The cold facts about the terrible fates of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan lie a world apart from the false, romantic myths that continue to be perpetuated to an uninterested America. Will this pathetic state of affairs ever end?
by Mike Campbell
July 2 will mark the 77th anniversary of the loss of Amelia Earhart, America’s “First Lady of Flight,” Fred Noonan, her navigator, and Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E in the central Pacific during their world-flight attempt in 1937. No missing-persons case in history has been as misreported and misunderstood, and the truth about the lost flyers’ cruel fates continues to elude more than 99 percent of the public.
In fact, the widely accepted myth that the Earhart disappearance remains among the 20th century’s greatest mysteries is absolutely false, and is the result of a decades-long U.S. government disinformation program that continues to this day.
The ugly truth is that Earhart and Noonan crash-landed at Mili Atoll in the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to their military headquarters at Jaluit Atoll, and later to Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll.
From Roi-Namur, the hapless pair was flown to Saipan in the Northern Marianas, where they eventually suffered wretched deaths at the hands of their barbaric captors – Noonan from beheading, Earhart from dysentery or execution, according to the available evidence.
This unpleasant reality has been dismissed, denied and repackaged by our government-media establishment so successfully that it has long been relegated to the dustbin of fringe conspiracy theory, where only wingnuts dare tread. But in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the flyers’ Mili Atoll landing and recovery by the Japanese survey ship Koshu are commonly accepted facts. In 1987, the Marshallese government issued four postage stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events.
Soon after the flyers’ whereabouts became known or strongly suspected by U.S. intelligence assets, the truth became a sacred cow – but for the public, it became a permanent, irresolvable mystery. If the nation had learned of Amelia’s abandonment on Saipan by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his political future would have turned to ashes. Documents that prove FDR’s direct knowledge of the flyers’ capture – records of American high-frequency radio direction finding stations’ intercepts of Japanese transmissions in the Pacific – have been expunged en masse from national archives, replaced by conspicuous, gaping spaces that attest to the former presence of the forbidden information.
Other files are buried so deeply that their existence and locations are known only to a select few and can be released only by presidential order, but several reliable witnesses have verified the existence of these documents. The cozy postwar relationship between the United States and Japan, with her vital Cold War role in containing the encroaching communist threat in the Asia-Pacific region, has further militated against official release of the truth.
The TIGHAR-Nikumaroro myth: Recycled propaganda
The only ideas about Amelia Earhart we hear anymore are those advanced by Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). Gillespie’s thirdhand, long-debunked theory that Earhart landed on Nikumaroro Atoll (then Gardner Island, about 400 miles southeast of Howland Island, her intended destination), where she and Noonan eventually perished from thirst or starvation, continues its endless run as the most transparently false and over-hyped solution to the Earhart puzzle ever. Just over a month ago, Discovery News was the first of many media mouthpieces to publish or broadcast Gillespie’s latest scheme to raise money from the unwary and return to Nikumaroro for an eleventh time. “Earhart’s Plane Revealed in Sonar?” Discovery News asks in its May 29 online edition, doing its level best to make the ridiculous sound plausible. Only the terminally credulous, who must comprise a large segment of its readers, could read this story without recognizing its unmitigated sophism.
This writer is not a mind reader, so it cannot be stated with certainty whether Gillespie actually believes his so-called “Nikumaroro hypothesis,” an old hag of a theory he’s continually dressing up in new clothes to sneak past an inattentive public to dance at yet another fancy Pacific boondoggle. But given his reputed intelligence and acumen as an aircraft accident investigator, it stretches credulity to think that someone of his intellectual caliber could seriously dismiss the mountain of compelling evidence for Earhart’s Saipan demise in favor of an idea that was roundly rejected by serious, equally intelligent and ethical researchers decades ago. But whether Gillespie is sincerely misguided or only pretending to believe the Nikumaroro nonsense he proclaims, the effect is the same: The establishment’s goal of keeping the masses ignorant about the truth is best achieved whenever our corrupt mainstream media join to sing a new chorus of “Return to Nikumaroro.”
Ten trips to Nikumaroro since the late 1980s have produced nothing remotely connected to the flyers, yet Gillespie still insists they landed and died there, and that the Electra was washed over a reef by ocean tides. Not one piece of the assorted garbage he has collected from the picked-over island – home to hundreds of Gilbertese settlers and U.S. Coast Guard LORAN personnel since the mid-1940s – and attempted to tie to Earhart or Noonan has stood up to scrutiny. If TIGHAR’s serial excursions to Nikumaroro have proven anything, it can only be that Amelia Earhart was never there.
The establishment propaganda machine continues to regale the American public with the false claims of Earhart theorists, usually Gillespie’s, but also those of “crashed-and-sank” proponents such as Elgen Long, Dave Jourdan and Bob Ballard, while Saipan is assiduously avoided. Regardless of the means, the goal of keeping Americans ignorant about the truth is always the same, and the continuing travesty of official denial shows no signs of abating. A thorough search for any mention of the word “Saipan” in the gamut of media products in recent years about the Earhart matter reveals virtually nothing.
Regardless of the overwhelming evidence attesting to the Saipan deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, TIGHAR’s falsehoods, buttressed by the stiff wind of a supportive media eager to disseminate them, are everything average news consumers know about Amelia Earhart – if they know anything at all. In spring 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public support of Gillespie’s latest Nikumaroro jaunt made official what many researchers have long known: the U.S. government has no interest in admitting the truth, but is determined to ignore the facts and promote false solutions in the Earhart case. Last August, in observance of the “diamond anniversary” of Earhart’s last flight, the disinformation blitz reached its zenith, as Discovery Channel aired a new program on the same shopworn, false premise, Finding Amelia: The Mystery Solved,chronicling TIGHAR’s most recent fruitless search in the depths off Nikumaroro. It was the latest in a long list of documentaries, films, books and articles diverting the public away from the truth.
The Saipan evidence: Overwhelming and available to all
Nearly 30 years before Gillespie and TIGHAR began making noise, noted San Francisco radio newsman Fred Goerner’s early 1960s investigations on Saipan convincingly established, for objective observers, Earhart and Noonan’s presence there in the weeks and months following their disappearance. “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” the July 1, 1960, San Mateo (California) Timestrumpeted in a 100-point headline that announced Goerner’s discoveries to the world for the first time.
The story’s subhead, “Famed Aviatrix Died on Saipan,” is as true today as it was in 1960.
Goerner’s 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart, still a gem of original research, was the first of several works to reveal the truth.
Among Goerner’s original witnesses on Saipan was Dr. Manual Aldan, a dentist and native Saipanese who understood Japanese.
Aldan told Goerner he didn’t see the white woman and man who landed there in the summer of 1937, but recalled a statement he overheard from a Japanese officer. “I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese,” Aldan said. “This is the name the Japanese officer said: ‘Earharto!’”
Maverick Air Force officers Joe Gervais and Robert Dinger’s 1960 investigations on Guam and Saipan produced more eyewitness recollections, further establishing the fliers’ presence on Saipan, and are recorded in Joe Klaas’ infamous 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives:
A Trip Through Intrigue to Find America’s First Lady of Mystery.
Thomas E. Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, recounts the author’s experiences in the summer of 1944 during the Battle of Saipan that indicated the pre-war presence of Earhart, Noonan and Earhart’s plane, NR 16020.
In July 1944, the Electra was burned beyond recognition and buried in rubble at Aslito Airfield with hundreds of tons of war refuse, including countless Japanese planes, by American forces at FDR’s direction, according to Devine and several eyewitnesses, including one who claimed he was in the Oval Office when Roosevelt uttered his destruct order.
Amelia Earhart’s Electra will almost certainly never be found.
In 1965, retired Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz told Goerner in a phone conversation, “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.”
Not a trace of Nimitz’s revelation, known to all serious observers of the Earhart matter, can be found in any major media product in the past several decades. In addition to the famed Navy warrior’s statement to Goerner, no less an authority than the late General Alexander A. Vandegrift, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 to 1947, told him in a nearly completely unknown 1971 letter, “Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan.”
Yet another highly decorated Marine, General Graves B. Erskine, a veteran of the Battle of Saipan, made a similar assertion to two of Goerner’s close associates in the KCBS radio waiting room a few months after the publication of Search.
All three flag officers died of natural causes within a few years of their disclosures, and while their credibility remains beyond reproach, their disclosures have been completely ignored and remain unknown to the public.
The eyewitness accounts of 26 American veterans of the Saipan invasion, whose experiences corroborated Devine’s, were presented for the first time in With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart (2002). Ten years later, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, this writer’s expansive follow-up to With Our Own Eyes, overwhelmingly confirmed the truth with many new findings, witness testimonies and documents. Convicted murderers are sent to their deaths based on the smallest fraction of the evidence Truth at Last offers that puts Earhart and Noonan on Saipan — far exceeding the most stringent reasonable-man standard of proof. Truth at Last, blacked out by an establishment media that refuses to acknowledge its existence, examines the roots of the U.S. government’s determination to deny the facts, and how its aversion to the truth is reflected in virtually every public discussion about the Earhart disappearance.
Despite the constant refrain that the so-called Earhart mystery will always be an impossible puzzle, the truth is available to any who seek it – in the above referenced sources and several others as well. Unfortunately, in a nation that grows increasingly incurious about its own history, any hope for a long-overdue breakthrough is unrealistic. Perhaps the most distressing and depressing aspect in all this – at least for the few who truly want to see a final resolution of the Earhart matter, i.e., a U.S. government admission of the truth – is that not a single individual in any position to influence public opinion has embraced this worthy cause in recent memory.
When Amelia Earhart landed her single-engine Lockheed Vega in a Londonderry, Ireland field on the morning of July 21, 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic and gained fame beyond imagination. The toast of two continents, she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress and the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government, and her star was still ascending. Who could have imagined that just five years later, one of the world’s most acclaimed women would be held captive in a dismal Saipan jail cell by a deceitful enemy plotting America’s destruction, abandoned by her country, facing a miserable, ignominious death? The cold facts about the terrible fates of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan lie a world apart from the false, romantic myths that continue to be perpetuated to an uninterested America. Will this pathetic state of affairs ever end?
Mike Campbell is the author of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last and With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart. His Web site is www.EarhartTruth.com, and he can be reached at [email protected].