Tag Archives: Vincent V. Loomis

Japanese lied about Earhart search in Marshalls

Most observers of the true history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart are familiar with the work of Vincent V. Loomis, the former U.S. Air Force C-47 pilot, who, with his wife, Georgette, made four investigative trips to the Marshall Islands in the late 1970s-early ’80s, finding and interviewing several extremely important witnesses, which led to the publication of his 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story.

Loomis’ most important findings came in 1981, when he went to Tokyo seeking confirmation of statements contained in a 1949 CIA inter-office memorandum he found in National Air and Space Museum files The G-2 intelligence document revealed the United States was extremely interested in the Earhart case, and in 1949 had asked Japan to provide any and all relevant information it possessed.  The unstated purpose of the American government’s renewed interest in the case may have been to discredit Amy Otis Earhart’s July 1949 statement to the Los Angeles Times that she believed the Japanese were involved in Amelia’s demise.  Attached to the memo were clippings of a July 25, 1949 United Press story, “Mother Tells Fate of Amelia Earhart,” reporting Mrs. Earhart’s statements to the Times, as well as an August 1949 story in Japan’s Nippon Times, “UP [United Press] Tracing of Story Famed Aviatrix Was Nabbed By Japanese Still Proving Futile.”

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979.  In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important of the Earhart disappearance books, in that it established the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands following their disappearance on July 2, 1937.  (Courtesy Clayton Loomis.)

The following article was written by Bill Prymak but came largely from the pages of Amelia Earhart: The Final Story,  It appeared in the July 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Following Prymak’s piece, I’ll have some additional comments.  

JAPANESE CAUGHT RED-HANDED IN A LIE?
By Bill Prymak

Was or was not the KAMOI at Jaluit during the period July 2, 1937?  In a memo to James Golden dated 14 October 1976, Fred Goerner referred to documents that fuel the fire: “Interesting point: The comments of the Japanese officers in 1949 are the exact opposite of the same officers in 1971.  In the enclosed documents, the officers maintained the KAMOI searched for AE in 1937.

In an article in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings in 1971, the same officers maintained that the KAMOI had nothing to do with the search in 1937; indeed, they claimed the KAMOI was in Japan at the time of AE’s disappearance.”  (Preceding boldface emphasis Prymak’s, remaining boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Were the Japanese lying the first time, in 1949, or were they covering up on 1971?  You decide from the following:

Vincent Loomis, author of Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, describes how during a visit to Japan in 1981, he found a G-2 document on Amelia Earhart, dated Aug. 4, 1949:

This document appeared in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 book that chronicles Loomis’ four trips to the Marshall Islands.  

After the war, U.S. Intelligence (G-2) was ordered to investigate the Earhart disappearance from the Japanese side, Vincent V. Loomis wrote in his introduction to the above document, which he labeled “Central Intelligence G-2 Memorandum — 1949.” 

The resulting report, reproduced here for the first time, is remarkable in that the Japanese managed to convince  G-2 they had searched the Marshalls quite thoroughly when in fact they had not.  The 12th Squadron and the Kamoi were listened as having searched the area when, as found in their logs, they were in port in Japan.  The Koshu was also listed as part of the search, but as having found nothing.  

The Japanese lied quite convincingly both in 1937 and in 1949, but their statements could not be proven as such until the shipsmovements were determined through research in Japan in 1981. 

Far from being uninterested in her loss, the U.S. government had pressed the Japanese for as much information as they could obtain.  American intelligence agents were unable to find any Japanese Navy records pertaining to Earhart, but interviews were carried out with Japanese personnel who had supposedly searched for the Electra after it was lost on the way to Howland.

According to the document, the Japanese Navy’s 12th Squadron, assigned to the Marshalls in 1937, was instructed by Tokyo, after a request from the U.S. government, to send the Kamoi, a seaplane tender, and several large flying boats, using the sea to the south of Jaluit as a central search point.  Later the survey ship Koshu was ordered into the areaBoth ships were listed in Japanese news releases of the day as primary search vessels.  The Japanese testified that the Kamoi led the rescue effort, but no traces of Earhart were found.  The investigation was closed.

. . . Once settled into a marvelous hotel (nothing like my wooden barracks of 1945), I was interviewed by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper about my quest for Amelia Earhart.  Other journalists and a television station heard of my efforts, and before long I had a number of allies among these newspeople.  One reporter told me that he had tried to interview Japanese veterans who had served during the period of Earhart’s loss, but there was a loud silence on the subject.  The new generation of Japanese wanted to know the truth, many actively searching out contacts on my behalf.

The next day my Japanese interpreter, Ty Yoneyama, and I started to dig into the history of the Kamoi and the Koshu.  We found a recent book on naval ships by a Japanese civilian publisher, which listed the Kamoi docked in Japan by July 10, 1937.  Because Earhart had gone down on July 2, we suspected the Kamoi could not have taken part in the search as reported to American intelligence in 1949.  The Koshu was listed as a coal-burning ship of over 2000 tons, assigned to the Marshalls in July 1937.  My first thought was of Tomaki [Mayazo] loading coal aboard the ship he described to me.  Had it been the Koshu?

The Japanese navy’s 2,080-ton survey ship Koshu, was probably the ship that picked up Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan from their landfall near Mili’s Barre Island, and which carried the Earhart Electra its stern to Saipan, where it was discovered by American forces in June 1944.

Jyuichi Hirabayashi, a veteran who had served aboard the Kamoi from early 1936 through July 10, 1937, had responded to the ad we placed in several Japanese newspapers asking for Kamoi personnel.  After my arrival in Japan, we called him and he came to meet us with the ship’s log entries, numerous papers and an extensive collection of photos from his tour.  We quickly got down to business.

Hirabayashi confirmed that the Kamoi, contrary to the U.S. intelligence report, was nowhere near the Marshalls when the Electra went down.  The day Amelia was lost, the ship was docked in Saipan, leaving on July 4 for Ise Bay, Japan, where it docked on July 10.  All of this was shown to us from the Kamoi’s official records.

Clearly the Japanese had lied to the United States in 1949.  What were they trying to hide, and why had they gone to so much trouble to make the Kamoi appear as if it were on a search mission?

Hirabayashi then described the two types of seaplanes operated from the ship.  Both were craned onto the water and retrieved with canvas slings, a method that was short-lived in favor of lift points on the aircraft.  Bilimon Amaron had recalled seeing canvas slings around the silver aircraft on the fantail of the ship he boarded at Jaluit.  Though he was more intent on treating the wounded white man with blue eyes, Bilimon had not missed this important detail.  The Electra would have been recovered in the same way the Japanese picked up their seaplanes.

The names of the four ships in the Japanese Navy’s 12th Squadron were provided by Hirabayashi – Kinoshima for mine-laying, Kamoi for seaplanes, Yunagi and Asanagi, which were light cruisers.  Not only was the Kamoi not involved in the search, but the entire 12th Squadron, which was supposed to combing the seas south of Jaluit, was actually docked in the home islands.  The Koshu had not been a part of the squadron.

On July 2, 1937, the Koshu was anchored at Ponape, where it received orders to proceed to the Marshall Islands and searchfor Amelia Earhart.  By July 9, it was on its way, while the Kamoi and the remaining 12th Squadron boats steamed for Japan.

This undated photo of Bilimon Amaron appeared in Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 classic, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, with the following caption: Japanese medical corpsman Bilimon Amaran [sic] was called to the ship in Jaluit harbor along with the health services commander in 1937 to treat a white man with blue eyes.  The American had sustained head and knee injuries in the crash of his aircraft, piloted by a while woman.  Their silver twin-engine aircraft was seen by Amaran on the fantail of the ship, missing one wing. (Courtesy Clayton Loomis.)

Only the Koshu, capable of retrieving small floatplanes, took part in what the Japanese promised was a search, but its log entries revealed no search effort.  With a specific mission to perform, it went straight to Jaluit and anchored there on July 13.  While loading coal, Tomaki had been told by the ship’s crew that the ship had arrived seven to ten days after the aircraft came down.  Though July 13 was eleven days after the crash, the time frame was very close.  The Koshu left for several days, and then returned to Jaluit.  At this point Bilimon Amaron would have boarded the vessel to treat Noonan.  After Bilimon and his commander left the ship, it sailed for Truk and Saipan on July 19, the date the Japanese government officially gave up its search for Earhart.  Hirabayashi remembered the Kamoi having two ship’s doctors, while the Koshu had none.  It was quite clear why Bilimon and his superior had been called aboard to treat Noonan.

Thus the words of Vincent Loomis.  If the KAMOI and the rest of the 12th Squadron were [sic] in Marshallese waters, the cover-up by the Japanese suddenly becomes enormous, involving the forging of many Japanese Naval vessels’ official logs.

To strengthen the presence of KAMOI and the 12th Squadron in the Marshallese waters we have interviews by witnesses seeing this fleet described by Fred Goerner, Buddy Brennan, Captain [Alfred] Parker (who was in Jaluit in 1937), and other serious researchers.  Joe Gervais and I, during our trek to Jaluit in 1997, found two elderly ladies who had been on Jaluit in 1937, and they emphatically insisted that it was the KAMOI that brought the American lady pilot to Jaluit. Mr. Hatfield, in our 1991 interview at Jaluit, also insisted that (principally thru Mr. Lee, who had just died) it was the KAMOI!  

WHO SHOULD WE BELIEVE?  (End of Prymak article.)

Those paying attention to the foregoing could be forgiven for questioning Prymak’s intent after reading his closing paragraph, in which he inexplicably seems to argue for the presence of Kamoi and the 12th Squadron in the Marshalls after Loomis had all but proven that scenario was well-nigh impossible.  

There’s nothing in Buddy Brennan’s Witness to the Execution that qualifies for Prymak’s endorsement of witnesses that “strengthen the presence of KAMOI and the 12th Squadron in the Marshallese waters,” as he wrote in his close. 

We know about Captain Alfred Parker, English-speaking skipper of the Swedish Motorship Fijian, bound from San Francisco to New Guinea and other south sea ports in March 1937, from a 1993 letter from Fred Goerner to J. Gordon Vaeth.  “The FIJIAN exploded on March 25, 1937 near the Marshall Islands,” Goerner wrote [caps emphasis in original].  “It burned and sank after the explosion, but Parker and his crew members were rescued by the Japanese ship SJIKO MARU and taken to Jaluit in the Marshalls.  Parker and his crew were kept at Jaluit for 28 days, and were finally put aboard the Japanese ship KASAGI MARU and shipped to Yokohama, Japan, with stops at Kasai, Ponape, Truk and Saipan. . . . Parker testified to U.S. authorities that the Japanese seaplane carrier KAMOI had arrived at Jaluit mid-April, 1937, with three supporting destroyers.  The ships commenced bombing exercises, and one of the Kamoi’s planes crashed, and the two occupants were killed.  The dates Parker reported for the Kamoi‘s presence in the Marshalls do not establish her in the search area during July 1937 For more, see Truth at Last, pages 172-173.

The witnesses Prymak himself interviewed on 1991 and 1997 trips to the Marshalls  “two elderly ladies and Mr. Hatfield, are really all he has, which, frankly, are not much when compared to the other side of the discussion.  Their accounts are sketchy at best.  See Conclusion of Bill Prymak’s “The Jaluit Report,posted Nov. 2, 2019 and Bill Prymak’s ’97 Marshalls witnesses, Conclusion of Feb. 28, 2020 for details.  What else can explain why Prymak would take the other side of the discussion, which hardly qualifies as an “argument” at all.  It’s quite possible that Prymak was just playing devil’s advocate, taking the other side in the Koshu debate, simply for the sake of argument.  If I’m wrong about that, someone will surely let me know. 

A few years after Loomis’ revelations, Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki confirmed the Koshu’s movements in July 1937, though the agenda-driven Aoki would concede nothing else.  Looking at the navigation logs of the Koshu, she wrote,it is clear that on the 13th [of July] she entered port at Jaluit and 6 days later, on the 19th turned back toward Truk and Saipan.  Looking at all of this, even though the special assignment ship Koshu took part in the search, there is absolutely no evidence that she rescued the American woman pilot.

Vincent V. Loomis passed away in June 1996 at 75.

Honoring the Earhart Truth Seekers, Part II

We continue with Part II of our “Earhart Research Page of Honor.”  Again, this is an alphabetical list, and I make no claim that this group is complete or sacrosanct.  All suggestions for additional honorees will be considered.  

If you disagree with any of these selections, you’re invited to express your opinion.  Please make your case cogently, succinctly and objectively, and hold the sanctimony and invective.

“Earhart Research Page of Honor” Part II

VINCENT V. LOOMIS: Former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis and his wife, Georgette, traveled to the Marshalls in 1978 hoping to find the wreck of a plane Loomis saw on an uninhabited island near Ujae Atoll in 1952.  Loomis didn’t find the unidentified aircraft he hoped was the Earhart Electra, but in four trips to the Marshalls he gathered considerable eyewitness and witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is the definitive tome in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili Atoll, 1979.  In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Loomis went to Tokyo in 1981 seeking confirmation of statements contained in a 1949 CIA inter-office memorandum he found in National Air and Space Museum files.  The G-2 intelligence document revealed the United States was extremely interested in the Earhart case, and in 1949 had asked Japan to provide any and all relevant information it possessed.

“The Japanese lied quite convincingly both in 1937 and in 1949,” Loomis wrote, “but their statements could not be proven as such until the ships’ movements were determined through research in Japan in 1981.  Why did Japan lie about the role of Kamoi in the Earhart search?  Though no official explanation will ever be issued, almost certainly they had the fliers in custody when they assured the United States of their cooperation in the search, and merely pretended to be engaged in a goodwill humanitarian mission.”

Loomis died on June 13, 1996 at age 75 in Pensacola, Fla.  For more on his significant contributions to the search for Amelia Earhart, please click here and see pages 134-141 and 149-151 of Truth at Last. 

 

BILL PRYMAK: Bill’s selfless contributions to our knowledge of the Earhart matter are legendary.  In the erudite, largely unknown circles of Amelia Earhart research – real investigative work, not the fabricated-for-public-consumption propaganda the media has force-fed the masses since the earliest days – Bill left a lasting, indelible mark of excellence that will be always be remembered and honored by those who know and respect the truth about Amelia’s fate that he helped to establish. 

Through his networking skills and Earhart expertise, Bill was able to collect, evaluate and disseminate an astonishing volume of information in an entertaining and enlightening format to the Amelia Earhart Society membership.  Bill’s AES Newsletters totaled 421 letter-size pages of original Earhart research from countless sources, which he meticulously compiled and snail-mailed – at significant cost to himself — to the AES membership every few months from December 1989 to March 2000.

These priceless documents are among the most important ever produced in the search for the truth in the Earhart case, extraordinary in their variety and wealth of content – true collector’s items that will never be duplicated.  Without these remarkable references, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, would have been a far lesser book, and and may not have even been written. 

Founder and first president of the Amelia Earhart Society (AES) of researchers, a giant of Earhart research and a special friend whose generosity of spirit will never be forgotten, he passed away July 30, 2014 in a Louisville, Colo., hospice.  Bill had recently undergone surgery for colon cancer; he was 86.

For much more on Bill Prymak’s legacy, please click here.

 

PAUL RAFFORD JR.: Rafford was the “Elder Statesman” of Earhart research and the last of the original members of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society.

Earhart fans will recall Rafford from Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 bookAmelia Earhart: The Final Story (Random House), wherein he presented his then-current ideas about the Electra’s radio propagation capabilities and Amelia’s strange decisions during the final flight.

In 2006, Rafford’s book, Amelia Earhart’s Radio, was published by the Paragon Agency, and though it wasn’t a commercial success, it remains a gem of invaluable information unavailable anywhere else.

Paul Rafford Jr., at 95, the elder statesman of Earhart researchers.  As a Pan Am radio flight officer from 1940 to 1946, Rafford was uniquely qualified as an expert in Earhart-era radio capabilities.

Rafford began his aviation career with Pan American Airways as a flight radio officer in 1940, flying with Pan Am until 1946.  He worked with crew members who had flown with Fred Noonan, and talked with technicians who had worked on Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E.  After a promotion with Pan Am, he continued to fly as a technical consultant before transferring to the U.S. Manned Spaceflight Program in 1963.  During the early space shots he was a Pan Am project engineer in communications services at Patrick Air Force Base, and joined the team that put man on the moon.  He retired from NASA in 1988.

Rafford passed away on Dec. 10, 2016  in a hospice in Rockledge, Fla., at 97Michael Betteridge, Paul’s nephew and general manager of WTHU AM 1450, a talk radio station in Thurmont, Md., said his uncle passed peacefully with his daughter, Lynn, at his side.  “We lost a great man on that day,” Betteridge said in an email.

For much more on Paul Rafford Jr.’s contributions to Earhart researchplease click here.

 

ROLLIN C. REINECK: A war hero, retired Air Force colonel and an original, longtime member of the Amelia Earhart Society, Reineck’s passion for Earhart research often produced interesting, informative results.  At other times, his unrestrained enthusiasm for the spectacular and bizarre led him into areas populated only by Fred Goerner’s lunatic fringe, and these ill-conceived forays have tainted his reputation among top Earhart researchers.

Reineck was among the most avid promoters of the notorious Weihsien Telegram, or Weihsien Speedletter, discovered in U.S. State Department archives in 1987.  The unsigned telegram reads, “Camp liberated — all well — volumes to tell — love to mother.”  Sent from Weihsien, north China, and dated Aug. 28, 1945, this document created a huge buzz among researchers who speculated it could have been sent by Amelia herself.  In 2001, this hot potato was relegated to the dustbin of dead-end myth, when AES researcher Ron Bright definitively disproved the idea that Amelia Earhart had been confined at the Weihsien, China civilian internment camp during World War II.   

Rollin C. Reineck, circa 1945, served as a B-29 navigator in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Bronze Star.  A true patriot in every sense of the word, Reineck passed away in 2007, but left some very controversial writings about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Reineck’s authorship of the dreadful Amelia Earhart Survived (Paragon Agency, 2003), his unsuccessful attempt to resurrect and validate the long-discredited Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth was his greatest blunder in the Earhart arena.  Reineck was among the most prominent and vociferous of those who continued to believe in and promote Joe Gervais’ absurd idea, introduced to the public in Joe Klaas’ 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives.   

Incredibly, what Joe Klaas and Joe Gervais had strongly suggested in Amelia Earhart Livespulled from circulation 33 years earlier – that Amelia Earhart, having been held captive by the Japanese since July 1937, had returned to the United States sometime after World War II and assumed the identity of a New Jersey woman named Irene Bolam – Kailua, Hawaii’s Reineck stated as unequivocal fact.

For much more on this unfortunate aspect of Reineck’s legacy, please click here.

Reineck was a also prolific letter writer and Freedom of Information advocate, and he sometimes got real results.  In March 1991, Senator Daniel  Akaka (D-Hawaii) signed a letter written by Reineck to the Secretary of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush, requesting that all classified material relative to the Earhart disappearance be released.  For more details from my March 31, 2015 post, “Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection: What did FDR’s treasury secretary really know?” please click here.

Like Joe Klaas, Reineck was a genuine World War II hero, amassing an outstanding record as a navigator with B-24s in the 8th Air Force over Europe, and later in B-29s on Saipan, flying missions against mainland Japan.  Reineck’s awards included the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

Reineck passed away at age 87 on Oct. 9, 2007 in Castle Medical Center, Kailua, Hawaii.  For much more on Rollin Reineck’s contributions to Earhart research, please click here.

 

RON REUTHER:  An original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, Reuther was perhaps the most cerebral and historically erudite of all.  Reuther often provided previously unknown background information that brought new perspectives to heated discussions, and was known to introduce new and enlightening topics to enhance learning.   

Reuther founded the Oakland Aviation Museum in 1981, directed the San Francisco Zoo from 1966 to 1973, and helped to catalog and prepare Fred Goerner’s papers for their placement at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

While director of the San Francisco Zoo, Mr. Reuther took a sickly baby gorilla named Koko into his home and, with his children’s help, nursed her back to health.  A few months later, a Stanford psychology graduate student who had been studying the zoo’s apes asked for permission to work with Koko.  Mr. Reuther agreed and the student, Penny Patterson, began a life’s work teaching American Sign Language to Koko and researching apes’ capacity for language.  

Undated photo of Ron Reuther in front of the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California, where Amelia Earhart’s plane was kept prior to her 1937 flight.  Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia zoos, among others.  (Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle.)

In 1978, Koko gained worldwide attention and was pictured on the cover of National Geographic magazine.  The cover photo was an image of Koko taking her own picture in the mirror.  Koko was later featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 with a picture of her and her kitten, All Ball.  At the preserve, Koko also met and interacted with a variety of celebrities including Robin WilliamsFred RogersBetty WhiteWilliam ShatnerFleaLeonardo DiCaprioPeter Gabriel and Sting.

Ron Reuther passed away on Oct. 4, 2007.  For more on Reuther’s work in Earhart research, please click here.

 

ROBERT E. WALLACK: Although he wasn’t a researcher or writer in the sense of the others on this page, Robert E. Wallack’s contributions to our knowledge of the Earhart truth are more than enough to earn him a place among them. 

Wallack was the best known of all the former GIs who came forward to share their eyewitness experiences relative to the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan after the 1987 publication of Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.

I first met the amiable Wallack on the phone in 1992, as he took me back to July 1944 Saipan, when Fate intervened to change his life forever.  The former Marine machine-gunner told of his hellish experience on the Saipan beach, watching helplessly as his comrades of the 29th Regiment were cut down during the early stages of the invasion, as if he was recounting the gruesome opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.  

Saipan veteran Robert E. Wallack, whose claim of finding Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe on Saipan in July 1944 is among the best-known Earhart-on-Saipan testimonies, pauses in his Woodbridge, Conn., home during a November 2006 interview.  The media-friendly Wallack appeared on several national television specials, including Unsolved Mysteries and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung.

A few weeks later, as if Providence were directing him, the Marine private discovered Amelia Earhart’s briefcase, dry and in perfect condition in a blown Japanese safe, containing “official-looking papers all concerning Amelia Earhart: maps, permits and reports apparently pertaining to her around-the-world flight,” Wallack wrote in a notarized affidavit.  “I wanted to retain this as a souvenir, but my Marine buddies insisted that it may be important and should be turned in.  I went down to the beach where I encountered a naval officer and told of my discovery.  He gave me a receipt for the material, and stated that it would be returned to me if it were not important.  I have never seen the material since.”

His story never changed, and the outgoing veteran shared it with countless listeners including millions in a 1990 Unsolved Mysteries segment with Robert Stack, a 1994 appearance on CBS’s Eye to Eye with Connie Chung and a 2006 interview for The National Geographic Channel’s Undercover History special on Amelia Earhart

Over the years Wallack generously sent me all manner of fascinating memorabilia, including copies of his honorable discharge papers, maps of Saipan, battle photos taken during the invasion, letters from other GIs with their own stories to tell, videotapes of his TV appearances and news articles.  

Wallack has an informational page devoted to him on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and elsewhere on this blog you can read a moving tribute from his son Bill.

Robert E. Wallack passed away in a Branford, Conn., hospice on July 7, 2008, after a courageous battle with cancer.  He was 83.

For much more about Wallack’s important role in the Earhart saga, please click here.

 

Though MARIE S. CASTRO is alive and well on Saipan at 87 despite recent health setbacks, she too occupies a unique place in the Earhart pantheon.  Marie is the last living link to two of the major Saipan eyewitnesses to the presence of Earhart on Saipan, Matilde F. Arriola and Joaquina Cabrera, and she founded the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. group in September 2017, determined to honor the brutal deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan at the hands of the Japanese military.

Marie S. Castro holds a copy of her memoirs, Without a Penny in my Pocket, as she as speaks to Saipan Rotarians in February 2018 about her experiences with eyewitnesses to the presence and death of Amelia Earhart on Saipan.  (Photo by Junghan B. Todino, for Marianas Variety.)

To read much more about Marie S. Castro and her ongoing and significant contributions to the truth in the Earhart disappearance, please click here.

This list of unique researchers, authors and other important contributors to what is now a wealth of knowledge about the Earhart case is respectfully submitted for the information and entertainment of all.  Within a week or so, I’ll combine Parts I and II and post them as one piece at the top of this blog’s front page under the heading, “In Memoriam,” so that all who visit this blog will have quick and easy access to this gallery of those who played the vital roles in bringing us the truth about the Earhart disappearance.

In Memoriam: Honoring the Earhart Truth Seekers

I don’t know why this page was so long in coming, or even why the idea finally dawned on me when it did, but the old cliché, “Better late than never,” just about covers it.  Shortly after this “Earhart Research Page of Honor,” as it were, is published, I’ll also convert it into a permanent page at the top of the blog that can be seen and easily accessed by all.  

Ironically, though several women have written fair to outstanding biographies of Amelia Earhart, not a single member of the fair sex can be found among the elite ranks of authors and researchers whose work, in its totality, has revealed the unvarnished Marshall Islands-Saipan truth about the wretched fates of Earhart and Fred Noonan at the hands of the pre-war Japanese military.

Some say this was 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.

I can’t fully explain this phenomenon, but the nuts and bolts of genuine Earhart research have never been for the faint of heart.  And lest anyone misconstrue this as an attempt to rank or evaluate the habitués of this page in any qualitative sequence, this gallery of important, deceased Earhart investigators is presented alphabetically.  Their work speaks for itself, and any thorough examination of their fruits should engender a coherent understanding of their standing within this unique, distinguished group.  

You may disagree with one or more of these selections, and if so, your comments are welcome.  For those who think someone who belongs has been omitted, please wait until Part II has been published.

For your information and entertainment, I present the first of two parts of the “Earhart Research Page of Honor.”

“Earhart Research Page of Honor,” Part I

PAUL BRIAND JR.: Many observers of the history of investigations into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan believe that Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart is the seminal work in the genre, and all that followed sprang from the San Francisco radio-newsman’s initial Saipan forays.  

But neither Goerner nor anyone else would have heard about Earhart and Noonan’s arrival at Saipan in 1937 if not for the 1960 book that started it all — Daughter of the Sky, by Paul L. Briand Jr., a Ph.D., Air Force captain (later promoted to major) and assistant professor of English at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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

In the closing pages of Daughter of the Sky, Briand presents the eyewitness account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan at Tanapag Harbor as an 11-year-old in the summer of 1937, as told in 1946 to Navy Dentist Casimir Sheft on Saipan.  Though few were even aware of it in 1960, as the revelations in Daughter of the Sky were suppressed throughout the establishment media, Briand’s book was the spark that exploded into the true modern search for Amelia Earhart. 

In 1967, the State University of New York, Oswego, appointed Briand as a full professor and he taught there until his death in 1986 at age 66.  For much more on Paul Briand Jr., please click here.

 

THOMAS E. DEVINE: When the Lord made Thomas E. Devine, He broke the mold.  What He said when Devine returned to Him in September 2003 at age 88, only He and Devine know.  But had I never met the Saipan veteran and author of one of the most important Earhart disappearance books, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident (Renaissance House, 1987), I wouldn’t have become involved with the Earhart story, and today I’d be doing something entirely different with my life.  I can’t imagine what it would be.

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

In Eyewitness, Devine, an Army postal sergeant who saw the Earhart Electra on three separate occasions on Saipan in July 1944, reached out to his fellow veterans, urging them to report their own experiences that reflected the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan in the years before the 1944 U.S. invasion.  Twenty-six former GIs heard and responded to Devine’s plea, and their stunning accounts were presented for the first time in With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, our little-known 2002 book.  

Devine passed away at his West Haven, Connecticut home on Sept. 16, 2003.  For much more on his eyewitness experiences and contributions to Earhart research, please click here.

 

JOE GERVAIS:  Gervais, whose important Guam and Saipan witness interviews in 1960 strongly supported Fred Goerner’s Saipan findings, was best known as the creator of the insidious Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth, forever immortalized along with other crackpot ideas in Joe Klaas’ infamous 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives. 

Joe Gervais, left, and Rollin C. Reineck, circa mid-1990s, overlooking Honolulu, Hawaii.  Still esteemed by some as the greatest of Earhart researchers, Gervais can count among his contributions the vile and false Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart theory, which his friend Reineck unsuccessfully tried to reprise in his unsuccessful 2003 book, Amelia Earhart Survived.

Gervais was a highly decorated veteran of World War II, Korean and the Vietnam War, serving as a command pilot of B-24, B-29 and C-130 aircraft with over 16,000 hours of flight time.

The man some called “The Dean of Earhart Research,” passed away at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada on Jan. 26, 2005 at age 80.  

For more on Joe Gervais, please click here.

 

FRED GOERNER: The author of the only bestseller about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart ever penned, The Search for Amelia Earhart (Doubleday and Sons, 1966), Goerner is generally considered by the informed to be history’s greatest Earhart researcher.  He was not without his faults, however, and made several mistakes and misjudgments along the way.    

Most observers of the Earhart saga are familiar with the statement allegedly made by retired Navy Adm. Chester W. Nimitz to Goerner in late March 1965, just before the radio newsman left San Francisco to interview Marine Commandant Gen. Wallace M. Greene at his Pentagon headquarters in Arlington, Va.  “Now that you’re going to Washington, Fred, I want to tell you Earhart and her navigator did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese,” Goerner claimed Nimitz told him.

In this undated photo from the mid-1960s, Fred Goerner holds forth from his perch at KCBS Radio, San Francisco, at the height of his glory as the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart.

Unfortunately, from the moment Time magazine ripped Goerner’s bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart in late 1966 as a book that “barely hangs together,” the sad truth about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s miserable deaths on Saipan in Japanese captivity was treated as a forbidden subject by the U.S. government and nearly all establishment media, and the Earhart Truth remains a sacred cow to this day.  

Fred Goerner passed away at age 69 on Sept. 13, 1994. 

For much more about Fred Goerner’ remarkable achievements, as well as his less well-known blunders, please click here; also see the index of Truth at Last.

 

JOE KLAAS: Probably the most talented writer of all Earhart researchers, Klaas, with the guidance of his longtime friend Joe Gervais, authored the most controversial — and damaging to the truth — Earhart book of all time, Amelia Earhart Lives: A trip through intrigue to find America’s first lady of mystery (McGraw-Hill, 1970).

But Klaas accomplished far more in his remarkable life than pen history’s most scandalous Earhart disappearance work.  Besides Amelia Earhart Lives, Klaas wrote nine books including Maybe I’m Dead, a World War II novel; The 12 Steps to Happiness; and (anonymously) Staying Clean.

Joe Klaas, circa 2004, who survived a death march across Germany in 1945 and wrote Amelia Earhart Lives, passed away on Feb. 25, 2016.

He began his World War II service by flying British Supermarine Spitfires as an American volunteer in the Royal Air Force.  After Pearl Harbor, Klaas transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force and fought in the North African invasion of Morocco, as well as the Algerian and Tunisian campaigns, where he was shot down and captured by Arabs who sold him to the Nazis for $20.  

Klaas spent 25 months in German prison camps, escaped to be recaptured and worked for the X-Committee that planned “The Great Escape” from prisoner-of-war camp Stalag Luft III.  The camp was known for two famous prisoner escapes that took place there by tunneling and were depicted in the films The Great Escape (1963) and The Wooden Horse (1950).

Klaas died on Feb. 25, 2016 at his home in Monterey, Calif., at 95.

For much more on Joe Klaas, please click here.

 

OLIVER KNAGGS: South African writer Oliver Knaggs was hired in 1979 by a film company to join Vincent V. Loomis in the Marshalls and chronicle his search.  The Knaggs-Loomis connection is well known among Earhart buffs, but neither Loomis, in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, nor Knaggs, in his little-known 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her last flight mentioned the other by name.  In Her last flight, a collector’s item known mainly to researchers, Knaggs recounts his 1979 and ’81 investigations in the Marshalls and Saipan, where his findings strongly supported those of Loomis, despite some unexplained disparities. 

Knaggs returned to Mili in 1981 without Loomis and armed with a metal detector in hopes of locating the silver container that the native eyewitness Lijon had described seeing a white man bury in 1937.

Oliver Knaggs, author of Amelia Earhart: Her final flight, at Garapan Prison, Saipan, circa 1981.

Knaggs found something metallic where nothing should have naturally been buried, brought it home to South Africa and had it analyzed by the Metallurgical Department of the University of Cape Town.  The results confirmed that “in section the sample revealed what is described as a pin cover, rivet and body of the hinge,” Knaggs wrote.  “In general the microstructures [sic] are consistent with a fine, clean low carbon steel . . . indicating that good technology was used in its manufacture. . . . The hinge could have come from something akin to a cash box and could therefore quite easily be the canister to which Lijon had referred.”  

Thus Knaggs secured his place among history’s elite Earhart researchers by finding what may well have been the only “hard evidence yet publicly uncovered.  For much more on Oliver Knaggs’ Earhart investigative work, please click here.

Special thanks to Les Kinney, who provided a biography of Knaggs that included the following:

He was born in Pretoria, South Africa on January 22, 1924.  He was educated at Kearny College in Natal.  Knaggs was a combat veteran of WWII, serving in the Middle East and Italy.  Following the war, his writing career blossomed.  His articles were published in many of South Africa’s leading magazines.

His radio dramas were regularly featured on the national SABC network. His writing credits of 30 books include Amelia Earhart: Her Last Flight, published in January 1983, 500 short stories, and thousands of magazine articles.  

Knaggs died at age 68 on September 8, 1992 in Cape Town, South Africa.  

 

DONALD KOTHERA: Kothera’s significant contributions to the Earhart legacy are among the least known and appreciated by Earhart aficionados.  Kothera, a former Navy man stationed on Saipan in 1946, along with “Cleveland Group” associates Ken Matonis, John Gacek, Jack Geschke and Marty Fiorillo, made investigative trips to Saipan in 1967 and ’68, producing important new witness information.

Among these witnesses was Anna Diaz Magofna, who claimed to have watched the beheading of a “tall, good-looking man with [a] long nose,” a white man who was probably Fred Noonan.  Through an interpreter Magofna recalled that as a seven-year-old in 1937, she watched with about five other children as two Japanese soldiers oversaw two white people digging a hole outside a cemetery.  

Don Kothera’s often-overlooked contributions to Earhart research were chronicled in Joe Davidson’s Amelia Earhart Returns to Saipan. (First of three editions, 1969.)

“When the grave was dug, the tall man with the big nose, as she described him, was blindfolded and made to kneel by the grave,” author Joe Davidson wrote in Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan (First Edition 1969).  His hands were tied behind him.  One of the Japanese took a Samurai sword and chopped his head off.  The other one kicked him into the grave.”

Magofna didn’t know what happened to the other white person, whom she didn’t identify as a woman.  She fled after watching the beheading, but the experience haunted her for years afterward.  “I still remember the American man and how they cut his head off,” she told Kothera.

Four years after Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks shared their memories of the Saipan gravesite dig Marine Captain Tracy Griswold ordered them to do in late July-early August 1944, the Cleveland Group compared the gravesite location information provided by the former Marine privates with Anna Magofna’s harrowing childhood account.  The spot Magofna recalled closely corresponded to the one described by Henson and Burks, but the former Marine privates did not return to Saipan to confirm it. 

In Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan (First Edition 1969), Texas veterinarian Davidson chronicled the group’s investigations, aided by thousands of feet of film shot by photographer Fiorillo.  Overlooked by most researchers, Amelia Earhart Returns offers a wealth of new eyewitness information, in addition to Magofna’s. 

Kothera passed away on June 14, 2013 at his Las Vegas, Nevada home.  He was 85.  For more on Kothera and the Cleveland Group, please see Truth at Last, pages 245-251 or click here.

End of Part I.  Your comments are welcomed. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noted Earhart book review removed from Internet

In the entire history of reviews of the handful of books that present aspects of the truth in the Earhart disappearance, only two are memorable.  The first was the Sept. 161966 Time magazine unbylined attack against Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart, titled “Sinister Conspiracy?and still available online, though you have to subscribe to the source to see it now.  My commentary about Time’s hit piece, “The Search for Amelia Earhart”: Setting the stage for 50 years of media deceit,” was posted June 21, 2016; you can read it by clicking here.  Goerner, a KCBS radio personality in San Francisco, was the only real newsman to ever seriously investigate the Earhart case.  

The only other significant review of an Earhart disappearance work was Jeffrey Hart’s examination of Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, which appeared in William F. Buckley’s National Review in the Oct. 18, 1985 issue, but is no longer available online.

Hart wasn’t an Earhart researcher, and his belief about the reason Earhart reached Mili is the same pure speculation that Loomis advanced.  But Hart was a well-known establishment pundit, critic and columnist, and wrote for National Review for more than three decades, where he was senior editor.  He wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan while he was governor of California, and for Richard Nixon.  Now 88, Jeffrey Hart is professor emeritus of English at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire.  No one of similar stature has ever written a review of an Earhart disappearance book.

I’ll have a bit more to say, but here is Jeffrey Hart’s review of Amelia Earhart:  The Final Story, originally titled “The Rest of the Story.”   Boldface emphasis is mine throughout.

AS A BOY I was thrilled with horror when Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere out over the Pacific during the summer of 1937.  She had been the first woman to fly the Atlantic, and now she and her navigator were trying to circle the globe at the equator.  She rather disliked being called Lady Lindyby the press, because she wanted her own independent identity, but the odd thing was that she looked a little like Lindbergh: thin, with short hair and a wide grin, somehow quintessentially American.

Vincent V. Loomis’ 1985 book is among the most important ever written about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and solidly established her presence, along with Fred Noonan, in the Marshall Islands soon after their July 2, 1937 disappearance.

On her last flight she and her navigator Fred Noonan, flew an advanced-model twin-engine aluminum Electra specially designed for the trip.  It was known to the press as the Flying Laboratory.”  On July 2, 1937, all contact with the plane was lost, and searches by U.S. ships and planes failed to turn up any trace of Miss Earhart, Noonan, or the plane.  As far as anyone at the time knew, they had simply disappeared into that vast blueness, like Hart Crane off the Orizzaba.

It turns out that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were the first casualties of the coming Pacific war with the Japanese.  Vincent Loomis, a former USAF pilot with extensive Pacific experience, became fascinated with the Earhart mystery and made it his business to solve it, which he had done.  It is a remarkable, enormously romantic, and heartbreaking story.  Loomis went to the Pacific, traveled around the relevant islands, and found natives who had seen the plane crash and had seen Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. He interviewed the surviving Japanese who were involved, and he photographed the hitherto unknown Japanese military and diplomatic documents.  The mystery is a mystery no longer.

For all her frame and accomplishments, Amelia Earhart was an innocent flying out over the Pacific.  She and Noonan were also incompetent navigators and did not know how to work their state-of-the-art equipment.  They were thus more than a hundred miles off course flying right into the middle of the secret war plans of the Japanese empire* when they ran out of fuel and had to ditch the Electra.  (Editor’s note: Amelia never claimed to be a navigator at all, but Noonan was recognized as among the best in the world at the time of the final flight.)

By 1937 the Japanese had long since concluded that war with the United States for control of the western Pacific was inevitable.  They were hatching plans with Hitler to divide up the British, French, and Dutch possessions that would be vulnerable as a result of the coming European war.  The projected Japanese empire, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, would have its large mainland anchor in a China the Japanese were attempting to conquer, and The Pacific islands would be the first line of defense against the U.S. Navy.  The Japanese knew that the United States was unlikely to tolerate their geopolitical plans and would be decidedly hostile to any monopolistic co-prosperity sphere run from Tokyo.

The Japanese had acquired control of the key Pacific islands at the end of World War I under a League of Nations mandate.  In violation of international law, they were pouring military resources into them.  All Japanese military personnel worked in civilian clothes.  Newly paved airstrips were marked as farmson the maps.  Foreign visitors were absolutely excluded.  If the local natives obeyed the Japanese rules they were treated fairly, and the Japanese even married some of them.  An infraction, however, could mean instant death.

Jeffrey Hart, undated, from Hart’s Wikipedia page.

On July 2, 1937, bewildered and lost, Amelia Earhart crash-landed in the middle of all this, putting the Electra down and running into an atoll near Mili Mili a principal military position in the Japanese Marshall Island chain.  The Japanese took her and Noonan prisoner and tried to figure out what to do with them.  They could hardly release them, not knowing what they had seen.  Perhaps the American fliers could blow the whistle on the whole secret operation.  They might even be spies.  Actually, they had seen nothing.

The two Americans were shipped to Japanese military headquarters on Saipan and jailed.  The conditions were miserable, but not unusual for that time and place.  The jail was not set up to serve food to the prisoners, mostly natives, whose meals were brought to them by relatives.  But the jailers did provide the two Americans with soup, fish, and so forth, though of very poor quality, and with medical treatment.  When an exasperated Fred Noonan threw a foul bowl of soup at a Japanese jailer, he was forced to dig his own grave and was immediately beheaded.  Japanese culture was not especially permissive in 1937.

After a while, Miss Earhart was allowed a limited amount of freedom and made friends with native families, some of whom Loomis interviewed.  She was permitted visits to these friends, and her diet and spirits improved.  In mid-1938, however, life in the tropics proved too much for her and she came down with a severe case of dysentery, weakened rapidly, and died there on Saipan.  She does not seem to have grasped the significance of what she had stumbled upon and witnessed; ironically enough, she was a philosophical pacifist.  The Japanese military asked the natives to provide a wreath for her, and she was buried with Noonan.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979. In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important of the Earhart disappearance books, in that it established the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands following their disappearance on July 2, 1937. (Courtesy Clayton Loomis.)

One curious footnote to the story is that the present Japanese government, democratic and pro-Western as it supposedly is, has been covering the whole thing up.  Today’s Tokyo will not admit, in the face of absurdly obvious proof, that the imperial government was violating the terms of its mandate by militarizing the islands, claiming that everything the islands, claiming that everything going on had to do with “culture” and fishing — no one here but us Japanese Margaret Meads and a few fishing boats.  Nor will today’s Tokyo admit that the imperial government lied fifty years ago when it covered up the Amelia Earhart matter.  Of course no U.S. Navy search vessels were allowed anywhere near the Marshall Islands.  The Japanese claimed that they themselves were doing all the necessary searching.  Loomis shows that the “search ships” were in Tokyo Bay at the time.  It is odd that the present government cannot admit to the demonstrable facts; it must represent some sort of face-saving.  But Tokyo has run out of luck on this one.  Vincent Loomis has the documents, the testimony of the Pacific islanders, local Catholic nuns, Japanese medics and seamen.

It is all very poignant.  One sees that the Japanese military among whom Amelia Earhart lived for about a year could not begin to comprehend her, this woman pilot, this . . . American.  But the evidence is that the Japanese who knew her, if from a very great cultural distance, nevertheless bemusedly admired her.  (End of Hart review.)

Hart wrote an accurate, unbiased review of The Final Story, but neither the U.S. government or anyone else in the media got his memo that “the mystery is a mystery no longer.”  Not only did they disagree, and still do, but Hart’s review has been expunged from the Internet, where the hard copy I have was taken from Encyclopedia.com in 2007.  I don’t know when the review was removed, but there’s no doubt about why it’s gone, and I’m not going to repeat here how sacred cows get even more revered and protected with age. 

Within the past year, plugging the name Amelia Earhart into the Amazon.com search engine has resulted in over 1,500 results for books; recently, for some unknown reason, that number has fallen to over 1,000in the same category.  Nevertheless, many books have been penned about our ageless American heroine, but of these thousand or so, only about 10 actually present aspects of the truth about the Earhart case.  The rest, 99.9 percent, are biographies, novels, children’s books (the biggest sellers) and assorted fantasies — all except the good biographies that avoid the disappearance only muddle the picture and further obscure the truth.

Fred Goerner in his heyday at KCBS San Francisco, circa 1966. (Courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

The indisputable fact that this phenomenon exists tells us something is very wrong with the media’s relationship to the Earhart story.  For the most recent example of media propaganda and malfeasance, we need only turn to our trusted Fox News and its June 27 non-news piece, Amelia Earhart signed document discovered in attic box.”  Moreover, Fox News has never allowed my name or the title of Truth at Last to stand in the comments section of any of its Earhart stories, to my knowledge.

As I wrote at the top of this post, Fred Goerner was the only newsman to ever publicly advocate for the Saipan-Marshall Islands truth in the Earhart disappearance.  When you consider the few important books written about the so-called “Earhart mystery,” consider also the authors of these works.  Obscure non-journalists such as Thomas E. Devine, Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, Joe Davidson and T.C. “Buddy” Brennan produced the important tomes about the Earhart matter.  Paul Briand Jr., who authored the seminal work in the genre, Daughter of the Sky, in 1960, was an English professor at the Air Force Academy.  Bill Prymak, an engineer by trade, was not an author, but his assemblage of Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters is as important as any but a few of the books, though the newsletters are unavailable to the public.

Why hasn’t any newsperson, author or journalist except Fred Goerner ever investigated the Earhart story?  The question is rhetorical, of course, as the few who read this blog know, but its answer reveals the real problem. 

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