Below are more excerpts from Mike Campbell and Marie Castro’s book, Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy. This time we get to see what the U.S. military big brass had to say about Amelia Earhart being on Saipan. Looks like Ballard and Nat Geo are dunking in the wrong part of the pool.
The American GI witnesses: Part 2
In addition to the many soldiers, Marine, and Navy men who saw or knew of the presence and destruction of Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra on Saipan, three U.S. flag officers later shared their knowledge of the truth with Fred Goerner, acting against policy prohibiting the release of top-secret information, likely in order to encourage the long-suffering Goerner in his quest for the truth.
In late March 1965, a week before his meeting with Gen. Wallace M. Greene Jr. at the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, former fleet admiral Chester W. Nimitz called Goerner in San Francisco. “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,” Goerner said Nimitz told him.
The admiral’s revelation appeared to be a monumental breakthrough for the determined newsman, and is known to many observers of the Earhart matter. “After five years of effort, the former commander [of the] U.S. Naval Forces in the Pacific was telling me it had not been wasted,” Goerner wrote.
In November 1966, several months after The Search for Amelia Earhart was released, retired general Graves B. Erskine, who, as a Marine brigadier general, was the deputy commander of the V Amphibious Corps during the Saipan invasion, accepted Goerner’s invitation to visit the radio studios of KCBS in San Francisco for an interview. While waiting to go on the air with Goerner, Erskine told Jules Dundes, CBS West Coast vice president, and Dave McElhatton, a KCBS newsman, “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan. You’ll have to dig the rest out for yourselves.”
General Alexander A. Vandegrift, the eighteenth commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, privately admitted the truth to Goerner in a handwritten, August 1971 letter.
“General Tommy Watson, who commanded the 2nd Marine Division during the assault on Saipan and stayed on that island after the fall of Okinawa, on one of my seven visits of inspection of his division told me that it had been substantiated that Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan,” the handwritten letter states.
“That is the total knowledge that I have of this incident. In writing to you, I did not realize that you wanted to quote my remarks about Miss Earhart and I would rather that you would not.”
Vandegrift’s claimed source for his information, former lieutenant general Thomas E. Watson, died in 1966—very possibly the reason Vandegrift shared the truth with Goerner in that way. Legally speaking, Vandegrift’s letter is hearsay, and he probably assumed it would afford him a level of protection against any ramifications he might face for breaking his silence with Goerner.
In assessing Vandegrift’s credibility, a sterling career culminating in his selection as the Marine Corps’ first four-star general is impressive enough. But Vandegrift also received the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross for his actions at Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Gavutu in the Solomon Islands in 1942. In those days, receiving his country’s highest award for valor conferred upon its bearer the gravest moral responsibilities, and it’s safe to presume that the word of a Medal of Honor awardee, especially a former commander of the world’s greatest fighting force, was as good as gold. Moreover, Vandegrift had nothing tangible to gain from telling Goerner that Earhart had died on Saipan, and had no obvious reason to do so.
The U.S. Navy/U.S. Marines were outed recently by an Open Government Act request that found a secret document. What a surprise. It was found that they still lust after Pagan Island and the northern half of Tinian even though they have denied it publically. Do they want to improve the economy by opening a Navy base? No, they want full-scale live fire training facilities so U.S. Marines and the military of other countries can blow the crap out of both islands, likely making them uninhabitable as they have already done with Farallon de Medinilla. Bombs, tanks, strafing, cannons, live fire on a massive scale.
Their claim is that Pagan and Tinian are the “only” options they have. Hogwash. Guam is more than twice the size of all 14 islands of the CNMI combined and much of it is undeveloped. Needless to say, there is some pushback from Guamites about blowing up their island so what the Department of Defense wants to do is move the troops and all the money to Guam and send the PCB’s and the depleted uranium ammunition and the destroyed reefs and the toxic wasteland to us here the CNMI. Thanks but no thanks. If you want an island to blow up, try Cocos Island. Think of the money you’ll save on transportation.
The previously secret document reveals they want to lease Pagan, the whole island. Since they will undoubtedly ruin it for all time and since they have a big gun to use in getting their way, I suggest that we lease it to them at $1.2 billion per year ($1,200,000,000). A billion dollars go to the NMD land trust and $200 million goes to supplement the CNMI central government’s operating expenses as an administrative fee.
Remember, once they destroy Pagan, there is no getting it back. What is a pristine tropical black beach island worth over the lifetime of the Northern Marianas? Probably more than even a billion a year will provide. Don’t take a penny less. It’s a tiny fraction of DOD’s massive budget and it will forever transform the CNMI into a self-sustaining, moderately rich nation as small political entities go. “A billion two or go blow yourself up.”
“Intelligence and war are games, perhaps the only meaningful games left. If any player becomes too proficient, the game is threatened with termination.”
―William S. Burroughs
“War is where the young and stupid are tricked by the old and bitter into killing each other.”