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

Eyewitnesses who saw Amelia Earhart on Saipan

In light of the History Channel show here are some eyewitness reports from folks who saw Amelia Earhart on Saipan after she landed her plane at Mili atoll. (There's an interesting "new" evidence below)

(Full disclosure - I was asked to participate in the History Channel show. They filmed me for the sizzle reel that they used to sell the show to History Channel. Ultimately, based on my 25 years of research, having worked on all the films about Earhart (both Diane Keaton's and Hilary Swank) and my 30 hours of footage and 5k photographs, I decided to hang onto my research, as we're still hoping to put this together in film form.  That being said, I'm friends with Les Kinney and Dick Spink, have interviewed them, have worked and shared notes with them, and what they have to say about AE's journey is accurate and based upon decades of research. 

(This show is based on their research, Les and Dick worked independently of me and Mike Harris, but a few  years back, we all got together and shared notes. Les told me about his photograph, and I've been waiting all this time to see it. And it's mind blowing.)

Here's a short time line of what the research shows based on eyewitness interviews collected over decades. Mike Harris filmed some of these interviews in the 1980's, we filmed more in Saipan recently, and the US Marines I collected over the years.

1. She landed the Electra on Endriken isle in Mili.  Dick Spink found pieces of her plane on a number of occasions - a former NTSB investigator (Jim Hayton out of Seattle) confirmed "beyond a shadow of doubt" that they could only come from her Electra.

2. She was picked up by the Japanese.  A number of islanders saw her plane land (they were fishing the shallow reefs) and the Queen of Mili was filmed and interviewed by a South African journalist in the 1980's.  Many people saw her come down.  On a recent trip to Mili, an island elder recalled that the Japanese had "ordered" 40 islanders to help drag the Electra off the atoll.

3. The Electra was put aboard a Japanese barge and taken to Majuro first. I got that info from a Navy veteran stationed on Majuro who heard it from a stevedore he worked with. He said they'd transported it to the Koshu Maru.  (Note, in the photo of the ship, there's a barge attached to the Koshu. I never thought there would be a photo of that - but there it is.)

3. Google Earth photos show (from a decade ago) that the drag marks of some large object could be seen from space.  There was Japanese rail equipment found on the island and recovered by Spink, Kinney, Mike Harris and others on a recent trip.  Same gauge equipment Japanese used to haul cane in Saipan.

4. She was transported with Fred and the Electra to Jaluit (where this picture is taken. If you watch the footage you'll see eyewitnesses who boarded the ship and saw her there.)


click to view - about 30 minutes - the links at the end no longer apply

5. She was taken to Saipan - I interviewed Ms. Akiyama a few years back, and this show on Sunday interviews her as well. She's the original source for Fred Goerner's book - and her story has not changed.  I interviewed other islanders (also in this footage) who corroborate her story - one congressman says his father told him the same story of Fred and Amelia being brought ashore.

6. She was held at first in the hospital (interview above) then the military HQ. Fred, according to reports, was beaten, tortured and killed for being a spy. (beheaded)  Amelia was moved from her initial cell which she was a few doors down from Fred (in the footage) to a larger cell closer to the commandant's view.

7. She spent the rest of her days in this cell. She was occasionally allowed to meet with islanders (see "Eye on LA" report in the 1990's for those reports with Chuck Henry) but for the most part lived in a small cell (that is still there, and has a tree growing inside of it.)

8. She died of dysentery.  She was held as a "playing card" for the Japanese to use against the US - but never got around to it. The US invaded June 1944.

9. The Electra was found in a hangar on Aslito field, Saipan June 19th. The man who decoded the messages, guarded the plane, numerous eyewitnesses are cited above in the footage and to the side of this page. Her briefcase was found, dry as a bone,her passport etc, all turned over to the same commander Louis Wallace (82nd.)  Corroborated reports are cited in the footage.

10. Her body was dug up by two GI's Hanson and Burkes, as reported in Goerner's book "Searing for Amelia" in 1963. However, subsequent evidence points to the fact these two "found an arm and a partial ribcage." Her skull and other bones have not been found or recovered.

11. The Electra, after being guarded for 4-5 weeks in the hangar, was towed to the south end of the field, covered with gas and burned (as reported above.)  It was shoved off the runway into a pit with other planes.  We had permits to excavate that pit a couple of years back, but ran out of the money required to do so. However, I know where the pit is.  According to the NTSB investigator, he could identify the frame of her plane from a field X ray.  That remains to be done.

12. Her briefcase and arm were turned over to the US military.  The next island in the war was Okinawa, and as Robert Wallack points out - "a number of ships were sunk by the Japanese."  Perhaps her arm, rib cage and briefcase went to the bottom of the sea. However, recently, I heard from a reliable source that the briefcase is in the hands of a private collector related to the Earhart family.  That too remains to be seen.


Over 200 people claim to have seen her, nursed her, fed her, washed her clothes when she got to Saipan.  Some of those people are featured in the footage above.  This footage has been posted for years now, and despite being invited to be on the History Channel, I felt that if I did not work on that show, and retained all the rights to my research, I might find another way to tell her story.  And I'm still doing that.


This is not based on a theory, belief or philosophy. These reports are based on consistent eyewitness reports, that have been cross referenced - if one person said one incredible thing (she was shot, she was beheaded) I put it aside to hear corroborating evidence.  When two people said the same thing ("I saw her in the back of a truck in May 1944 being transported by soldiers. I had never seen a white woman in my life, and it's not the kind of thing you forget, even at age 12 - a woman dressed like a man with her arms bound and a blindfold.  She was parked in from of me for 30 minutes.  My brother was next to me." (cited in the footage above.)

Ultimately, people can argue about what people saw or think they saw. Certainly the memory does tricks over the years - but when over 200 people say relatively the same thing, it deserves to be examined. And further - if what they're saying is true - then the US owes her a debt. She was the first victim of World War II and has never been honored for it.

(Sorry that this info disturbs some people - but if you take a look at my other work ("Flipside" "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" and "Hacking the Afterlife" - in which I reveal everything I've learned about Amelia's journey) I go into detail as to why that might not be the case.  

In "Hacking the Afterlife" I submitted the same 20 questions to mediums who claimed they could communicate with AE.  In all three cases, I got the same answers, as well as "new information" that no one knows, that I have confirmed, that could only come from someone who was Amelia, or knew her extremely well.)

Regarding the latest hullabaloo about "the 1937 photo in a 1935 book." Some observations:

There are many things unusual about the photo cited in the History Channel report from the National Archives, that was "found in a book dated 1935 by a blogger in Japan."

It's actually not a book by the way. It's from a loose leaf portfolio of pictures. (If you follow the link to the cover, you'll see what I mean.) That portfolio has a separate copyright page from 1935. The photograph on the docks is not dated. Nor are any photos in the book.



Hand tied portfolio of photos not bound. 

Yet, the exact same photo is in a classified Office of Naval Intelligence file. (Full disclosure, my grandfather Edward A Hayes, National Commander of the American Legion, served as Assistant Sect of the Navy Frank Knox, and in the Office of Naval Intelligence from 1940-1944) How did the exact same photo get into a classified file (if you go to National archives, they have it on their main page.)  More importantly, why?





How'd ONI get the actual negative? It's the exact same photo. Why was it classified? (From my research, it was because they had so few pics of the region of actual docks.) 

There was an issue of docks that precipitated the war - as the Japanese claimed in their permission to mandate the islands (prior to leaving the League of Nations in 36) they would not fortify their docks for war. (They did, and killed people who reported that detail.)   


Photo from the net "Jaluit harbor in the 1930's"
Before they'd been fortified by the Japanese.
Note the pier included in the above foto. Fortified.
If the two westerners in the photograph are not Amelia and Fred -  what male/female westerners were traveling in Jaluit in 35? Someone somewhere must recognize Uncle Pete and Aunt Betty. Jaluit was an odd destination. It was Japanese territory. Completely off limits. (So - this letter came to me today - which I'd seen before, but never transcribe... a French explorer whose ship was confiscated off Mili in 37, who claims to have seen AE in custody). 

But there is proof they were on the docks, as depicted in the photograph in this letter.


(Oliver Knagg's book Chapter 11 AE: Her Last Flight 1983
has a slightly different (inaccurate) translation, but this is the original doc in English)
The message reads: "January 7th, 1939. Report of Amelia Earhart as Prisoner of the Marshall Islands." 

"Mr. Happenot, the chief of the French Foreign office, allowed the writer to read some papers found in a bottle washed ashore near Bordeaux. This communication... will be delivered to the American embassy here." 

He then describes a fellow walking on the beach along the Atlantic "On 30th October (1938), a Mr. Barret, aged 37" found a bottle that was half pint sized, with wax on over the top.  There was a sample of chestnut brown hair inside, with a note that said "May God guide this bottle, I confine my life and friends to it." 

Then in French, here in English;  "Have been prisoner at Jaliut (Marshalls) by the Japanese in a prison at Jaliut. In the prison there I have seen: Amelia Earhart (aviatrix) and in another cell her mechanic (a man), as well as several other European prisoners held on charges of alleged spying of the gigantic fortifications erected on the atoll."

(A key detail, as they were forbidden by the League of Nations to build fortifications for war, in their being allowed to mandate the islands. The photo above is of a fortified docks - as in ready for war.) 

"Earhart and her companion were picked up by Japanese hydroplane and will serve as hostages, say Japanese.  I was a prisoner because I disembarked on Mila (sic) Atoll.  My yacht 'VEVEO' sunk, crew (3 Maoris) killed, my yacht (85 tons, sailing ship) was equipped with radio." (Another detail - she was transported from Jaluit to Saipan in a seaplane, as has been reported elsewhere)."

On the other side of the note he continues: "Having been kept a long time at Jaluit as prisoner, I was forcibly enrolled as stokehold hand, (coal shovel) simply fed, on board 'Nippon Noa?' (his question mark) bound for Europe.  Will try to escape when ship near to coast.  Carry this message to Gendarmerie immediately in order so that we can be freed. " 

"This message is to be thrown overboard probably near Santander (Spain), and should arrive in Brittany or at the latest, October, 1938. (Wow. He had that correct.) This is message No. 6. To have a good chance of freeing Miss Earhart and her companion, as well as other prisoners, police should arrive incognito at Jaluit I shall be with (name indecipherable in text above, in book it's "Jo....eux") and if I succeed in escaping.... because if the Japanese are asked to free the prisoners they will say that they have none are detained at Jaliut. One must be tricky."

"The hair (enclosed in the bottle - where did he get that? from her? a brush? or asked her for it?) is Miss Earhart's and will prove the veracity of this story and that I have seen Amelia Earhart (-) supposedly dead. This bottle will serve as a float for a second bottle containing some objects of Miss Earhart. (!!!)"    
"I am writing on my knees because I have only a little paper,  some left over when police took finger prints." (Finger prints? On Jaluit? Cool. Let's find 'em.) Bottom of the page reveals: Letter was stamped at the bottom with initials V. B. 2


A good friend of mine forwarded this to me. There are other verifiable details to this letter. The explorer Eric de Bisschop, who was also detained in Jaluit in July of 1937, says that when he told the Japanese authorities he had been sailing near "Mila Atoll" (sic) they became suspicious and searched his boat (the Fou Po) for spying equipment. Later Bisschop was asked by the French military if he had seen Earhart while he was detained in Jaluit. While he said he had not seen her, he confirmed that he'd heard of others who had been detained.

But beyond that - the details of this letter confirm a number of details that are in the photo, and in the eyewitness reports .


First it's really an odd artifact. (It was found in a bottle on the beach in Brittany)  This explorer claims he was taken prisoner in Jaluit in 1937, where he saw Earhart and "her mechanic" in custody. (Sorry Fred, we can't all get credit even in death).  

But he notably reports he was arrested for spying on the "fortifications of the atoll" (getting ready for WWII in 1937) and that she was "taken away in a seaplane."

Fred Goerner's book in 1963 spoke to a number of people who saw a "silver plane" fly overhead just prior to her arrival on the island. (In the footage above, Ms. Blanco Akiyama, and a Congressman from the Marianas whose father saw the same event).

The docks where Ms. Blanco saw AE was at the seaplane dock in Garapan (as noted in the History Channel episode)  A small but notable confirmation that this fellow is accurate. (Other than the fact that he was a famous explorer and later lauded for his exploits. Not anonymous. A real human person who spoke about what happened to him later in life.)
 

Back to the photograph of Jaluit: two British citizens were executed in the Marshalls for spying in 1936. It's not exactly a place you stop off during your trip. A male and female dressed in men's clothing, black pants - not exactly the outfit worn by sailors either. 

People have claimed the ship is not the Koshu Maru. Is it the Koshu? The show claims it is - but so does the  portfolio pic. (In the caption it's called "Koshu.") So the ship is identified as the Koshu. What's it doing with a 38 foot long plane on a barge?

If you explore the footage link above, (eyewitnesses) you'll see Andrew Bryce, Navy Vet talk about the stevedore in Majuro who told him he moved the Electra by Japanese barge to Jaluit and a Japanese ship parked there. You'll see Bilimon Amaron talk about boarding the ship. You'll see his business partner defend his reputation.


The match of Fred's nose was pretty clear as per the show.  A match of her shoulders too. If it's not them who are these mysterious westerners out for a cruise in Jaluit in any year prior to World War II? 


So this photograph is not dated - it's in a portfolio, not a book, and the identical photo is in a classified file in the Office of Naval Intelligence. How'd it get into Office of Naval Intelligence? 

(I love that Tighar has found a shoe, found turtle bones, demonstrated a photo of a plane part in the ocean, found a body that was identified as male but is now female - (9 expeditions?) and has now got cadaver dogs searching the island. When I spoke to the editor of National Geographic in an hour long interview, I was told "When people come to us with a new Earhart story, we're told to run in the opposite direction."  I guess not anymore.)

Nat Geo did report on Les Kinney and Dick Spinks' (with Mike Harris, Jim Hayton) trip to Mili to find more plane parts (sponsored by Alcoa).  And now they're allowing Tighar to use their name (and her legacy with National Geographic) to continue this story. 

Yet, in a single day, because a blogger (who has posted on Tighar) says that the photo is from a 1935 book (it's not from a book! It's from a hand tied portfolio! none of the pix are dated!) everyone rushes to "debunk" "discredit" or the millions of other things that people say when faced with another narrative. 

Ignoring all of the people who corroborate what's in the photograph.

I suggest following up these questions. Follow up the eyewitness reports I've posted above. And ignore the hysteria about every new detail that comes across the transom. There will be future reports of "cadaver dog finds." (In my interview with Elgen Long  for the film "Amelia," he predicted they eventually run out of options and "discover" a plane part (one he says is tied to AE that he's already examined) I recently heard a "nasty rumor" that "someone" may "plant an artifact" of Fred Noonan's (size of a fingernail) to indicate/prove the search has been on the right island all along. It hasn't happened yet, it's a nasty unfounded rumor, but if or when it ever does, you'll have heard it here first. (7-14-17) It was Elgen who first alerted me to the concept "something could be planted" to justify the expense of these searches.  His words, not mine.)

It's taken 80 years to turn this ship in the correct direction, it's going to take more to get there.  (More eyewitnesses in the footage posted above.)


Addendum:

Some photographs that corroborate the argument made above.

1. Jaluit Harbor in 1906.  
SS. Germania 1906 Jaluit
Wooden Dock in Jaluit 1906. 

2. Jaluit Harbor in the 1930's when Japan was still in the League of Nations.
Photo caption "Jaluit Harbor in the 1930's. 


3. Jaluit harbor after it's had "fortifications" done - i.e. building a dock and a port for battle ships.  Strictly forbidden by the League of Nations which Japan left in 1936.
New dock - note the metal posts for tying up large ships. 
It's not the people that make this classified - it's the dock.
Closer. With the Koshu (as identified above) with a plane on a barge.
Just noticed this.
Is that fellow in the middle with the long hair, 
the French Sailor who penned the note? "VB2"

4. Jaluit Harbor in 1947.  Same dock from a different angle.


Jaluit Dock looking towards shore 1947
Jaluit Dock - 1947

5. The reason the photo was in the office of Naval Intelligence was because it proved that Japan was fortifying the docks illegally to prepare for war.
Note they're standing on the newly fortified docks. Office of Naval Intelligence

6. The above letter states the same details - fortifications for war, and seeing Amelia and "her mechanic" Fred on the same dock in 1937.
Which makes me wonder. Is the Frenchman who wrote this letter
in the photo above?
Wouldn't that be amazing?  All three of them in one photo.

2 comments:

  1. Question for you and Les Kinney; why have neither of you "interviewed" the surviving children (daughter and son) of USMC Saipan G2 Capt. Griswold (Erie PA). Griswold refused to talk about it after Goerner but never denied it again. The National Archives show Griswold was the G2 for his unit on Saipan. If those bones are buried in an anonymous grave in Punch Bowl National War Cemetary or Arlington they are recoverable and subject to confirmation by DNA testing at the center in Hawaii. 'nuf said.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If Fred was recovered and Amelia held for years afterwards, then he, not she, was the first victim of World War II.

    ReplyDelete

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.