On July 2nd 1937 America’s “First Lady of Flight,” Amelia Earhart, along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared—at least from public view—in their two-engine Lockheed Electra, NR 16020, somewhere in the South Pacific. They were on an ambitious round-the-world flight from an east to west direction, and they had already completed a good part of it. The voyage had begun in Burbank, California, on May 21, 1937. The most dangerous leg of the journey was the 2,556-mile stretch from Lae, New Guinea, to tiny Howland Island, 1,900 miles southwest of Honolulu.
They were to arrive on July 2, but they never made it. A massive search was launched involving seven ships and sixty-three aircraft of the U.S. military. They searched 262,281 square miles of ocean for sixteen days and found nothing, not even an oil slick or a particle of debris. The Japanese, who controlled the Marshall Islands to the north of Howland claimed that their seaplane tender, the Kamoi, was also involved in the search. We learn from Campbell, though, that the claim, like so much we have been told about the Earhart disappearance, is not true.
The official conclusion is that the Electra, experiencing inexplicably poor radio communications with the Coast Guard vessel Itasca, which was supposed to guide her into Howland, ran out of fuel, crashed, and sank into the depths of the Pacific. If the testimony of a veritable host of witnesses has any credibility at all, that claim is not true, either. That is to say that it falls into the large and growing category of “official lie.” It may not be the most important one, but it would be hard to find one that is more blatant or brazen. Now, it would appear that the latest variation of that lie has been bought into by no less an illustrious government personage than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The first thing that one discovers when looking into the contrary eyewitness evidence related to the Earhart disappearance is that Campbell sits at the peak of a rather impressive pyramid of citizen evidence gatherers on the subject. Beneath him on the pyramid, among others, are a number of veterans of the U.S. military. Preeminent among them was the late Thomas E. Devine, author of the 1987 book, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident.
Devine, a twenty-eight-year-old Army sergeant at the time, was among the troops who captured Saipan from the Japanese in July of 1944. While on Saipan he had a life-changing experience. He saw what he is certain was Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. He wrote down the “NR 16020” written on the plane and remembers wondering what the “NR” meant. He also witnessed the burning of the airplane upon the orders of American government officials in civilian clothes. Devine died in 2003, but not before granting a short interview that can be seen on Rich Martini’s YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tDEsTQwBVk. That is a clip from Martini’s film, “Eyewitness Accounts of What Happened to Amelia Earhart’s Plane.”
Mike Campbell worked as a writer while on active duty in the Navy and for the Department of Defense in a public affairs capacity until his retirement in 2008. He collaborated with Devine on the 2002 book, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, and with his latest work shows himself to be more than capable of carrying Devine’s torch for truth.
An absolutely key character in verifying Devine’s claim that he saw Amelia Earhart’s airplane on Saipan, and he saw it burned, is Earskin J. Nabers (who went by his middle name of “Julious” as we see in the same video, filmed in May 2003, in which Devine appears). Nabers, who died in 2006, was ferreted out by Devine through a notice he placed in the spring 1992 issue of Follow Me, the official publication of the 2nd Marine Division Association, seeking “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.”
Charles W. Voyles, a veteran from Memphis, Tennessee, saw the notice and wrote Devine about Nabers of Baldwyn, Mississippi, the new secretary of the Mississippi chapter of 2nd Division veterans. Voyles had heard through the grapevine that Nabers had been “around the hangar at Aslito Field, which contained Amelia Earhart’s plane,” Voyles wrote to Devine. Nabers, too, had seen the notice, but it took the letter from Devine and months of prodding by family and friends before he opened up and responded to Devine.
For anyone who might try to dismiss the numerous veterans and residents of Saipan and the Marshall Islands who have now come forward with first hand or very good second hand knowledge of Earhart’s capture by the Japanese, reading the various accounts we find in Campbell’s book shows the reticence of Nabers to be more the rule than the exception. Jerrell H. Chatham of Avinger, Texas, is fairly typical, “All these years since my time in the Marines,” he wrote to Devine, “I have been afraid to say very much about this Amelia Earhart thing.” Chatham and other military witnesses on Saipan had their “chilling awakening” long before this writer did.
What Nabers had to say, though, stands out in its importance. He was the clerk who decoded the orders first to fly the plane and then to destroy it, and he heard it repeatedly explicitly identified as Amelia Earhart’s airplane. He also witnessed the carrying out of the orders.
Crashed-and-sank proponents, who dismiss eyewitness accounts out of hand for the most specious of reasons, are invariably stopped in their tracks when confronted with Nabers’ report…
Nabers offered them nothing to reinterpret or deconstruct, because a Marine code clerk working in a high-security message center on Saipan could not possibly misread, misunderstand, or imagine a series of messages he received announcing the discovery of Earhart’s plane, followed by the plan to fly it, and finally, the order to destroy it. Faced with the implacable nature of Nabers’ story, cynics have only two choices: to flatly accuse Nabers of lying, or to remain silent. Realizing the former option would reveal their inherent dishonesty—or worse, their stupidity—they reluctantly choose to withdraw or to change the subject. (Campbell, pp. 237-238)
Before he had flushed out Nabers and the aforementioned Chatham, who reported seeing Earhart’s plane in the air on Saipan and being ordered to transport two crates that he was told contained the remains of Earhart and Noonan, Devine had concluded his 1987 Eyewitness book with a call for others to come forward with information. That plea had attracted the attention of number of Saipan veterans, among whom was the other Marine who appears in the Martini video, Robert E. Wallack of Woodbridge, Connecticut. Wallack, who died in 2008 at age 83, is very clear here in his recollection of the discovery of Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a safe that he and some other Marines had blown open:
The contents were official-looking papers all concerning Amelia Earhart: maps, permits and reports apparently pertaining to her around-the-world flight. 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 him 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.
I wish to make a point here concerning the attaché case and the contents. The case did not appear as if it had ever been immersed in water and the contents were not blurred at all. Therefore these items could not have been obtained from a plane that had been reported down at sea some seven years prior to this event. (Campbell pp. 204-205)
Earlier Accounts of Earhart on Saipan
From 1944 when Saipan was captured to 1987 when Devine published his first book is quite a long time. If Earhart, Noonan, and their airplane had all been on Saipan one would expect that some word of it would have come out even if the U.S. and Japanese governments wanted to suppress it. Indeed it had, and very early, in 1944:
SAIPAN, July 8 (Delayed) (INS) – The mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart, famous American aviatrix, popped up again today—this time on Saipan. The discovery of an album filled with Amelia Earhart pictures here on this battle-torn island revived the search for an answer to the seven-year mystery of the fate of America’s number one woman flier. Some marines reported finding the album filled with pictures of Amelia Earhart clothed in sport togs. There were no other pictures in the album. (Campbell, p. 201)
That little item appeared in newspapers across the country, but it bore no byline and there was never a follow-up.
The next mention in the United States of Earhart in Saipan came was by an assistant English professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Captain Paul Briand, Jr., in his 1960 book, Daughter of the Sky: The Story of Amelia Earhart. Josephine Blanco Akiyama, a Saipan native, had worked for a U.S. Navy dentist in Saipan and had told him of seeing, as an 11-year-old, Earhart and Noonan’s arrival in Tanapag Harbor in what she described as a crash landing. The dentist had passed the story along to Briand, who interviewed Ms. Akiyama.
She saw the American woman standing next to a tall man wearing a short-sleeved sports shirt, and was surprised because the woman was not dressed as a woman usually dressed. Instead of a dress, the American woman wore a man’s shirt and trousers; and instead of long hair, she wore her hair cut short, like a man. The faces of the man and woman were white and drawn, as if they were sick.
The book received almost no attention, but in the meantime Ms. Akiyama had immigrated to San Mateo, California, and told her story to San Mateo Times reporter Linwood Day. The article that Day wrote came to the attention of a newsman at KCBS radio in nearby San Francisco, Fred Goerner. Goerner became a lifelong researcher of the case and his work in uncovering witnesses, highlighted in his 1966 book, The Search for Amelia Earhart, rivals that of Devine. Goerner traveled to Saipan and found a number of witnesses who essentially corroborated Ms. Akiyama’s account of Earhart and Noonan being held captives there. Well before Devine, Goerner with his book also caused a number of Saipan veterans to come forward and contact him concerning evidence of Earhart’s captivity that they had encountered there.
Campbell’s book is replete with many detailed accounts from both island natives and U.S. military veterans.
Crash in the Marshall Islands
Goerner’s greatest contribution, though, one gathers from Campbell, is his pursuit of evidence that the original crash site of Earhart’s Electra was not in Saipan but in the Marshall Islands some 800 miles to the north of Howland. Saipan, after all, is almost due north of Earhart’s departure point and Howland Island is some 2,500 miles to the east northeast. The Marshalls were also under control of the Japanese and it is more readily believable that Earhart could have ended up there, groping northward while thinking she had missed Howland to the south.
A key witness that Goerner discovered in the Marshalls was a Japanese medical corpsman who was sixteen years old at the time named Bilimon Amaron. Though born in Japan, he spent most of his life in the Marshalls, where he became a prosperous businessman. He said that in the summer of 1937 he was summoned to a Japanese tender ship to treat the minor injuries of an American man with dark hair and blue eyes, and a large silver plane with a broken-off wing was being pulled in a sling behind the ship. Amaron can be heard after the 2 minute 50 second mark in the Rich Martini video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS3p6KQyKhE.
A number of researchers have examined the Marshall Islands evidence through the years, perhaps the most important of whom was former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis. His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story was heavily praised in a review by Jeffrey Hart in the October 18, 1985, National Review. Hart concluded flatly, “The mystery is a mystery no longer.”
Loomis and others have reached the conclusion that the vessel upon which Amaron treated the two American fliers was the “surveying” ship, the Koshu. These researchers have also found many people who either corroborate Amaron’s story or saw the two Americans independently. The following account refers to a 1997 trip to the Marshalls by researcher Bill Prymak.
During the Majuro-to-Honolulu leg of his flight back to the United States, Prymak met the most powerful man in the Marshalls, Robert Reimers, founder of a small empire of hotels, shopping centers, and commercial outlets in the islands. Reimers, healthy and alert at eighty-eight, was forthcoming in answering Prymak’s questions about events before World War II, especially those about Earhart’s alleged presence in the islands. Reimers said he knew Bilimon Amaron well, and vouched for his honesty.
“It was widely known throughout the islands by both Japanese and Marshallese that a Japanese fishing boat first found them and their airplane near Mili [Atoll],” Reimers told Prymak. They then transferred them to a bigger boat. They were brought to Jabor, where Bilimon treated them. Oscar deBrum and the Carl Heine family…were living there and knew of this. They were then taken to Kwajalein and from there to Truk and then Saipan. There was no mystery…everybody knew it.”
Asked why the Japanese vehemently denied seeing Earhart and Noonan, Reimers replied,
“Even in 1937, an intrusion into these islands was a very serious offense. And in the case of Earhart, a woman pilot, great cover and secrecy was placed…by the Japanese. But, of course, these are our islands. And my people—even in their fear—proved very resourceful in knowing such things.” (Campbell, pp. 174-175)
The Reimers version of events, it would appear, is every bit as much the established truth in the Marshall Islands as the crashed-and-sank theory is the official truth in the United States. So much is that the case that in 1987 the Marshallese government issued a set of four postage stamps commemorating Amelia Earhart’s unfortunate brush with the island. One of the stamps is titled, “Crash Landing at Mili Atoll July 2, 1937” and another depicts the “Recovery of Electra by the Koshu.” (The stamps are available for purchase at cyberstamps.com.)
Forrestal Not on Saipan
Although they put out their 2002 book as a joint effort, Campbell parts company with Thomas Devine on another Devine article of faith besides the initial crash site of the Earhart airplane. Devine went to his grave maintaining that he had seen Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on Saipan directing the handling and final destruction of Earhart’s airplane. Campbell has meticulously examined the record of Forrestal’s official movements and has concluded that there was no time for Forrestal to have traveled to Saipan and returned to Washington. Rather, Campbell believes that the man Devine saw was alleged intelligence agent James H. Nichols, who faintly resembled Forrestal and who was identified by Nabers from photographs as the man he saw directing the Electra destruction operation on Saipan.
Devine’s belief that he saw Forrestal on Saipan is part and parcel with his theory as to why the Electra was destroyed and why Earhart’s captivity and death at the hands of the Japanese has been covered up. Campbell, one gathers, believes that Devine has given his government too much credit. From Devine’s perspective, the discovery of the airplane and other Earhart artifacts on Saipan was as much a surprise to his superiors as it was to him. Devine correctly recognized Forrestal as an unusually farsighted and selfless statesman. Forrestal, Devine thought, must have been looking ahead to the need for harmony with Japan after the war’s end, and he must have felt that news of what the Japanese had done to the popular Earhart would have jeopardized that goal.
Why the Cover-up?
With Forrestal not even on Saipan, that seriously strained theory is out the window. Campbell is certain that from Forrestal’s position in the chain of command he knew about the cover-up, and like Devine, Campbell believes that Forrestal’s knowledge of what actually happened to Amelia Earhart was a factor in Forrestal’s almost certain murder. But according to Campbell, the Earhart cover-up could only have been orchestrated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was a horse of an entirely different color from Forrestal.
Roosevelt, according to long-time New York Times Washington correspondent Turner Catledge, “was a consummate manipulator, a man who misled, deceived, lied outright when it was necessary to gain his ends.” One of those ends, according to Hamilton Fish in FDR, The Other Side of the Coin: How We Were Tricked into World War II (1976) was “provoking and forcing Japan into war…by ruse, trickery, and deception—by hiding the truth as expertly as Lenin ever did.” (Fish, p. 10; the Catledge quote is from p. 11)
Drawing heavily upon the findings and theories of Goerner, who was granted unusual access to documents and government officials during the brief John Kennedy administration, Campbell suggests that the Earhart expedition was heavily tied up with Roosevelt’s preparation for war with Japan. What remains in question is only the extent to which she knew that she was being used for that purpose. She might have known quite a lot and the Japanese might well have been justified in regarding Earhart and Noonan as spies.
Goerner interviewed Margot DeCarie, Earhart’s former secretary, by phone at her home in North Hollywood, California, in the early 1960s. Despite claiming that she had “promised secrecy” to an unknown party, DeCarrie gave Goerner plenty to consider. “Do you really think Purdue University bought that plane for Amelia,” she asked, “and do you think that it was intended for some kind of vague experimentation?
Second, if the whole thing was a publicity stunt…why did the government assign some of its top experts to the flight…and why did President Roosevelt have an airfield built for her?” (Campbell, p. 331)
In the Goerner scenario, the highest echelons of the U.S. government knew all along that Earhart and Noonan had been captured by the Japanese. Though his charge has never been substantiated, Goerner told reporters in 1967 “that ‘a most reliable source’ informed him recently the Navy intercepted Japanese messages at the time the fliers were lost which indicated they were in Japanese hands.” It was a political bombshell that suggests we had already broken the Japanese codes in 1937 and that on account of that, we would have had prior knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack. It came 33 years before Robert Stinnett made the broken-code claim in his 2000 book, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, but Goerner was generally ignored. This writer is of the opinion that if we were in the process of breaking the Japanese codes, listening in on how they dealt with Earhart would have provided an excellent opportunity to nail down the process more completely.
As an establishment newsman, Goerner at his most influential was able to gain some high level audiences for his discoveries and theories, including a number of Congressmen. He made the following remarks before the National, State, and Relations Subcommittee of the Republican Platform Committee in Miami, Florida, on July 29, 1968:
It was well known within high ranking intelligence sources that Miss Earhart, at the time of her disappearance, was under government instructions to fly over and observe suspected Japanese military developments in the islands of the Pacific. There were some serious blunders made by the Navy in their attempt to provide Miss Earhart with proper guidance following the completion of her observations and the Navy was determined to conceal their participation and failure of this part of the operation. The concealment of errors is congenital with the armed services and particularly so in connection with any covert type of operation such as this was. The mission was not specifically for the United States Navy, but rather was ordered at the request of the highest echelons of the government. (Campbell, p. 331)
Goerner was later to back off his claim that Earhart had explicit orders to fly over Japanese territory and report her findings, but there is no better explanation for the obvious cover-up that has taken place than that the government had more to do with Earhart’s flight and knew more about her disappearance from the beginning than what they have told us. Under the larger Goerner scenario from which he did not back off, the massive 16-day search operation for the missing plane would have been nothing but a gigantic sham, aimed primarily at deceiving the Japanese, because we knew all along that they had Earhart and Noonan in custody, but to let the world know would be to tip off the Japanese as to how we knew. One can imagine FDR laughing up his sleeve at his cleverness. Then with the sham threatened with exposure when Saipan was taken, Roosevelt’s only option, as he must have seen it, was to attempt to erase the evidence as fast as it appeared.
Continued Media Misdirection
According to Campbell, the contest between evidence revelation by independent, truth-seeking American citizens on the one hand and establishment erasure and misdirection on the other has continued—even intensified—with respect to the Earhart disappearance right up to the present day. Through the years some of the eyewitness testimony has even made it into the national mainstream. The very genuine Robert Wallack with his briefcase experience has been heard in 1990 on Unsolved Mysteries (along with Thomas Devine), in 1994 on CBS’s Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, and as late as 2006 in a special on Amelia Earhart on The National Geographic Channel’s Undercover History. But the latter had the opportunity to use footage from the code clerk, Nabers, which would have really nailed down the story of the Electra destruction on Saipan, and they passed it up.
On the 75th anniversary (2012), the national media devoted their entire attention to an expedition by one Ric Gillespie of an organization called TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) to the vicinity of Gardner Island (also known as Nikumaroro) in search of possible evidence of Earhart’s fate. We learn from Campbell that his May 14 to June 14, 2010, expedition was his ninth such trip.
“Gillespie offers nothing but the assorted refuse he continuously and unsuccessfully tries to connect to the fliers or the Electra,” says Campbell, “but with a compliant, supportive media and a strong establishment wind at his back, he continues to receive untold hundreds of thousands of dollars from various donors, disclosed and undisclosed, for his serial expeditions to Nikumaroro.” (p. 382)
At the time, much of the establishment wind came from Hillary Clinton:
Why the US support for this effort? Well, for one thing, Clinton herself is something of an Earhart aficionado.
She said that when she was growing up in Illinois her mother was an Earhart fan and filled her ears with stories of the aviatrix’s derring-do. This led Clinton to dream of herself becoming an astronaut – so she wrote NASA when she was 13 to ask whether she could qualify.
“NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts. And I was just crestfallen,” she said in her speech.
A second reason for today’s government involvement is that the US government was heavily involved with Earhart’s effort in the first place, in part due to its demonstration of American skill and technology during the Great Depression. State Department personnel arranged for visas and safe conduct for Earhart and Noonan and helped shepherd them along the way. On the day she disappeared, a US Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, was in position off Howland to aid in radio direction finding and resupply. (The Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 2012.)
Hillary and Gillespie can be seen here being much ballyhooed on CNN.
If the 1937 search was a sham, in light of the massive eyewitness testimony brought forward in Campbell’s book, how much more obvious a sham is this repeated searching for Earhart’s plane by Gillespie under the glare of the U.S. news media! And what an affront it is to those members of Tom Brokaw’s “greatest generation” who have had the courage to come forward and to tell us frankly what they saw with their own eyes! When our leaders have no further use for them, it would appear, they really have no use for them.
As we survey what has been told to the public by the American press on the 75th anniversary about the Earhart mystery, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and Huffington Post, the only hint we get that the latest Gillespie venture might be undermined by eyewitness testimony is found in the left-liberal online Daily Beast. In The Daily Beast’s article, Earhart biographer Susan Butler praises Gillespie and disparages Goerner, echoing what she had to say in her 1997 book, East to the Dawn. This is the same Susan Butler to whom Campbell devotes pages 392-411 and gives the section the title, “An Earhart Biographer’s Serial Misstatements.”
One gets the impression that Butler would have hardly written anything different had she been a paid propagandist for the Japanese military government. “Would Butler have been so cavalier in advancing her unfounded allegations against Goerner, who passed away five years before East to the Dawn was published,” concludes Campbell, “had he been alive to defend himself?”
Don’t expect any of our mainstream press to be directing you to Campbell’s book, though. If he is to be ignored, it will not be because the case he makes for the capture of Earhart and Noonan by the Japanese is too weak. It will be because it is too strong.
Oh yes, we find in this little July 17, 2012 item in The New York Times that yet another big Pacific search that Hillary gave the big send-off to has come up empty handed. What a surprise!
August 7, 2012