Tag Archives: Saipan

Fred Goerner holds forth in 1987 radio broadcast

The following monologue from former KCBS Radio newsman, pre-eminent Earhart researcher and best-selling author Fred Goerner appeared in the November 1997 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  It’s a snapshot of Goerner’s thinking in 1987, just seven years before his death from cancer in 1994.  He’s clearly learned much since his 1966 bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart was published, but he’s far from declaring,Case closed,and continues to speculate about major aspects of the Earhart case.  

The radio station remains unidentified, but it was likely a West Coast outlet, since Goerner lived in San Francisco and spent most of his time there, and could have been KCBS, where he was a prominent newsman during his Saipan investigations of the early 1960s.  Bold face emphasis is mine throughout.

“A Thorough Search for An Illusive Answer”
(Fred Goerner speaking on a radio broadcast in 1987)

. . . . I began the investigation in 1960, for the Columbia Broadcasting System. There was a woman named Josephine Nakiyama (sic, Akiyama is correct) who lived in San Mateo, CA who in 1960 stipulated that she had seen an American man and woman, supposedly fliers, in Japanese custody on the island of Saipan in 1937.   My reaction to the story was one of total and complete skepticism.  It seemed to me that many years after the fact, and 15 years after the end of World War II, that surely if there was such information, our government knew about it.

I was assigned by CBS to follow the story, and I was sent to Saipan for the first time in 1960.  I have been to Saipan 14 times since then.  I have been to the Marshall Islands 4 times.  I have been to our National Archives and other depositories around the country countless times, in search of extant records that deal with the disappearance and with respect to Miss Earhart’s involvement with the US Government at the time of her flight.

This is the photo of Josephine Blanco Akiyama that appeared in Paul Briand Jr.’s 1960 book Daughter of the Sky, and launched the modern-day search for Amelia Earhart.  She died in January 2022 at 95.

This [effort] has now extended over 27 years.  You may wonder why I want to record my own statement.  It is simply because there are so many people who have involved themselves over the years, for various reasons.  When you present something, it often comes back to you in a different manner.  [Therefore] I would like to have a record of everything that I have said, so that if somebody is trying to quote me, I can definitely establish what it is I HAVE said and what I have not.

Let me say at the outset here, that there is no definite proof — I am talking about tangible evidence here – that Amelia Earhart was indeed in the custody of the Japanese and died in Japanese custody.  [However] there is a lot of other evidence that points to that possibility.  [For example:] it was the late Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz who became sort of a second father during the last years of his life, who kept my nose to this story.  He indicated to me that there were things behind it all that had never been released.

I wrote the book “The Search for Amelia Earhart” in 1966, and it did reach many people.  People in Congress and in the Senate began to ask questions of Departments of Government who, up to that time, had denied that there were classified records of any kind in any of the department of the military and/or government that dealt with Amelia Earhart.

It was not until 1968 that the first evidence began to surface.  At this juncture [1987], there have been over 25,000 pages of classified records dealing with Earhart’s involvement with the military.  As a sidelight, I think it is a supreme salute to Amelia that, 50 years after her disappearance, we are still concerned with finding the truth where this matter is concerned.  These records that have been released reveal clearly, unequivocally, that Amelia was cooperating with her government at the time of her disappearance.

The only bestseller ever penned on the Earhart disappearance, “Search” sold over 400,000 copies and stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for six months. In September 1966, Time magazine’s scathing review, titled “Sinister Conspiracy,” set the original tone for what has become several generations of media aversion to the truth about Amelia’s death on Saipan.

That does NOT mean that she was that terrible word, a SPY, although at one time we at CBS had suspected that this was a possibility.  Particularly when we learned that Clarence Kelly Johnson, at Lockheed Aircraft, had been the real technical advisor for her final flight.  Mr. Johnson later headed the U-2 program and our SR-71 supersonic reconnaissance program[s].  In conversations that I have had with Mr. Johnson, he has convinced me that Amelia was NOT on an overt spy mission.

The records do indicate, though, that Amelia’s plane was purchased for her by the (then) War Department, with the money channeled through three individuals to Purdue Research Foundation.  There was a quid pro quo: Amelia was to test the latest high frequency direction finder equipment that had intelligence overtones.  She was also to conduct what is known as “white intelligence,” but that [did] not make her a spy.  Civilians very often perform this function for their governments.  They are going to be in places at times where the military cannot visit.  All one does is to keep one’s eyes open and listen.  She was going to be flying in areas of the world then closed to the military.  Weather conditions, radio conditions, length of runways, fuel supplies, all information that would be of interest to the military.

Fred Goerner at KCBS Radio San Francisco, circa 1966. (Courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

They asked her to change her original flight plan to use Howland Island as a destination, and it was to that island she was headed at the time of her disappearance.  The United States was forbidden by the 1923 Washington Treaty Conference with Japan, to do anything of a military nature on these islands.  Amelia was to be the civilian reason for construction of an airfield [there] that could later be used for military purposes.

At the Amelia Earhart Symposium held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum as few years ago, I revealed that Thomas McKean, who is [was] head of Intertel [Inc.], had been the Executive Officer of the 441st Counter-Intelligence Corps unit in Tokyo after the end of the war.  He had done the study for the CIC, and testified that a complete file was established at that time, [which included the information that] Amelia had been picked up by the Japanese and died in Japanese custody.

[Further] there have been over 40 witnesses on the island of Saipan who testified in the presence of church authorities.  From them information was gathered that claimed a man and woman answering the description of Earhart and Noonan were held in Japanese custody on the island in 1937, and that the woman died of dysentery sometime between 8 and 14 months after her arrival. And the man who accompanied her was executed after her death.  Had you been there too, you would have been won over [by their testimony].

A young Kelly Johnson and Amelia Earhart in an undated photo.

When I heard that information, I personally talked several times to Mr. Hams, and later recounted this story in a presentation [to government officials?] in Washington, D.C., where we began an effort to determine the existence of these records.  Several years went by, with naught save denials. Finally, an old friend of mine in San Francisco, Caspar Weinberger [then Sec. Of Defense] said, Well, we are going to find out.”  [Some time later] I received a call from the head of the Navy’s Freedom of Information Office in Washington.  She said, “We have good news and we have bad news.  The good news is that we have located the records [at Crane], but the bad news is it is part of 14,000 reels of information stored there.  We are sending some people to Crane to find out if [what you want] can be released.”  [Months later] there was a letter from Mr. Weinberger, dated April 20, 1967, which I quote:

Dear Fred:

In regard to the US Navy review of records in Crane, Indiana which you hope will reveal information about Amelia Earhart.  I understand your eagerness to learn the outcome of the Navy’s review.  Unfortunately, however, we are dealing with a very time-consuming and tedious task.  There are some 14,000 reels of microfilm containing Navy and Marine Corps cryptological records, which under National Security Regulations must be examined page by page.  They cannot be released in bulk.  To date, over 6,000 reels have been examined in this manner and the sheer mass prevents us from predicting exactly how long it will take to examine the remaining reels. It may be helpful for you to know that the Naval Group Command’s examination of the index [has] thus far revealed no mention of Amelia Earhart.  Should the information be discovered in the remaining reels however, it will be reviewed for release through established procedures and made available to you promptly and as appropriate.  I wish I could be more helpful, but I hope these comments will provide assurance that our Navy people are not capriciously dragging out the review.  Completion of the task will be a relief to everyone involved. 

Sincerely,

Cap

What do I believe after 27 years of investigating?  I have no belief.  There is a strong possibility that she was taken by the Japanese at a very precipitous time in Pacific history.   There is a possibility that, having broken the Japanese codes, Franklin Roosevelt knew she was in Japanese custody. Several times before the war the records that are now available indicate that he asked the Office of Naval Intelligence to infiltrate agents into the Marshall Islands to determine whether Earhart was alive or dead.  He also asked his friend Vincent Astor in 1938, to take his private yacht to those islands to seek out possible information, but the yacht was quickly chased away by the Japanese.

Fred Goerner’s “old friend,” Caspar Willard “Cap” Weinberger, secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987, was another highly placed government official who helped erect and maintain the stone wall of silence around the top-secret Earhart files and led Goerner on a fruitless goose chase.  Weinberger told him that The Naval Security Group Detachment at Crane, Ind., held “some 14,000 reels of microfilm containing Navy and Marine Corps cryptological records, which, under National Security Regulations must be examined page-by-page,” strongly suggesting that the Earhart secrets might someday be found there.  They never were.

We do know of Roosevelt’s association with Amelia.  I do not believe it is a denigration of Earhart that she was serving her government.  I believe, instead of being categorized as a publicity seeker trying to fly around the world, that if she was serving her government in those capacities which are established, that she ought to be celebrated even further.

I have no hostility toward Japan.  In fact, one of the writers from that country, Fokiko Iuki [sic, correct is Fukiko Aoki, see my July 16, 2017 post on Susan Butler], who has done a book on [the Earhart disappearance] from the Japanese point of view, came to America and I assisted her in its preparation.  But until I have satisfied my mind where these last records [in Crane] are concerned, in particular the information from the CIC and the Navy Cryptological Security Units, I’m not going to let it stop there.  (End of Goerner’s radio broadcast.)

Knowledgeable Earhart observers will note that nowhere in this 1987 broadcast did Goerner mention where he believed the fliers landed, much less the fact that he later changed his mind about such a significant piece of the Earhart puzzle.

This topic is far too complex to cover here, but in the early years of his Saipan and Marshalls investigations, as well as in his 1966 book, Goerner was adamant that Earhart and Noonan landed at Mili Atoll, based on the significant amount of evidence supporting this all but certain scenario.  For much more, see Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, Chapter VII, “The Marshall Islands Witnesses, pages 129-134 and Chapter VIII, “Goerner’s Reversal and Devine’s Dissent,” 172-178.

Ferris’ Saipan account closely mirrors Nabers’

World War II veteran and American Legion member Robert T. Stocker, of West Haven, Conn., sent the following “In Search Of” item to The American Legion magazine in January 1993.  It appeared in the August 1993 issue:

Saipan Marines who guarded Amelia Earhart’s plane at Aslito Field, or those aware of Navy Secretary James Forrestal’s presence there.  Contact: Robert T. Stocker . . . West Haven CT, 06516.

John N. Fletcher, of Elkhorn, Nebraska, immediately responded to Stocker’s request.  Fletcher, who piloted a B-25 while serving in Europe during World War II, had no eyewitness information, but his longtime friend, Howard Ferris, a Marine machine gunner who served on Saipan and died in 1979, certainly did, and told him all about it when they returned to their hometown of Frankfort, Kansas, after the war.

Undated photo of Army Air Force veteran John N. Fletcher, who contacted Thomas E. Devine in 1993 to relate the eyewitness experience of his friend Howard Ferris on Saipan in the summer of 1944.

In August 2008, Fletcher, 83, told me he flew C-47 Gooneybirds delivering the mail between Paris and Naples, Italy before his discharge in April 1946, and he had no firsthand Earhart information.  But Ferris’ remarkable experience lived on in his friend, and in the letter Fletcher wrote to Devine in September 1993 that vividly described it.  Following are excerpts of the letter, a copy of which Fletcher provided after I wrote him:

. . .  I have given this matter a lot of thought since receiving your letter and will tell you all I can remember about it.  Howard Ferris was a machine gunner in his unit of Marines, and after being wounded was returned to States from Pacific, and was an instructor at aerial gunner school, I believe at Alamagorda, N. Mexico.  He was discharged earlier than I was, and had been home for some time before I was discharged.  As soon as I arrived home, my mother said Howard was home and wanted to see me. It was a week or so later that I found him at his parent’s home, and spent at least 2 hours going over our wartime experiences.  Having been a pilot myself, he asked me what I thought of the story he told me.  I said Howard, anything, could be, we only know what we are told.

Howard said they received very short notice, I cannot remember his unit, but there were quite a large number of them, were sent immediately to this island, to guard duty.  They came from another island that his unit had taken from the Japanese just to do guard duty on an old hangar structure at end of a runway.  This hangar was not large, but he said small trees had grown up in front of big doors, so it was obvious nothing had come in or out recently.  At first they didn’t even know what was inside, and were quite put out they had been transported in from another island to do guard duty on an old hangar structure, when the place was crawling with Army personnel already there.

He also said it was guarded with (he named the amount) but I can’t remember the number [of troops guarding] around the clock.  His firsthand story to me was, while he was on duty, a vehicle full of high ranking army officers arrived to have a look inside.  They exchanged words, and a heated exchange followed.  The marine officer at the scene stood his ground, and refused them entrance.  The army men threatened the marine officer.  The marine said he was following his orders, the army then left with the remark that his orders would soon be changed.  Howard said that they were not seen againThis was about the time they learned (how I don’t know) there was an aircraft inside.

Some time went by, and the question all had was how long was this going to go on?  Their Captain, Howard said Captain Green or Greene said they were awaiting word from Washington on what to do.  By then all marines thought they were guarding the Earhart plane, or at least the crashed parts of it.  Howard was not present at the fire, but one of his buddies was.  The buddy said a truck arrived with many gas cans, and the guards saturated the entire hangar, the officers going inside with cans first and Captain Green personally started the fire, and it burned totally.  Howard said he was at the scene before they left and it had been one plane, twin engine, and twin tail, obviously not a P-38, it was a type neither U.S. or Japan had in the area.  It was burned and twisted so badly he could not tell if it had been in flying condition, or was a crash relic.  At any rate almost before the fire had cooled down all the marine unit was transported back to the island that they had left, when they left to guard the plane.  They were ordered to keep their mouths shut and that the incident never happened.

Robert T. Stocker (undated), World War II vet and friend of Thomas E. Devine, whose 1993 notice in the American Legion Magazine elicited a fascinating response from John Fletcher about this friend Howard Ferris’ Saipan experiences in the summer of 1944.

With the exception of the incorrect identification of the Marine guard as an officer, Fletcher’s report of Ferris’ Saipan experience mirrored Earskin Nabers’ story, which was presented here in a Sept. 17, 2022 post.

Though Nabers was a private, not an officer, and no report has mentioned an officer guarding the hangar, Ferris’ recollection of the encounter with “high ranking army officers” who wanted to enter the hangar and were challenged by the Marine who “stood his ground” is too much like Nabers account to be coincidental.

Fletcher didn’t remember Ferris saying anyone from Washington was present at the hangar.  “They waited for word from Washington on what to do with the object of their guard, Fletcher wrote.  Though his recollection that Ferris said the guards saturated the entire hangar with gas is missing from the Devine and Nabers accounts, it doesn’t completely contradict them, nor does Fletcher’s incorrect identification of Lt. Col. Wallace R. Greene as a captain But Fletcher’s statement that Ferris’ unit was sent from an unnamed island to Saipan and returned there upon completion of their clandestine mission at Aslito Airfield remains puzzling.

Two decades later, Ferris told Fletcher that Greene had been named commandant of the Marine Corps.  “In Howard’s words, ‘What does that tell you?’” Fletcher wrote.  “The other thing he would shake his head about was that not one word of this incident was ever reported back to the U.S. during, or after the war.  Like Captain Green [sic] had said, it never happened.”

John Fletcher passed away at 88 on July 17, 2013, at Arbor Manor in Fremont, Neb.  Robert T. Stocker, Sr., 90,  passed away on Aug. 12, 2016 at the VA Hospital in West Haven.

Nabers’ Saipan account among GIs’ most compelling

Readers here are familiar with Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, the former Army postal sergeant’s dramatic recollection of his three eyewitness encounters with the Earhart Electra on Saipan during the U.S invasion in summer 1944, the final time watching as the Earhart plane was torched, strafed and burned beyond recognition.  Devine closed Eyewitness with an emotional plea to any and all with similar knowledge to step forward in support of his efforts to establish the truth:

. . . But now, after four decades of exhaustive study and analysis, I can unequivocally substantiate the presence of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan in 1937 as well as their deaths and subsequent interment in an unmarked grave in the southern outskirts of Garapan.

I am determined to return to Saipan and authenticate the remains of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  I appeal to readers to join me in this effort by supplying any documents, foreign or domestic, which have bearing on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, her navigator Frederick Noonan, or their Lockheed Electra.  Should you merely hold memories in the shadows, I urge you to correspond with me now.  The challenge is there and the burden of proof is ours to share. 

Thomas E. Devine, whose involvement with events surrounding the discovery and destruction of Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E as a 28-year-old Army postal sergeant on Saipan in July 1944 shaped the rest of his life.  Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, is among the most important books about the Earhart disappearance ever penned.

After his 1963 Saipan visit with Fred Goerner to search for the gravesite shown him by an Okinawan woman there in 1945, Devine would never return, for a variety of frustrating reasons — mainly the CNMI and Saipan governments’ concerted opposition to his plans — an outcome he never imagined.  But as a result of his appeal in Eyewitness and elsewhere, 26 former GIs who served on Saipan contacted him and shared their experiences relative to Earhart and Noonan’s presence and deaths there, and this formed the basis for our 2002 book, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart.

Robert E. Wallack, of Woodbridge, Conn., a short drive from Devine’s West Haven home, contacted him shortly after learning of Eyewitness’s publication.  With his gregarious personality and riveting account of his discovery of Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe on Saipan, he became the best known of all the GI witnesses.  For much more on Wallack’s account, see my Sept. 28, 2015 post, Son Bill tells Robert E. Wallack’s amazing story.

Earskin J. Nabers, of Baldwyn, Mississippi, also had a Saipan story to tell, every bit as compelling and important as Wallack’s, but it almost never got out.  The low-key Nabers was content to live a quiet life in rural Mississippi, and never sought attention, despite the fact that his story features more twists, turns and chapters than Wallack’s, and is the most fascinating and complex of all the Saipan GI witnesses.

Nabers was a 20-year-old code clerk in the H & S Communication Platoon of the 8th Marines during the invasion of Saipan.  In October 1992, a friend showed him this notice placed by Devine in the spring edition of Follow Me, the official publication of the 2nd Marine Division Association, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina:

I am seeking to contact any of the Marines, who, during the
invasion of Saipan, were placed on guard duty at Aslito Field,
to guard a padlocked hangar containing Amelia Earhart’s
airplane.

The hangar was not one of those located along the runway.
It was located near what may have been a Japanese administration
building, and an unfinished hangar at the tarmac, in the southwest
corner of the airfield.

Please contact: Thomas E. Devine,
81 Isadore St., West Haven, CT 06516
(Yes, I was there.) Thomas E. Devine

Marine Corp. Earskin J. Nabers at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in 1946, just before his discharge and return to his Baldwyn, Miss., home.  As a code clerk in the communications center of the 8th Marine Regiment on Saipan in July 1944, Nabers decoded the top-secret message announcing the discovery of Amelia Earhart’s Electra in a hangar at Aslito Field. (Courtesy Sandra Nabers Sealy.)

The following is Nabers’ reply to Devine (handwritten), dated July 11, 1992:

Dear Thomas,

I want to apologize first for not writing earlier.

I will start from the first. I was a code clerk in the H & S Communications Plt. It was made up of wire section, radio section and message section.  I was in the message section, all the messages came through our message center.

We were on mopping up duty on opposite end of Saipan from where we landed (the South end).  The message came over our field radios.  I decoded it and I was quite excited when I read the message.  The message read (the best I remember) that Amelia Earhart’s plane had been found at Aslito Field, this was about the middle of the morning.

(We had to get Col. [Clarence R.] Wallace to sign all the messages that came through the message center.)

Shortly after we received the message, Hq. 8th moved back to bivouac area.  I was dropped off at the Hangar for guard duty [at] the main road that went by west side of hangar.  The road that went out to hangar, I was placed on the right side, just as it left the main road.  And there was an Army man on the opposite side. He had arrived on the island just a few days before.  I don’t remember his name but I think he was from Minnesota.  I stayed on duty first day, that night, most of next day.

We were told not to let anyone go in.  There was a jeep come by with some officers in it.  They wanted to go in to see the plane.  We told them our orders, they said what if we go anyway.  We stepped in front of the Jeep, and told them that it would be in the best interest of all involved for them to turn around and leave.  There was some other people come and checked us out, but they did not go in, they were just checking on security.

After I went back to my platoon there was another message come through that said something about destroying the plane.  Myself and two more boys went back down to the airfield to see it destroyed.  (the message give the time it was supposed to be destroyed)

The best I can recall the plane was pulled on the field by a jeep (driven by some Marines.  I have got ahead of myself, the first time we went down there wasn’t anything done to plane it was the second day that the plane was pulled on the field but we went both times and we learned the second time from a message that come off the radio.

Saipan’s Aslito Airfield just after its capture by the 165th Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division on June 18, 1944.  Standing hangars and Japanese aircraft, though damaged, belie skeptics’ claims that the Navy’s pre-invasion aerial bombardment leveled all buildings, and therefore Amelia Earhart’s Electra could not have been housed and discovered there.  (U.S. Army photo.)

Picking up from the plane being pulled on the field.  The plane was facing north after the plane was parked and jeep moved.  A plane come over real low and the next pass he strafed the plane and it went up in a huge fireball.  (We were sitting on the west side of the airfield about one hundred yard from plane.  We were on higher ground.  As far I remember, the ones that pulled the plane on the field and us guys from H & S 8th were the only ones there.  We were not there officially, you know how Marines were, got to see what was going on.)

. . . This is a bit sketchy, but I hope it is worth something to you, as you know not everyone believes us.  I told about it a few times & got the look as if to say that guy must have got shell shocked & had one guy tell me that can’t be so.  I will stand by what I have said and I will place my hand on the Holy Book and repeat the whole thing over.

If ever I can be of any help to you in any way feel free to call on me.  I guarantee that I will reply pronto.

Best Wishes,
Earskin J. Nabers

P.S. about not writing earlier, I had a problem to come up in the family that left me emotionally or I should say took the most of my time thinking about it.  But thank God everything seems to be working out for the best. E.J.N

During an October 1992 phone conversation with me, Nabers, a receiving clerk in Baldwyn, repeated the details of his account.  He added he was able to get a look into the padlocked hangar through a small opening between the doors.  Nabers described a silver, twin-engine civilian plane.  He said he couldn’t make out the registration marks from his vantage point.  Neither could he discern its registration as he witnessed the Electra’s destruction because, “It was dark and we were too far away to read them.”

We’ll hear more from Earskin J.  Nabers in future posts, and I promise you won’t be bored.  For more on what we’ve already done about American military personnel on 1944-’45 Saipan and their experiences that revealed the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan there, please see “Veterans recall seeing Earhart photos on SaipanandKanna’s letter among first of GI Saipan witnesses,” my March 13, 2020 and Jan. 4, 2022 posts.

 

85th Anniversary of Last Flight arrives quietly

On July 2, 1937, 85 years ago today, Amelia Earhart and her intrepid navigator Fred Noonan rolled down the unpaved runway at Lae, New Guinea at 10 a.m. in Amelia’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E, NR 16020, officially headed for Howland Island, a tiny speck 2,556 miles to the east-northeast, about 1,900 miles southwest of Honolulu and 200 miles east of the International Dateline.  They would be crossing two time zones and the International Dateline, flying into yesterday, so to speak, scheduled to arrive July 2 at Howland several hours before the time they departed Lae on the same date. 

Perhaps the last photo taken before the flyers’ July 2 takeoff from Lae, New Guinea. Mr. F.C. Jacobs of the New Guinea Gold Mining Company stands between Amelia and Fred. Note that Fred looks chipper and ready to go, not hung over from a night of drinking, as has been alleged.

At 0844 Howland time, 20 hours, 14 minutes after departing Lae, Earhart sent her infamous last message: “WE ARE ON THE LINE 157-337, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KCS. WAIT LISTENING ON 6210 KCS.”  After about a minute’s pause, she added, “WE ARE RUNNING ON LINE NORTH AND SOUTH.”  The message was received on 3105 at signal strength 5 of 5.  “She was so loud that I ran up to the bridge expecting to see her coming in for a landing,” Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts told Elgen Long in 1973.

As we all know, the fliers were never heard from again — officially, that is.  Instead of reaching their intended South Pacific landfall en route to a world aviation record, Earhart and Noonan allegedly vanished into legend, myth and haunting immortality — a special status reserved for rare sacred cows that continues to this day, thanks to the deceitful machinations of a government-media establishment determined to deny the truth about the fliers’ wretched deaths at the hands of the pre-war Japanese on Saipan from a world that’s long since moved on to more trendy “mysteries.” 

This July the media atmosphere is substantially thinner than in past years; for some reason we’re not being subjected to another big media disinformation campaign, which has been nearly always the case.  Among the most memorable of recent deception operations, of course, was the July 2017 History Channel travesty, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which premiered July 9, 2017 on History, better known as the History Channel.

Robert Ballard’s search for Amelia Earhart off Nikumaroro was far less successful than his triumphant Titanic endeavor.  (Courtesy Encyclopedia Britannica.)

We’ve also seen the ballyhooed summer 2019 Robert Ballard-National Geographic search, yet another transparent pretense meant to distract the public and get the surprisingly attention-starved Ballard another payday and more publicity.  After the search, one would have been hard pressed to find any news announcing its failure, as is always the case with these Earhart boondoggles. 

Also as always, I ensured that readers here were informed, doing so with my Aug. 27, 2019 post, Ballard’s Earhart search fails; anyone surprised?

The obvious question was why someone with Ballard’s impressive resume and fame would be so willing to join the long list of fraudsters selling the putrid can of worms that the “search for Amelia Earhart” became long ago. 

The Ballard hoopla was reminiscent of the clatter attached to the similarly hyped 2017 Nauticos search for the Earhart plane in the waters off Howland Island.  Here’s how I began my March 27, 2017 post on that time waster:

One of the better-known definitions of insanity has been attributed to Albert Einstein, who described it as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I wonder how many times it would take Nauticos, or the rest of clueless crashed-and-sankers to search the Pacific floor without finding the Earhart Electra before they admitted they might be wrong about what happened to Amelia and her plane.  Based on past performances, the answer is, sadly, Never.

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.

. . . What is really going on here, one might ask.  Can these otherwise well-educated, highly skilled men be so stupid as to actually believe their own press releases about the Electra lying on the bottom of the ocean?  Not likely.  As I wrote in Truth at Last (page 304 Second Edition), Is it coincidence that the majority of Nauticos’ lucrative contracts accrue from the largess of the Navy, whose original Earhart search report remains the official, if rarely stated position of the U.S. government?  Here we see yet another establishment effort to maintain and perpetuate the myth that Earhart and Noonan ‘landed on the sea to the northwest of Howland Island’ on July 2, 1937.”

No discussion about Amelia Earhart and media treatment of her disappearance is complete without mentioning The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (which has never recovered an aircraft, historic or otherwise, to my knowledge), better known as TIGHAR, and its executive director Ric Gillespie.

TIGHAR has been fairly inert for the past few years, possibly because even a corrupt, compliant media deeply in the tank for the big scam might have its limits.  In TIGHAR’s case, for more than 30 years our corporate media has pushed a credulous, gullible public to buy the most ridiculous assortment of dredged-up garbage imaginable as “evidence” that Earhart and Noonan landed on the central Pacific island of Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island, and died there of starvation within a relatively short time, despite abundant food and water sources. 

The most perilous leg of Amelia Earhart’s world-flight attempt was the 2,556-mile stretch from Lae, New Guinea to tiny Howland Island, a daunting journey over the vast Central Pacific that had never been attempted.  Note distances from Howland to Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and from Lae to Saipan, key locations in the Earhart saga. (Courtesy Linda D. Pendleton.)   

This is not the time to get into details about the countless TIGHAR forays to Nikumaroro or re-examine the garage full of so-called evidencethat Gillespie and his minions have dragged back to continue their Earhart investigations.”  Here’s how I began my brief view of the TIGHAR phenomenon in a subsection titled “The Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Recycled Snake Oil” in Chapter 15: The Establishment’s Contempt for the Truth in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last:

No one in the history of Earhart investigations has made so much from so little as Ric Gillespie. Since the bleak day in March 1992 when Gillespie baldly announced to a worldwide CNN audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the Earhart mystery is solved, he’s been universally hailed as the world’s leading expert on the Earhart disappearance.  The real mystery is why, after eleven fruitless excursions to Nikumaroro, the media continue to treat Gillespie as if he’s the sole repository of knowledge in the Earhart matter?  How has he gained such worldwide acclaim without producing a scintilla of evidence to support a fourth-hand theory rejected decades ago by researchers whose financial well-being didn’t depend on raising small fortunes for their next trip to Nikumaroro?

And here’s the closing paragraphs of the same subsection:

. . . The TIGHAR website contains an impressive collection of research, but for all its bells and whistles, not one of its documents offers the slightest trace of evidence that ties Amelia Earhart to Nikumaroro—and not one legitimate eyewitness is presented, because none exist.  Ironically, [Fred] Hooven’s 1982 research paper, “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, also known as the “Hooven Report,” was added to TIGHAR’s archives in November 2002.  “Last Flight strongly supported the Saipan truth, ridiculed by Gillespie as a festival of folklore, but otherwise a subject assiduously avoided by the TIGHAR chief.

Contrary to his arrogant dismissal of the fliers’ Saipan demise as conspiratorial claptrap, the most ridiculous folk story to infect the Earhart search is that the erroneous ideas promoted by Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR have any relationship to the truth.  But TIGHAR’s unending Nikumaroro searches have managed to reveal one undeniable fact: Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and NR 16020 were never there.

I wrote above that the Earhart media atmosphere isthinnerthis year, but it’s not completely empty, null and void, either.  On Sunday, June 26, longtime reader and photographer Phil Broda sent me a vile, studiously deceitful piece of Earhart disinformation from the left-leaning The Daily Beast, titled,The Amelia Earhart Kimono That Spikes a Racist Legend,by one Laurie Gwen Shapiro, who we learn is also writing an Earhart biography, one I will surely never read. 

There’s no point in responding directly to Shapiro or The Daily Beast, as nothing would change, and they might even get a sick sense of satisfaction, that is, if they know anything at all about what honest researchers — few as we are — are doing these days.  This despicable screed, among the most dishonest and twisted I’ve seen, shamelessly slings the old leftist standby, racism, as a weapon at the truth of the fliers’ Saipan deaths and the researchers who discovered it, actually naming and flatly dismissing the seminal work of Paul Briand Jr. and Fred Goerner, while extolling the serial lies of the crashed-and-sank poster boy Elgen Long.  This perverse descent into an especially evil historical revisionism starkly illustrates the cold reality that the U.S. establishment continues to hate and deny the truth in the Earhart matter, perhaps now more than ever.   

I will not quote from or reproduce anything from this contemptable hit piece, but if you want to see for yourself the depths to which some will descend to advance Earhart propaganda and mendacity, you can click on the link above, and tell me where I’m wrong.  A warning: After a few free looks, The Daily Beast will shut you out and try to force you into subscribing before you can view this atrocity again. 

As I told Calvin Pitts when I sent him The Daily Beast story, “It’s not much, but it’s not nothing either.”  It’s just enough to remind us, on this the 85th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight, that the enemies of the truth are always out there, plotting and scheming ways to take advantage of the great lady’s name for their own selfish, nefarious purposes.  

State Dept. 1960 message presages Japan AE denials

Fred Goerner’s first investigative visit to Saipan in June-July 1960 made serious noise in newspapers here and around the world, as the witnesses he interviewed revealed a completely different reality about what happened to Amelia Earhart than the official U.S. propaganda that had been perpetrated and accepted by the masses since 1937 

In July 1960, Goerner wrote in Chapter 15 of The Search for Amelia Earhart,U.S. Congressman J. Arthur Younger, of San Mateo, California, responded to the international headlines generated by the once-obscure newspaper in his district by asking the U.S. State Department to open all its Earhart files to the public, and to request an official statement from Japan.

Goerner continued:

In early August, the Japanese Foreign Office announced through the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that it had completed an exhaustive investigation “which revealed no basis whatsoever for the rumor the Japanese had executed Amelia Earhart at Saipan.”  It added that all available Japanese records had been searched and all former officers and officials were reached during the investigation.  The report was transmitted to the State Department by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. . . . The State Department also denied it held any classified information on Earhart.

The message above (click for larger view), dated July 15, 1960 and sent to Secretary of State from a State Department official named only Macarthur and titled Embassy Telegram 121, was a prelude to the early August statement referenced by Goerner.  It came from the Japanese Foreign Office and dishonestly and flatly denied Japan’s involvement with the execution of Amelia Earhart.  I don’t have the August message in my files, but this one tells the same story just as convincingly.  

“FONOFF [foreign official] informed us today that preliminary search of Japanese files has uncovered no indications Amelia Earhart was executed by Japanese,” the message begins, all in upper case.  Please click on the image if it’s not easy to read clearly on your monitor.

Fred Goerner with witness Dr. Manuel Aldan on Saipan, June 1960.  Aldan was a dentist who worked on Japanese officers, who told him of the woman flier in custody on Saipan, who they called “Earharto.”  (Courtesy San Francisco Library Special Collections.)

“The Japanese response was what we expected in 1960,” Goerner wrote in Search. . . . “However, the Japanese even then were careful to state Amelia had not been ‘executed at Saipan in 1937.’  Other possibilities were not discussed.” 

This document appeared in the July 1995 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. In an editor’s note Bill Prymak added at the bottom, he wrote, Why would the U.S. Government still be chasing Amelia when they declared her down at sea in 1937?? [sic] Note July 15, 1960 date above.

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