were screened for public release by the government.
Col. Reineck advised me that other researchers who are colleagues of his, namely, Mr. Merrill D. Magley and Mr. John F. Luttrell, have tried through the normal “Freedom of Information Act” channels to obtain additional information from your department without success. This is true, Col. Reineck informed me, even though they had pin-pointed box containers T-33A and T-33B in the basement of the Treasury Department behind a locked metal wire cage as the Henry Morgenthau, Jr. files for 1937 and 1938. One of your personnel, Ms. Karen Cameron, described the material as relating to Amelia Earhart, but denied access on the basis of its being classified “TOP SECRET.” (End of Akaka report.)
As I said in my March 31, 2015 presentation, plenty of room exists for different interpretations of Morgenthau’s statements as recorded on the Dictaphone. Without having Mrs. Scheider’s side of it, we can never know for sure exactly what these two were really saying.
I have no doubts about two points relative to it, however. First, despite the treasury secretary’s thrice-repeated concern about the “reputation of Amelia Earhart” and how he wanted to protect it, I am convinced that Morgenthau cared only about the reputation of his boss, FDR, and how public knowledge of the truth in the Earhart matter would affect FDR’s political future.
Secondly, by May 1938 if not much earlier, Morgenthau was fully aware of Earhart’s captivity on Saipan and her probable if not certain death in Japanese hands. Based on Morgenthau’s comments to Scheider, many of which make little or no sense without Scheider’s replies, it’s difficult to believe that she was among the few who had been brought into the small circle of those who knew the unhappy truth, which would have been so deadly to FDR and his administration’s future.
Perhaps the most important question arising from the Morgenthau-Scheider phone conversation is this: What did Morgenthau mean when he said, “Amelia Earhart absolutely disregarded all orders”? Whose orders? To do what? And how did she disregard them? Some have attempted to explain Morgenthau’s reference to Earhart’s “disregard for orders” as her failure to follow the planned radio schedule and protocols between her and Itasca, but if that was the case, why all the secrecy on Morgenthau’s part?
And what are we to make of Morgenthau’s reference to “all those wireless messages”? Is he referring to some or all of the alleged “post-loss” radio messages that some believe came from Earhart in her downed Electra? Or others that remain undiscovered in top-secret files?
Rollin Reineck’s 1990s Earhart work bears fruit: Hawaii senator pledges to open secret Earhart files
Today, we’ll look at the first of two letters written in 1992 by Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye to Earhart researcher and retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck. This letter appeared, with much fanfare, as a “Special Newsletter” and comprised the entire November 1992 issue of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter. (Boldface and italic emphases mine throughout.)
Inouye served as a U.S. senator from 1963 until his death in 2012. A member of the Democratic Party, he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2010 until his death, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history.
Inouye, a World War II veteran who fought in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, lost his right arm to a grenade wound and received several military decorations, including the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award. Returning to Hawaii, Inouye earned a law degree, was elected to Hawaii’s territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and to the territorial Senate in 1957. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Inouye was elected as its first member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962. Inouye never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official, and he exercised an exceptionally large influence on Hawaii politics. He died in December 2012 at age 88.
I list Inouye’s more significant bona fides because it’s important to understand this man was no lightweight public official, but a long-sitting U.S. senator and a Democrat who hefted serious weight and was a media favorite, for obvious reasons. Perhaps no other U.S. senator was as well-positioned to effect a real change in the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of stonewall and denial in the Earhart case as was Inouye.
Here’s how Prymak presented his announcement in the November 1992 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter:
“I look forward to celebrating together on November 3rd the joy of a successful campaign honorably waged,” Inouye wrote in the letter’s key sentence, “and the beginning of a new era of accomplishment and promise for Hawaii and our nation, which will include the initiation of legislation to open the secret files relating to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.”
Undoubtedly, Prymak and his AES friends considered this letter from the Hawaii senator a gigantic breakthrough with the strong potential to open the doors to the final resolution of the Earhart “mystery,” as they all still insisted on characterizing it. Under the Inouye letter to Reineck, Prymak was uncharacteristically verbose and enthusiastic in his accompanying commentary, much of which is presented below:
Senator Daniel K. Inouye, senior senator from Hawaii, in a letter dated 28th Sept., 1992, to Colonel Rollin C. Reineck of Kailua, Hawaii, said that he plans to initiate legislation that will open the secret files concerning Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance over 55 years ago, on July 2nd, 1937.
Col. Reineck has been researching the last flight of Amelia Earhart for over 22 years. From his research, he has concluded that the answer to the Earhart mystery does not lie in the Pacific where she disappeared, but rather in the secret files in Washington, D.C. Reineck says that the senator’s action will solve the 55-year mystery.
. . . Col. Reineck believes that she was on a government mission and went down in the Marshall Islands near Mili Atoll. The Japanese picked her up and transferred her to Saipan Island, in the Marianas, and then on to Tokyo. Sometime during WW II, Earhart was moved to the Japanese internment camp at Weihsien, China.
Ten days after the war had ended, an unsigned telegram was sent through State Department channels, from the Weihsien internment camp to Amelia Earhart’s husband, George Putnam, at the Earhart/Putnam home in North Hollywood, California.
The telegram read, “Camp liberated: all well. Volumes to tell. Love to mother.” Although unsigned, Col. Reineck strongly believes that this telegram was from Amelia Earhart. His belief, comes in part, from a 1990 State Department letter to Senator Inouye that says this message was located in 1987 — by a State Department clerk, with a top secret clearance — in the National Archives among other classified Earhart documents.
Although Col. Reineck, as well as other Earhart researchers, have tried to obtain additional information from the State Department and other government agencies concerning Amelia Earhart, their efforts have not produced any results.
Because of this, Col. Reineck has twice briefed Senator Dan Inouye on the Amelia Earhart story and asked for his help in obtaining the truth as to what happened 55 years ago on July 2, 1937. Col. Reineck feels that the information is secreted away in the files in Washington, D.C., and that it will take a presidential directive to free up the information similar to the President Kennedy assassination files.
. . . Colonel Reineck says that such action will be more than welcomed by all serious Earhart researchers as it will put an end, once and for all, to the many unfounded rumors and ridiculous claims that, in the past, have led to false hopes concerning one of America’s great heroines of the 20th century.
As we can see above, little did Prymak know in November 1992 — or anytime within the near future — that the foundational document for Reineck’s approach to the Hawaii senator was itself among the “many unfounded rumors and ridiculous claims” that Prymak was so quick to reference and denounce in his late 1992 commentary.
On January 3, 2017, I posted “Weihsien Telegram: Another sensation that fizzled,” outlining the entire story that had ignited one of the louder of the Earhart false claims. To catch up or re-orient yourself with all the morbid details, please click here.
Not content with the above comments, Bill Prymak, obviously in a rare, joyful mood of celebration, next presented readers with the longest, most comprehensive biography of Col. Rollin Reineck to be found in the AES Newsletters — or anywhere else, for that matter. I present large portions of this below:
“WHO IS THIS MAN, COLONEL ROLLIN REINECK?”
Colonel Rollin C. Reineck was 17 years old when Amelia Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the world in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra. He recalls the excitement that the trip generated and the suspense created when she was reported lost on the way to tiny Howland Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
However, Col. Reineck’s interest in the fate of Amelia Earhart really ignited when he was assigned, in January 1942, to the Army Air Corps Navigation School at Kelly Field, Texas. His class was instructed by Army Air Corps officers that had been trained by Pan American personnel.
During the celestial phase of the instruction, the students reviewed, in detail, the Amelia Earhart flight and theorized the various possibilities as to her fate. Subsequently, a training flight was scheduled to simulate the “single line of position (LOP) technique” of locating a destination. Col. Reineck modestly says, “I hit the destination area within a mile and got an A for the flight.”
Col. Reineck’s interest in Amelia Earhart’s last flight has continually grown since those cadet days of early 1942. However, the pressure of his military career kept him from getting heavily involved,. When he retired in December of 1970, Col. Reineck was able to devote more of his time to this project. He has worked closely with [former] Major Joe Gervais and more recently with Bill Prymak in trying to sort out the available evidence. Col. Reineck is not writing a book [at that time] and has never solicited a single penny to carry out his work. He says his total objective can be summed up in three words: Facts and Truth.
Col. Reineck is quick to point out that no one, as yet, has any direct evidence or sufficient circumstantial evidence to conclude what really happened on July 2nd, 1937. However, he adds that there is a tremendous amount of quality circumstantial evidence that supports the theory that Amelia Earhart was not just on a stunt flight, but was some kind of government mission and that she did survive her flight, WWII and returned to the United States after the war with a new identity as Irene Bolam.
“I strongly believe,” says Col. Reineck, “that the solution to the Earhart mystery does not lie in the Pacific where she disappeared, but in the secret files of the various departments and agencies in Washington, D.C. And until those files are declassified — by a presidential directive, similar to the JFK files — and made available to the public, the Earhart last flight and related events will remain a mystery. Possibly forever.”
. . . Colonel Reineck USAF (Ret.) is a graduate of the University of California. In January 1942 he became an Army Air Corps Navigation Cadet and [was] assigned to Kelly Field Navigation School, Texas. Upon graduation in June 1942, he went immediately overseas with the 93rd Bomb Group (B-24) as part of the 8th Air Force. He completed his first combat tour in April 1943 and was assigned as staff navigator for the Second Air Division, 8th Air Force.
In June 1944 Col. Reineck volunteered for B-29s and was assigned as chief navigator for all of the B-29s on Saipan Island, in the western Pacific. After the war, Col. Reineck completed pilot training. He subsequently served in the Strategic Air Command Hq., the Far East Air Forces Bomber Command Hq., Air Force Hq., The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pacific Air Force Hq., and the Minuteman Missile Systems Program Office. Col. Reineck also took an active part in the Korean War, but says that although he was willing to go to Vietnam, there wasn’t much of a requirement for an old colonel.
Col. Reineck’s awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster. Col. Reineck retired in December 1970 and now resides in Hawaii with his wife Esther. (End of Prymak’s tribute to Reineck.)
Rollin Reineck’s outstanding service record was indeed that of a true war hero — honorable, courageous and accomplished. His record of achievement in the most stressful and demanding of combat environments makes his later advocacy of some of the most far out of the fringe Earhart conspiracy ideas all the more puzzling.
In addition to Reineck’s active promotion of the Weishien telegram canard, we also see that Prymak alluded to Reineck’s devotion to the false Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth. Reineck was among the most prominent and enthusiastic of those who continued to believe in and promote Joe Gervais’ absurd idea, introduced to the public in Joe Klaas’ 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives. For much more on this unfortunate aspect of Reineck’s legacy, please click here.
In our next post we’ll see Inouye’s second letter to Reineck, as well as the actual legislation that the Hawaii senator presented to Congress.