Tag Archives: Saipan Witnesses

White’s Earhart story another in long Saipan list

It is nearly impossible to accurately quantify the number of eyewitnesses and witnesses to the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan following their arrival there sometime in the summer of 1937. I’ve never tried, having seen others’ unsuccessful attempts to capture an arbitrary number that seems as fluid as mercury.

First, we have the native Saipanese witnesses, led by Josephine Blanco Akiyama, whose eyewitness account ignited Fred Goerner’s early 1960s investigations on Saipan that revealed the undeniable, shocking truth. Next are the American GI witnesses, featuring the myth-busting accounts of Thomas E. Devine, Robert E. Wallack, Earskin J. Nabers and a host of others who saw or had firsthand knowledge of the Earhart Electra and other hard evidence of Amelia’s presence on Saipan prior to the war.

Many others were privy to information gleaned in the postwar years, and then we have the issue of defining what actually constitutes a witness, not to mention the entirely separate grouping of Marshall Islands witnesses, to whom I devote the longest chapter in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. Today’s post concerns a relatively obscure American witness from postwar Saipan, and though Charlotte White’s story is insignificant in the big picture, it’s yet another of countless footnotes to the Earhart saga.

The colorized version of this classic photo of

The colorized version of this classic photo of Amelia graces the cover of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. Was this the “leather flier’s jacket” Mrs. Charlotte White saw on Saipan?

In the Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune, of Dec. 27, 1990, Mrs. Charlotte White, of Burlington, Ky., described an incident that occurred while she was living on Saipan, from 1955 to 1961. Her husband, Edward, was a retired Army master sergeant and World War II prisoner of the Germans who was working for the CIA on Saipan. Mrs. White said she was being driven home one day when they were stopped by some reporters from Look magazine, who said they were doing a story about Amelia Earhart. Though White knew nothing about the Earhart disappearance at the time, she began asking questions, and soon she “met the police chief . . . who claimed to know Miss Earhart’s fate,” according to the Tribune.  “The chief showed Mrs. White a leather fliers’ jacket that he said belonged to ‘the lady flier.’ Following is the entire article, written by Jack Hicks, which also appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

BURLINGTON, Ky. — Few mysteries have intrigued the American public like the disappearance of flier Amelia Earhart. Speculation about Miss Earhart’s fate surfaces in books and the media from time to time. Recently the prime-time television show Unsolved Mysteries featured the 53-year-old puzzler. Charlotte White of Burlington, Ky., hasn’t solved the puzzle of Miss Earhart’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937. But Mrs. White can add a few pieces.

Mrs. White met a man on the Pacific island of Saipan who claimed to know Miss Earhart’s fate. The man, a police chief on the island, showed Mrs. White a leather flyer’s jacket that he said belonged to “the lady flyer.” In tropical Saipan, it’s unlikely a native would wear a leather jacket at any time of year. Mrs. White lived on Saipan from 1955 to 1961 with her husband, Edward, who has since died. A retired Army master sergeant and World War II prisoner of the Germans, White worked for the CIA.* “I’d heard about Amelia Earhart being missing, everybody in America had. But I never connected it with Saipan,” recalled Mrs. White, now 71. “Then one day I was being driven home, and we were stopped by some people who said they were from Look magazine, and were doing research on a story about Amelia Earhart.” 

Paul Briand Jr., circa 1959, who 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, presented the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama and initiated the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.

Paul Briand Jr., circa 1959, whose 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, presented the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama and initiated the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.

(Editor’s note: Edward White’s CIA affiliation was likely connected to the Naval Technical Training Unit (NTTU) on Saipan. In a  July 1961 memorandum from Brig. General Edward G. Lansdale, Pentagon expert on guerrilla warfare, to Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, President John F. Kennedy’s military advisor on Resources for Unconventional Warfare, SE Asia, Lansdale wrote: In 1948, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) closed off half of Saipan to islanders and outsiders, using the northern part of the island for covert military maneuvers. The end of WWII left a power vacuum that was being filled by communism; the Cold War objectives of the CIA’s covert facility on Saipan were to thwart communist expansion. The island’s remoteness and control by the military made it an ideal base for this training and the NTTU was established. The primary mission of the Saipan Training Station [was] to provide physical facilities and competent instructor personnel to fulfill a variety of training requirements including intelligence tradecraft, communications, counter-intelligence and psychological warfare techniques. Training [was] performed in support of CIA activities conducted throughout the Far East.”

The NTTU was established in 1953 and closed down in 1962.  Fred Goerner wrote at length about the NTTU and its role in discouraging media from visiting Saipan in search of Amelia Earhart. See The Search for Amelia Earhart and Truth at Last, pages 104, 105 for more.)

Mrs. White began asking some questions of her own, and ultimately talked with the police chief, named Gurerro [sic]. He had been on the island when it was occupied by the Japanese, before American forces captured it in 1944.He said he remembered the flyers, and he described Miss Earhart to a T,” White said. “She had curly brown hair. ‘They killed her,’ he said of the Japanese.” Gurerro told her that Miss Earhart’s plane had crashed near Saipan, apparently when it flew off course and ran out of fuel. “Her co-pilot [sic], Fred Noonan, was injured in the crash and soon died, the police chief said. He took me to Garapan, a large city which had been heavily damaged during the war, and showed me the place where he said they kept her in an underground cell. ‘She was very sick,’ he said.”

Miss Earhart was buried within the military’s postwar training ground, which is off-limits, according to Gurerro. Gurerro had the jacket hanging on a hook in his office. “He said it was the lady flyer’s jacket, but he didn’t say how he got it. I tried to touch it and he said, ‘No Missy, don’t touch.’ He let me look at it, but he wouldn’t let me touch it,” Mrs. White said. “I have absolutely nothing to authenticate any of this. All I know is what he told me all those years ago.” 

What began as another of hundreds of garden-variety biographies of Amelia Earhart became the 1960 book that ignited the modern search for the lost fliers. In the final chapter of Daughter of the Sky, the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama was introduced, which led to Fred Goerner's four early 1960s Saipan investigations and his 1966 bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart.

 In the final chapter of Daughter of the Sky, the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama was introduced, which led to Fred Goerner’s four early 1960s Saipan investigations and his 1966 bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart.

The memory comes back to her from time to time, especially when someone mentions Amelia Earhart or something appears in the news or on television, such as the Unsolved Mysteries segment. No investigator has ever contacted her since she met the Look magazine reporters. She didn’t know anything at the time, she said. Her husband, who may have known something he never told her, admonished her not to talk about it. Edward White, who worked as a security guard after the family returned to Kentucky, died in 1989. Mrs. White would like to go back to Saipan for another look, but she isn’t keen on a flight across the ocean. She had enough of that, she says, as an Army and CIA wife. (Jack Hicks is a reporter for the Kentucky Post in Covington.)

Perhaps the most curious aspect of this story is that the police chief’s name was “Gurerro,” according to Mrs. White, and he had been on the island when it was occupied by the Japanese. Could this have been the same Jesús De Leon Guerrero, also known as Kumoiwho terrorized his fellow Saipanese as a Japanese collaborator and police officer before and during the war years?

Paul Briand Jr., author of the seminal 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, which introduced the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama to the world, wrote in a 1966 essay, “Requiem for Amelia,” that Kumoi was 51 in 1937. In 1966, Briand wrote, Kumoi had “no official connections with either the American or Japanese government—he is a dealer in scrap metal.” Briand added that Guerrero was “still greatly feared and respected on Saipan as the man who could extract confessions out of anybody. For this reason he was very useful to the Japanese authorities on Saipan in dealing with the natives and getting necessary information out of prisoners.”

I haven’t been able to locate Jesús De Leon Guerrero’s obituary, and if any reader out there can help with that information, it would be most appreciated. 

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David Martin reviews Second Edition of “The Truth at Last”

The remarkable work of David Martin — news analyst, commentator, poet and observer of the passing scene (not to be confused with the better-known but far-less accomplished CBS newsman of the same name) — is known to regular readers of this blog.  On his website, DCDave.com, the erudite Martin educates his discerning audience about many things, including the sacred cows that the Washington establishment has protected for decades.

Nowhere else on the Web can one find such a vast collection of insight and truth, with myriad offerings that include such treasures  as Who Killed James Forrestal?Upton Sinclair and Timothy McVeighand  America’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster. 

I contacted Martin about 11 years ago when I learned of his work on the James V. Forrestal case, when his third Freedom of Information Act request resulted in the 2004 declassification of the Willcutts Reportthe full report of the investigative review board appointed the day after the first secretary of defense’s death and kept secret for 55 years. Basically, the Willcutts Report revealed that Forrestal almost certainly was murdered and did not commit suicide, a myth that has persisted since his bizarre death on Oct. 11, 1949 at the Bethesda, Md., Naval Hospital. I told him of Thomas E. Devine’s claims of Forrestal’s presence on Saipan at the time of the discovery of the Earhart Electra, and Martin was naturally interested. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and I still cannot keep up with the depth and breadth of his incisive writings, focused as I’ve been on the Earhart case, and as prolific as Martin’s output continues to be. 

Following the June 2012 publication of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, Martin’s review, Hillary Clinton and the Amelia Earhart Cover-up set a standard that hadn’t been matched until today. As he wrote in closing his August 2012 piece, “Don’t expect any of our mainstream press to be directing you to Campbell’s book, though. If he is to be ignored, it will not be because the case he makes for the capture of Earhart and Noonan by the Japanese is too weak. It will be because it is too strong.”

A recent photo of David Martin at the Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

A recent photo of David Martin at the Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

Thus I was pleased when Martin agreed to review the Second Edition of The Truth at Last, and today he posted it on his site, as well as Rense.com, probably the busiest site on the Net, where a novice needs a roadmap to locate a columnist or story.

Without further introductory jabber, here is David Martin’s review of the Second Edition of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

“Amelia Earhart Truth Versus the Establishment”

A Review

H.L. Mencken opens “The Champion,” one of his most memorable and entertaining essays with this question: “Of the forty-eight sovereign States of this imperial Federation, which is the worst?” With his next sentence he clarifies his question: “In what one of them is a civilized man most uncomfortable?” The answer, as one who knows Mencken might expect, turns out to be that most thoroughly American of all the states, California.

Mencken was a journalist—albeit a truly great one—so he didn’t define “worst” like a person of higher values might have. As I was reading the new and improved second edition of Mike Campbell’s Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, a superior way of clarifying the question, as it applies to the countries on this globe, came to my mind. “In what one of them is a virtuous, truth-telling man most unwelcome?”

Now anyone who knows anything about the human race and its history knows that such people tend not to be welcome anywhere, particularly among those who have a close hold on power over the fellow members of their group. If, as is often the case, their power is built upon a foundation of lies—sometimes known as myths—their hostility is likely to be particularly great. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mike Campbell with his rock-solid story of pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart’s capture by the Japanese in 1937, and the 21st century ruling establishment of the United States of America.

An Important Myth

As we all know, the prevailing myth about the popular aviator’s disappearance in the South Pacific as she failed to reach tiny Howland Island is that it remains a big mystery that likely will never be solved. The really interesting thing is that our press increasingly feels the need, more than three-quarters of a century after the fact, to reinforce the myth with tales of efforts to locate traces of the lost airplane and its two occupants, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. We detailed some of these myth-reinforcing efforts in our review of the first edition of Campbell’s book, Hillary Clinton and the Amelia Earhart Cover-up,” published in 2012.  It can be found in the concluding section entitled “Continued Media Misdirection.” We note in that section that right in the forefront of the myth reinforcement was no less an establishment figure than the Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The essential outlines of the truth—as opposed to the myth—concerning what happened to Earhart, Noonan, and their twin-engine Lockheed Electra are by now well established through the testimony of a large number of witnesses. The airplane went down on an island in the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands to the north of Howland Island. Earhart and Noonan were taken prisoner by the Japanese and treated as spies. From there they were transferred to the Japanese headquarters for the region, the island of Saipan, for incarceration and interrogation, with a likely intermediate stop at Kwajalein Atoll.

There are a number of questions that remain open at this point, but most of them are minor. After Campbell’s latest effort, it’s probably correct to say that it’s no longer an open question that Earhart intentionally missed Howland Island. Uncle Sam was paying the piper and the tune he called was for her to “get lost” and to stumble into Japanese territory. The botched radio transmissions from Earhart’s airplane could not have been those of a person running out of fuel, desperate to save her life before going down in the vast Pacific, whose only lifeline was the radio.

A pithy quote from our 32nd president, who nonetheless chose to do nothing when Amelia Earhart was imprisoned on Saipan by the Japanese in 1937.

A pithy quote from our 32nd president, “a schemer of the highest order,” who chose to do nothing when Amelia Earhart was imprisoned on Saipan by the Japanese in 1937. This betrayal of Amelia and Fred Noonan, two of America’s finest, continues to be denied and covered up by our government, media and academic establishments. The time for official disclosure has long passed, and the sacred cow of the Earhart truth is as closely protected as ever.

President Franklin Roosevelt, a schemer of the highest order, we may safely speculate, was certain that the Japanese would treat the international celebrity Earhart well and would welcome the good publicity they would receive by rescuing her and then letting her go on her way. It was a very tragic miscalculation insofar as the fate of Earhart and Noonan was concerned. FDR had greatly underestimated the degree of suspicion and the level of barbarity of the Japanese militarists.

Our government certainly knew that Earhart and Noonan were in Japanese hands, but we couldn’t let them know that we knew without giving away the game, a large part of it being that we were listening to Japanese radio communications, having broken their codes. Comparing what our decodes said with what we likely knew of Earhart’s route would have been a good way to further nail down the code breaking.

We might have gained some valuable intelligence, intelligence that bears upon the question of our foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack, but in the process FDR had maneuvered himself into a position where his only political course of action was to abandon the fliers to their fate. From that time to the present it has been in the interests of the governments of the United States and of Japan to stick with the story that Earhart just got lost, ran out of fuel, and disappeared without a trace, or perhaps crash landed on tiny Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro) and survived there for a while.

Military Parallels

Campbell doesn’t make the connection, but at this point we can’t help but notice the great similarities between the Earhart episode and our government’s abandonment of large numbers of POWs in North Vietnam and Laos after the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon and his top adviser Henry Kissinger had painted themselves into a corner by making secret promises that were politically impossible for them to keep, so badly did they want a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese. Chief among them was a promise of reparations for the damage that we had done to the country in the war. The Communists held back prisoners as a sort of collateral, and we never paid up. The truth makes both the Communist governments and the U.S. look bad, so the politically expedient course of action has been to leave the POWs to their fate, just as Earhart and Noonan were left to theirs.

Another great parallel in the two abandonments is that on one side are the governments and their compliant press and on the other side are large numbers of witnesses, many of whom are American military veterans. In the Earhart case, Campbell reminds us, that latter category includes three high-ranking officers who might not have been eyewitnesses, but they have lent their authority to the story told by the many witnesses on Saipan and the Marshall Islands. They are Saipan veteran Marine General Graves Erskine, former Marine Commandant General Alexander A. Vandegrift, and the famous Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who had been the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Forces.

With the mention of those three illustrious military officers, we are reminded further of the Earhart parallels with another historical incident in which a famous military leader has taken strong issue with the position of the government and the press. The incident is the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty by Israel that left 34 American servicemen dead and 174 injured. The military officer who rejected the official story that it was an accident, a case of mistaken identity by the Israelis, was Admiral Thomas Moorer.

I am also reminded of my own experience in the U.S. Army that is recounted in my article, A Condensation of Military Incompetence.” I was on mid-tour leave in Japan in early 1968 from the Eighth Army in Korea. A traveling companion, a soldier stationed on the DMZ, had told me about hearing a large number of infiltrators who had come through their lines at night, he and his fellow sentinels had fired in the direction of the noise, but had not hit any enemy soldiers. When a 31-man squad ended up in the heart of Seoul my companion was certain that it was the same group, and his story checks out with what I later learned from talking with my outfit’s inspectors from Eighth Army headquarters. Yet the official story from that day until now is that we knew nothing about any such infiltrators until a couple of Korean civilians many miles to the south encountered them, that is, we did not know of any such infiltrators who had come through our lines.

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 Gen. 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.”

Preserving FDR’s Reputation

A major reason why our ruling establishment cannot admit the truth in the Earhart case is what it would do to the reputation of President Roosevelt. According to the dominant myth, he was the great, wise man who led us on to victory in the Good War, a war that was forced upon him by the unanticipated Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

How great is the need to keep FDR’s reputation intact was brought home to this writer in his reading of three recent books that are generally scathing in their criticism of the wartime president’s policies, particularly with respect to the Communists. They are Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia by Tim Tzouliadis, and American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character by Diana West. The key action that each of these authors took to protect the Roosevelt myth is summed up in this passage from my review of the latter book:

West’s most obvious intentional weakening of her argument is her failure to mention the anti-Communist Jewish journalist Isaac Don Levine. In my essay,FDR Winked at Soviet Espionage,” I fault another conservative journalist, Ann Coulter, when, in her book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism she airbrushes Levine out of the picture as the man who set up and attended the fateful meeting in 1939 between Communist defector Whittaker Chambers and Roosevelt security chief Adolf Berle, in which Chambers revealed to Berle the existence of a Soviet spy cell that included State Department officials Alger and Donald Hiss, Treasury official Harry Dexter White, and even White House aide Lauchlin Currie. I further fault Tzouliadis and imminent Red exposer M. Stanton Evans for protecting FDR by falsely stating that Berle never informed Roosevelt of what Chambers had revealed. West goes them one better. She inexplicably leaves out any mention of the meeting itself.

These critics of Franklin Roosevelt surely knew that what they wrote about this episode was not true (or in West’s case, knew that it was much too important to be omitted). What this tells us is that preserving the reputation of FDR is such a big deal that even his putatively most severe critics would jeopardize their own reputations to cover up for the man.

Unacceptable Truth

That, in a nutshell, shows you what Mike Campbell is up against with his definitive books on the Earhart saga. I provided a sample of the establishment wall of rejection in my August 2015 article, Wikipedia’s Greatest Misses:”

The Amelia Earhart Wikipedia page has a very extensive “Bibliography of cited sources” and “Further reading.” There is no trace of Campbell or his work there. One may survey the history of the site to see that references to Campbell and his work have been put up, but have been quickly taken down. It is obvious that the site is still closely policed and Amelia Earhart’s disappearance continues to be a very important historical hot potato. So what we have here is a brand new mystery to solve: Who is making Mike Campbell disappear from Wikipedia, and why is it so important that he be made to disappear?

Click here to continue Dave Martin’s review of Truth at Last.

Returning to the roots of the search for Amelia: Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s eyewitness account

Occasionally it behooves us, as students and enthusiasts of the Earhart saga, to return to the very roots of the matter, and to examine some of the original accounts that sparked the seminal investigations that paved the way for seven decades of research that now so emphatically reveals Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s Mili Atoll landing and subsequent deaths on Saipan.

Today we offer the first-person account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, as presented by Josephine herself in Family Weekly, the San Mateo Times Sunday magazine, on July 3, 1960.  In all fairness, we should note that  Josephine was not the first Pacific islander to share her knowledge of the post-July 2, 1937 survival of the American fliers with outsiders.

In my Feb. 16, 2015 post, Marshall Islands ‘fishing boat pickup’ update,” we saw the March 1944 story from AP correspondent Eugene Burns, “Clue Obtained To Mystery of Amelia Earhart,” that appeared in the Benton Harbor (Mich.) News Palladium and a few other newspapers across the country.

In his story, Burns reported the account of Marshall Islander Elieu Jibambam as told to Navy Lieutenant Eugene Bogan in early 1944. “A Jap trader named Ajima three and a half years ago on Rita island told me than an American woman pilot came down between Jaluit and Ailinglapalap atolls,” Elieu reportedly told Bogan. “She was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and the trader Ajima heard that she was taken to Japan.”

Elieu told other American military men the same story, but Burns’ report caused nary a ripple in the United States, largely because it was ignored by most papers and buried in others.  The nation was focused on far more pressing wartime business in early 1944, and the Earhart story had no legs. But by 1960, the world had changed immensely, and when Linwood Day of the San Mateo Times was alerted to Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s childhood story as revealed by Paul Briand Jr., in his 1960 book Daughter of the Sky, the real modern search for Amelia Earhart began.

This is the story that appeared in the San Mateo Times' Family Weekly on July 3m 1960, the paper's Sunday edition.

This is the story that appeared in the San Mateo Times’ Family Weekly on July 3, 1960, the newspaper’s Sunday edition.

Without further background already available in several other posts on this blog, the following story, bylined “Mrs. Josephine Blanco Akiyama” appeared in Family Weeklythe July 3, 1960 Sunday magazine of the San Mateo Times, and begins with the following introduction:

On July 1 [sic], 1937, Amelia Earhart, at 39, America’s most famous aviatrix, disappeared without trace while on the last lap of a round-the-world flight.      

Accompanied by her navigator, Capt. Fred J. Noonan, she had set out from the East Indies toward Howland Island in the West Pacific. It has been variously speculated that they perished at sea, were made prisoners of the Japanese, were cast away on an undiscovered island, even that they are still living in Japan under assumed names!

Now an eyewitness claims that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were shot by the Japanese as spies in her native Saipan.  Mrs. Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who was 11 years old when she witnessed Miss Earhart’s crash landing on the beach of her homeland, taught school and worked as a dental assistant for the U.S. Navy in Saipan before she came to the United States three years ago. She now lives in San Mateo, Calif., with her husband and eight-year-old son.

Josephine’s San Mateo Times account:

I SAW AMELIA EARHART crash on Saipan in the summer of 1937. I know that Miss Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were executed as spies by the Japanese a few days later.

I was 11 years old then and probably the only civilian witness because they crashed in a restricted zone of the island. But I had a special pass to let me bicycle through this area because my brother-in-law worked as a mechanic for the Japanese Navy, and I was permitted to bring him his lunch every noon.

That day the sky was not particularly clear. There were clouds hanging over the beaches.

About three or four minutes after I entered the restricted zone, I heard a plane. I looked up and saw a twin-engine plane cut through the clouds. The motors seemed to be functioning all right, but I was too young to know much about that.

The plane circled briefly, disappeared, same back into view, and dived toward the beach. It seemed to level off at the last moment.

I was not close enough to see how badly it was damaged. Nor did I dare go closer. I had been raised to curb my curiosity about anything military. And everything that happened in a restricted zone was military.

But my curiosity was too great to overcome, so I waited around to see what would happen. After a few minutes I saw soldiers rush to the scene. They surrounded the plane and, a little later, escorted two people past me: a fairly tall slim woman with a short haircut and dressed in man’s clothing; and a tall man who was wearing dark trousers and a light shirt with short sleeves.

Josephine Blanco circa 1960. Few photos of Josephine are available. She never sought fame, money or publicity for sharing her momentous story with Paul Briand Jr, the San Mateo Timeattention for

Josephine Blanco, circa late 1940s. She never sought fame, money or attention for sharing her momentous story with Paul Briand Jr., Linwood Day, the San Mateo Times, Fred Goerner and others, and is largely forgotten by all except Earhart devotees. She’s still alive at age 89 in Foster City, Calif.

I could tell that both were terribly exhausted. But they didn’t appear to be hurt. Nor were their clothes torn.

When I saw my bother-in-law a few minutes later, I tried to tell him what had happened. There were so many people around that I didn’t dare speak up. But I did tell my parents as soon as I got home.

I can still hear their reaction. “Don’t tell anyone, Josephine, or we’ll all be in serious trouble,” my father pleaded.

“We might get shot,” my mother cried out. “Forget what you saw!”

They were scared. All of us on Saipan were scared, for we had come under Japanese control when the island became its mandate shortly after World War I and was turned into an important naval base. Before, it had belonged to Germany and before that to Spain.

I was born there and, like most natives, was taught early to respect, obey, and fear the Japanese. At least the military. Socially, we got along quite well with them, and there were many intermarriages. My own family was so prominent that whenever a Japanese dignitary came to Saipan, he would be taken to our house for a native meal.

WHILE WE HAD a lot of Japanese civilian friends, we knew only a few of the military. I asked one of them repeatedly what happened to the man and woman who were captured. At first he kept evading the issue, but finally he told me they both had been shot as spies.

Again my parents warned me never to mention what I had seen or heard, or all of us would surely be killed. This time I put it out of my mind till after World War II.

Dr. Casimir Sheft and Josephine Blanco, far right, Saipan, circa 1946. It was Josephine's childhood memory of seeing Amelia Earhart's arrival at Tanapag Harbor as told to Sheft when she worked for the Navy dentist on Saipan that ignited the true modern search for Amelia Earhart.

Dr. Casimir Sheft and Josephine Blanco, far right, Saipan, circa 1946. It was Josephine’s childhood memory of seeing Amelia Earhart’s arrival at Tanapag Harbor as told to Sheft when she worked for the Navy dentist on Saipan that ignited the true modern search for Amelia Earhart.  (Photo courtesy Mrs. Josephine Blanco Akiyama.)

When the Americans captured Saipan, a Navy dental clinic was established on the island. I was trained and then hired as a dental assistant. I worked with a Navy lieutenant, Dr. Kasimir Sheft. It was to him that I mentioned one day the Americans who had been captured and killed in 1937.

His curiosity about them was immense. He asked me to describe the people, the plane, and the time it happened. He was very excited about what I told him.

A few days later he showed me a picture of a man and woman whom I identified as the same two who had crashed on the beach when I was 11.

“That’s Amelia Earhart!” he exclaimed, pointing at the lady.

“Who was Amelia Earhart?” I asked.

It was only then, after he explained, that I realized I had been an eyewitness to a momentous and fateful event in aviation history.

(End of July 3, 1960 Family Weekly story.)

On one of the copies of the story I have, Fred Goerner scribbled, “Who was ghost writer?” directly under Josephine’s name in the byline. It was a natural question, as the story was clearly edited, if not completely written, by a professional. Since Linwood Day penned all the Earhart stories presented in the San Mateo Times that summer (see Linwood Day: Forgotten hero of the Earhart saga), it’s likely that Day also worked with Josephine on this one.

Goerner wrote other interesting comments as well, numbering them from one to 13 across the top of the page. Number one for the KCBS radio newsman who was soon to become a national celebrity, was “Lady Pilot and Her Navigator — Who told her?”

The quality is grainy, but this is the original photo and caption that appeared in Josephine's Family Weekly story.

The quality is grainy, but this is the original photo and caption that appeared in Josephine’s July 3, 1960 Family Weekly story.

Other comments included “Originally said man was injured,” “Told Briand she heard shots,” a “few days later” and “a few weeks later,” and other discrepancies Goerner found in the Family Weekly story as compared with Josephine’s account to Dr. Casimir Sheft and related to Paul Briand Jr. in his 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, and later as seen in Linwood Day’s San Mateo Times stories of May through July 1960.

When we consider the many and varying witness accounts given to investigators over the years, we can also be fairly certain that, contrary to Josephine’s original story that the fliers were shot by the Japanese soon after their arrival on Saipan, Amelia and Fred did survive for a still-undermined time before meeting their ends.

Whether the plane that “belly landed” in Tanapag Harbor, as Josephine described it to Sheft, who was later indirectly quoted by Briand in his book, was a Japanese seaplane or land-based aircraft is still not known, and remains one of the more nagging of many unresolved questions in the Earhart-arrival-on-Saipan scenario.

But these are the natural problems that arise when a 34-year-old woman is relating an incident she witnessed as a youth of 11.  Josephine Blanco Akiyama will always be remembered as the first and best known of the Saipan witnesses,  whose account as initially reported by Briand spurred Goerner’s four highly publicized investigative trips to Saipan, and without which Goerner’s blockbuster The Search for Amelia Earhart would never have been written.

In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that it was Josephine’s story that made it possible for a few intrepid truth seekers to break through the decades-old establishment truth embargo and set out upon the real modern search for Amelia Earhart. It is no small distinction.

Smithsonian mag throws “Truth at Last” a bone: Says, “it’s possible . . . Campbell is on to something”

In early November 2014, a contributing writer to Smithsonian magazine named Jerry Adler contacted me via email, asking if I’d talk to him for a story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart he was working on. Adler said the magazine’s editors’ interest in doing the story had stemmed from “Ric Gillespie’s announcement last week of evidence in support of his Nikumaroro theory” [the worst excuse for writing a major piece on the Earhart matter I’ve ever heard], but his piece would “cover the gamut of explanations, including your own.”

Though pleased that someone at Smithsonian, though clearly not this writer, had read Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last and found it worthwhile, I was also quite skeptical.  I told Adler, “I couldn’t have been more surprised than to hear from a writer for Smithsonian,” whose sister publications, American Heritage and Invention and Technology Magazine have recently featured the erroneous ideas of Tom Crouch, the Air and Space Museum’s senior curator, and TIGHAR’s Ric Gillespie, while the truth has taken severe beatings on the rare occasions it’s not ignored entirely.

Few if any will be writing reviews of Adler’s story, Will the Search for Amelia Earhart Ever End?,” but even if it drew plenty of media attention, I’d still feel compelled to go on the record about it. After all, where is it written that Jerry Adler and the Smithsonian editors are the ultimate authorities on what you should think about the Earhart disappearance?

Smithsonian Cover

Has Adler or the magazine’s staff made the impossible battle to establish the truth among the top priorities of their lives, studied this matter for the better part of 30 years and been rejected by thousands as a “paranoid conspiracy theorist” by the ignorant and clueless? Do they really care about the U.S. government’s position and the media’s failure to do its job in exposing the truth? Not a chance.

According to its own boilerplate content statementSmithsonian “looks at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution – science, history, art, popular culture and innovation – and chronicles them for its diverse readership.” This trendy descriptor says nothing about the role that truth and the facts should play as it strives to serve its “diverse readership,” code words that reflect the myriad political, cultural and even religious readerships that publications such as Smithsonian, American Heritage and others of their ilk seek to please.

Unlike Smithsonian, where truth is dispensed only in small dollops for the edification of the most discerning readers — on the subject of Amelia Earhart, at least – readers familiar with this blog know that my observations and conclusions are always tied to known facts, and when speculation is offered, it’s labeled as such. This writer, as do we all now or later, answers to a higher authority than the Smithsonian board of directors, and I try to proceed accordingly.

“The Smithsonian’s Straight Skinny” (Part II)

For those who may not be familiar with recent articles published by highbrow magazines, in 2007, Tom Crouch, Ph.D., the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum senior curator, wrote a piece titled Searching for Amelia Earhartfor Invention and Technology Magazine. You can read it in its entirely, above, but here’s the statement from Crouch that tells us how he feels about the Marshalls and Saipan scenarios:

… what are we to make of all the eyewitness testimony placing Earhart and Noonan in Japanese hands? Mustn’t there be at least a small flame of truth flickering beneath all that smoke? Sorry. You don’t have to follow many criminal cases to realize just how fallible witness memories can be. How much less trustworthy are the recollections of events that occurred more than two decades before, gathered from witnesses who speak a different language by interviewers who know what they want to hear?

In a quarter-century of looking, no researcher has produced a shred of hard evidence to suggest that Earhart and Noonan were either spies or victims of the Japanese.

Tom Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., and a prominent advocate of the absurd Amelia Earhart crashed-and-sank theory.

Tom Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., and a prominent advocate of the long-discredited Amelia Earhart crashed-and-sank theory.

I had serious problems with Crouch’s illogical analysis, and dissected his weak argument line-by-line in Truth at Last, in a section titled “The Smithsonian’s Straight Skinny” (see pages 376-382). “Crouch’s article, instead of offering readers a possible glimpse of the truth,” I wrote, “actually served as a platform for the latest government-approved talking points in the Earhart matter, masquerading as informed historical narrative from an unimpeachable authority. . . . Since no ‘archival evidence’ of Earhart’s captivity and death has yet to be produced, none must exist, Crouch asserted, which may be true; files can be destroyed or hidden beyond recovery.

“But even the moderately informed could see through Crouch’s flimsy argumentation against Saipan,”  I continued, “and the patronizing arrogance that flavored his comments clearly signaled his loyalty to the falsehoods that are orthodoxy in the establishment he serves.”

Five years later, in the summer of 2012, Crouch was back, this time in American Heritage magazine, with Amelia Found? On this occasion, the 75th anniversary of Amelia’s loss, the senior curator didn’t bother to even briefly trace the history of the “Japanese capture theory,” as he’d done in  Searching for Amelia Earhart,” but he simply trashed it as quickly as possible:

What are we to make of all the conspiracy theories? Is there a small flame of truth flickering somewhere beneath all that smoke? Most likely not. In three-quarters of a century of looking, no researcher has produced a shred of hard evidence to suggest that Earhart and Noonan were either spies or prisoners of the Japanese.

Crouch’s contempt for the truth was evident in every word he wrote in this travesty, and again I had to respond.  I wrote Crouch and the American Heritage editors a letter I knew would never see print, except on my own blog, where American Heritage, Crouch do it again appeared on Oct. 17, 2012.

American Heritage needs to be reminded that their readership is not totally populated by morons and lemmings,” I wrote in conclusion, “so I hope this brief letter will at least accomplish that modest goal. I also know that American Heritage does not possess the integrity or intellectual honesty to publish this letter, but I’ll make sure I inform as many as I can about the continuing Earhart travesty and your role in perpetuating it.”

Does anyone out there seriously believe that Crouch would retain his job as senior curator and chief Air and Space Museum spokesmouth if he were to change his views on the Earhart disappearance and insist that the government release its top-secret files and come clean after nearly eight decades of denial and obfuscation? Please.

Can you blame me for thinking that the Smithsonian, with government apologist Crouch at the helm of the Air and Space Museum, has been among the most truth-averse organizations in the nation when it comes to the Earhart story? Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Crouch is ignorant or uninformed. On the contrary, he has a doctorate in history from Ohio State on his distinguished Air and Space Museum resume, and is the “author or editor of a number of books and many articles for both popular magazines and scholarly journals.” But when it comes to Amelia Earhart, what are we to conclude? Is it that Crouch just can’t seem to grasp the research that so clearly reveals the truth, or is there something a bit more sinister afoot?

So I asked myself, why would this magazine bother to ask me about my views? Did they think that including a few small snippets about the hated “Japanese capture theory” advanced only by a few addled “conspiracy theorists” would convince readers of their tolerance and dedication to “diversity”? Perhaps, but I figured it would be better to play the game with Adler than to insult him and guarantee no mention at all, so I fully cooperated with him.

Adler told me he had “no preconceptions” going into this story, a typical disclaimer offered by all writers at this level, and one that usually means quite the opposite is true. If Adler – or the editors who direct his work — really had no opinions about the Earhart disappearance before he began researching this story, why did it so strongly resemble every other treatment of this subject we’ve seen for nearly three decades?

Nikumaroro, or Gardner Island, is part of the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati, in the western Pacific Ocean. It is a remote, elongated, triangular coral atoll with profuse vegetation and a large central marine lagoon. It's approximately 4.7 miles long by 1.6 miles wide and has gained international notoriety as the "most probable" landing place of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. No real evidence has ever been presented to support this false idea.

Nikumaroro, or Gardner Island, is part of the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati, in the western Pacific Ocean. It is a remote, elongated, triangular coral atoll with profuse vegetation and a large central marine lagoon. It’s approximately 4.7 miles long by 1.6 miles wide and has gained international notoriety as the “most probable” landing place of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. No real evidence has ever been presented to support this false idea.

These puff-pieces almost always emphasize the latest drippings from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) an impressive title for an organization that is consistently unimpressive, has yet recover a single aircraft, and whose ethically challenged director has yet to establish a single probative link between Earhart or Fred Noonan and the scads of trash he brings back from his bi-annual boondoggles to Nikumaroro.

But before I proceed with more on the odious Gillespie, his Nikumaroro cash cow and the Smithsonian’s gentle treatment of perhaps the most effective enemies the truth in the Earhart disappearance has ever faced — with the exception of the U.S. government – readers should be enlightened about one important principle.

The Big Lie: The “Great Aviation Mystery”

This PRINCIPLE, which has become one of my constant memes, is that the very idea that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is a “great aviation mystery” is among the biggest lies in American history. So effective has the U.S. government been in inculcating and maintaining this idea into the official historical narrative that it has become a normal piece of our cultural furniture, accepted without question by all but the few who care to closely examine this longtime canard, this straw man our establishment created so long ago to protect its own interests.

Thus, when the Earhart disappearance is analyzed or examined by people we would normally consider intelligent, like Tom Crouch,  all the established, traditional rules of investigation, including objective evaluation of evidence, logic and the scientific approach become virtually nonexistent and non-applicable.

Any discerning individual who closely looks at the prevailing Earhart “theories” will discover that not a shred of alleged evidence for either crash-and-sank or Nikumaroro exists that doesn’t completely break down under mere moderate scrutiny, leaving absolutely nothing but smoke and babble. Simple logic will lead any objective investigator to the truth; the problem is that few modern-day “investigators” are either objective or logical.

Both these falsehoods are based upon assumptions made upon more assumptions, yet in polite circles they are considered far superior to the truth, supported by volumes of eyewitness accounts from citizens of the Marshalls and Saipan, four U.S. flag officers and over two-dozen former veterans of the Battle of Saipan, among others. Clearly, the desire to follow all these signposts that lead to the truth does not exist in the establishment media, nor virtually anywhere else, for that matter. In the Earhart case, the Big Lie  has completely replaced the truth.

Knowledgeable observers recognize this, and know that TIGHAR’s Earhart operation, from its inception, has been little more than a well-oiled confidence game with two major goals – to separate the unwary from their money and provide Gillespie with a fat yearly salary. Fred Goerner recognized this early on, wasting his time in an August 1992 letter advising Gillespie not to paint himself into a corner by making claims he couldn’t substantiate.  A few of Goerner’s uncanny predictions about Gillespie’s plots are presented on page 420 of Truth at Last. 

Truth at Last presents an overwhelming, undeniable case for the Marshalls and Saipan presence of our fliers. Simple logic, something sorely missing in most Earhart discussions, tells us that if actually went down in the Pacific or landed and died on Nikumaroro, such a book, like those that preceded it, with its many hundreds of separate threads of evidence and testimony, would simply have been impossible.

Among the few true Earhart researchers active today, none has ever been accused of such craven, mercenary motivations as Gillespie. To my knowledge, the two researchers currently doing the most important work are Dick Spink, who says he’s $50,000 in the hole after four trips to the Marshall Islands, and Les Kinney, who’s never quoted a figure, but is also well in the red after numerous trips around the country in search of many pieces of major new evidence he’ll someday reveal in the book he’s writing. 

Paul Briand Jr., circa 1959, who 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, presented the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama and initiated the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.

Paul Briand Jr., circa 1959, as a captain at the U.S. Air Force Academy, whose 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky, presented the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama for the first time, and initiated the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.

These good men tread honorably on the narrow trail blazed by Paul Briand Jr., Fred Goerner, Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, Don Kothera, Thomas E. Devine and Bill Prymak, their overriding motivation only to lay this false “mystery” that is the Earhart travesty to rest. Sadly, the real and continuing tragedy of the Earhart saga is that nothing short of the discovery of the Earhart Electra or Amelia herself returning from the grave would put an end to the status quo that 77 years of propaganda has created.

The last time Smithsonian engaged the Earhart story was about three years ago, when it published a shameless promotion of then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s public support for Gillespie’s 10th trip to Nikumaroro, in a March 20, 2012 piece by one K. Annabelle Smith titled, The Search for Amelia Earhart Resurfaces, 75 Years Later. Even for Smithsonian, this story reached new lows, which might explain why its editors finally deigned to include a brief mention of the hated Marshalls and Saipan scenarios for its January 2015 issue.

Here’s a sample of the insipid pabulum Smithsonian offered its readers in 2012:

And while new interest in Amelia Earhart’s disappearance has resurfaced as of late, Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum says “Lady Lindy’s” legacy has always held a place in the Smithsonian Institution.  “Everybody has a theory, some more serious than others, but it’s still the greatest mystery of the 20th century,” she says, “and looks like it’s heading into the 21st century.”

Note the clueless Dorothy Cochrane’s insufferable insistence that the Earhart disappearance remains not only the greatest “aviation mystery,” but the “greatest mystery of the 20th century,” period. It rarely gets worse than this.

The Smithsonian’s  Cover Story

Adler’s Earhart piece is the cover story for Smithsonian’s January 2015 issue. In the cover photo of Amelia, she is particularly striking as she glances at us across 80 years, goggles raised over her brow, impeccably geared up for takeoff  in elegant white aviator’s togs.  Set against a black background, the photo seems almost perfect, unlike the story itself.

“New Clues, New Controversy,” punctuate Amelia’s photo in bright red headlines, by when  even moderately knowledgeable students of the Earhart case open the magazine and start reading Will the Search for Amelia Earhart Ever End?they will immediately realize they’ve been taken for another ride on the Earhart disinformation express.

To begin, the lead in Adler’s story is, quite frankly, incredible, as he travels to Gillespie’s “Pennsylvania farmhouse” to fawn over a piece of scrap aluminum that’s long been exposed as worthless junk, breathlessly telling us, “If he’s right, this is one of the great historical artifacts of the 20th century, a piece of the airplane in which Amelia Earhart made her famous last flight over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937.” This is news?

Adler’s story presents no “new clues” whatever.  These “new clues, which Adler was told were this story’s very raison d’être, are nothing more than recently debunked, false interpretations of the provenance of a piece of aluminum scrap that’s been one of the centerpieces of the TIGHAR scam since its earliest days. I fail to see why Adler or one of the many researchers on staff at Smithsonian couldn’t have easily found two current newspaper stories that present the real “new evidence,” which emphatically exposes Gillespie’s aluminum claims as pure rubbish, or just asked somebody who doesn’t subscribe to TIGHAR’s latest talking points. But after 25 years of failed trips to Nikumaroro, Gillespie not only gets a pass, he still gets top billing from a magazine believed to represent enlightened thought by many.

This is he piece of aluminum Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR found on Nikumaroro during their 1991 trip to the island. Why did they wait till 2014 to say it came from Amelia Earhart's lost Electra?

This piece of aluminum, found by Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR on Nikumaroro during their 1991 trip to the island, is presented in a full-page layout by Smithsonian magazine in its January 2015 cover story, as if it has some great significance.  But for at least the second time, Gillespie’s claims that the sheet came from the Earhart Electra have been fully exposed as false, but not before Gillespie’s delusion was enthusiastically embraced by a clueless media, including Smithsonian.

Amelia Earhart Society (AES) researcher and pilot Gary LaPook talked to reporters Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald and Bruce Burns of the Kansas City Star about the aluminum sheet, which Smithsonian editors displayed on a full page, as if readers would somehow be more impressed by the importance of the sheet of scrap aluminum if it was blown up into such a huge photo – talk about overkill. Garvin’s Oct. 30 story, Investigators search for Amelia Earhart’s ghost in old Miami Herald,” was the second he’d done on Gillespie’s new claims, and he saved the most important fact – the “money quote,” so to speak, for the end of the story:

The most important evidence, however, is the linkage of Gillespie’s scrap to Earhart’s plane through study of the photo. And it’s on that point that LaPook and other his other critics insist most adamantly he’s wrong. They says [sic] telltale evidence on Gillespie’s scrap of wreckage prove it wasn’t manufactured until several years after Earhart crashed. The scrap bears a visible stamp of an A and a letter D — probably part of the label 24ST Alclad, the type of aluminum its [sic] made from.

But, LaPook says, Alcoa Inc., the company that manufactured the aluminum, didn’t start stamping it with the 24ST Alclad designation until 1941. Before that, it used the abbreviation ALC. “There are hundreds of photos of aluminum pieces stamped ALC,” LaPook said. “It’s just beyond doubt.”

Brian Burns’ story, Has the key to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in the Pacific been found in Kansas? was a more unbiased treatment of Gillespie’s phony claims than the Miami Herald ran. Besides presenting LaPook’s information in a way that laymen could easily understand, Burns interviewed Louise Foudray, curator of the Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, Kan., who was very kind to Gillespie. But Burns also asked for my opinion, and unlike the politically correct Foudray, I was in no mood for vaporous platitudes.  I also wrote my own story, LaPook destroys Gillespie’s latest false Earhart claim,” and posted it on my Truth at Last blog on Nov. 2, just a day before Adler contacted me.

“He tells me he’s ‘98 percent’ sure the piece came from Earhart’s plane,” Adler writes of Gillespie’s absurd estimation of the chances his Nikumaroro flotsam is connected to Amelia or the Electra and will bring him unanimous worldwide acclaim as the man who solved the Holy Grail of Aviation mysteries. Adler squanders nearly a third of his 3,500 word essay on Gillespie’s drivel, but at least he comes away quite dubious, as he should be.  He closes his section on Gillespie by quoting one of the few intelligent sentences Tom Crouch has ever uttered in the Earhart discussion: “I think if Ric proved anything, it’s that [Earhart and Noonan] never were close to that island.”

Mercifully, Adler foregoes another episode of Tom Crouch’s crashed-and-sank advocacy, otherwise known in enlightened circles as “defending the indefensible,” but he does direct readers to Elgen and Marie Long’s discredited polemic, Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved. This book “remains the simplest explanation,” Adler writes, “but for that very reason, has attracted derision from those who prefer their history complicated.”  He’s wrong, of course. Crashed-and-sank wasn’t dismissed by coherent researchers long ago for the very reason of its simplicity, but because it’s simply flat wrong, and there’s never been a sliver of evidence to support it. 

In fact, I’m convinced that it was because of the absurd nature of the crashed-and-sank theory that the establishment selected TIGHAR’s not-quite-so-ridiculous Nikumaroro “hypothesis” as its preferred avenue of disinformation in 1989, with Elgin and Marie Long’s defunct Navy and Coast Guard verdict relegated to backup status as a secondary diversion for the confused. Goats2

For some unknown reason far beyond my ken, someone at the magazine also decided to include the ideas of one Bill Snavely, who, up until his mention in this story has been a total unknown  in Earhart circles. Do a google search, combining his name with “Earhart,” and you will find absolutely nothing.

I’d never heard of Bill Snavely and his Bouganville claims, nor has any other Earhart researcher I’ve asked, but the fact that Travel Channel featured his crackpot ideas, along with Australian David Billings and his New Britain theory, and Gillespie, of course, in a two-hour documentary Jan. 8 was simply further confirmation that the establishment has no room for the truth, but will happily put any kind of nonsense  out there to distract and misinform the public.

“This was a complete waste of a serious Earhart enthusiast’s time,” an AES member wrote in its online forum. “It compares to Geraldo Riviera’s search for Capone’s artifacts in Chicago many years ago. Can you imagine searching for downed aircraft in the jungles of New Britain with flash lights at night? Gillespie’s comment of 100 percent got me all shocked up.”

A Crack in the Door

From the beginning of our correspondence, I felt that Adler planned to include some discussion of Truth at Last only because he was told to do so.  Sure, the former Newsweek reporter names Truth at Last in his piece, but he has little good say about it, other than admit I present “a mountain of testimony from American servicemen and Pacific Islanders to show that an American man and woman landed in the Marshalls in 1937 and were taken to Saipan, although apparently they never introduced themselves by name (italics mine).”

Adler also does well when he introduces the history of Saipan research by spending more than a paragraph on Thomas E. Devine’s eyewitness account presented in his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, and he calls Devine’s story “riveting.” A pretty good start, I thought, but one that failed to deliver on its promise.

As our email conversations proceeded (we never actually spoke on the phone), Adler said he had “skimmed” Truth at Last “for my own purposes” in researching his story, and wrote that he found its argumentation “persuasive.” He also asked a few intelligent questions that indicated he’d spent at least a few minutes thinking about what he’d read. But in his story, the best he could manage was to write, “it’s possible to come away thinking Campbell is on to something.” Thus do Adler and Smithsonian magazine engage in the literary equivalent of throwing a bare bone to the poor, starving dog in the back yard that was abandoned by its owners when they moved.  I exaggerate only slightly. 

Adler did grant my request to include my statement, ”FDR could never have survived public knowledge that he failed to help America’s No. 1 aviatrix of the Golden Age of Aviation,” a pleasant surprise. Editors also displayed the four Amelia Earhart 50th Anniversary Commemorative stamps issued in 1987 by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, thereby proving at least one solid fact about the Earhart case – that Amelia’s landing at Mili and pickup by the Japanese is accepted as fact by the people of that free country.  The few Westerners who will ever visit these remote islands can be sure they won’t be subjected to any local media shilling for the latest phony discoveries in the “Earhart Mystery.” The Marshallese people don’t wonder about what happened to Amelia; they already know.

Otherwise, Adler finds ways  —  all questionable or flatly illegitimate — to deprecate nearly everything about Truth at Last he thinks he can get away with.  He also strongly suggests, by his tone, that he considers its author to be among “a group that includes serious historians as well as wild-eyed obsessives, who pile up scraps of evidence into conspiracies reaching right up to the White House” – and it’s clear it’s not among “serious historians” where he thinks anyone should be looking for me.

A close examination of the paragraph that ends with Adler’s grudging admission that I might be “on to something” could easily lead readers to wonder why he even bothers, as he cherry picks what he sees as the easiest targets and attempts to discredit them. First of all, I fail to see how he can write that Truth at Last “is filled with mysterious disappearances, cryptic warnings from sinister strangers and suspicious deaths,” without providing a single example or even explaining the significance of this baseless observation. 

Gen. Graves B. Erskine, deputy commander of the V Amphibious Corps during the Battle of Saipan in 1944, told two prominent CBS radio people in 1966, "It was established that Earhart was on Saipan." Yet Graves' revealing statement wasn't mentioned in the Smithsonian article, and a similar statement to Fred Goerner by the great Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the number one man in the Pacific Fleet for most of the war, was deprecated because Goerner was the "only source" for the admiral's revelation.

Gen. Graves B. Erskine, deputy commander of the V Amphibious Corps during the Battle of Saipan in 1944, told two prominent CBS radio people in 1966, “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan.” Yet Graves’ revealing statement wasn’t mentioned in the Smithsonian article, and a similar statement to Fred Goerner by the great Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the number one man in the Pacific Fleet for most of the war, was deprecated because Goerner was the “only source” for the admiral’s revelation.

He casts a negative pall on Adm. Chester Nimitz’s statement to Fred Goerner – never denied or disputed by Nimitz after Goerner presented it in his 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart – because it was in a phone conversation and Goerner was the “only source,” but he overlooks the statement of Gen. Graves Erskine, former V Amphibious Corps second in command during the Saipan invasion, to CBC West Coast President Jules Dundes and KCBS reporter Dave McElhatton: “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan.”

Adler asserts that much of the evidence in the book is “second- or third-hand,” as if such testimony is unworthy of our consideration.  But he conveniently ignores the many direct eyewitness accounts from unimpeachable native witnesses such as Josephine Blanco Akiyama, Anna Diaz Mogofna, Bilimon Amaron, Dr. Manual Aldan, Louis Igitol and John Tobeke, among others, as well as Americans including Erskine, Jim Golden, Robert E. Wallack, Erskine Nabers, Jerrell H. Chatham, Arhur Nash, Henry Duda and many others.

He also fails to mention that the 1960 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) Report has been thoroughly ignored by the entire media since its declassification in 1967; instead he focuses on a single hearsay statement that was included in this report. Citing Devine’s extensive argumentation from Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, I rebutted this revealing yet still unknown document’s findings at length in Truth at Last, which Adler also decided wasn’t worth mentioning.

Nathanial Hawthorne’s infamous scarlet “A” long ago ceased to be a symbol of shame in American, as adultery became a mainstream pastime; now it’s the “C” word, for the despised “conspiracy theorist” that so cruelly taints those smeared by it, fairly or unfairly.  It’s a tool of Adler’s trade, but not once throughout our 11-day email discussion did I use this word to describe anything about the Earhart story – most of which he was hearing, or more accurately, reading for the first time.  

But in his story, he uses the “C” word not once, but twice in references to me, an undeserved cheap shot by which he signals his readers how they should regard my work. This postmodern aversion to the word is itself absurd, as if no conspiracies have ever existed, and anyone who believes differently is to be assiduously avoided.

Adler cites not a single instance in Truth at Last where I engage in any speculation resembling that of the “wild-eyed obsessives” he describes in the opening of his story.  When I quote Fred Goerner’s ideas about why President Franklin D. Roosevelt likely prevented release of the truth about the Japanese capture of Earhart and Noonan in a subsection titled “Roots of the Cover-Up”  (pages 353-358), or quote from numerous sources about their knowledge of secret files and a concerted government effort to conceal the truth, does this make me a conspiracy theorist?

Apparently so, but virtually everything I present is labeled appropriately, and the reader understands that this information isn’t about what I think, but about what many of this story’s key characters knew, found and believed through the years that strongly suggested and even sometimes clearly illustrated active government participation in suppressing the truth about what happened to Amelia Earhart. 

This use of the “C” word is just another way Adler tried to undermine my work, but it also tells discerning readers that the truth has once again received short shrift, this time from the trusted Smithsonian magazine.  If he was really trying to “fairly represent” my work, as he stated during our correspondence, he failed miserably.

“In Earhart’s fate,” Adler writes in conclusion, “we see a reflection of our own deepest fears – the laughing, carefree young woman taking off on a grand adventure, and never coming back.” Perhaps, but anyone with eyes and without an agenda can also see, on regular display, the mendacious work of sophists and propagandists such as Gillespie, Crouch and Long, aided and enabled by writers such as Adler, many lesser talents and the rest of the dubious cast of characters who populate this sordid drama.

The condescension and pervasive relativism that characterize this piece, and which are especially pronounced at its close, are emblematic of the zeitgeist that rules today’s Earhart media coverage. Adler doubtless believes he’s been fair to me and the conspiracy theorists, and he’s now onto his next assignment, all thoughts of the Earhart story behind him. He knows he’s done his job, to maintain the status quo, and keep the myth, the template, the narrative, the conventional wisdom and the Big Lie about the “Earhart Mystery” alive and well, and he’s led readers to as few of the facts as possible while retaining a semblance of credibility in the eyes of the uninformed.

The aging elephant in the room, the Marshall Islands-Saipan Truth, has again been effectively marginalized  while not being completely ignored, but the far more respectable and acceptable Earhart “theories” continue to rule the day.  All is well; move along, sheeple, there’s nothing to see here.

A few friends have offered congratulations on my work finally being recognized in such a prestigious publication. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, and being included is far better than being ignored.  Adler’s narrative on aspects of the Marshall Islands-Saipan scenario, slanted though it is, is still more than Smithsonian or any of its elite relatives have recently managed, at least to my knowledge.  But though Adler named Truth at Last, putting it on the map, so to speak, he didn’t recommend it or describe it in such  a way that any but a precious few will to seek it out.  I remain curious about who at the magazine decided that Truth at Last should be included in this story. It clearly wasn’t Adler, so if anyone should be thanked, it would be this person, likely the story’s chief editor.

Finally, I think the most unfortunate aspect of the Smithsonian article lies in a profound cynicism that prevented Jerry Adler from understanding and appreciating Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. 

This longtime veteran of the information wars is apparently unable to recognize and appreciate the many years of dedication, hard work and a love and respect for the truth that went into the creation of this book, and he missed a real opportunity to make a difference.  Either that, or he did see these things in whole or in part, and was able to overlook them, in compliant duty to the establishment he serves. 

Wally Earhart, Amelia’s “fourth cousin,” speaks out

David Martin, the erudite investigative journalist, poet and observer of the passing scene, whose groundbreaking work on James V. Forrestal’s alleged suicide has been assidiously ignored by our ever-more corrupt mainstream media, and whose review of Truth at Last in August 2012, “Hillary Clinton and the Amelia Earhart Cover-up,” remains by far the best done on the book, yesterday inadvertently informed me about an interesting but hertofore unknown thread in the Amelia-on-Saipan saga.

Martin, also known as “DC Dave” to his online readers, and whose website offers a lengthy, six-part 1996 study of the Vincent Foster murder, still offically classified as a suicide,  “America’s Dreyfus Affair: The Case of the Death of Vincent Foster,” which would have been published as a book long ago in a world more interested in truth, told me in a brief email that the current Wikipedia entry on Amelia Earhart contained references to Truth at Last and With Our Own Eyes. I wasn’t aware of this, but as I told Dave, these are very tiny bones that the ultra-biased establishment organ Wikipedia is throwing our way, and mean very little until and unless Wikipedia changes its deprecatory tone about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s deaths on Saipan.

Wikipedia continues to deny the truth, presented in Truth at Last, and relegates it to nearly the bottom of its list of possible solutions to the mystery, calling it one of several “unsupportable … myths, legends and claims.” There’s no need to expand here on the dismal and irresponsible stance Wikipedia takes toward Amelia’s tragic end, but one of the new citations did catch my attention.

Among the new anecdotal footnotes that Wikipedia offers at the bottom of its Earhart listing is an article titled,  “Cousin: Japanese captured Amelia Earhart,” written by David C. Henley, that appeared in the Oct. 31, 2009 Nevada Appeal, the Carson City newspaper.  In his piece, Henley writes about local celebrity Wally Earhart, who portrays Abraham Lincoln in Carson City historical events, and who claims to be Amelia’s fourth cousin, and Wally’s beliefs about what really happened to her:

Wally Earhart of Carson City, the fourth cousin of Amelia Earhart, says the U.S. government continues to perpetrate a “massive coverup” about her mysterious disappearance in the Pacific 72 years ago.

Because of the current surge in interest about the pilot’s fate spurred by the recent release of the film “Amelia,” starring Richard Gere and Hilary Swank, it is time the American public “know the truth about Amelia’s last days,” said Earhart, who will portray Abraham Lincoln as grand marshal of the Nevada Day parade today.

Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, did not die as claimed by the government and the Navy when their twin-engine Electra plunged into the Pacific on July 2, 1937, Wally Earhart said in an interview.

They died while in Japanese captivity on the island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas,” claims Earhart, a 38-year Carson City resident who often portrays Lincoln and other historical figures at appearances sponsored by groups such as the Nevada Historical Society.

The Navy and the federal government would have you believe that Amelia and Noonan died on impact when their plane ran out of gas while attempting to reach Howland Island during their flight around the world,” Earhart said.

“Their airplane did crash into the Pacific, but instead of dying, the pair was rescued by a nearby Japanese fishing trawler. The Electra airplane was still floating and the Japanese hauled it aboard their ship in a large net.

“The Japanese then transported Amelia Earhart, Noonan and the airplane to Saipan. Noonan was beheaded by the Japanese and Amelia soon died from dysentery and other ailments,” Wally Earhart continued. He added that the Japanese troops on the islandcut the airplane into scrap and tossed the remnants into the Pacific.

Wally got most of he story that we’ve come to be familiar with correctly, but this last detail, that the Japanese destroyed Amelia’s Electra and threw it in the ocean, runs counter to the accounts of many eyewitnesses who spent the summer of 1944 on Saipan. The rest of Henley’s story can be found here.

An Earhart researcher who usually prefers anonymity told me that he was familiar with Wally’s 2009 account to Henley, had looked into it and found that Wally had no special knowledge or insight, but had acquired his opinion, mostly spot on, by reading books such as Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart and Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, which offer clear glimpses of the truth to anyone interested.

I will attempt to contact Wally Earhart, as well as Mr. Henley, who is the publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley (Nevada) News in hopes that he might be interested in reviewing Truth at Last for the local newspapers he regularly contributes to, including the Nevada Appeal.

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