Today we present Ross Game’s reply to Rollin Reineck’s October 1998 letter, in which the retired Air Force colonel and noted Earhart researcher asked him if he could shed any light on Fred Goerner inexplicably dropping his well-known conviction that Amelia Earhart had landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, a belief that has long been supported by a variety of witnesses.
As was Reineck’s letter in our previous post, this one appeared in the February 1999 edition of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. (Boldface and italic emphases mine throughout.)
Ross P. Game
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
Telephone (707) 255-4693
October 27, 1998
Dear Colonel Reineck,
I received your letter of October 24 and I hope in the next day or two, health permitting, to contact Bob Ross to arrange a meeting in the near future.
Up to the time of his death I didn’t ever get the impression from Fred Goerner that he had any doubts about the Earhart plane coming down in the Marshalls. It was known, beyond doubt, that Amelia and Fred Noonan were brought to Saipan by the Japanese. We found evidence (obtained in interviews with natives — recalling the “white woman and white man” when they were children) on Saipan and in the Marshalls and had fantastic assistance in that phase of the investigation from Catholic missionary-priests able to speak the native languages.
Jose Quintanilla, trained at the FBI Academy and head of the police on Guam, took a leave of absence to assist us. He came up with evidence identical with what we had obtained from natives of the islands.
Without exception those who recalled the “white people” were able to pick Amelia’s photo from a series of pictures spread out on the ground. When she first was brought to Saipan in 1937 she was indeed a novelty because Earhart and Noonan were the first Caucasians they’d ever seen and the woman was wearing a coat which was most unusual to the natives (her leather jacket) and had hair cut like a man.
In Washington files we learned that George Palmer Putnam was secretly brought to the Saipan gravesite after the island had been captured by U.S. Marines and the remains “secretly” removed under the direction of an intelligence officer (we even obtained his name, thanks to the CIA).
Let’s keep in touch.
Clearly the most notable aspect of Game’s letter is that he fails to answer Reineck’s question — and mine as well — about what might have caused Goerner to change his mind about where he believed Amelia Earhart landed her Electra on July 2, 1937. To this day, no substantial, or perhaps more accurately stated, acceptable reason, has surfaced to explain why Goerner decided to unceremoniously dump his formerly rock-solid belief that Amelia landed her Electra at Mili Atoll.
By 1998, when Rollin Reineck contacted him, Game was obviously far removed from his former role as a confidant to Goerner. In my inch-thick file of correspondence between Game and Goerner, the last letter, from Game to Goerner, was sent in August 1992. In none of the material does Goerner inform Game of his remarkable rejection of his original Mili belief, so succinctly stated in the close of The Search for Amelia Earhart.
Precisely when Goerner changed his mind isn’t known, but it could have been as early as 1970, when in an April 17 letter to Fred Hooven, he discussed his plans to search the area southeast of Howland and Baker Islands, and northeast of McKean Island in the Phoenix group for “a reef and sandbar which have been most recently reported in 1945 and 1954, but have never been landed upon or investigated at a distance closer than two miles.”
Game’s response to Reineck certainly leaves no doubt that he was unaware of Goerner’s change, which we can find emphatically spelled out in Goerner’s stunning April 1993 letter to J. Gordon Vaeth, in which he flatly announced, “I now can state without equivocation that I DO NOT BELIEVE THE AE ELECTRA LANDED AT MILI.” (Emphasis Goerner’s.)
For much more on this, please see Chapter VII, “Goerner’s Reversal and Devine’s Dissent,” pages 172-176 of Truth at Last.
I have nothing that indicates Reineck and Game ever “kept in touch,” after this letter from Game, though it’s entirely possible, and have no evidence that Game and Bob Ross ever got together for a meeting. Bill Prymak’s AES Newsletters, although full of information unavailable anywhere else, are far from exhaustive.
For more on G.P. Putnam’s visit to Saipan, please see pages 239-241 in Truth at Last.
The late Rollin C. Reineck was a war hero, retired Air Force colonel and an original member of the Amelia Earhart Society, whose passion for Earhart research often produced fascinating, informative work. At other times, Reineck’s penchant for the spectacular and bizarre led him into areas populated by Fred Goerner’s “lunatic fringe,” and these ill-conceived forays have somewhat tainted his reputation among Earhart researchers.
Reineck’s authorship of the dreadful Amelia Earhart Survived (Paragon Agency, 2003), his failed attempt to resurrect the long-discredited Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart myth, was a sad day for the former B-29 navigator and the clueless who signed on to that travesty.
The below letter from Reineck to Ross P. Game reflects Reineck’s better angels, and touches on the theme of our previous post, to wit: the possible location of the grave site of Amelia Earhart, and he adds two additional, more important questions, which will be addressed forthwith. It also appears to be Reineck’s first contact and introduction to Game.
Rollin C. Reineck
1127 Lauloa St.
Kailua, HI 96734
Mr. Ross P. Game 24 October 1998
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
Dear Mr. Game,
Your letter of 9 October 1998 to Mr. Bob Ross was forwarded to me for information.
I have been studying the Earhart mystery for almost 29 years, and have been a admirer of Fred Goerner for the same period. His work helped everyone get interested in the Earhart affair. Hopefully, because of his tremendous research, we’ll solve this mystery some day.
I had corresponded with Mr. Goerner on several occasions and have a large file with his answers and views on all aspects of the Earhart Story. As a side note, we both graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Although I was a few classes ahead of him.
I find your anecdote about where the Earhart remains had been placed extremely interesting. I would have guessed Arlington, just as you did. l’m glad to know that you did a thorough investigation of that possibility.
I do have a couple of questions about the Goerner thinking that perhaps you can answer for me:
First, Fred Goerner originally believed that Earhart went down in the Marshalls and was taken captive by the Japanese. They, in turn, took her to Saipan. Later in life, he seemed to reject this theory and expressed the view that she went down about 80 miles southeast of Howland. My question is, what evidence did he have to validate or substantiate that later view?
Second, I have been told that Goerner made a tape just before he died concerning Earhart. What did he say on the tape? Where is the tape now and how can I hear the tape?
I would appreciate any assistance you can provide. We’re still actively looking.
Aloha Rollin C. Reineck
Colonel USAF (Ret.)
P.S. I am not associated in any way with TIGHAR.
In our next post, we’ll see how Game responded to Reineck’s questions. Reineck passed away in 2007 at his home in Kailua, Hawaii.
When it comes to the Amelia Earhart saga, even most of the well informed go blank when Ross Game’s name is mentioned. But Game, a close friend of Fred Goerner and a well-known and highly respected editor at the Napa (Calif.) Register during the late 1960s and ’70s, was among the smartest people in the world about the Earhart disappearance. At one point, Goerner and Game were within arm’s length of breaking through the stone wall that continues to separate us from official disclosure of the truth that’s been lying in plain sight for over 80 years. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
Unknown to everyone at the time, sometime in the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy allowed Goerner and Game to have a special, up-close look at the top-secret Earhart files, which revealed the long-suppressed truth about Amelia’s sad fate that Goerner had found on Saipan.
Nobody has ever had a similar opportunity, and as things stand now, it will never happen again. With JFK’s stunning, world-changing demise on Nov. 22, 1963, all the doors to the forbidden truth were slammed shut and have stayed that way. The Deep State murdered JFK for many reasons, and I have no doubt that Amelia Earhart was among them.
I never had the opportunity to meet Fred Goerner, who died of cancer in 1994 at age 69, but was privileged to talk briefly to Game in 2007, two years before his death at age 80 from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
During our September 2007 conversation, Game said he and Goerner were given unprecedented access to top-secret Navy and State Department records by the JFK administration, because “JFK was a great Earhart fan and wanted the truth to finally come out.” Kennedy’s problem was that his hands were tied by a “secret executive order” issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to Game, that prohibited release of any Earhart information that would expose FDR’s culpability “for abandoning her.”
This order applied to all subsequent U.S. presidents, Game said. The idea that FDR could prevent all future presidents from exposing his betrayal of Earhart on 1937 Saipan with an executive order doesn’t quite compute here. Kennedy’s “solution,” as it were, was to grant Goerner access to the secret files—but without cameras or recording devices of any kind, although pencils were allowed, Game said.
For more on Game’s involvement and contributions, please see Truth at Last, where a search on Game’s name will produce multiple pages and threads.
In 1998, Game wrote the following letter to Bob Ross, whose fanciful claim about finding the Earhart plane as a Marine during the Battle of Saipan in July 1944 was the subject of my most recent post. Apparently Game wasn’t quite up to speed about Ross at the time, but the letter nonetheless presents an intriguing possibility.
Ross P. Game
Post Office Box 176
Napa, CA 94559-0176
October 9, 1998
A friend happened to hear one of your recent discussions about your efforts to solve the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.
When she told me of your presentation I was particularly interested she recalled your indication that Amelia’s remains are in an unmarked grave at Arlington National Cemetery.
I am a bit curious about this matter because I worked closely with the late Fred Goerner, a long-time friend and media associate, from his earliest involvement in his “search” until his death after a long battle with cancer.
I travelled with Fred to the Pacific, Washington and other places through the years. Until the death of John F. Kennedy we had the assistance of the White House (JFK was fascinated with our work) and until Lyndon [B. Johnson] eliminated that support we had access to classified files and vital federal sources, including the CIA.
Fred authored The Search for Amelia Earhart at my Napa home; a majority of the photos were either taken by me or obtained by me; the Associated Press provided other help.
Just before the CIA assistance was cut off I pleaded with our contact to tell me where the Earhart remains had been placed after being brought from Saipan. The reply: “I can’t be specific, but why don’t you look in the most obvious place.”
Fred and I immediately focused our attention on Arlington National Cemetery. We spent a considerable amount of time there going through records and other data. Every burial for the period in question could be documented and we felt assured nothing was over-looked. Thus, my interest in what I’m told you said.
Perhaps sometime we can get together and discuss this. I’m retired after almost 60 years in the media business. Early this year I underwent cancer surgery and my health limits my movements. But I would like to chat with you if possible.
Ross P. Game
I don’t have Ross’ response to Game’s letter, if he did reply, but it probably contained little if anything substantial, based on what we already know about Ross. I don’t buy the idea that the fliers were buried at Arlington, as it would be far easier and less complicated to either destroy the bones or bury them at some secret, isolated location where the chances of discovery would be far more minimal than at Arlington.
Some have suggested that Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, and/or Muriel Earhart Morrissey, her sister, may have been told the truth by the U.S. government about Amelia’s wretched demise on Saipan, as well as her burial site, in exchange for their sworn oaths of secrecy. Muriel’s relative silence over the decades until her death at age 98 in March 1998 is particularly curious. It’s possible, I suppose, but we’ll probably never know for sure.
“Born in Chicago on July 29, 1929, Game died Oct. 18 in Napa, succumbing to ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Napa Valley Register staff writer Carlos Villatoro wrote in Game’s Nov. 4, 2009 obituary:
Game had a long and varied career that included serving as Register editor and holding top positions at other papers, including those in Lake Tahoe and Petaluma. He wrote a book about the disappearance of famed aviator Amelia Earhart*, served on the boards of various political and journalism organizations, wrote for the Associated Press, created international bonds that led to the sister city relationship between Napa and Launceston, Australia, and covered the war in Vietnam for the Scripps League chain of papers, of which the Register was once one. He was editor of the Register in the late 1960s and 1970s.
To read the complete story, please click here.
* I seriously doubt this, as I’ve never heard of an Earhart book by Ross Game, though he worked closely with Fred Goerner on many aspects of The Search For Amelia Earhart.
Update: On Dec. 25, our good friend Marie Castro on Saipan wrote in an email: “After reading “Game’s letter suggests possible burial site,” I wonder if he read your TAL. I think people should consider reading the booklet [or the whole book!]. To me this is the conclusion of her saga. Saipan is the end of her story. Matilde [F. Arriola], Joaquina [Cabrera] and [Jose] Tomokane were the closest connection who witnessed the evidence of Amelia’s presence on Saipan. Mike, I believe you have the authority to end AE’s saga on TAL. Let’s put her to rest on Saipan.”
Marie’s confidence is greatly appreciated, but I have no power when it comes to declaring the true last resting place of Amelia Earhart. I certainly wish we could be certain that the fliers were buried on Saipan, or cremated there, as has strongly been suggested by certain witnesses, but we just don’t have enough evidence to establish that fact. To read more about the witnesses Marie cites in her message, please see my May 18, 2018 post, “Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts.”
In 1998, Ross Game knew little or nothing of the evidence for Amelia’s cremation. Game was the first media member to be notified in 1965 by former Marine Pvt. Everett Henson Jr., who along with Pvt. Billy Burks, was ordered by Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold to excavate a gravesite several feet outside of the Liyang Cemetery on Saipan in late July or early August 1944. This incident is chronicled in detail in Chapter 13 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, titled “Griswold, Henson, and Burks.”
In late October of 2017, Ms. Carla Henson, daughter of the late Everett Henson Jr., contacted me, completely out of the blue about her father’s experience on Saipan. To read more about Carla, her father and the Saipan gravesite incident in 1944, please see my Dec. 26, 2017 post, “KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga.”