Tag Archives: Saipan

Castro, AEMMI celebrate Earhart’s 124th birthday

Another July 24 has arrived, and had she somehow lived to this dayAmelia Mary Earhart, born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 to Amy Otis and Edwin Stanton Earhart, would be celebrating her 124 years old.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Some certainly have lived this long, and much longer if Old Testament Biblical history is accurate.  But if Amelia had escaped the wretched fate the prewar Japanese military on Saipan cooked up for her, her lifespan would likely have been similar to her genetically endowed younger sister, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey, affectionately known to Amelia as Pidge,who passed away at age 98 in March 1998.  Most importantly, Amelia lives on in the hearts of real, freedom-loving Americans, and so we celebrate another First Lady of Flight’s birthday.

Amelia, or “Meelie,” left, was two years and four months older than Muriel, known as “Pidge.” “We never played with dolls,” Muriel wrote, “but our favorite inanimate companions were our jointed wooden elephant and Amelia’s donkey. Ellie and Donk lived rigorous lives which no sawdust-filled, china-headed beauty could have survived. . . . We never slept until the two battered but faithful creatures were on guard at the foot of our beds.”

This season has been particularly lacking in any Earhart-related news, which is a good thing.  All the usual parasites seem to be taking a breather in 2021, and neither the Earhart leeches nor the media care about Amelia’s birthday, much less in the truth.  This leaves it with us, or most of it, anyway.  

In Atchison, Kansas, where the facts about the horrific fates of the doomed fliers are labeled lunatic fringe “conspiracy theory” when it’s considered at all, the tone-deaf  members of the “Amelia Earhart Committee” have again capitulated to the Covid lie that’s turned half the nation into cowering hysterics. 

The Atchison Globe announcement on March 10, 2021 that the AE Committee cancels Amelia Earhart Festival for 2021,” marks the second straight year the benighted citizens of Atchison have caved to the irrational terror created by the ghoul Tony Fauci and his CDC minions over a bug that 99.8 percent of the population survives easily, according to the CDC’s own inflated numbers.  “The safety and well-being of volunteers and all who would attend are the highest priority, according to a news release from chief surrender monkey Jacque Pregont, AE Festival Coordinator.  Once again, it’s the short end of the stick for Amelia, who, in this age of Covid-obsessed panic, gets no respect even in her own birthplace. 

To review the events and the state of the current zeitgeist for several recent Earhart birthdays, please see “July 24, 2012: Happy Birthday, Amelia; July 23, 2014, For Amelia Earhart, another unhappy birthday;” “July 24, 2017: Happy Birthday, Amelia;and my July 24, 2019 post,For Amelia Earhart, it’s Happy Birthday No. 122!”

Since 2017, the only decent, consistent news about Amelia Earhart has come from Saipan, where my friend Marie Castro, now 88, continues her apparently hopeless campaign to erect an Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument at the site of the great flier’s wretched demise.  I’ve written often and passionately about Marie’s selfless devotion to the truth, and we’re blessed that this unique woman has the fortitude to stand up and demand justice in a world where lies, greed and cowardice predominate.  

AEMMI Inc. President Marie Castro delivers the opening address at the CNMI Museum on Saipan to kick off July 24 events for Amelia Earhart’s 124th birthday celebration.

Today, Marie and her small, devoted group, the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI), paid their respects to Amelia and Fred Noonan in a modest celebration at the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Museum.  Following a public greeting by Manny F. Borja, Marie began addressing the attendees with the following prepared remarks:

“The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument”
by Marie Castro, President of the AEMMI Inc.

In 2019, we initiated Amelia’s 122nd birthday celebration for the first time on Saipan in the CNMI.

It has been four years since the inception of this project to build a Memorial Monument to commemorate the two heroes, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

I believe that any unusual, significant event that took place on land, either political or non-political, pleasant, or unpleasant should be recorded in the history of that place.  Or do we continue to sit and ignore such a significant event on Saipan in 1937?

Most of our people of Saipan do not know the story, perhaps a few have read stories written about Amelia’s plane that came down in the Pacific and disappeared and was believed to be a mystery.  But the disappearance and death of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is not a mystery, the true evidence is found here on Saipan.  Our elders’ accounts of what they witnessed of the two fliers’ presence on Saipan were extremely significant and true accounts. Josephine Blanco Akiyama was the first Chamorro woman who saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan at Tanapag Harbor.

In 1960, Fred Goerner, a San Francisco radio newsman, visited Saipan four times and interviewed about 200 Chamorros about the two American fliers.  A few of the witnesses interviewed by Goerner and later by others were Manuel Aldan, Jesus Salas, Antonio Cepada, Carlos Palacios, Gregorio Camacho, Jesus Boyer and Francisco Tudela.  Except for Manuel Aldan who heard the name Earnhardt, all described the American woman as having short hair and wearing a man’s outfit. The closest contacts with Amelia Earhart, who I myself knew and interviewed, were Matilde F. Arriola, her sister Consolacion and Joaquina M. Cabrera who washed Amelia’s clothes. Jose Sadao Tomokane attended the cremation of Amelia Earhart.

Members of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. recently gathered at Shirley’s Restaurant in Garapan, Saipan, as they prepared for Amelia’s 124th Birthday Celebration.  (L to R) Allen K. Castro, Technician; Rosa P. Powers, member; Remedio R. Sablan, member; Frances M. Sablan, Vice President and temporary Secretary; Herman Cabrera, Architect; Marie S. Castro, President; Manuel F. Borja, Treasurer; Glenn Manglona, member.  Missing: Ed Williams, Ambrose and Lillian Bennett, John C. Reyes, Avelina Yamagata, Carlos and Evelyna Shoda, Cinthia Kaipat, Cynthia Pangelinan, Stanley Torres  Oscar Camacho, Rita Demapan, Ana S. Teregeyo.                         

We understand the reluctance and hesitations in our community about building a memorial monument to Amelia Earhart on Saipan; we know very well the doubts in peoples’ mind, and we respect everyone’s opinions and beliefs.  But the truth can’t be changed to suit people’s whims or political preferences.

Our culture is deeply rooted in religious ceremony caring for family relatives and individual who departed from us giving the final honor he or she deserves.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan sadly met their tragic ends on Saipan, and the fliers have never been given any such honor as human beings.  Let us be the first to initiate this recognition as a human community to celebrate their end on July 24, 2021 at the CNMI Museum, celebrating the birthday of Amelia Earhart.

Thank you,

Marie S. C. Castro

Following Marie’s birthday address, the local Marianas High School Choral & Canon group performed the classic hymns “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”  After Rev. Michael D. Linden, S.J.’s  invocation, he shared early memories of his father telling him about Amelia Earhart.

Next Marie and Mr. Borja treated the gathering to a dual-recitation of a poem, “To Amelia Earhart: The Woman That You Are,” recently composed by Marie, which they read in both English and Chamorro:

“TO AMELIA EARHART: THE WOMAN THAT YOU ARE”

The woman that you are,
A role model for us
The path for the truth
By the bravery of your heart.

Always trail blazing,
Looking for adventure
Determined to accomplish,
The goal finally conquered.

Navigating your plane
On toward the Atlantic
Following on to the Pacific
A destination you found.

Unclear on the intent
Of your arrival location
Such unfortunate destination
With Fred Noonan, your beloved friend

You were taken by force,
By the Japanese soldiers
To the island of Saipan
Out of your free will

A deserving recognition
Patiently have waited,
Eight decades of uncertainty
An acknowledgement finally accomplished,

Facing a perilous journey
Unknown to your strength
Bravely endured to the end,
For the love of your country.

Marie Castro

Ed Williams and Marie Castro pause near the Amelia Earhart 124th Birthday cake during the celebration at Saipan’s CNMI Museum July 24.

More music followed, as the Marianas High School Chorale & Canon performed “I’ll be There” and group member Donato Santiago sang “You Raise Me Up.”

Finally, Marianas High School teacher Gina Aquilar led everyone in singing Happy Birthdayto guest of honor Amelia Earhart, whose life was so tragically cut short on Saipan so long ago, a prewar Japanese atrocity that the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge to this day.

Happy Birthday, Amelia, wherever you are!

Update: On July 26, Saipan’s newspaper Marianas Variety published a story about Marie Castro and the AEMMI’s July 24 event, “Group commemorates Amelia Earhart’s 124th birthday,by reporters Emmanuel T. Erediano and Bryan Manabat.  To read, please click here.

On July 26, Saipan TV did a report on the AEMMI’s July 24 Earhart celebration.  To watch, please click here and forward to 16:30.  

84th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

July is Amelia Earhart’s month, for those of us who still honor the memory of this great American, and we don’t forget Fred Noonan, Amelia’s intrepid navigator whose sad destiny was inextricably bound to her own. 

July 2 is the 84th anniversary of Earhart and Noonan’s fateful takeoff from Lae, New Guinea in 1937, officially bound for Howland Island, 2,556 miles distant, a tiny speck in the Pacific, never flown before and the most difficult leg of their world-flight attempt.  What happened that compelled the fliers to land their Electra 10E off Barre Island at Mili Atoll, about 850 miles to the north-northwest, twenty-some hours later, remains the true mystery in the Earhart disappearance.  All else is smoke, mirrors and endless lies.

Guinea Airways employee Alan Board is credited with this photo of the Electra just before leaving the ground on its takeoff from Lae, New Guinea on the morning of July 2, 1937. This is the last known photo of the Earhart Electra.

No missing-persons case has ever been as misreported and misunderstood.  As I’ve said and written countless times, the widely accepted canard that the Earhart disappearance remains among the 20th century’s greatest mysteries is a vile, abject lie, the result of eight decades of government-media propaganda aimed at perpetuating public ignorance about the fliers’ wretched ends at the hands of the pre-war Japanese military on Saipan.  Considering the lengths to which the U.S. government has gone to obscure, cover-up and deny the truth, it appears this state of affairs will persist until the Last Day.  At that time, many will have much to answer for. 

To review some of the anniversary articles posted here in past Julys, please see my 77th anniversary post of June 24, 2014;July 2, ’17: 80 years of lies in the Earhart ‘Mystery’ ”; or last year’s story, July 2020: Earhart forgotten amid nation’s chaos.”

As for any Earhart news, this year is among the quietest in memory — virtually nothing is happening, at least to my knowledge.  A pair of pathetic cranks are claiming they’ve found the Earhart plane just off Nikumaroro and have even started a website with strange, inscrutable photos and nonsensical gibberish. 

View of group posed in front of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10-E Electra (NR 16020) at Lae, New Guinea, July 1937. Second and fourth from left are identified as Mr. and Mrs. Joubert (manager of Bulolo Gold Dredging and his wife), while Mrs. Chater (wife of the Manager of Guinea Airways) is seen third from left. Amelia Earhart can be seen third from right, and Fred Noonan is at far right.

No one in the mainstream media — or anywhere else — has paid a gnat’s worth of attention to the latest crap, and I won’t dignify this absurd, backhanded swipe at TIGHAR’s 30-plus years of propagandizing and fruitless searching off and on Nikumaroro by linking it here.  You certainly don’t need to know about it, but if you insist, you can search under “Road to Amelia Earhart” and you’ll find it unless it’s already been circular filed under “lies no one will believe.”  I only mention it because things are so currently comatose in Earhartland, and this latest is more proof that nature abhors a vacuum. 

The below cartoon from the Kansas City Star goes back to early 1994, but its misplaced humor perfectly captures the zeitgeist that’s always defined the Earhart matter.  Far from being one of history’s “most perplexing questions,” as an angel explains to a newly arrived soul, the truth about the loss of Amelia Earhart is well-known and one of the most precious sacred cows in the corrupt archives of the U.S. national security apparatus. 

On a rare positive note, Polish author and publisher Sławomir M. Kozak recently informed me about his forthcoming book, Requiem for Amelia Earhart, which will introduce the Polish people to the truth about the Earhart disappearance.  Requiem is scheduled for publication on Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of possibly America’s greatest betrayal, another sacred cow whose truth has eluded as many Americans as the Earhart cover-up, and another subject that the erudite Slawomir has studied closely.  His website is www.oficyna-aurora.pl.

On July 24, Marie Castro and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI) will get together on Saipan to celebrate Amelia’s 124th Birthday, and I’ll have photos and comments when that time rolls around.

Brother Gregorio’s letter supports Earhart on Saipan

We return to the early 1960s and the seminal Saipan investigations by Fred Goerner, Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger.  Brother Gregorio, who signed his full name as “Brother Gregorio Oroquieth, Churio, S.J.” in the 1961 letter he wrote to researcher Joe Gervais below, while Gervais was still in the Air Force, was a minor footnote in the Earhart saga, but this is yet another credible account that places Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan soon after their July 2, 1937 disappearance.  

Based on the letter’s date, Gregorio wrote it before Fred Goerner’s arrival on Saipan in September 1961 for his second investigation, although Goerner apparently learned of Gregorio’s story a year earlier.  We’ll return to Goerner after presenting Gregorio’s interesting missive to Gervais, who was doing respectable research on Guam and Saipan during those early days.

Undated photo Joe Gervais, undated, but probably sometime in the early 1960s, when he was investigating the Earhart disappearance on Guam and Saipan.  Gervais was a highly decorated veteran of World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars, serving as a highly decorated command pilot of B-24, B-29 and C-130 aircraft with over 16,000 hours of flight time.  He was also the creator of the insidious Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth, among the most destructive ideas ever conceived by an Earhart researcher. 

The letter below appeared in the November 1994 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters Boldface emphasis mine throughout.

Translated 17 February 1961 by Roy Sorenson, Spanish teacher, Kubisaki High School, Okinawa

6 February 1961

Dear Captain Gervais, Saipan

I am writing this letter in Spanish rather than English because I feel I can express my reply more understandably for you.  I enjoyed the photos you sent of Father Arnold [Bendowski], yourself, and [Robert] Dinger.  Dinger is certainly a beautiful [sic] Air Force Captain, isn’t he? 

I recall a little over 20 years ago before War was declared during the summer holidays for the children, when they came to the vestry to tell me of the two American spies who were apprehended on Saipan near Garapan.  They mentioned one was an American woman who wears long pants like a man and has a haircut like a man.  The Japanese police have these Americans as spies, and the woman’s companion’s face is very suntanned like Spanish people’s face.  The Japanese take them away to ask questions.  The children were Jesus Rios, Juan Sanches, Jose Sanches [sic, correct spelling for Juan and Jose is Sanchez, according to Fred Goerner, see page 102, 103 The Search for Amelia Earhart], Jose Geregeyo [sic], and the Americans were seen coming from the direction of Lisang near Garapan.

Kumoi [Jesús De Leon Guerrero] spoke to me about them a few days later of these two American Intelligence Spies and says he will show them everything if they give him much money.  I spoke to Father Arnold in 1947, and again in 1960 on Guam about Kumoi, and his story has changed recently from that which was said over 20 years ago, and at the same time of the children’s, as I best can recall.

Fred Goerner, center, on Saipan during his first expedition in 1960, with native witnesses William Guerrero Reyes and Joseppa Reyes Sablan, left, and Monsignor Oscar Calvo and Rev. Father Arnold Bendowske of Saipan Catholic mission.  Photo courtesy of Lance Goerner.

After the invasion of Saipan I went to Intelligence Officer there on Saipan, I don’t remember the Officer’s name, and asked him if they wanted any information of the two Americans, the man and the woman who come to Saipan from Hawaii in an airplane for American intelligence before the invasion.  He said there was no such thing as an American woman in any airplane of any kind for Intelligence that he ever heard of.  He was not interested at all in more talking after saying that, and I left.  Vinciente Guerror [sic, Vicente Guerrero is correct] in 1947 on Saipan — Father [Jose Maria] Tardio (can’t make this out clearly) [sic].

My best wishes to you both, and Father Arnold.  I do not know if this will be of help as I don’t know what became of these two Americans as the vestry was far located from where they were apprehended.  If can be of further assistance please feel free to correspond.

Your friend and servant,
Brother Gregorio, Oroquieth, Churio, S.J.

In his 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart Fred Goerner provided the rest of the known background on Brother Gregorio and what he knew about the presence and death of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan:

As I had learned the preceding year, only one person assigned to the Catholic mission before the war had survived the invasion and the years that followed.  Father Tardio had died in Spain after the war, but one of the lay brothers, Brother Gregorio, was at the church on Yap Island.  During the year, Father Sylvan [Conover] had talked with Gregorio at a gathering of church officials on Guam.  Brother Gregorio remembered the story of the two white people, supposedly fliers, who had been held by the Japanese during 1937-1938, but it was not eyewitness testimony.  The Brother along with the Fathers and Sisters at the mission had been restricted to church grounds by the Japanese during that period, and then had been placed under house arrest on December 8, 1941.  Two young Saipanese, the Sanchez brothers, Juan and Jose, had told Gregorio of the two Americans and what the Japanese had done to them.  The brothers had been in their teens at the time, but Gregorio was certain that they had told him the truth.  He felt that it was extremely unlikely the boys could have invented such a story.

Father Sylvan Conover with eyewitness Jesús Bacha Salas, a Chamorro farmer who was held at Garapan Prison between 1937 and 1944 for fighting with a Japanese soldier. Fred Goerner reported that “sometime during 1937 a white woman was placed in the next cell [beside Salas], but kept there only a few hours. He saw the woman only once but gave a description of her that fitted those given by the other witnesses. The guards told him the woman was an American pilot the Japanese had captured.” (Photo by Fred Goerner, Courtesy Lance Goerner.)

Father Sylvan and I traced the brothers Sanchez and found them working as mechanics for the mysterious entity known as NTTU [Naval Technical Training Unit].  They were surprised and disturbed when Father Sylvan asked them about Brother Gregorio’s statement, but admitted they had some knowledge of the incident.  Both felt they would like to refresh their memories before making a definite statement and promised to come to the church mission house the next day and give us the details.  Only one Sanchez appeared the following morning, and his attitude had completely changed.  He claimed neither he nor his brother had any information that would help us.  “Brother Gregorio does not remember correctly,” he said.  “We know nothing of what he says.” 

Father Sylvan questioned hard and long but to no avail.  The Sanchez brothers were obviously frightened and were not going to say a thing.  Another full year passed before we learned the two Saipanese had been told by the Navy or NTTU not to cooperate with the people who were asking questions about the missing fliers.  Father Sylvan and I had suspected as much in 1961.

Brother Gregorio’s 1961 account added another voice to the ever-growing chorus attesting to the presence and deaths of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan.  The incident between Father Sylvan Conover and the Sanchez brothers as recounted by Fred Goerner is yet another example of the U.S. government’s ongoing commitment to controlling and covering up the truth about the fliers’ Saipan deaths — as if we needed any more proof.   

Did Putnam search for Amelia Earhart on Saipan?

In the wake of our recent three part series about George P. Putnam’s desperate search for Amelia Earhart, which included consultations with psychics and others who offered advice to him from the “other side,” the question of whether Putnam ever visited Saipan to search for his wife’s gravesite has often been raised.  

Truth at Last presents the eyewitness accounts of Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, former Marine privates who were ordered by Capt. Tracy Griswold to execute a special excavation detail on Saipan during the summer of 1944.  An entire chapter is devoted to their stories, and in a subsection within that chapter, titled, “Secret Files and Executive Orders,” Putnam’s possible Saipan search is examined.

In this September 1962 photo, California newspaperman Ross Game, who accompanied Fred Goerner during some of his early 1960s investigations, is flanked on Saipan by Guam Detective Edward Camacho (left), and Capt. Jose Quintanilla, Guam Police Chief.

California newspaperman Ross Game accompanied Goerner during at least one of his early investigative forays into Washington’s inner sanctums.  In a 1998 letter to Rollin Reineck, Game recalled that he and Goerner had been granted access to secret files in 1963 — before Henson came forward to Game with his story — files that outlined the basics of the Griswold, Henson, and Burks incident:

In Washington files we learned that George Palmer Putnam was secretly
brought to the Saipan gravesite after the island had been captured by
U.S. Marines and the remains “secretly” removed under the direction of
an intelligence officer (we even obtained his name, thanks to the CIA).

I wrote to Game in September 2007, and he kindly responded and confirmed that the name of the officer who removed the fliers’ remains was Captain Tracy Griswold.  Game was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and passed away in October 2009 at his home in Napa, Calif.  Earhart researcher Ron Reuther met with him in 2005 at a Napa restaurant, and described the seventy-five-year-old newsman as very sharp on recall.

Game reiterated to Reuther his conviction that Earhart met her end on Saipan and that Griswold directed the recovery of the remains, and he shared an interesting comment Griswold had made to him and Goerner: “Game still strongly believes AE/FN died on Saipan in December 1937, AE of dysentery, and Noonan was killed shortly after,” Reuther wrote in a 2005 e-mail to the Amelia Earhart Society.  “He still believes they were buried together and that USMC Captain Tracy Griswold supervised their exhumation, and that the remains were returned to this country.  Game and Goerner talked with the two Marine enlisted persons, Henson and Burks who dug up the remains.  He says when they later found and talked with Griswold, he said of their efforts and revelations,You did a wonderful job.’  But he would not confirm anything else.

Putnam’s presence on Saipan during the war is not certain, as the records Game claimed he and Goerner saw have never been released.  Major Putnam was an intelligence officer for the 468th Bombardment Group that operated in China, India, Burma, and the Marianas during 1944 and ’45, and could have been on Saipan, but nothing officially confirming it has surfaced.

Undated photo of J. Gordon Vaeth, who told Fred Goerner in 1964 that in his job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he interviewed an ex-Air Force officer who had been on Saipan and “had personally driven G.P. Putnam around the island.”  After initially supporting Goerner’s work, Vaeth later changed his position became a convinced “crashed-and-sanker.”

J. Gordon Vaeth told Goerner in 1964 that in his job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he interviewed an ex-Air Force officer who had been on Saipan and “had personally driven G.P. Putnam around the island.  Putnam was busy asking questions intended to reveal whether there was any trace of his wife there,” Vaeth wrote.  According to this interviewee, he did not know whether Putnam ever found anything concrete or not.”  Vaeth, eighty-seven and living in Olympia, Washington, told Ron Bright in 2007 that the man’s name was Charles Cushman.   

I called Vaeth in July 2008, and he confirmed that Cushman was the man who said he drove Putnam around Saipan “during the days when the war was winding down,” well after the island had been secured and was under the control of the U.S. garrison force.  Cushman worked for about five or six years at NOAA, Vaeth said, and died about 20 years ago.  Vaeth said the subject came up between them on a few occasions, and he was sure Cushman said Putnam came up with no information that indicated his wife’s presence on Saipan, nor did Cushman say anything to Vaeth about Putnam visiting a gravesite.

Cushman’s name also surfaced when Ron Reuther looked into the alleged Putnam gravesite visit.  In October 2005, Reuther wrote to the Amelia Earhart Society online forum that he had narrowed the possible time window for Putnam’s visit to Saipan, citing as sources unnamedfamily members, many of whom were women:

Sometime between July 20 and November 2, 1944 George flew to Saipan and was driven around in a jeep by a U.S. military person, later Col. USAF Cushman.  Putnam tried to determine if Earhart had been there, but supposedly found no evidence.  It seems to me that with his being a Major and an intelligence officer, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Saipan, with the strong likelihood of a number of GI’s being present who had been told of and/or having found evidence of Earhart and Noonan having being on the island, and with several prominent U.S. Marine officers involved with the invasion who have been quoted by Goerner as having said the Marines had determined Earhart had died there, that George would have been told much of this same information while he was there, especially with his strong connections in Washington or to high brass.

A 2002 photo of Ron Reuther, chairman of the Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club.  Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia zoos, among others.  He passed away in 2007 at age 77.

Another voice who supported the Putnam-on-Saipan scenario was British biographer Mary S. Lovell, whose The Sound of Wings (1989) is among the best Earhart biographies, but she offered nothing about a clandestine visit to his wife’s gravesite:

At some time during this period of service George visited Saipan. By now stories that Amelia had been captured by the Japanese and taken to Saipan had started to circulate widely. . . . George drove all over the island making extensive enquiries about the white woman flier but he got no answers that gave him any hope that Amelia had ever been there.

Lovell’s scenario is similar to those offered by G. Gordon Vaeth and Ron Reuther, but she cited no source for her statement placing Putnam on Saipan.

Though the foregoing is suggestive and not definitive about Putnam’s alleged Saipan visit and search, researcher Les Kinney is certain that it never happened.  When I recently asked him about this, he said we had pretty much covered this topic in the comments section of my Dec. 26, 2017 post,KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga, and suggested using his comments in this post.

In one of those remarks, on Jan. 8, 2018, Les wrote:

The story of Putnam traveling to Saipan is “fake news.”  It never happened.  I tracked his travel from China (where he was stationed) back to the US.  The story apparently originated second hand when a guy in a jeep reportedly said he drove Putnam on Saipan.  He later said, maybe it was China.

One of the Earhart biographies [Lovell] said Putnam went to Saipan but it was never sourced.  Putnam left his unit early in China because of severe health problems which eventually killed him.  He never flew to Saipan.

For more of Les Kinney’s statements from the Dec. 26, 2017 post, please click here.

But Les had more to offer.  In a May 11, 2021 email, he sent a few more details regarding the apocryphal Putnam visit to Saipan that might not have been in those comments:

Putnam left the United States on April 15, 1944.  He was a briefing officer attached to the 468th Bomber Group.  It was the first week of May 1944 before the entire unit mustered in Kharagpur, India.  

Putnam didn’t stay in the theater long.  On June 6th, when one of the unit members was introduced to Putnam, he wrote, Putnam didn’t stay long and left because of political connections.  That wasn’t true.  Putnam contracted a parasite which attacked his kidneys.  He hung on for another couple months but departed India back to the states sometime in September.  According to military records I reviewed, George arrived in the U.S. on September 25th and was admitted to a hospital.  He was discharged a few months later but was never able to shake the lingering parasite that eventually killed him.  He died of uremic poisoning in a Trona, California Hospital on January 4, 1950

Putnam never was assigned per se to China.  All the B-29 bombing missions for the 468th originated at Kharagpur, India.  They flew over the Hump to a refueling strip known as A-7, south of Chengtu China.  From that forward refueling base, they carried out raids on Thailand, Burma, Singapore, and later in Japan.  Base A-7 is 900 miles from the Eastern Chinese coast which was in Japanese hands and remained that way until the close of war.

The 468th Bomber Group was not reassigned to Tinian (not Saipan three miles north) until May of 1945.  By then, Putnam was in California.       

Retired Treasury Agent Les Kinney, featured in a July 6, 2017 AP story that promoted the History Channel’s Earhart special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” about which much has been written on this blog.

There’s no reason to believe Charles Cushman hadn’t met Putnam in India and maybe even had flown with him to forward base A-7.  But if Cushman drove Putnam around in a jeep, it would have been in India or possibly at the A7 refueling base in western China.   

Cushman wouldn’t have arrived at Tinian until May of 1945 which meant he never drove Putnam around Saipan.

Cushman told Gordon Vaeth, a FAA bureaucrat with an interest in Earhart, the story of driving Putnam around Saipan looking for Amelia’s grave.  Later, Cushman told Vaeth he might have been mistaken and that it was China where he ferried Putnam around in a jeep.  I have that account in my files.  I have no idea where one of the Earhart biographers came up with the story.  But it simply couldn’t have happened.  Flights from western China to the Pacific islands didn’t occur until spring of 1945. When B-29’s flew to India or western China, prior to that time, they were routed through South America, across the Atlantic to Africa, and then on to India.  The first B-29’s didn’t arrive on Saipan from the other direction until late fall of 1944.  If Putnam visited Saipan in the summer of 1944, he would have traveled in ill health literally around the world to reach Amelia’s grave site.  It just didn’t happen. 

A similar account has George analyzing the voice of Tokyo Rose.  In Courage is the Price, Amelia’s sister, Muriel, wrote that George made a dangerous three-day trek through Japanese held territory to reach a Marine Corps radio station near the coast where the broadcast reception was loud and clear.  After listening to the voice for less than a minute, he said I’ll stake my life that that is not Amelia’s voice.”  None of Muriel’s letters describe any such incident.  In fact, she had to write the Army department to determine when and where Putnam served overseas.  Much of what Muriel wrote is apocryphal and bordering on the ridiculous.  Traveling through Japanese territory for three days to a Marine station on the coast?  Muriel knew nothing.  As adults, Amelia was more the mother to a petulant child. 

Les Kinney makes a strong case that Putnam never made it to Saipan, and I trust that he has the file wherein Cushman told Vaeth he might have been mistaken and that it was China where he ferried Putnam around in a jeep,as he describes it, though I’d still like to see the hard copy.

Several years earlier, Amelia Earhart Society researcher Ron Bright joined Kinney in dismissing the idea of Putnam’s alleged Saipan search.  During an Oct. 28, 2015 discussion on the now defunct AERA (Amelia Earhart Research Association) Yahoo! Group Forum, Bright wrote that he agreed it was unlikely that GP toured Saipan looking for his wife.”  The former ONI agent continued:

I think the U.S. government was comfortable in the crash and sankversion, and doubt that he would have taken on such a search without a lot of folks knowing it, including those Navy officials on Saipan in 1944.  Never have I seen any other mention of this alleged search.

Undated photo of longtime researcher Ron Bright, of Bremerton, Wash., who agrees with Les Kinney that George P. Putnam never searched for his wife’s gravesite on Saipan. 

The only source I would depend on was Vaeth’s identification of Cushman, but who knows how credible Cushman was.  He simply could have been mistaken about the identity.  I just didn’t press Vaeth on Cushman and the circumstances he found Cushman.  Hearsay at best.

. . . Anyway GP would have told Amy, Muriel , et al , even if unsuccessful, that he tried his best to find AE on Saipan.  Never a word from him and as a journalist, this would have been reported somewhere, someplace.

Thus, I think you are right, that there really isn’t any solid evidence that GP toured the war torn Saipan.  If GP had been there, other reporters would have picked up on it.  

Prior to Les Kinney’s recent update, I was undecided about the Putnam-on-Saipan question.  Most of all, I had Ross Game’s statement that he and Fred Goerner had viewed secret files in Washington that revealed Putnam’s Saipan visit, and the Cushman story via J. Gordon Vaeth seemed to support Game’s account.  Otherwise, Mary Lovell had mentioned Putnam’s alleged Saipan search in her book, without citing a source, and Ron Reuther referenced female sources that he never identified in his message to the AES.  

Now I think Kinney’s research and reasoning is superior to the rest of what we have, and he’s made a believer out of me, at least unless and until more definitive information surfaces.  Ross Game’s claim, however, still reverberates.

 

Castro, AEMMI donate Earhart books to HPO

Readers of this blog are familiar with the efforts of Marie S. Castro and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI) to establish a permanent memorial to Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan, as well as the less-than-encouraging progress they’ve made since the formation of the AEMMI in September 2017.  Although the Marianas Variety and Saipan TV have supported the AEMMI movement with several stories about Marie and her wealth of Earhart-related experience, the vast majority of the citizens of Saipan remain overwhelmingly opposed to the Earhart Memorial Monument.

Marie Castro, replete with her fashionable “Amelia Earhart Died on Saipan” T-shirt, recites the litany of great Earhart disappearance books that will be available to all on Saipan via the CNMI HPO.

What appears to be a small step forward occurred on Feb. 9, when Marie and several members of the AEMMI gathered at the offices of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) Historic Preservation Office at Saipan’s Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai to make a charitable donation of several extremely important books that present many aspects of the truth in the Amelia Earhart saga so that local readers can learn the truth for themselves.

Saipan TV’s Ashley McDowell was on hand to chronicle the brief event for local viewers, and interviewed Marie about the AEMMI’s donation to the CNMI Historic Preservation Office of the seven best books ever written (in my opinion) that present various aspects of the truth about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. 

“This is valuable material that is going into the archives of the Historic Preservation [Office], and this is for anybody who would like to know more about the story on Saipan in 1937,” Marie told McDowell.

Marie then formally read the names and authors of the seven books that will be available in the HPO archives, and presented the AEMMI official HPO resolution to HPO Director Rita Chong.  Most are Earhart disappearance classics familiar to anyone with even a casual interest in the Earhart story.

AEMMI Vice President Frances Sablan (standing at left) and other members of the AEMMI and CNMI Historic Preservation Office gather at the CNMI Historic Preservation Office Feb. 9.

Chronologically, these books are Paul Briand Jr.’s Daughter of the Sky (1960), Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart (1966); Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985); Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident (1987);  Marie S. Castro’s Without a Penny in My Pocket (2013); Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (2nd Ed. 2016), by Mike Campbell; and Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy (2019) by Mike Campbell with Marie S.C. Castro. 

“Castro says she hopes these books will give insight to anyone questioning Earhart’s story in 1937 on Saipan,” McDowell said.  To watch the Saipan TV video, please click here and go to 13:45.

Better late than never, the Marianas Variety followed with a story and photo by Bryan Manabat on Feb. 16, Amelia Earhart books donated to Historic Preservation Office.”  

Marie Castro, right, presents the AEMMI resolution, which states in part, “WHEREAS, these are valuable documented history accounts as told by our elders and these seven books are intended to be used as reference today and for generations to come,” to HPO Director Rita Chong.

Manabat’s story presented some powerful quotes from Marie,, including these:

Castro believes that there is “undeniable evidence that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were on Saipan. Earhart’s plane was seen in a Japanese hangar at the Aslito Airfield on Saipan and a Marine, Robert E. Wallack, discovered Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe on Saipan shortly after the island was declared secure on July 9, 1944.”

Castro pointed out, “Three high-ranking military officials — Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, Gen. Graves B. Erskine and Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the Pacific commander-in-chief during WWII and the last of the Navy’s 5-star admirals — came to the same conclusion that Amelia Earhart had been on Saipan.”

“So we have the responsibility to keep and honor this part of our history, as recorded in these books,” Castro said.

From the Marianas Variety: “Local author Marie Castro, second left, with Sen. Edith DeLeon Guerrero, Rep. Leila Staffler, Historic Preservation Officer Rita Chong and Rep. Denita Yangetmai.”

Soon another opportunity for Marie and the AEMMI to bring their Earhart Memorial Monument proposal to public attention looms.  The 5th Marianas History Conference, co-organized by the University of Guam, Northern Marianas College, Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Humanities Guåhan, Guampedia, and Guam Preservation Trust, will be held virtually [via Zoom] from Feb. 19-26, 2021 and will feature on-site venues in the CNMI and Guam for select, conference-related events and presentations.  

Marie will present her Earhart story to the conference on Feb. 26.  Please stay tuned.

%d bloggers like this: