Victor Post
  • JOEL FREEDMAN: What really happened to Amelia Earhart?

  • What about the evidence Earhart and Noonan deliberately veered off course to scrutinize Japanese military installations, and that they were captured and killed by the Japanese?

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  • Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, to fly nonstop across America, and to fly nonstop from Hawaii to the West Coast. During a highly publicized attempt to circle the globe, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, reportedly disappeared on July 2, 1937. But did they really crash into the Pacific Ocean without a trace? What about the evidence Earhart and Noonan deliberately veered off course to scrutinize Japanese military installations, and that they were captured and killed by the Japanese?
    When Americans liberated the small island of Saipan in 1944, the island's natives gave accounts of two white pilots, a male and a female, who were beaten, executed and buried on Saipan. The islanders had been told by Japanese soldiers the two were suspected American spies picked up on the ocean. Three American Marines, under the direction of Military Intelligence, disinterred the remains of two individuals they were told were Earhart's burial site.
    A suitcae containing women's clothing, newspaper clippings about Earhart and Earhart's personal diary were found on Saipan. A Japanese prisoner possessed a picture of Earhart standing near Japanese aircraft.
    During the 1960s, Fred Goerner investigated these and other reports that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and later brought to Saipan. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded American naval forces in the Pacific du ring World War II, acknowledged "Earhart and her companion did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese."
    More recently, the TV show, "Unsolved Mysteries," presented the account of Robert Wallack, a Marine who, with other Marines in Saipan in 1944, found a briefcase with Earhart's personal papers in it. Wallack gave them to his commanding officer.
    So why does the U.S. government give the royal runaround to those who have sought further validation of all this?
    If Earhart had volunteered to secretly scrutinize Japanese military installations at a time we weren't at war with Japan, she surely was advised America couldn't aid her if she was captured. Could it be after the war, rather than acknowledge our government asked the world's most famous and admired aviatrix to engage in espionage, it was decided not to reveal Earhart's fate?
    What if Earhart wasn't a spy but had accidentally flown into Japanese territory where she was captured? Why might our government remain evasive about Earhart's fate?
    With the passage of time and the emergence of Japan as an important American ally, why stir up a hornet's next? Japan, which has often minimized or denied Japanese atrocities committed in the 1930s and 1940s, would not want to admit Earhart had been abused (one native reported observing Japanese soldiers striking her; another observed bruises on her body) and executed.
    Page 2 of 2 - Goerner concluded his book, "The Search for Amelia Earhart," with a question: "What is going to be done to clear the record completely, to remove all the aspects of doubt and suspicion and bewilderment from a heroic story that the public has a right to know in full so that two human beings may be properly honored for their courage and their contribution?"
    The question remains unanswered in 2012, the 75th anniversary of the so-called disappearance of Earhart and Noonan.
    Freedman, of Canandaigua, is a frequent Messenger Post contributor. He is also an adjunct instructor in American history at Finger Lakes Community College.

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