Tag Archives: Saipan

Marie Castro and Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, Part 2

Today we present Part 2 of three of our look at Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, the 36-page booklet Marie Castro and I put together recently, which is available at Saipan’s Bestsellers bookstore and the Saipan Library.  (All boldface emphasis is mine, and not included in the booklet.)

 

Three views of one of the greatest women of the 20th century, the truth of whose fate continues to be denied and suppressed by mainstream historians.  Amelia’s fate, contrary to the American establishment media’s false narrative, is not a mystery, and the time has come to change the conversation about the disappearance of Amelia and Fred Noonan, her navigator, in 1937.  It’s time for the truth be widely known and accepted – at last.

Amelia was not only the first women to solo fly the Atlantic, she was the first person to fly the 2,408-mile distance between Honolulu and Oakland, California, the first time a civilian aircraft carried a two-way radio.  As America and the world continue to make great strides in recognizing women’s accomplishments – women are even making strides in Saudi Arabia – why not recognize the truth about where Amelia Earhart met her tragic fate in the Pacific, on Japanese-controlled and occupied Saipan.  In 1937 Amelia Earhart attempted to circumnavigate the world, but unfortunately, her plane came down at Mili Atoll in the Pacific and eventually was brought to Saipan by the Japanese military.  Fact!

Mr. Hunter and Rep. Barcinas were very interested in hearing what I had to tell them about Amelia Earhart.  Robert seemed to be familiar with it, since the subject is connected with his field as the DCCA director

We three met several times. Both wanted me to be the chairperson of a new committee; however, I declined that position, thinking it was inappropriate due to my 50 years away from Saipan.  I handed the position to Congressman Barcinas and took the vice chair, while Robert Hunter was named treasurer. 

(Editor’s note: Marie became the new AEMMI president on April 15, 2019; Frances Sablan, former secretary, is the new vice president.)

We formed the committee on Feb. 2, 2017 and started with a few members: Congressman Barcinas, myself, Robert Hunter, Edward Manibusan, Herman B. Cabrera, Frances C. Hout, Roberta Guerrero, and Frances M. Sablan.  Last July, we applied to become a non-profit organization.  Two weeks later we signed the papers and received a certificate for the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Incorporated, and we now have the bylaws of incorporation.

Last year we began meeting monthly for the planning of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument.  Our secretary, Frances M. Sablan, and I attended the Saipan Northern Island Legislative Delegation hearing on Capitol Hill.  I spoke about Amelia Earhart and what happened in 1937 here on Saipan, a subject that was totally unfamiliar to those at the hearing.

I told the attendees it is time for Saipan to acknowledge this important historic event. After I finished I went to my seat and the guard asked me to make a copy of my talk.  Other than that, there was no comment or action on my statement at the hearing. I thought perhaps I would eventually hear from the legislature, but as the old saying goes, “In one ear and out the other.” 

Finding the most appropriate location to build the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument has not been easy.  I decided to take another approach by talking to different individuals who could support the project.  The chairman gave me several persons to meet with: Mr. Chris Tenorio, the Director of the Ports Authority; Oscar C. Camacho, Economic Development Analyst, Commonwealth Development Authority; Marianne Concepcion, Department of Public Lands; John Palacios, Historic Preservation Office; Danny Aquino, CNMI Museum; Chris Concepcion, Marianas Visitors Authority; and Harry Blanco, Field Representative of Insular Affairs.

After approaching all these different departments, however, the CDA and MVA were the most interested in the project’s success. The memorial monument would surely enhance the island’s economic development by increasing tourism and expanding the marketing base, boosting the Saipan’s popularity worldwide

‘‘The speculators obviously don’t recognize the net value to our Tourism Industry in having a Monument as over time the Monument will yield millions for the CNMI, committee member Ambrose Bennett wrote recently.  “The arguments against the Monument are really unfounded and there is nothing to support the speculative rational as there will be thousands who will be partly or directly enticed to come here because of the Monument, which is why it will be an asset to our Tourism Industry – it’s the big picture and the facts that count, and not the guess work of unsubstantiated speculation.’’

The latest proposed location for the monument is on Capitol Hill, possibly the building that housed the NTTU Club, where we could provide a museum for Amelia Earhart and display all the photos dating back to the early 1930s. Any materials relating to Amelia and Fred Noonan that could be donated to the museum would add more interest for tourists, as well as everyone else who seeks to learn the truth about the disappearance of the iconic First Lady of Flight. Currently we have the following items to present to museum attendees, in addition to the beautiful memorial itself:

  • 16 Albert Bresnik photos from Jeremy Palermo’s collection I received dating back to 1928 will be on display in the museum.
  • A slide video of the same collection would be available for showing.
  • The video of the May 2017 power-point presentation by Mike Campbell to the Association of Naval Aviation at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida Officers Club.                              
  • Fred Goerner’s original KCBS radio report from July 1960

Architect’s rendition of the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial on Saipan.

The monument will honor and commemorate one of the most famous pilots and personalities in the history of aviation. Sadly, due to the controversial political nature of the Earhart story and a blatant lack of accurate historical education – not only on Saipan but the entire United States – uninformed locals now contest the truthfulness of many witnesses who had no reason to lie. 

Many eyewitness reports have reflected the presence of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan in 1937.  We strongly believe our elders’ testimonies that Saipan is the island where the doomed American fliers spent their final days.    

More than 1,000 books have been published about Amelia Earhart, and 99 percent are biographies, novels, fantasies, and children’s books.  Of all these, only about 10 books present aspects of the truth about what really happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  Among these 10, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, by Mike Campbell, is the best, in my opinion and that of many experts who know Earhart research.

On May 23, 1932, Amelia stands atop her Lockheed Vega as she prepares to take off from Derry, Northern Ireland, and fly on to London, where worldwide fame awaits after she became the second person and first woman to solo fly the Atlantic.  After a flight lasting 14 hours, 56 minutes during which she contended with strong northerly winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems, Earhart landed in a pasture at Culmore, north of Derry, Northern Ireland.  The landing was witnessed by Cecil King and T. Sawyer.  When a farm 
hand asked, “Have you flown far?” Earhart replied, “From America.”

In 1988, Campbell began to study the history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. That same year, he began a long-term correspondence with Thomas E. Devine, author of the 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, and soon became convinced that Devine, Fred Goerner, Paul Briand Jr., Vincent V. Loomis, Bill Prymak and others were correct when they claimed that Earhart and Fred Noonan died on Saipan at an undetermined date after they failed to reach Howland Island on July 2, 1937.  After 14 years of collaboration with Devine, Campbell’s first book, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, was published in 2002 by a small Ohio company.

Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, published in 2012, with an expanded, more comprehensive second edition in 2016, represents over 20 years of research and presents the most compelling and complete case for the presence and deaths of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan, as well as their initial landing at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, ever written.                      

Naysayers, critics, and cynics inject all manner of ridiculous speculation about Amelia Earhart, as if they are the absolute authorities who can proclaim that she was never on Saipan.  We see this constantly, but this only exposes their irrational bias, and sometimes their inherent racism as well.  As for what the witnesses saw, it is a point of fact that there were no other white women on Saipan at the time, and “a white lady dressed like a man” would have been easily recognized by locals in those days. 

A sighting of Earhart would have unforgettably stuck out and made an indelible impression upon locals, and indeed it did.  After the Japanese captured Earhart near Mili Atoll following her crash-landing on July 2, 1937, she was brought for interrogation to Saipan, which was their northern Pacific operations headquarters at that time.

The disappointing thing about the arguments against the monument is that they are driven by stubbornness and greed, by demanding proof of Amelia’s direct contribution before she is honored and recognized.  In fact, Amelia didn’t have to have died here for the CNMI to honor her for her amazing aviation achievements. 

 The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument will celebrate the American pioneering spirit of this great woman’s accomplishments as one of the world’s original feminists, in the best sense of the word, and it will attract women from all professions, as well as aviators and historians throughout the world. 

Josephine: What a coincidence!

We were greatly surprised and delighted when the famous Josephine Blanco Akiyama, 92, a longtime resident of San Mateo, California, was willing and able to make the trip to Saipan, and arrived with her son Ed on Oct. 6, 2018. 

Josephine Blanco Akiyama, left, and Marie S.C. Castro answer a few questions at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Committee’s reception for her at the Garapan Fiesta Resort and Spa Oct. 9, 2018.

We are fortunate that she came at the time when we are working so hard on making Amelia Earhart’s Memorial Monument a reality.

Josephine is the last living person to actually see Amelia Earhart on Saipan in 1937. Without Josephine’s firsthand account, the important early books presenting the truth – Paul Briand’s Daughter of the Sky (1960) and Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart (1966) – would never have been written.  Josephine’s was the story that shook America, as true today as it was in 1960.

Josephine coming to Saipan was a true blessing for all of us working to establish the truth about Amelia Earhart’s presence here. She strengthened the worthy cause and helped to open up the minds of some of the unbelieving locals who have been misinformed for decades by the U.S. establishment and led to believe the popular but false “crashed-and-sank” and “Nikumaroro hypothesis” landing promoted by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and others who have used the Earhart story to profit greatly and mislead millions of the uninformed about the true fates of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  

We don’t have space here to present all the Saipan witness accounts, much less the witnesses from the Marshall Islands, where the fliers landed at Mili Atoll, but following are a few such testimonies.

Amelia Earhart on Saipan: A Few Witnesses Speak

In 1960, Dr. Manual Aldan, a dentist and Saipan native who understood Japanese, told Fred Goerner he didn’t see the white woman or man in 1937, but offered an important detail he overheard from a Japanese officer. “I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese,” Aldan said.  “The name of the lady I hear used.  This is the name the Japanese officer said: Earharto!”  Aldan said he heard much about Earhart from his patients, and in 1937 these were restricted to Japanese officers.

The officers made jokes about the United States using women as spies, Aldan told Goerner.They said that American men did not have the courage to come and spy themselves.

The headline story of the May 27, 1960 edition of the San Mateo Times was the first of several stories written by ace reporter Linwood Day that set the stage for Fred Goerner’s first visit to Saipan in mid-June 1960 and led Goerner’s 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart.  Day worked closely by phone with Goerner, and on July 1, 1960, the Earhart frenzy reached its peak, with the Times announcing “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved” in a 100-point banner headline across its front page.

Catholic Missionary Priest Father Sylvan Conover brought Goerner to Jesús Salas, a Chamorro farmer, who had been held at Garapan Prison between 1937 and 1944 for fighting with a Japanese soldier, according to Goerner, who did not quote Salas directly but 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.”  

Pedro Sakisag, born in 1927, told Goerner he was the youngest of those working at the harbor for an unloading of food from the ships in 1937. During that time, one of our group went to the rest room, and the place where they kept the lady, and saw her face peering out a small window, Sakisag said.

Fred Goerner with witness Dr. Manuel Aldan on Saipan, June 1960. (Courtesy San Francisco Library Special Collections.)

The man told Sakisag the woman was an American, and Sakisag later saw her, describing her hair as light brown and cut like a man’s.”  When asked if he knew what happened to her, Sakisag replied,I can’t give you further answer because I just came to that place to work, and I wasn’t supposed to know the secret things.

Catholic Missionary Priest Father Sylvan Conover with Jesús Salas, who reported that “sometime during 1937 a white woman was placed in the next cell [beside Salas], but kept there only a few hours.” He was told the woman was an American pilot.

Antonio M.  Cepada, a 52-year-old Buick employee at Agana, was interviewed by Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam in June 1960.  Cepada offered the first of several vivid descriptions of events on Saipan during the summer of 1937:

One summer about two years after I got married, I saw an American girl who was referred to by some as the “American spy woman.” She was quartered on the second floor of the hotel Kobayashi Royokan in the summer of 1937.  I don’t remember any plane crash, but I saw the girl twice on two separate occasions I saw her while going to work outside the hotel, which is located in East Garapan village. She wore unusual clothes – a long raincoat belted in the center.  The color was a faded khaki.  She was average height American girl – not short, not extra tall, had thin build.  Chest somewhat flat, not out like other American girls.  Her hair appeared to be a reddish-brown color and cut short like a man’s hair, trimmed close in the back like man. She did not wear powder or lipstick as I see other American women wear now.

    Father Sylvan Conover with Pedro Sakisag on Saipan.

Cepada told Gervais that the woman, Tokyo Rosa, was about thirty-five years old.  When Gervais asked if he meant the Tokyo Rose on Japanese radio during the war, Cepada impatiently said, Not that one.  Tokyo Rosa in 1937 meant American spy girl.  That’s all.”  Carlos Palacious told Gervais and Dinger that he had been working on Saipan as a salesman at a store near the Hotel Kobayashi Royokan since 1930, and that he saw the girl only twice in about a three-month period, the first time at a window on the second floor of the hotel.

The window was open, Palacious said, and she had on what looked to me like a man’s white shirt with short sleeves . . . open collar.  She had short dark reddish-brown hair, cut like a man’s hair in back, too.”  The second occasion he saw her, Palacious said she was standing at the entrance to the hotel, wearing the same clothes as before: “Same girl, hair cut short, no make-up, a slim girl . . . not fat . . . not big in the chest.”  Palacious used the same term to describe her that Cepada had –“Tokyo Rosa . . . an American spy girl,” and thought she was about thirty-four to thirty-six years old.

Like Cepada, Palacios didn’t know what had happened to the girl, but thought she was probably taken to Japan.  He had never heard of Amelia Earhart, but when shown Earhart’s photo, Palacious said, Face and haircut look like the same girl to me.

Carlos Palacious told Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger that he saw a woman who looked remarkably like Amelia Earhart at the Hotel Kobayashi Royokan twice in a three-month period.

Mrs.  Matilde Shoda San Nicholas (the former Matilde Fausto Ariola) told Gervais, Dinger, and Father Bendowske that she lived next door to the hotel with her family in 1937, and “saw the American girl in the hotel, and twice during the seven days she stayed there she visited me and my younger sister at our home,” mirroring Antonio Cepada’s time estimate for the woman’s stay at the hotel. She described the woman as “thin with short hair like a man’s,” and said the first time she saw her she looked very pale as though she were sick.

         Matilde F. Arriola, 70, in 1983

My sister and I offered her food, Matilde went on.  She accepted it but ate very little, only a little fruit.  The last time the woman visited Matilde and her sister, she had bandages on her left forearm, Matilde said.  Also bruises on the right side of her neck.  The American girl liked my younger sister very much, and on this second visit when my sister was doing a geography lesson, the American girl helped her draw correctly the location of the Mariana Islands in relation to the other islands in the Pacific.”  Later, a bus boy told Matilde the American girl had died at the hotel.  “He said the bed she slept on was soaked with blood and that before she died, the American girl had been going very often to the outside toilet,” Matilde recalled. “Later the bus boy asked me to make two wreaths for a burial.”  When Gervais showed Matilde several photos of Amelia Earhart, Matilde said, “It looks like the same girl.”

In September 1961, Matilde related a similar account to Goerner, with one major difference.  Matilde said “for many months in 1937 and ’38 she had seen the white woman whom the Japanese referred to as ‘flier and spy.’ ”

Matilde selected the correct photo of Earhart from a group of fifteen Goerner displayed, telling him, “This is the woman; I’m sure of it, but she looked older and more tired.”  She said she saw the woman many times in the hotel’s yard, and several times she gave her fruit:

One day she came out into the yard and she looked very sick and sadder than usual. I gave her a piece of fruit and she smiled.  Then she gave me a ring from her finger and put her hand on my head in friendship.  The next day one of the police came and got some black cloth from my father and had him make some paper flowers. The man said the lady had died and they were going to bury her.  She died of dysentery. 

The ring, a single pearl set in white gold that Matilde said Amelia Earhart gave her, would have been a powerful piece of hard evidence, but Matilde said she gave it to her sister, who passed it to her niece, who lost it.  No photographic evidence of the ring exists, and Goerner thought Amelia could have bought it at one of her stops prior to Lae.

(End of Part II)

 

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Castro speaks on Earhart, Saipan in new booklet

If 2018 was memorable for anything in Earhart circles, it was the news of the birth of the grass-roots movement to erect an Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan, which actually occurred in September 2017.  The Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Incorporated (AEMMI) committee is the brainchild of Marie S.C. Castro, 85, the current committee vice president, who is essentially responsible for its existence.  Former AEMMI President Rep. Donald Barcinas (Republican, Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature, who has since lost his seat), said in February 2018 that at least $200,000 is needed for the successful completion of the monument.

I learned about the AEMMI on Feb. 8, 2018, when reader Ken McGhee told me that he’d seen the initial story, “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan,” on the website of the Marianas VarietyYou can read the original article, which appeared on Feb. 7,  by clicking here.   Several stories followed in quick succession.  My near-joyous announcement,Finally, some good Earhart news from Saipanwas posted March 2, followed by Saipan architect unveils planned Earhart MemorialMarch 16.

Artist’s rendition of the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial on Saipan, displayed by local architect Ramon Cabrera in the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety story that announced this promising and long-awaited development for the first time.

In my May 18 story, Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts,” Marie produced a photo of Jose Sadao Tomokane, who told his wife in 1937 that he was late coming home because he had “attended the cremation of the American woman pilot.”

In the March 28 edition of Marianas Variety, my post about Marie S.C. Castro appeared under the headline, Marie Castro: An iron link to Saipan’s forgotten past, and an extended version, Marie Castro: Iron link to Saipan’s forgotten history,” was published here April 2.  The stories presented Marie’s accounts of her experiences with Matilde Arriola, one of the best known of the Saipan eyewitnesses, introduced by Fred Goerner in his 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart Marie’s interview with another of Goerner’s eyewitnesses,Revisiting Joaquina Cabrera, Earhart eyewitness,” was published here April 17.

Marie continues as the prime mover and virtual sole voice in the movement to erect the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument.  With the exception of a few very generous individuals, the response to our year-long fundraising campaign has been cool on this side of the Pacific, and ice cold on Saipan. 

In an effort to change hearts and minds, in early January 2019 Marie was inspired to write a small booklet about her life and devotion to Amelia’s legacy, intended for distribution on Saipan,mostly for the locals to educate and induce them to read, she told me.  She sent me a 20-page draft, which I tuned-up and expanded, and by mid-February, the first of three boxes of Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, arrived on Saipan.

Saipan’s Marianas Variety newspaper published a story about the booklet, New book about Amelia Earhart on Saipan now available,” by reporter Junhan B. Todiño, on Feb. 25, 2019, and on March 4, Saipan TV’s Ashley McDowell interviewed Marie for a story you can watch by clicking here.

The 35-page booklet is available at the Saipan’s Bestsellers bookstore and the Saipan Library, and Marie will ask for donations when she distributes it to those she hopes might be willing to help make the Earhart Memorial Monument a reality someday.  I think it’s appropriate that readers everywhere see it, and hope that some might be moved to help Marie on Saipan, at the address listed at the top right of the front page of this blog.

Beginning with the back-cover narrative, here is the first of three parts of Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy.  (Boldface mine throughout and not in the booklet.)

In My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy, Mike Campbell, author of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (Second Edition 2016), and Marie Castro, author of Without a Penny in My Pocket: My Bittersweet Memories  Before and After WWII, her 2013 autobiography, present a brief summary of the facts in the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and their tragic deaths on prewar Japanese-controlled Saipan.

Marie, 85, is the leading light in the grass-roots initiative to erect the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Saipan. Along with Campbell and a few others, she persists in her determination to bring long-overdue justice to the famed aviatrix and her navigator.

My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy is Marie’s unique way of continuing her mission to thank America for saving Saipan, in a way no one else has ever done, by educating her own people about Earhart, Noonan and  the unhappy truth about their lonely ends on Saipan.  Seeing the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument project  through to its completion has become among the most daunting challenges of Marie Castro’s long life, but one in which she is determined to succeed.

Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy
By Mike Campbell with Marie S.C. Castro (Part 1 of 3)

Kansas City

I’m currently 85 years old, and what has happened in my life is quite amazing.  For starters, and quite briefly, I lived in Kansas City, Missouri for 50 years and decided to sell my great home at 100 Garfield Avenue, also known as Tiffany Castle, and move back home for good to Saipan, the largest island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI.

In 1966 I was sent to Kansas City as a nun to complete my higher education.  During the 1960s and ‘70s a big transitional movement was under way in the Catholic Church for clergy and religious to reflect on their vocations.  I believe it was Pope St. John XXIII who issued a Decree for priests and nuns who questioned their vocation to go on sabbatical leave for one year.  I prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide me in my decision, and I decided to relinquish my vows as a nun.  I believed I made the right decision.  Although I am no longer in the religious life, I maintain my Catholic Faith and training that has served as a strong guide and anchor in my secular life.

I never forget what the American military endured in World War II in order to free the people of Saipan from oppression, and I dedicated my life to education.  I decided to remain in Kansas City and teach in school, where I could help children and reciprocate in my own small way to this great country.  I taught two years at Ozanam Home for Boys, an institution for emotionally disturbed youngsters, and then applied to the Kansas City Missouri Public School System, where I taught for 25 years and retired in 1998.  I felt it was a big accomplishment in my life in helping children to make a difference.  Later I spent time doing voluntary work, as well attending courses and lectures until I came back home for good in 2016.

I took lots of pictures of the castle to show to my mother and my family before I went to Saipan in the summer of 1989.  Everyone admired the beauty of the woodwork and the stained glass around the house. 

When I came back to Kansas City from that vacation, I called the realtor to make an appointment to see the castle once more, so I could definitely decide what to do.  I met with the realtor at the castle at 2 o’clock one afternoon.  As she opened the big front door, I was mesmerized with the beauty of the woodwork, the high ceiling and a big mantle with a huge mirror built over it.  The realtor led me up to a beautiful spiral stairway to the second floor and a big master bedroom with five other bedrooms.  Next we went on to the turret, where we could see the Missouri River, overlooking Kansas City, downtown and the residential areas all around.

As we went back down and proceeded to the dining room, I looked over the stained glass door entrance, and I felt so humbled for the opportunity to see it again.  While I stood in the dining room, suddenly I remembered what my brother Gus told me, “If you see something you like and you can do it, go for it.  You only live once in your lifetime.”

I thought if I don’t take this house, it would haunt me all my life, and I will be sorry if I pass up this opportunity.  At that moment I turned to the realtor and said, I will purchase the castle.

It wasn’t easy to sell that big historic mansion, but finally after four years on the market an interested person made an offer after touring the castle.  After 26 years in this house, leaving was an emotional and difficult experience.  It was a special home for me, not only considering it as my home on earth, but especially after having found out through my research on the castle that it was built in 1903.  Right then, the connection with my mother became even more meaningful to me.  It seemed to be a sign, in that my mother was also born in 1903.  Although I was over 8,000 miles away from her, I always felt the closeness between the two of us.  The castle served as a therapeutic home, a kind of extension of the intimate love of a mother.

I had sold my property on Saipan during the economic boom in the late 1970s-early ‘80s when the Japanese were investing on the island.  The castle was badly in disrepair and the price was affordable, so I was able to put a down payment and then applied for a mortgage. 

The Tiffany Castle, one of the historic mini-mansions in Kansas City, Missouri, and my home for 26 years.

After a month this huge commitment began to sink in, but my determination to own it was stronger than the financial burden.  I thought nothing is easy in this world.   

I went back home feeling satisfied at my accomplishment that day.  That evening I wasn’t able to sleep until 3 a.m. for that incredible decision I made.  Later I remembered my realtor told me,Marie, the house was meant for you.”  I believed she was right, because for the 26 years I lived in that house I enjoyed every minute and every corner of the house.  It was my heaven on earth.  I wish my mother would have had the opportunity to taste the beauty of that house. 

It was a daring decision and huge undertaking for a single person like me to plunge into a big investment.  Above: The stone fireplace flanked by four stained glass windows flanking the big mirror.  Below: the dining room at Christmas.

My nephew, Joe C. Weaver, lived with me while attending the
University of Missouri Kansas City.

The castle was completely empty when I bought it.  To find the most appropriate set of furniture to furnish the castle was not easy, but finally after over three years the house was well furnished, appropriate to its unique style.

My mother, Virginia C. Castro, left, was recovering from her minor heart problem at the hospital when I came for my yearly summer vacation to Saipan. I spent as much time as I could with her that summer; the thought of leaving her was so painful to me.      

Three days after I arrived back in Kansas City, I got a call from my brother Gus, who said,If you want to see Mother for the last time, come home as soon as possible.  She is in critical condition.”  I made my plane reservation and flew the next day back to Saipan.  I prayed so hard during my flight that I would see my mother alive before she departed.

I arrived at Saipan at 8 p.m. the next day.  My brother was at the airport to meet me, and we went directly to the hospital.  As I entered her room the family had just finished praying the Rosary by her bedside.  As I bent and kissed her, I said “Mother I am here, si Daling.” Mother opened her eyes and smiled at me, and I knew she was waiting for her daughter.  I was fortunate to stay at my mother’s bedside, giving her my last assistance for five days until she died on Aug. 6, 1990. 

In 2013, my book, Without a Penny in my Pocket, was published through funding provided by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.  Its subtitle, My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II, well summarizes its contents.

William H. Stewart, former senior economist for the Northern Marianas and a career military-historical cartographer and foreign-service officer in the U.S. State Department, wrote a very nice, comprehensive review of Without a Penny in November 2014.

Marie Castro’s fascinating book, Without a Penny in my Pocket, takes the reader back to a period on Saipan long ago swept away on the waves of time,” Stewart wrote in beginning his two-page review.  “Recalling the days of her youth she provides vivid and rare insight of bygone days of a peaceful Saipan before the ravages of war destroyed much but not the memories of what used to be. . . . Today’s youth would be well-advised to learn from the experiences of the author and her family and friends, of the heartbreak and suffering the people of Saipan endured and the faith they all exhibited to overcome such adversity. . . . She is an inspiration for all who aspire to make a contribution by helping others through education and good deeds.”

I urge interested readers who want to learn more than I can offer in this small booklet to obtain a copy of Without a Penny in my Pocket.

Return to Saipan

Two years later, on Oct. 13, 2016, I returned to Saipan for good and wondered, What am I to do now?” Perhaps I would be bored, but interestingly enough, a few months later I remembered Matilde F. Arriola, whom I interviewed about Amelia Earhart in 1983. Perhaps this was what had been bothering me in the back of my mind the year 2017 in connection with 1937, 80 years ago when Amelia Earhart’s plane came down in the Pacific with her navigator Fred Noonan and eventually was brought to Saipan by the Japanese. 

I began considering this event that happened in 1937 on Saipan.  At that time, people were subject to strict Japanese governance.  We had no rights on our own island.  People were ordered to comply with any ordinance given by the Japanese regime.  Any infraction would result in punishment, and depending on the severity of the offense, the price could be terrible and devastating.  The people lived in constant fear, which had become the normal daily environment on Saipan.

Japan’s economic interests on Saipan were mainly to subsidize her own people.  Much of the land was used to cultivate tapioca and cotton, but most of it was devoted to sugarcane plantations.  The production of sugarcane became so large that the country decided through an entrepreneur businessman named Matsue to build a sugarcane factory on Saipan.  He brought in large numbers of workers from the island of Okinawa to work in sugarcane fields as well as in the factory.

Interestingly enough, only a few Saipanese who were conscripted by the government in 1937 happened to witness an event that the locals had suppressed in their minds until the war ended.  After the liberation of Saipan in the summer of 1944 and people were encamped at Camp Susupe, fears suppressed by the people for so long during the Japanese regime began to unravel, and the seeds of freedom the American victory had planted began to bear fruit. 

I remember Joaquin M. Seman and his friend Frank Deleon Guerrero, who came to our house one evening for a social visit and told the story about an American woman pilot who wore a man’s outfit with short hair.  The woman pilot was the great Amelia Earhart.   It was so strange to them, as they had never seen a woman dressed like that, as according to the Chamorro culture, woman always wore dresses.  

In early February 2017 I met with Robert Hunter at his Department of Community and Cultural Affairs (DCCA) office and Rep. Donald Barcinas and explained my idea.  The presence and death of Amelia Earhart on Saipan is a very unpopular subject here; however, I believe that it should be recorded in our history, for many important reasonsThese include recognizing Amelia as the American woman pilot who so exemplified the fearless spirit of adventure that so characterized the early aviation pioneers, and to finally offer those who are interested in Amelia a monument on Saipan, where she met her tragic fate.

Amelia Earhart endures in the American consciousness as one of the world’s most celebrated aviators, and she remains a symbol of the power and perseverance of women who are determined to achieve a lofty goal, and the adventurous spirit so essential to the American persona.  The last time I checked, the CNMI is still a part of America.

End of Part I.

 

David Sablan adds new account to Earhart saga

David M. Sablan is a well-known Saipan citizen and entrepreneur who founded the Rotary Club of Saipan in 1968.  In 2017 he published his autobiography, A Degree of Success Through Curiosity: True Story of a Young Boy Eager to Learn and Find His Calling in Lifehis account of “living under the Japanese regime before and during WWII on a remote Pacific island, who grew up under hardship but made something positive out of his life.”

In 2005, Sablan, who turns 87 in early April and founded Saipan’s Rotary Club in 1968, was named Rotary Club Citizen of the Year, the first time in the club’s 37-year history the club presented this award to one of its own.

“Our honoree complements his public service by being closely involved with civic and community groups,” said Michael Sablan, who introduced David at the 2005 ceremony.  “The list of civic and community organizations he has served on is long, but of all the honors bestowed to our honoree, of all the distinctions he has earned . . . it was his involvement in 1968 in founding the Rotary Club of Saipan that we Rotarians, as a club, appreciate the greatest.”

David M. Sablan and his wife. Rita, on July 3, 2005, when, for the first time in the Saipan Rotary Club’s 37-year history, the Rotary Club of Saipan presented its Citizen of the Year award to one of its own.

In my May 18, 2018 post, Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts,” Marie introduced yet another previously unpublished piece of the ever-continuing Earhart saga, an account with which Sablan was personally familiar:

I have the photo of Mr. Jose Sadao Tomokane.  He told his wife one day the reason for coming home late. He attended the cremation of the American woman pilot.  Mrs. Tomokane  and Mrs. Rufina C. Reyes were neighbors during the Japanese time.  They often visited  with one another.  Dolores, daughter of Mrs. Rufina C. Reyes, heard their conversation about the cremation of an American woman pilot.  These two wives were the only individuals who knew secretly about the cremation of Amelia through Mr. Tomokane.

“Had it not been for the daughter of Mrs. Rufina C. Reyes, who heard the conversation of the two wives, we would have never known about Mr. Tomokane’s interesting day.  And David M. Sablan, after I showed the power point presentation at my house last month, he got up after the presentation and told the group that he heard about Amelia being cremated, according to Mr. Tomokane.”

David Sablan and Maj Gen. Paul Tibbits, the pilot of the famous Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in August 1945, circa June 2004.  Gen. Tibbits revisited Saipan on the 60th Anniversary of the Invasion of Saipan, June 15, 1944.

At the Oct. 9, 2018 reception dinner honoring Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s return to Saipan at age 92 at Garapan’s Fiesta Resort and Spa, Sablan spoke of his childhood memory of seeing an airplane towed through Garapan’s Second Street, though on this occasion Sablan wasn’t quite as specific as he was in an earlier email to Marie Castro:

Going back in years, during the Japanese occupation of Saipan (late thirties to early forties), I was wandering around the northern part of Garapan Town, when I saw a large crowd gathered near the dock area of a large Japanese company, Nanyo Boeki Kaisha (or NAMBO).  This dock was privately owned by NAMBO for unloading cargoes that were brought in by “sampan” or barge unloaded from a ship into a sampan and brought ashore by a barge to the small “jetty.”  I was curious to see what was going on but I could only see a plane which was apparently off-loaded from a barge at the NAMBO dock. 

I saw an airplane being towed on Second Street in Garapan Town.  The plane was being towed southward on Garapan Main Street.  I later learned that the towed airplane was seen at “ASLITO AIRFIELD” on the southern end of Saipan.  A local worker at Aslito Airfield came by our ranch in Chalan Kiya and told us that the airplane was recovered by the Japanese as well as a woman and a man pilots.  The name of the person who told us is ISIDRO LISAMA.

Sablan then recalled visiting the Marshall Islands during the course of his many duties with Atkins Kroll Guam Ltd., where he rose from being traffic clerk to president and general manager, and upon his retirement, as chairman of the company.  “One person that I remember very distinctly is Bilimon Amaron . . . was one of my customers for the merchandise that we used to sell.  And I said, ‘What do you know about Amelia Earhart?’ Well, [he said] I was a corpsman in 1937 working for the Japanese government and all of a sudden we were asked to go on a ship to treat a man and a woman who were injured and were on that ship . . . and [he was told] you are not to say anything of what you see.  This is in 1937.

Bilimon Amaron, in Amaron’s Majuro, Marshall Islands home, in 1989, with Bill Prymak, Amelia Earhart Society founder and its first and only president.  Amaron’s eyewitness account of seeing Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan aboard a Japanese ship in 1937 is the cornerstone of the Marshall Islands landing scenario. (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

“So they went aboard the ship and they treated a white man and a white woman,” Sablan continued, “not Japanese, and as he was doing that he looked at the aft side of the ship, the rear part of the ship, and saw a damaged airplane.  This was shared to me by Bilimon Amaron.”

(Editor’s note:  Although Sablan pronounced Bilimon’s name as “Amaron” in his talk, in an email he insisted the spelling should be “Amram,” a form I’ve seen before, though rarely.  Bilimon himself told Bill Prymak to spell his name as Amaron when Prymak interviewed him in 1989.  Amram may be a Marshallese form, but Vincent V. Loomis, whose book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is the definitive Marshall Islands, Earhart-landing work, spelled it “Amaran,” though most others have it as Amaron, so we’ll stay with that on this blog for continuity, at the least.)

David Sablan’s childhood memory is valuable in that we have scant witness testimony about the disposition of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, and how it came to be at Aslito Field when it was discovered in a hangar there during the American invasion in the summer of 1944.  And although many have heard and written about Bilimon Amaron’s sighting of Earhart and Fred Noonan aboard a Japanese ship at Jaluit in summer 1937, as a prominent member of the Saipan establishment, Sablan’s endorsement of Amaron’s eyewitness account lends it additional credibility and weight.  Considering that the popular sentiment  on Saipan against the proposed Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument remains strongly against its success, Sablan’s accounts can only help this worthy cause.

Sablan also has several interesting photos on his blog, including one of his meeting the emperor of Japan.  To see these, please click here.

Your support of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument would be greatly appreciated; please see this blog’s front page, top right side for more information.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

“Courage is the Price”

Courage is the price that Life exacts
for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter
joy can hear
The sound of wings
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion? Each time we
make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the resistless day,
And count it fair.

— Amelia Earhart

Our welcoming hearts go out to all our friends and supporters of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument in the U.S.A. and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.        

Marie S. Castro (third from right, sitting), and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee welcome Josephine Blanco Akiyama (sitting next to Marie, left) back to Saipan at a reception Oct. 9, 2018.

Let us join hands this Holiday Season in celebrating the 81 years of the long-overdue recognition of Amelia Earhart’s presence with her navigator, Fred Noonan here on Saipan, the great aviators of the 20th Century.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year  2019 

— From President Donald Barcinas, Vice President Marie S. Castro, Secretary Frances Sablan, all the members of the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument Committee, and Mike Campbell, Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Listen to Goerner’s first KCBS radio report on Saipan

Gary Boothe, of Floyd County, Va., lived on Saipan as a child from 1958 to 1962.  Both parents were teachers for the U.S. Navy civilian administration, teaching local students at Saipan Intermediate School.  They also taught for the U.S. Trust Territory in the Caroline islands at Chuuk and Yap.  Gary is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and has made several trips to visit islands in Micronesia, including Saipan, where the below photo was taken in June 2018.

Photo taken during Gary Boothe’s June 2018 visit to Saipan.  From Left: Dominique Boothe (Gary’s daughter), Gary, Marie S. Castro. Congressman Donald Barcinas, Mrs. Evelyna Shoda, Mr. Carlos Shoda. 

Recently Gary listened to an old reel-to-reel tape that his father left, and he made an amazing discovery.  It appears to be the first KCBS radio report filed by Fred Goerner upon his return to San Francisco following his late June to mid-July 1960 investigation there.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard this recording.  Moreover, I’ve never heard another researcher claim to have it.  This is a rare collector’s item that I gladly share with you, dear reader.  Since my WordPress blog format will not allow the posting of MP3s or other audio formats, my friend Dave Bowman, author of Legerdemain (2007), The Story of Amelia Earhart (2012), A Waiting Dragon: A fresh and audacious look at the Mystery of Amelia Earhart (2017) and others, has agreed to host the MP3 file of Goerner’s 1960 KCBS production on his websiteTo listen to Goerner’s report please click here.

At nationally broadcast KCBS news conference in San Francisco, November 1961, following Goerner’s second trip to Saipan, the author (at table, right) is questioned by newsmen about package of remains being flown in from Saipan.  Don Mozley, KCBS news director, is at the table with Goerner.  (Photo courtesy Lance Goerner.)

The 15-minute report parallels Goerner’s narrative in his bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart (pages 41-52, First Edition) about his initial Saipan visit, in mid-June 1960.   He speaks of how he “set about enlisting the aid of the fathers of the Church,” as virtually all the locals on Saipan were Catholic.  Monsignor Oscar Calvo, and Fathers Arnold Bendowske and Sylvan Conover served as translators during Goerner’s interrogations of what he variously reported as 200 to 300 potential witnesses, ensuring he would be getting the truth, in contrast to the lie so often spread by our media that the Saipan witnesses told Goerner “what he wanted to hear.”

The report doesn’t state its airing date, but it was on or about July 1, 1960, the date of Linwood Day’s stunning, front-page story in the San Mateo Times, headlined “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” and an “all media news conference . . . in Studio B at KCBS in the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco, according to Goerner (p. 62 Search).

He names only a few of his original 13 witnesses named in his 1966 bestseller, but quotes native dentist Manual Aldan, whose patients were Japanese officers:  I didn’t exactly see the man and the woman, but I heard from the Japanese official about one woman flier and a man that landed at a place (unintelligible) now called Tanapag. . . . I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese.  The name of the lady I heard used. This is the name the Japanese officer said — Earharto!”

Jose Rios Camacho (identified as Rios R. Camacho) told Goerner, I was working at Tanapag Harbor.  I saw the plane.  It was heading across the island . . . in a northeasterly to southwesterly direction.  It crashed in Tanapag area.  I saw a Navy launch bring them to the beach.  I saw the lady pilot and the man.  She was dressed like a man. Her hair was short, it was brown. Afterwards they kept her in Tanapag.”

Gary Boothe, left, circa 1960, at age 5, and friend enjoy another idyllic Saipan day near their Navy Seabee-built Quonset homes on Saipan. “The photo was taken in the housing area by the lighthouse on Navy Hill” Gary told me in a recent email.  “The building up the hill at the top of the photo is the island commander’s compound.  The ones in our housing area were moved there from somewhere else on the island in the mid ’50s. They were hot, but not as bad as you might think.  The only place to find any air conditioning out there at the time was on Guam, and it was pretty rare there.  We loved our Quonsets, and it was sad to return after many years and not have a single one in sight.  It was the dominant architectural feature back in the day.  (Photo courtesy Gary Boothe.)

“The testimonies go on and on,” Goerner said. We have two-and-a-half hours on tape.”

In concluding, Goerner jumped the gun a bit in his enthusiasm to claim the salvaged parts might have come from the Earhart Electra, but that’s understandable.  We know that they were later confirmed as coming from Japanese-made planes.  

Still germane today is the yet-unanswered question about the plane that brought the fliers to Saipan.  Was it a seaplane, as one would tend to believe, or a land-based plane that landed in the harbor because it was in trouble? 

Goerner said that the plane that the two Saipanese dove on in Tanapag Harbor was the same one that brought the fliers to Saipan in 1937, and he may have been correct in this.  If it was true, the plane that took the fliers to Saipan was not a Japanese seaplane, but a land-based plane that probably originated at Kwajalein, as two witnesses have attested (p. 150-154 Truth at Last). 

This would have been more evidence to support the land-based-plane-crash-landing scenario at Tanapag Harbor, already strongly supported by several Saipanese witnesses who used the word “crashed” in describing the plane’s arrival.  Seaplanes landing on water are not normally said to be “crashing.  This conundrum is discussed at length in “The Saipan Witnesses” chapter of Truth at Last.

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