Born from a Kickstarter campaign, veteran explorer Mike Harris Sr. and filmmaker Rich Martini have joined forces to examine the evidence that Amelia Earhart was on Saipan after she disappeared. They've been joined by a team of professionals from across the spectrum and are backed by a number of individuals with a desire to know the truth.
Stay tuned for more information...

Thursday

Digging continues....

Digging on Aslito airfield has commenced.
Captain Cooper overseeing a dig sight - Photo Robert Rustin
We're not digging up the whole field mind you, and of course we have a limited area with which we can work.  But finally, after 8 weeks, the permits have come in.  Kudos to Captain Paul Cooper who has kept after it, and those who helped them get the permits - and special thanks to the HPO and the archaeologists involved - Marilyn and Mike - who are on hand to make sure that every proper protocol is kept.
Aslito airfield - Photo Google Earth
So again, we have two avenues that we are pursuing at the moment.  One is interviews with people who claim they personally saw, or have information regarding someone who saw Amelia Earhart or Fred Noonan on Saipan.  To date we have 17 eyewitness reports, and most of them are new - have never been recorded or published before.  The process we took in our interviews was fairly simple; please tell us your memories (or your mother or father's memories as best as you can recall) about what Saipan was like before the war, and then what it was like during the war.
Aslito in June of 1944. Not far from one of our sights looking North West
The War began for Saipan on June 10th, 1944, because that's when US forces came to the island.  It was a fierce battle for Saipan, and for all the US veterans who survived it, any one of them can tell you how difficult that battle was.  It was the same for the Chomorro, the native people who were living on Saipan.  They had become part of Japan in the earlier part of the century, and there was a robust economy built on sugar cane. The Japanese ran the government offices, but by all accounts, there was little strife, and virtually no problem with their administration until the war with the United States began.
David M Sablan, Mike Harris, Paul Cooper not far from where
David's family hid in caves during the invasion
Then, as the reports go, the Japanese rules became stricter - and according to one historian, once soldiers who were battle hardened in Manchuria (fighting in China) arrived in Saipan, the Japanese soldiers became brutal, and treated the islanders as slaves.  However, there were many families that spoke Japanese fluently, and these people kept their jobs and kept their lives as long as they conformed to the newer, stricter laws.
Aslito from the South side of the field 1944
Once the U.S. forces arrived, then both the Japanese and the islanders searched for safety in the many hundreds of caves that dot the island.  And depending on whether the US thought there were Japanese soldiers or civilians inside these caves, that dictated whether or not they would survive.

We've heard these stories over and over - and the details are all verifiable with historical records.
The camp in Chalan Kanoa with Chomorro natives
And then we ask if they or any of their family had ever heard anything about a female pilot being incarcerated or on the island.  As mentioned in a previous post, the Saipanese are extremely careful about saying what they saw or did not see - about they heard or did not hear.  In all the interviews, we did not find one person who volunteered information that wasn't asked.  They were extremely careful to say "I did not see this personally, but my mother said that she did."  Or "I was sitting there with my brother, so he can confirm these details, but I saw a white woman sitting in the back of a truck with her hands tied.  And she was tall and thin and wore khaki clothes.  And the truck was parked for 30 minutes, so it was not something I could forget at 12 years old, because I had never seen a white person before, let alone a woman with her hands tied behind her back and a black bandana across her forehead. It's not something you could ever forget."
Chalan Kanoa village in 1944 - US Territory ever since
So far we have 15 of these accounts on camera and are scheduled to film two more very soon. Each has its own detail and carries its own weight.  We will let the audience make up their mind whether all these individuals have somehow been coerced into telling their story.

Bilimon Amaron from Mike Harris' footage in 1983
We've also located some of the original footage shot by Mike Harris back in 1983.  So when someone says "My mother said this" we will be able to show that woman actually saying what they remember her saying.  And in the case of Bilimon Amaron, who saw Earhart on a Japanese ship while in custody, and the Electra sitting on the back of the ship in 1937, we have his caucasian business partner for 40 years, who says emphatically "I knew Bilimon extremely well.  And if he said that he saw something, I can swear that he would never make something like that up.  He was an honorable man, and I worked with him for 40 years as a business partner."  I mention that his business partner was caucasian, merely as a touchstone to earlier posts, where we talk about the inability of so called researchers to understand that an islander might actually be accurate when recounting the story of seeing Earhart on a ship, where all the soldiers spoke of her as "Ameera."  It's not about the ethnicity or memory of the witness; it's about the ability of the interviewer to actually hear the answer to their question.

Captain Cooper in action - photo Robert Rustin
Breakfast nook with Jerry Kramer & Jerry Facey -
thanks for your support! (with Mike and Paul)
Finally, we had a tip that there might be some parts of an airplane buried in an industrial parking lot not far from the airport.  And like all tips that we can follow up on, we did.  In this case, we were far from the field, far from any logical place a piece of an Electra (an unusually high aluminum alloy) might be.  But we followed the tip and dug in that particular place.  So far - nothing.  But that was yesterday, and today we are digging near the airfield itself, near an area where eyewitnesses claim to have seen the Electra burned.

Some Japanese ruins from the original airfield - Google Earth
Stay tuned....


No comments:

Post a Comment

Eyewitness Accounts: Published

EYEWITNESS: THE AMELIA EARHART INCIDENT BY THOMAS E DEVINE WITH RICHARD M DALEY

Pg 40. “Glancing out on the runway ramp.. an area not the main part of Aslito Field, but an extended arm of the airstrip at the southwest corner… Near an embankment was (AE’s plane). (LATER) .. a muffled explosion at Aslito Field erupted into a large flash fire… I crouched and crawled toward the airfield. When I could see what was burning, I was aghast! The twin engine plane was engulfed in flames! I could not see anyone by the light of the fire… in July 1944.”

THE SEARCH FOR AMELIA EARHART BY FRED GOERNER

Goerner gathers dozens of eyewitnesses to Earhart’s incarceration and second hand info about her execution.

AMELIA EARHART: LAST FLIGHT

Amelia reveals she did not know Morse code (and neither did Fred Noonan)

AMELIA EARHART:HER LAST FLIGHT

By OLIVER KNAGSS

South African journalist gathers numerous eyewitnesses at Mili, Majuro and Jaluit. There is footage of these interviews, but it exists somewhere in Miami – still trying to locate the negative.

AMELIA EARHART: THE MYSTERY SOLVED By ELGEN M LONG AND MARIE K LONG

Elgen shows how the original plan devised by radio man Harry Manning was adhered to by the Coast Guard Itasca – they didn’t know Manning got off the plane in Hawaii and wasn’t on the electra. So 90% of all their communication was in Morse code – something neither AE or FN knew.

“WITH OUR OWN EYES – EYEWTINESSES TO THE FINAL DAYS OF AMELIA EARHART” MIKE CAMPBELL WITH THOMAS E DEVINE

PG 32. Robert Sosbe, 1st battalion 20th Marines, 4th marine division) Sosbe said he saw the Electra before and during its destruction) “on or about D+5 after our infantry had captured Alsito, the night before, then were driven off, only to capture it again, our Co was called up to fill a gap between our infantry and the 27th Army infantry. The trucks carrying us stopped off the opposite side of the runway from the hangars and tower about 3 to 5 hundred yds. This two engine airplane was pulled from the hangar to off the runway where it was engulfed in flames from one end to the other. I can still remember exactly the way it burned, how the frame and ribs because it was visible. It was about half dark. It burned approximately 15-30 minutes.”

Same page: a letter from Earskine Nabers: “I am seeking Marines who were placed on duty at Aslito to guard a padlocked hangar containing AE’s plane. The hangar was not one of those located along the runway. It was located near what may have been a Japanese administration building, and an unfinished hangar at the tarmac, in the southwest corner of the airfield.

The follow up letter (pg 33)

…”we had to get Col. Clarence R Wallace to sign all the messages that came through the message center.) Hq 8th moved back to bivouac area. I was dropped off at the Hangar for guard duty at the main road that went by west side of hangar. The road that went out to hangar, I was placed on the right side, just as it left the main road….

Pg 34 The best I can recall the plane was pulled on the field by a jeep.. the plane was facing north after the plane was parked and jeep moved. A plane came over real low and on the next pass he strafed the plane and it went up in a huge fireball. (We were sitting on the west side of the airfield about one hundred yards from the plane. We were on higher ground. As far as I remember, the (men) that pulled the plane on the field and us guys from H & S 8th were the only ones there.”

Pg 36 Marine Capt Earl Ford of Fallbrook, CA, artillery master sgt with 2nd Marines. Interview 6-7-88 by Paul Cook. “The aircraft was about 100 yards (from me) maybe less. We all saw it. No way we could miss it. A civilian twin engine. No way it was military. American aircraft in civil registration… some officers were saying it was Amelia’s… it had only two windows on the side, back here.”

Arthur Nash, Air Corps Corps, P47 group on Aslito. Claims he saw the plane on July 4, 1944 (book says 1945, must be a misprint based on following) pg 40:

“After landing on Isley.. at 2:30 pm, Japanese soldiers were running around the airstrip, one killed himself in the cockpit of a P47D with a grenade…” I slept fairly well (in the hangar) and (in the morning) wandered over to a large hole in the hangar wall facing the other hangar. The hangar floor and the area between the hangars was littered with debris, displace with siding from the hangars, maybe 65 yards apart, but close enough to get a good look at a familiar aircraft outside the other hangar. My eyesight was acute and what I saw was Amelia Earhart’s airplane!... the next morning I went over to see it but it was gone.”

Jerrell Chatham, 1st platoon, I company, 3rd regiment, 2nd marine deivions: “I was driving trucks .. on Saipan… when we went ashore I saw the hangar where Amelia Earhart’s plane was stored, I also saw the plane in the air. They told us not to go close to the airplane hangar and we did not…”

Pg 44: Howard Ferris, US Marines: “Sent to Saipan for guard dutey… an old hangar structure at end of a runway. This hangar was not large,.. small trees in front of big doors.. (then he recounts the same Marine argument that Devine and Nabers recount – where some Navy brass attempted to get in, but a Marine (Nabers) refused them entry.)” Howard was not present at the fire, but one of his buddies was. The buddy said a truck arrived with many gas cans and the guards saturated the entire hangar.. and it burned totally.

Pg 50 Robert Sowash, 23rd regiment 4th Marines Division: “I saw a plane in a building that was not a military plane.. I remember other Marines saying it was the same as Earhart’s. Later the place was cordoned off..”

Pete Leblanc, 121st Naval CB’s, 4th Marine division: “some of our guys were sneaking over towards the airfield to try and see (AE’s plane). We heard there were guards there. Then it was burned up later.”

AMELIA EARHART: LOST LEGEND - DONALD MOYER WILSON

Over 200 eyewitnesses as gathered by all the different authors with the various reports of her landing on Mili, being brought to Jaluit and incarcerated in Garapan prison.