Tag Archives: Saipan

“Daughter of the Sky” began true search for Earhart

Now that the establishment’s latest phony effort to find Amelia Earhart’s plane as far away as possible from where it’s buried on Saipan has ended, I think a review of the true history of the search for Amelia is appropriate.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Most informed observers of the history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan believe that Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart is the seminal work in the genre, and all that followed sprang from the San Francisco radio-newsman’s initial Saipan forays.  But neither Goerner nor anyone else would have ever heard about Earhart and Noonan’s arrival at Saipan in 1937 if not for the 1960 book that started it all — Daughter of the Sky, by Paul L. Briand, Jr., a Ph.D., captain (later promoted to major) and assistant professor of English at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

I never met Briand, who was born in 1920 and died in 1986, to ask him definitively, but it appears that Daughter of the Sky was conceived and written as another Earhart biography, this one by an aviation expert and co-editor of The Sound of Wings (not the biography by Mary Lovell), an anthology of flying literature published in 1957.  We must assume, based on its presentation, that as the book neared completion, Briand was informed of new material that he shoehorned into Daughter’s closing pages, information that changed everything about the Earhart disappearance.  

Since few readers have a copy of Daughter of the Sky, I think it’s instructive to re-present its closing pages, for those interested in something more substantial than the latest failed searches and incoherent dispatches about native bones found and lost on a central Pacific atoll circa 1940.

Paul L. Briand Jr., author of the 1960 book that launched the modern search for Amelia Earhart, Daughter of the Sky (Duell, Sloan and Pierce), circa 1959.  Photo taken from book jacket.

In the last of its three parts, “The Last Flight,” Daughter of the Sky distinguished itself from all previous Earhart literature.  In its next-to-last chapter, The Fog of Rumors,” an apparently unconvinced Briand introduced the “great rumor” that Earhart and Noonan had been prisoners of the Japanese, attributing this idealargelyto the 1943 Hollywood film Flight for Freedom, a red herring starring Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray, and speculation by Dr. M.L. Brittain of Georgia Tech, who had been onboard USS Lexington during the Earhart search, that the fliers became prisoners of the Japanese. 

Here Briand presented some helpful information as well, noting Amy Otis Earhart’s claim that her daughter was on a secret government mission and that she was captured by the Japanese, but writing that Mrs. Earhart had no official basis for making such as statement.  For more on that story, please click here.  Briand also cited the March 1944 Associated Press article, “Putnam Flight Yarn Revived,” by Eugene Burns that introduced the fishing boat pickup and Marshall Islands landing scenario that Elieu Jibambam had initially shared with Navy Lieutenants Eugene T. Bogan, Bill Bauer and Jimmy Toole (see Truth at Last pages 130-131).  Burns’ story was buried in newspapers where it appeared at all, and was largely ignored.

Astute readers will note several discrepancies in Briand’s narrative of Josephine Blanco’s eyewitness account as reported by Navy dentist Casimir R. Sheft to him and later findings by Fred Goerner and others; after all, the book was published in 1960, so we’re talking circa 1959 that Briand was made privy to Sheft’s revelations. 

Very little of substance was known at that time, but the  key event, Josephine’s 1937 sighting of the American fliers at Saipan’s Tanapag Harbor, is presented in stark detail by the Air Force Academy English professor as Sheft related it to him, and thus the true modern search for Amelia Earhart was quietly launched.  Very few were even aware of it, as the revelations in Daughter of the Sky were suppressed throughout the establishment media.  Following are the closing pages of Paul Briand Jr.’s Daughter of the Sky.

9. “The Light of Fact: A Mystery Solved?”

Two additional events, however, separate in time and both involving Amelia Earhart — but heretofore never interrelated — do fit together in a logical and revealing pattern.  All the pieces of the puzzle are not available, but there are enough of them to form a discernible picture.

At the end of World War II Jacqueline Cochran, then head of the WASPS, the famous organization of women ferry pilots, was asked by General Hap Arnold to go to Tokyo and investigate the role that Japanese women had played in aviation during the war.  While she was in Imperial Air Force Headquarters Miss Cochran noticed that there were numerous files on American aviation notables — and many filed on Amelia Earhart.

These documents since that time have mysteriously disappeared.  They are not in the official custody of the United States Government, or any of its departments, services, or agencies; nor do they seem to be in the possession of the Japanese Government.  (All captured documents, those of historical importance having been copied on microfilm, have been returned to Tokyo.  No AE files were discovered among the captured materials.)  Nevertheless, these files seem to indicate that the Japanese had more than a normal interest in Amelia Earhart, because of another event that happened, curiously, again in the Marianas.  This new evidence has never before been made public.

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.

At the end of the war on the island of Saipan a Navy dentist worked with his assistant, a native girl named Josephine Blanco.  It was 1946.  Dr. Casimir R. Sheft, now practicing in New Jersey, was taking a break between appointments and talking with a fellow dentist.  During the conversation Dr. Sheft casually mentioned the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and speculated about whether the famous flier could have ended her flight in the Marianas, and possibly near Saipan, for he had read somewhere that the Marines had found AE’s flight log during the invasion (actually, it had been the photograph album).  Suddenly his dental assistant, Josephine, broke in: She had seen an American woman flier many years ago — nine or ten — on Saipan, when she was a little girl.  The American woman wore khaki clothes and had hair cut like a man. . . .

Josephine Blanco, now Mrs. Maximo Akiyama, and living in California with her husband and their young son, was witness to an incident which is as incredible as it is enlightening,

In the summer of 1937 Josephine was riding her bicycle toward Tanapag Harbor. She was taking her Japanese brother-in-law, J.Y. Matsumoto, his lunch, and was hurrying along because it was nearly twelve o’clock.

That summer she had just finished Japanese grammar school, where she had gone for the last five years, ever since she was seven years old.  In March she had celebrated her eleventh birthday, and now she could begin Catholic school.  She was looking forward to studying with the Spanish missionary sisters.  Father Tadzio had hoped that someday Josephine, too, like some of the other Chamorro native girls in the Marianas, would answer Gods call and become a native sister.

Josephine had a special pass to the Japanese military area near the harbor. Not even Japanese civilians were admitted to the area unless they carried the proper credentials. The young girl rode up to the gate, stopped her bicycle, and presented her pass. The guard allowed her into the restricted area.

On the way to meet her brother-in-law, Josephine heard an airplane flying overhead. She looked up and saw a silver two-engine plane. The plane seemed to be in trouble, for it came down low, headed out into the harbor, and belly-landed on the water.

It was not until she met her brother-in-law that Josephine discovered whom it was that had crash landed in the harbor.

“The American woman,” everyone was saying, greatly excited. “Come and see the American woman.” Josephine and her brother in-law joined the knot of people who gathered to watch.

She saw the American woman standing next to a tall man wearing a short-sleeved sports shirt, and was surprised because the woman was not dressed as a woman usually dressed. Instead of a dress, the American woman wore a man’s shirt and trousers; and instead of long hair, she wore her hair cut short, like a man. The faces of the man and woman were white and drawn, as if they were sick.

The American woman who looked like a man and the tall man with her were led away by the Japanese soldiers.  The fliers were taken to a clearing in the woods.  Shots rang out.  The soldiers returned alone.  (Editor’s note: No evidence has ever surfaced that supports the fliers being shot so soon after their arrival on Saipan.  Some evidence exists that Amelia was shot much later, but none suggests that Fred Noonan was ever shot.)

This is the photo of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, undated, that appeared in the 1960 book Daughter of the Sky.  Josephine had moved from Saipan to San Mateo, Calif., in the mid-1950s with husband Maximo, who accompanied Fred Goerner in June 1960 on Goerner’s first investigation on Saipan.

Mrs. Akiyama has affirmed, after identifying a photograph of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan taken on the world flight, that the couple was unquestionably the same man and woman she and her brother-in-law had seen on Saipan: the clothes were different, but the woman’s haircut was unmistakable.

Josephine Blanco’s story, which is basically the same one she told Dr. Sheft in Saipan, is most probably true.  It is extremely unlikely this native girl could have invented her story.  If she had, then for what purpose?  If for profit or gain, she had, for more than ten years after the American invasion, the opportunity to capitalize on her sensational news.

As an eleven-year-old girl, Josephine of course had no idea of the significance of what she had seen other than it was indeed an American woman she had seen.  Dr. Sheft has never doubted her story, and for many years he has hoped that a thorough re-examination of the facts would be made.  They were.

Amelia Earhart could have ended her flight around the world at Saipan,  If she were indeed headed for Howland Island, however, she somehow made an error of about 100° in reading her compass.

(Editor’s note: The following scenario, in which Briand has the Electra and its crew reaching Saipan directly from Lae, is typical of the wild speculation that characterized the early days following the public release of Josephine’s Earhart sighting, and is included here only because it, too, is part of Briand’s closing chapter.) 

It means that all during the night of July 2, beginning after sundown at 5:55 p.m., Fred Noonan was not able to get a fix from the stars to determine his position.  And if, after fourteen hours out from Lae, he looked down and saw a chain of islands, he would have determined that he was on course and over the Gilbert Islands; but if AE had turned north while he was napping, and he had still awakened in time to see islands, they would have been, not the Gilberts as he might have thought, but the Caroline Islands — exactly the same distance away but in the wrong direction. 

By somehow departing from her course, and making the tremendous error of steering north and west instead of east — as she had done once before on the world flight, when she had turned north to St. Louis instead of south to Dakar, overriding Fred’s directions, after the flight across the South Atlantic — AE would have found herself after twenty hours of flying time somewhere along the chain of islands that marks the Marianas.

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.

Her last report, at 8:45 a.m., gave her line of position at 157-337.  The Navy’s search satisfied judgments that the line was not a radio line, for the areas northwest and southeast from Howland were thoroughly investigated.  One hundred fifty-seven-337, therefore, was undoubtedly a sun line.

Near Howland, at position 01° 00′ North Latitude and 177° 20′ West Latitude, on July 3, 1937, the bearing of the sun was 66° from the north point at 7:00 a.m., Howland time.  The sun line, therefore, would have been 156-336.

Near Saipan, at position 13° 00′ North Latitude and 153° 00′ East Longitude, at 5:00 a.m., Saipan time, the sun was 64° from the north point.  A sun line there would have been 154-334.

If Noonan had thought he was close to Howland when he shot his last sun line, his geographical point of reference — used for computing and plotting his observation — would obviously have been close to Howland.  If he had actually been close to Saipan, however, the relative position of the sun would still have been almost the same: 64° from the north point near Saipan, as opposed to 66° from the north point near Howland.  But his observation, when computed and plotted on his chart, would have shown him to be the same number of miles from his geographical point of reference.

An experienced navigator with trust in his abilities such as Noonan would have tended to believe that either his observations or his computations were somehow wrong.  He would not have thought, at least immediately, that he was some 2,600 miles off course.  If AE had been pressing him for a position to radio to the Itasca, he might have, in agonies of doubt, merely given her the line of position, which he could be sure of, but not the geographical point of reference, because he could now no longer determine that point with certainty.  This possibility would explain the irregularity of Amelia having transmitted the line of position without the necessary point of reference.

On the basis of these determinations, therefore, there is strong support for believing in Josephine Blanco’s story.

The Navy gave Amelia until about noon before she would go down.  It was at noontime that Josephine saw the two-motored plane ditch in Tanapag Harbor.

The Navy’s final conclusion was that Amelia had ended her flight somewhere north and west.  Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were seen by two eyewitnesses north and west of Howland on Saipan.  At that time of the year the American woman and her tall male companion could have been none other than AE and Fred Noonan.

In 1937 on Saipan, according to Maximo and Josephine Akiyama, the Japanese military did not hesitate to kill anyone.  Japanese civilian or Chamorro native, whom they suspected of supping on their illegal fortifications.

Japanese officialdom maintaining an enigmatic silence (the Japanese Embassy in Washington knows nothing of the Earhart case, nor does Dr. John Young of Georgetown University, who examined captured Japanese documents for the American Government) concerning the disappearance of the two fliers, it may be idle to speculate upon the final fate of Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart.  The evidence, however, justifies at least one tenable conclusion.

When Josephine Blanco saw the twin-engined silver plane, Amelia and Fred had been flying for twenty-six consecutive hours and for 4,000 futile miles.  The sight of the island that was Saipan must have cheered the fliers with renewed hope for safety, and for life itself.

When they survived the crash landing in Tanapag Harbor only to be taken into custody as spies, their joy must have turned to inexplicable bitterness: they had been saved not for life, but for death before a Japanese firing squad.

With the exception of a few details, this headline from the San Mateo Times of July 1, 1960, is as true today as it was then.

For Amelia, who once had said to her husband, I don’t want to go; but when I do, I’d like to go in my plane — quickly,the last word of her wish must have struck her now with sudden and ironic force.

Yet, as she had so often before, Amelia Earhart must have met this challenge with stubborn self-control and resolute courage.  For here at last was her unmistakable, but irrefutable, fate.

Thus ended Daughter of the Sky.  Though it was riddled with erroneous conclusions and wild speculation, its most important feature, Josephine Blanco’s eyewitness sighting of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan in the summer of 1937, was quite real — and this reality launched the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.  

Few, and mainly those who read this blog regularly, know about the vital role that San Mateo Times reporter Linwood Day played in the earliest days of the Earhart investigation, newly launched by virtue of the blockbuster revelations in Daughter of the Sky.  Day’s Earhart series reached its zenith on July 1, 1960, when the Times front page announced in 100-point headlines, all caps, “AMELIA EARHART MYSTERY IS SOLVED.” 

Fred Goerner was already on Saipan in the midst of his first witness investigation, and in six years his book, The Search for Amelia Earhart, would sell more than 400,000 copies, only to be trashed by Time magazine as a work that “barely hangs together.”  The rest is history.

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Another gem from Bill Prymak’s AES Newsletters: “The Strange Story of Interview #23”

The late Bill Prymak’s abundant contributions to Earhart research, though ignored and unappreciated everywhere else in our know-nothing media, are gifts that keep on giving to readers of this blog and Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last Bill, the founder and former president of the Amelia Earhart Society, who passed away in July 2014 at 86, was the central hub and repository of the writings, reports, analyses and speculations of a wide variety of Earhart researchers. 

This material’s accuracy, also quite variable, must be carefully sifted to separate the wheat from the chaff, and was compiled in his two-volume Assemblage of Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, covering Prymak’s AES Newsletters from December 1989 to March 2000. 

The following treasure appeared in the January 1997 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, and concerns a familiar face among the Saipan witnesses, Joaquina M. Cabrera, and a revealing interview she did with Joe Gervais, Capt. Jose Quintanilla, Guam chief of police; and Eddie Camacho, Guam chief of detectives, during their 1960 Guam interviews.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.) 

Bill Prymak with Bilimon Amaron, whose eyewitness account is widely considered to be the most important of the Marshall Islands witnesses, in the recreation room of his home in the Marshalls capital of Majuro, circa 1989.  As a Japanese hospital corpsman in 1937 Jaluit, Amaron’s shipboard treatment of an injured white man, surely Fred Noonan, accompanied by an American woman the crewmen called “Meel-ya,” is legendary among the Marshallese. (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

“THE STRANGE STORY OF INTERVIEW #23”

When Joe Gervais and Joe Klaas presented their manuscript of Amelia Earhart Lives [1970] to McGraw-Hill, it was bulging with some 650 pages of research work.  Much good material had to be trimmed to meet the publisher’s mandate not to exceed 275 pages in final form, and it has always bugged Gervais that one of his most profound witnesses had a crucial part of her testimony stricken from the book by the editors.  Major Gervais recreates that scene for us, the way it should have been presented in the book:

At Chalan Kanoa, a village on Saipan, the investigators located Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera, fifty-one, who during 1937 and 1938 had been employed as a servant in the [Kobayashi Royakan] hotel.

l used to have to take a list of the persons staying in the hotel to the island governor’s office each day, Mrs. Cabrera remembered.  One day when I was doing this I saw two Americans in the back of a three-wheeled vehicle.  Their hands were bound behind them, and they were blindfolded. One of them was an American woman.”

Gervais showed her a photo of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Are these the two you saw?

Undated photo of Earhart eyewitness Joaquina Cabrera.  She passed away in 2004 at age 92.

She squinted at the photograph.  “They look like the same people I saw, and they are dressed the same way.”

What happened to them?

“I only saw them once in the three-wheeled truck.  I don’t know what happened to them.”

The threesome, Capt. Jose Quintanilla, Guam Chief of Police; Eddie Camacho, Guam Chief of Detectives, and Capt. Gervais, were shocked when, after finishing the above interview, she suddenly came forward to Gervais and deliberately spat on the ground, in front of his feet.

Capt. Gervais regained his composure and asked Capt. Quintanilla

“Why is this woman so enraged at me?  I had never met her before?”

Unknown artist’s sketch of Joaquina Cabrera accompanying this story in the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters January 1997 edition.

Capt. Quintanilla, in a quiet voice, asked Mrs. Cabrera to explain her actions, and after a lengthy exchange of words in Chamorro, Quintanilla turned to Gervais with an ashen face and slowly, deliberately told him what Mrs. Cabrera had said:

“You Americans are two-faced people!  What are you doing here in 1960 investigating what happened to Amelia Earhart 23 years ago when all the time you Americans knew she was here and none of you lifted a finger to help her?

“What kind of people are you?” (End Strange Story of Interview #23)

Amelia Earhart Lives author Joe Klaas, who passed away in February 2016 at 95, was a pilot and World War II hero, a POW and a talented writer with 12 books to his credit.  But sadly, Klaas fell victim to the insane delusion that Joe Gervais had birthed and spread to other witless sheep over the years, that New Jersey housewife Irene Bolam was actually Amelia Earhart returned from Saipan via the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo, determined to live out her life in obscurity and isolation from her family — something Amelia was incapable of doing. 

It was a shame, because the eyewitness interviews conducted by Gervais, Robert Dinger and the detectives on Guam and Saipan in 1960, on the heels of Fred Goerner’s arrival on Saipan, were some of the most compelling ever done.  The above incident is another example of important witness testimony that most will never see.

If you’d like to get reacquainted with all the sordid details of the long-debunked, worm-eaten Earhart-as-Bolam myth, I did a four-part series on this dark chapter of the Earhart saga, beginning with Irene Bolam and the Decline of the Amelia Earhart Society: Part I of IV,” on Dec. 29, 2015.

Fred Goerner also interviewed Joaquina at length in 1962, and later wrote in The Search for Amelia Earhart, “Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera brought us closer to the woman held at the Kobayashi Royokan [Hotel] than any other witness.”  See my April 17, 2018 post, Revisiting Joaquina Cabrera, Earhart eyewitness and pages 101-102 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last for more on Goerner’s interview with Joaquina.

(Editor’s note:  “I was surprised to learn what Joaquina did after she was interviewed,” Marie Castro wrote from Saipan just after this post was published.  “But I can also understand Joaquina’s reaction to Gervais, it was out of frustration because of the way Amelia suffered as a detainee.  Joaquina noticed the bruises around Amelia’s arm and neck, so did Matilde.”)

(Editor’s note No. 2: In an Aug. 21 comment, Les Kinney wrote:  “I don’t believe Cabrera’s statement. It’s inconsistent with remarks made to other researchers and out of character for a Chamorro woman to speak in this manner.  Sadly, at times, Joe Gervais embellished and flat out lied to further his argument.  It’s a shame since some of his reporting was sound. Goerner’s account is probably more credible.  Don Kothera and the Cleveland group interviewed Cabrera twice – there is no mention of anything close to what Gervais reported.” 

After Marie Castro was told about Les’s comment, she responded with this in an Aug. 22 email:  I also believed with Les Kinney, spitting at a person is unheard of in our culture.  It  is highly unlikely that a Chamorro woman would ever do such a thing.  I was really surprised of that reaction on Joaquina.  I would rather skip that comment of Joe Gervais, it was a made up story.” 

As I wrote to Les, “Gervais, on balance, did far more harm than good for the truth in the Earhart disappearance. Bill Prymak obviously believed it, or he wouldn’t have included the story in his newsletters, but Bill was far too trusting of Gervais, and even kept the lid on the truth in the Bolam case to protect Gervais.”  I should have picked this up before posting the story, and expressed at least some skepticism about it, but it slipped my attention.  Now you have the rest of the story.)

 

For Amelia Earhart, it’s Happy Birthday No. 122!

It’s late July again, when thousands of the uninformed flock to Atchison, Kansas for the annual Amelia Earhart Festival, where the “Great Aviation Mystery” is renewed and celebrated.  The only questions the sheeple ask are whether Amelia’s Electra 10E crashed and sank off Howland Island or landed on Nikumaroro, where she starved to death, along with navigator Fred Noonan, on an atoll teeming with natural food and water sources.  

I sometimes imagine that some of the benighted at these Atchison shindigs actually hope that, just maybe, she’s still flying around out there in the timeless ether, searching endlessly for a way back to 1937 America — an eternal, romantic enigma without solution.  That may be an exaggeration, but it’s no stretch to say that wherever PC and groupthink predominate, as in Atchison, the hated truth is assiduously avoided, and can be found only in the darkest corners, where vile conspiracy theorists speak in hushed tones about the despised “Japanese Capture Theory” that so intimidates all but the boldest Earhart truth seekers.   

Once again we’ve reached another Earhart birthday, this one Amelia’s 122nd.  It’s hard to say how long America’s First Lady of Flight might have lived had her remarkable life not been so cruelly stolen from her by a wretched combination of circumstances that have yet to be fully understood, but I can’t imagine Amelia would still be with us at 122, though she would have given it her best shot, you can be sure.

Amelia came from hardy genes indeed, if her mother and sister were any indications.  Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey, of West Medford, Massachusetts, two-and-a-half-years younger than Amelia, died in her sleep on March 2, 1998 at the age of 98.  Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, was born in 1869 and died in 1962 at 93.

As is usually the case when Amelia’s birthday rolls around, the only Earhart-related news in America is about plans for more TV productions, more deceitful documentaries and specials by the true conspiracy theorists, who have only one goal in mind, besides ratings and dollars, of course, and that is to keep the same kind of gullible people who yearly flock to Atchison clueless about the truth.  I will spare you the boring and meaningless details, which will be known and forgotten soon enough.

Amelia at 10.  Even as a child, she had the look of someone destined for greatness, or is it just my imagination?  In this photo, she seems to be gazing at events far away in time and space.  But could she ever have imagined the wretched accident of fate that ended her life on earth?  Who can fathom it?

Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 to Amy Otis and Edwin Stanton Earhart.  Edwin, an itinerant lawyer and faithful husband, was alsoa drunkard, according to biographer Mary Lovell (The Sound of Wings, 1989), but Amelia’s childhood was nonetheless nearly idyllic. 

Alfred Otis, Amy’s father, was a wealthy judge, and it was hard on the banks of the Missouri River in the home of Judge Otis and her grandmother, Amelia Josephine Harres, that Amelia came into the world.

Growing up in nearby Kansas City, Kansas, Amelia’s adventurous persona manifested early.  Amelia (Meelie), and Muriel, or “Pidge” were close, lived in reasonable comfort, unaware of any financial constraints” and were secure and happy despite occasional problems resulting from their father’s uneven professional life.

As we see in the early pages of another fine biography, Amelia, My Courageous Sister (1987), by Muriel Earhart Morrissey and Carol L. Osborne, Amelia was a consummate tomboy.  At 7 she rode an elephant at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and was fascinated by the small cars that sped around an aerial track, though her mother said it was too dangerous for little girls to ride them.  Soon after the family returned home, Amelia enlisted her uncle Carl Otis to help her, Muriel and the boy next door build a makeshift roller coaster in their back yard, with its starting point at the top of the tool shed, eight-feet high.

When all the sawing and nailing of boards and tracks was complete, Amelia stuffed herself into a wooden crate for the first ride.As it careened down the track, Muriel recalled, we heard the sound of splintering wood.  The car and Amelia departed the track when the car hit the trestle.  Both tumbled onto the ground. Amelia jumped up, her eyes alight, ignoring a torn dress and bruised lip. ‘Oh, Pidge’ she exclaimed, ‘it’s just like flying!’ ”

Amelia wasn’t moved when she saw her first airplane at the 1907 Iowa State Fair, in Des Moines, recalling it as a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting.  At 9, Edwin presented her with a .22 rifle so she could clear the barn of rats, much to the consternation of her well-to-do grandparents.  “Don’t worry, Mother Otis,” Edwin told her grandmother.  “This is really a very small rifle.” Describing their beloved father many years later, Muriel called him “loving, generous, impractical.”

For more on Amelia’s happy youth and the events that to her fateful meeting with Neta Snook, her first flight instructor, please see Chapter I, “Birth of a Legend,” pages 5-19 in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

Back to the present, and a final observation.  I find it greatly ironic that for the past two years the only significant news in the Earhart case has come from Saipan, where Amelia and Fred Noonan suffered and died so ignominiously.  Here, as well, is our last living link to Amelia, 86-year-old Marie S. Castro, president of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee, who daily wages a losing battle in her campaign to erect a memorial monument to the doomed fliers.  If not for this blog and the two Saipan newspapers, not a soul in the United States would know about Marie and her quest to properly honor and commemorate the hapless duo at the site of their murders.  For this sorry state of affairs we can thank our corrupt media, of course, which continues to dutifully cover up the truth in the Earhart saga, like the mindless, heartless little soldiers they are.

The uninformed, incurious and ultra-propagandized Saipan populace is either strongly against the Earhart Memorial Monument (see top right of this page for the architect’s model) or hopelessly indifferent.  The former faction includes most of Saipan’s politicians, who can also be relied upon to bend to the popular wind, currently blowing stiffly in the wrong direction.  Marie often finds herself surrounded by smiling faces who assure her of their support, but those who sincerely care are far too few, and as things look now and for the foreseeable future, it will require divine intervention before we ever see the Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan.  I sincerely hope I’m wrong, and will gladly admit it if the sentiment on Saipan ever turns in Amelia’s favor.  

I’ve written plenty about Marie Castro’s work and will continue to do so.  Although the Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune have supported the AEMMI movement to varying degrees, fundraising from the United States has been very disappointing, and from Saipan it’s been far worse.  Please see the Media Page of this blog for links to the newspaper stories; and for a complete list of all the posts I’ve done here since the institution of the AEMMI, please click here.

In any event, Happy Birthday, Amelia!

AE’s last flight anniversary arrives without change

Another anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight is upon us, this one the 82nd, and once again we have nothing but lies and silence from our media.

Instead of absolutely nothing, I awoke to an email from a faithful reader informing me of the latest propaganda broadside from our reliably dishonest establishment, this one from National Geographic.  Predictably titled, “Missing: The Unsolved Mystery of Amelia Earhart’s last flight,” it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect, more absurd genuflecting to TIGHAR’s falsehoods and delusions.  Here are the two sentences that National Geographic spared for the truth:

Some believe that Earhart and Noonan, flew north, toward the Marshall Islands, where they crashed and were captured by Japan, who controlled that area.  Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Earhart in a prison camp on Saipan, but physical evidence supporting their testimony is scarce.

Prison camp? Where did this never-before-heard red herring come from, if not from the mendacious minds of the National Geographic writer or editors?  They also made sure to include another loser, the infamous, thoroughly discredited ONI photo from the July 2017 History Channel disinformation operation, apparently to ensure that their clueless readers remain as ignorant and misinformed as they did before they began reading the article. It’s pathetic and worse than nothing.  Better silence and dead air than more of the same old lies after 82 years.

Members and officers of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee gather at Saipan’s Fiesta Resort & Spa July 2.  From left, Allen K. Castro, technologist; Herman Cabrera, architect; Ambrose Bennett, member;  Ed Williams, member; Oscar Camacho, site planning;, Avelyna Yamagata, member; President Marie S. Castro; Carlos A. Shoda, member; Evelyna E. Shoda, secretary;  Vice President Frances M. Sablan.

Only on Saipan and in the Marianas Variety can we find any semblance of truth and hope in the Earhart caseOn July 1, the local newspaper published “Committee to commemorate anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance” by reporter Junhan B. Todiño, who has consistently supported the good cause.  Todiño’s story begins:

THE Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee will meet on Tuesday to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the famous aviator’s disappearance while attempting to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe.

Committee president Marie S. C. Castro said members and friends of the memorial monument committee will meet at Fiesta Resort & Spa.

She said they are hoping that their friends on the U.S. mainland could join their meeting at least in spirit as we honor the memory of the two great aviators, referring to Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Mike Campbell, author ofAmelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, told Castro in an email: “I truly believe Amelia and Fred know and appreciate the love and respect you’ve given them throughout your life and especially in these past few years.”

He added,Whether or not we succeed in our goal of erecting a memorial monument to Amelia and Fred on Saipan — and if we are not, it won’t be because you have not done everything in your power.

To read the rest of the story, please click here.

Of course the comments at the bottom of the story, as always, reflect the “militantly ignorant” status of most of the benighted population of Saipan.  “Ambrose Bennett came to me before we all departed and encourage me not to bother by the negative comments,” Marie wrote me in a July 1 email.

On July 2, Marie told me, “Mike, I plan to dedicate the month of July to put piece by piece of the AE story if possible two or three times a week what happened here on Saipan in 1937. This is one way of educating the locals.”

Hope springs eternal, even in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

 

 

Navy’s 1988 assignment to write newspaper feature, Devine’s letter spark 31-year Earhart journey

Occasionally I’m asked how my preoccupation — some might call it an “obsession” — with the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, now in its 31st year, began, sometimes in tones that victims of rare, terminal diseases might hear when questioned by the insensitive.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

In March 1987, I left active duty in San Diego after nine years working in radio and newspapers as an enlisted Navy journalist, confident that a good civilian job was just around the corner.  But the radio stations in the Southern California area weren’t impressed, and so I returned to my hometown Washington, D.C. area, where I found employment as the sports editor of a small Northern Virginia weekly newspaper.   

After a brief but intense stint with the paper, where the pay was low and the hours long, I was fortunate to find more lucrative and stable employment — though not in sports writing, my preference and strength —  and returned to the Navy as a civilian writer with the Navy Internal Relations Activity, in Rosslyn, Va., as assistant editor at Navy Editor Service (now defunct).  The NES was a monthly publication that was sent to all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ships and shore stations for use in their local publications.  The stories focused on Navy and Marine news and policies, but occasionally I was asked to write about less mundane subjects.   

Thomas E. Devine, circa 1987, about the time that Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident was published and about four years before I met him in person and spent the day with him at his West Haven, Conn., home in early February 1991.

In late March 1988, just a few months after re-joining the Navy, so to speak, such an opportunity arose, when I was tasked to write a story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart for the odd occasion of the upcoming 51st anniversary of her last flight.  Much later, the irony of a Navy civilian employee and former sailor writing about an event that was so intimately connected to the Navy in so many ways — both overt and covert — eventually struck me, but at the time my knowledge of the big picture in the Earhart travesty was nonexistent. 

To research the story, I read the only four books on the Earhart disappearance available at the Washington Navy Yard Library, now the Naval History & Heritage Command.  In order, these were Amelia Earhart Lives, by Joe Klaas, the 1970 sensation that burned brightly and briefly before Irene Bolam filed suit for defamation against the publisher of that scandalous tome; Amelia Earhart; The Myth and the Reality (1972) by Dick Strippel, a Navy apologist whose fish-wrapper simply restated the official Navy-Coast Guard crashed-and-sank finding, as it was already beginning to wear thin; Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985), the best collection and presentation of evidence for Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing ever; and Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 opus, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the former Army postal sergeant’s eyewitness account of his amazing experience on 1944 Saipan.  There, Devine, along with at least a few dozen other GIs, witnessed the presence and destruction of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, a key event in one of the greatest cover-ups of the 20th century.

I was captivated from the very first pages of Amelia Earhart Lives, swept up in the Earhart saga for reasons I couldn’t even explain to myself.  And upon finishing Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the only Earhart book ever written by an eyewitness, I found Devine’s address and sent him a copy of my story’s first draft, along with a letter expressing my interest and admiration for his book, not really expecting him to reply,

I don’t have a copy of my first letter to Devine, but when I received his April 7 reply, below, I was elated, despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly bubbling over with praise for my initial effort.  In retrospect, he was more tolerant and polite than I would have been, considering his long and contentious involvement with the Earhart story:

My April 12 response needs little introduction, but I assured Devine that I wason your team in all this, and that his letter had moved me to make some adjustments to my original draft.  Following are the first three paragraphs:

Devine replied right away, and in his April 16 response he informed me that Eyewitness “was published to disseminate my own eyewitness involvement in this matter, and to counteract much misinformation already published.”  After discussing a few of the problems he had with my story, including “misinformation” from Vincent V. Loomis and Fred Goerner’s books, he closed by writing,Mike, I do appreciate your interest in this very serious matter, and would be pleased to acquire the report when it is released.

Here’s the lead of the six-page story published in the May 1988 issue of Navy Editor Service, not available online:

The story presented the views of Klaas, Strippel, Devine and Loomis, was among the most popular I wrote during my two years at Navy Editor Service, and was published in countless Navy and Marine Corps newspapers and other publications.  My Earhart education was in its infancy in 1988, as my reference to the disappearance as a great mysteryattested.  But I had already become another victim of Earhart fever, thanks in part to Devine’s letter, which meant so much to me and helped to cement my resolve to learn as much as possible about this captivating story.

Thus began a 15-year correspondence that lasted until just a few months before Devine’s death in September 2003 at age 88, and which resulted in the 2002 book that we co-authored, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia EarhartFollowing is the review I wrote for Eyewitness on Amazon.com in December 2012:

Thomas E. Devine’s “Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident” joined the ranks of Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart,” Paul Briand Jr.’s “Daughter of the Sky” (1960) and Vincent V. Loomis’ “Amelia Earhart: The Final Story” (1985) as one of the most important works ever written on the Earhart disappearance the moment it was published in 1987 by a small Colorado publisher.  By 1987 the truth about Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s presence and deaths on Saipan was being blacked out in almost every corner of the mass media, and thus this book was largely suppressed and sold less than 4,000 copies; compare that to the over 400,000 that Goerner’s book sold in 1966, when the government and media establishment were caught unprepared to deal with the truth that Goerner discovered on Saipan.

As a result of Devine’s call for Saipan veterans to come forward to support his eyewitness experience on Saipan that established Earhart’s presence there, more than two-dozen former soldiers, Marines and sailors called and wrote to Devine, and their accounts are presented for the first time in the book I wrote in cooperation with Devine, “With Our Own Eyes,” published in 2002.

Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, changed my life in ways I never could have dreamed.

Ten years later, “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” (2012) presents many stunning new findings, eyewitness accounts and analysis, and never-before-published revelations from unimpeachable sources including famed U.S. military generals and iconic San Francisco newsman Fred Goerner’s files that reveal the truth about Amelia Earhart’s death on Saipan, as well as the sacred-cow status of this matter within the U.S. government.  “Truth at Last” explodes the popular myths that Amelia Earhart’s Electra, NR 16020 crashed and sank in the waters off Howland Island on July 2, 1937, or landed on the reef of Nikumaroro Atoll, where the hapless fliers perished soon thereafter of thirst and/or starvation, which has become the most popular falsehood ever perpetuated about Earhart’s fate.

Without Devine’s book, this writer may never have become engaged in the more than 20 years of intense research that went into the production of “Truth at Last,” which presents the most comprehensive case ever for the Saipan destiny of Earhart and Noonan. Anyone remotely interested in the Earhart disappearance would be wise to purchase “Eyewitness” before supplies run out.  It is a book for the ages, firmly in the line of truth established by Briand and Goerner in the early 1960s.  (End Amazon review.)

My Amazon review of Eyewitness focused on the positive aspects of Devine’s book and its vital connection to the creation of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at LastIn itself, Devine’s Saipan experience as an eyewitness to the Earhart Electra’s presence and destruction was more than enough to recommend Eyewitness as an extremely important piece of the Earhart saga.

But Devine was never content with what he had learned “with his own eyes” on Saipan; instead, he claimed expertise in areas about which he knew nothing, and eventually I realized that the man I thought was the world’s leading Earhart expert had feet of clay. 

For example, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the fliers’ Mili Atoll landing, Devine refused to  consider it, insisting that Amelia flew directly from Lae, New Guinea to Saipan, an unthinkable 90-degree error.  He attributed this to an imaginary injury on takeoff to Fred Noonan that left him unable to navigate or even communicate with Amelia from the earliest moments of the flight. 

To my knowledge, no researcher has ever joined Devine in this delusion, and his obstinate refusal to take off his blinders and see the Marshall Islands truth isolated and reduced him to a sad, solitary figure for which the Earhart research community — in itself a small, diverse group of eccentric characters who, for the most part, are no longer with us — had little use.  For more on Devine and his tunnel vision regarding Earhart’s Marshall Islands landing, please see Truth at Last pages 176-178.

Devine’s errors weren’t limited to his ideas about how the Electra reached Saipan.  His claim that James Vincent Forrestal, secretary of the Navy in 1944, was personally present on Saipan when the Earhart plane was destroyed in July 1944, has also been shown to be false.  Worse, Devine resorted to fabricating evidence to support this claim.  I won’t elaborate here on that unfortunate chapter of my relationship with him, but those interested can find all the unhappy details in Truth at Last, pages 210-215.

Devine’s failings were significant and self-imposed, but without his generosity and willingness to share his findings with me over the 15 years of our association — I wish I could say friendship — I would never have begun my own search for Amelia Earhart.  I’ll forever cherish Devine’s 714-page unpublished manuscript, “Bring Me Home,” which he gave me in June 2001, when it seemed he wouldn’t live another day.

I sometimes ask the audiences I address at my infrequent presentations, “Who has ever aspired to become an Earhart researcher?  Can you imagine your son or daughter telling you that they’ve decided to devote their lives to studying and solving the ‘Earhart mystery’?  You’d probably send them to a psychiatrist or some other mental health professional as soon as possible.”  At that, a few politely laugh, but most just look at me blankly. 

It’s lonely, frustrating work, but it’s real, and somebody has to do it.  I know Amelia and Fred appreciate it, wherever they are.

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