Mashallese Debunk the Debunkers by Rich Martini

22 Jul

7/20/17    Marshallese Debunks the Debunkers By Rich Martini and Mike Harris Sr.

This is a reprint from Chasing Earhart’s post on Robert Wheeler’s Facebook page

Note: The photos and letters could not be reproduced on our site. Please see original post on the

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…


Marshallese government confirms date of the docks in photo as 1936

Marshallese government debunks the debunkers.

Turns out the “book copyrighted in 1935” could not be a book copyrighted in 1935, because the docks in Jaluit did not exist until 1936.  This advanced copy of the Marshallese press release puts that claim to rest. (See the amended press release below.)

“The Republic of the Marshall Islands is following your investigation of the Amelia Earhart mystery with great interest. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, confirms that the photograph found in the US National Archives is the dock at Jabor on Jaluit Atoll.

Jabor Dock was built in 1936. The events of this period are still recalled by our eldest citizens.  The claim that Jabor dock was already built in 1935 does not match the historical record. Therefore, it would not have been possible for any photos to have been taken of the Jabor dock in 1935.  The dock simply did not exist. The elders who confirmed that Amelia and her navigator were brought to Jabor are of the highest standing and reputation in our community.

The ministry hopes this helps the record straight.”

Gee. How did #CNN, #NewYorkTimes, the #WashingtonPost #TheGuardian and #NationalGeographic get the story wrong?

It’s simple.

The people selling the idea that Earhart’s plane landed in the Gilbert Islands are behind the PR machine that insists, argues, that their version of events is correct, must be correct.

So when a blogger (who I’m told contributes to the Tighar website) comes forth with the argument “I never believed she was arrested by the Japanese. The History Channel folks should have done their homework, it took me ten minutes to find the photograph of the docks in a book published in 1935.”  Headlines went around the world “Japanese blogger finds proof the photograph is not real.”

They should have started with his first sentence. 

If you “never believe” something that means you’re not basing it on evidence.  If over 200 people claim the same thing, then it’s no longer a matter of theory or belief – it can only be a matter of sorting out the facts.  “I always wondered” or “I thought it was strange” gives us different insight. But when he stated that he never believed any other story, then he’s just not looking at the evidence.

Plus well, there’s some problems with his account.

First of all, “the book” cited was not “published in 1935.”  It’s a portfolio of photographs that are tied together with string. Not a book by any stretch of the imagination – books are bound, printed and published. Not this photo album.

There are no dates in the book, other than a stamp at the back of the book by someone who put it into this library.

Not a published book, a photo album – and the librarian obviously made a mistake with the date, because there was no dock in Jaluit harbor in 1935. 

Full stop. No dock.

No dock in the photos of Jaluit in the 1930’s, but definitely a dock by those who were there in 1937 (see below) and those who stood on the dock in 1937.  The Marshallese confirm the dock didn’t exist in 1935. It was built in 1936.

So CNN should have said “a photo album that bears an imprint of a librarian’s stamp that says 1935.”  But clearly, if the dock wasn’t built until 1936 – the stamp was wrong.

I was just as curious as the next person – what book was this from?  Well, I was shocked that it wasn’t a book – that

no photo was dated, and that somehow that detail was overlooked.

The photo is just one of many pieces of evidence that she was on that particular dock.  Eyewitnesses, both European and native, claim to have seen her on that ship parked in the harbor.  There are documents that show the administration knew she had been arrested, and was in custody (but they could not reveal they’d broken the Japanese code). (These documents have been examined by professionals, who confirm their existence, and will be part of Les Kinney’s book, (and/or a sequel to the History show)  An expert has described them in detail to me; they are “verifiable” and come via Kinney’s deep research and security clearance.)  When they’re revealed, I’ll be certain to post them here.

There are many fingers that point to the same conclusion.

But let’s ask a more cogent question.  

What was the photograph doing in a classified file in the National Archives in a file of the Office of Naval Intelligence?

Once we answer this question, it becomes clear why the photograph was valuable to US Intelligence prior to World War II. 

Take a look at these photographs (from the net) of the harbor at Jabor.  In 1905 it had a wooden dock.  The Germans had agreements to run these islands (and turned the Marianas over to Spain, who turned over Saipan to Japan in 1914.) These photographs are from their records of these docks.

Skip forward to the 1930’s.  The League of Nations “allowed” Japan to mandate the Marshall islands (run the government, build schools, etc) in return for their promise that they would not “fortify the islands” for war.  The Japanese were so secretive about these islands (and their fortifications) that two British citizens were beheaded for spying, and numerous other people were arrested, their boats sunk or confiscated by the Japanese for observing their fortifications. They were fortifying them for war.

Which leads to how this photograph got into the ONI file. Because it’s evidence of the dock that they built in 1936.  Obviously whomever put it in the file didn’t care about the people on the dock – just interested in the dock itself.

So who else was on this same dock in July of 1937?

Well, there’s the explorer Eric De Bisschop who sailed through the Marshalls in July 1937 (the 2nd) and he was arrested near Mili for doing so. His ship was searched, and he writes about it in his book about his Thor Heyerdahl adventures in a simply built boat.

Letter where De Bisschop (well known explorer) is asked about seeing Earhart on Jaluit. 

Transcribed: “In connection with the above” (see the transcript of the letter printed below) M. Hoppenot showed the writer the following statement made by M. Eric De Bisschop, a former French naval officer…”  after mentioning he’d sailed past Mila (sic) atoll, the Japanese turned hostile and searched his boat. “He was arrested, suspected of espionage, and given a severe and thorough questioning for several hours… (his ship the “Fou Po” was) searched from bow to stern.”)

“At Jaluit he had seen shells for 3-inch guns… the Japanese have dredged the harbor and entrance channels… much larger and freer from obstructions then are shown on current charts.” The charts are being held confidentially, not for “sale or distribution.”

He noticed “an airplane ramp..” an “airplane hangar… a concreted dock… radio transmitter…” He said “as to Mila (sic) dredging and building was going on… It is held so confidential that even Japanese merchant ships are not allowed to visit there… coal, 3″ shells, dynamite… are brought to Jaluit.. (then) by small navy transport” to Mila (sic) atoll.

(Part of the page torn away) “the story about Miss Earhart and other people kept… (n)er… is concerned, M. de Bisschop that while possible,… (torn). He said  that it was much easier to find someon(e)… ned then to keep them prisoners.  He had heard from… (torn) ‘efore his visit one such white skin man who had visited Jaluit… (torn) day but with indications that he had been struck over… (torn) e natives declared that this man was rumored to have been (torn).

(Logic tells us that Mr. De Bisschop said he had not seen her but that it was possible she had been there, that it was easier to arrest people than to “keep prisoners.”  And then he recounted a story of a man who had been beaten and possibly killed for being a spy.)

In Eric de Bisschop’s own words from his book: THE VOYAGE OF THE “KAIMILOA” Published in 1940 (from an actual “book”)

“And the last place of call of the Fou Po, at Jaluit, yonder, in the Marshalls. Ah! the ugly faces of that
Japanese Governor and of those policemen, with their little daggers at their sides. . . . Spies ! We? What a joke! Some note-books showing positions, a few survey notes on the north coast of Australia … that’s not spying ! 

Kept prisoners for a fortnight, watched closely all the same … the natives threatened with imprisonment if they approached our craft; and that searching of the Fou Powhilst we were being questioned ashore; just think, a wireless transmitter, an electric sounding apparatus must be hidden somewhere. 

Maybe I had thrown everything overboard before landing, but they’ll find the traces all right … everywhere, anywhere . . . under the planking, amid the provision tins… the fools!

And our departure? only just managed it, luckier than that American, a year ago, than that Englishman, six months ago ! . . . disappeared, both of them . . . poof! dissolved into thin air, for the greater glory of the Mikado’s Empire.” (page 5)

“… the port of Jaluit (under Japanese mandate) is the port of entry for Nauru Island, which is under the control of New Zealand. I would not advise even my greatest enemy to go to Jaluit in the Marshall Archipelago and ask there for a permit to call in at Nauru. He would be received by a nasty Japanese Governor, with a shaved skull, then kept a prisoner, and accused by him of espionage, and perhaps would not have the luck to slip through his fingers as we did on the Fou Po(page 211)

De Bisschop’s account was taken by French authorities, who were following up on another letter, a much more controversial one, where the author claims to have seen Earhart and “her mechanic” on the same dock at Jaluit in July 1937.

The French obviously thought it was worth exploring, as De Bisschop was quoted in their letter interrogating him if he’d seen Amelia Earhart (He had not.) 

And to those who claim that the other part of the letter – which is written by a man whose boat was taken by the Japanese, where he claims he was close enough to Amelia to get a lock of her hair – it’s the detail of calling Fred Noonan “her mechanic” that sticks out. If you’re going to create a fake scenario – why get that key detail wrong? (Fred was not her mechanic, although he may have looked like one.)

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) (Here’s the Nippon Maru built in 1930) 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….eut”) (this french sailor was traveling with a companion Joseph Tatibouet) 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 Jaluit. 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?) Bottom of the page reveals: Letter was stamped at the bottom with initials V. B. 2.” 

But beyond that – the details of this letter confirm a number of details that are in the photo, and in the eyewitness reports above and to the side of this post. 

The point is – if you’re going to “fake a letter” in Oct. of 1938, throw it overboard near the Brittany coast –

where’s it’s delivered to French intelligence and US Embassy in 1939 – how do you get so many facts correct? 

As noted, no one was allowed near Jaluit. It’s not the kind of place you’d make up a story about (Hawaii, Howland, anything but Jaluit).  He gets the “Europeans in custody” correct. He gets the “spying for fortifications” correct. He gets the fortifications reference correct. He gets the Earhart transported in a hydroplane correct. 

Basically, his letter reveals a knowledge of the fortifications and details and events that no other human could report. But he’s reporting the same details as de Bisschop (a French Navy war hero.)

You can’t have it both ways.  If the letter gives correct details about what’s going on in Jaluit when no one was allowed there, and it’s corroborated by a complete stranger – who denies seeing Amelia on the docks (further corroborating the story, because if he did, it would mean they were colluding) but confirms everything else in the letter, then it’s not a huge leap to realize the letter is in fact, real.  

Combined with other reports of those who saw her on the boat (Bilimon Amaron (who saw AE and Fred), former Congressman Oscar De Brum (who saw the plane, he was taken to the docks in July 1937 by his father who said “They’ve arrested an American spy and she’s on the boat, and that’s her plane.”)  ((This report is in the eyewitness footage above “Eyewitnesses on Saipan.”))

Four individuals – two western, two islanders, who say the same things about the same person in the same dock in 1937.  Which confirm what’s in the photograph.

Maybe before reporting whatever the latest “debunking” detail that comes via the PR machine that National Geographic has bought into, or the debunking machine that comes straight from those who have an investment in debunking – take a deep breath.

How about doing a little legwork, do the research, follow the links, take a good hard look at the evidence – and report it for what it is.  “It appears, based on these reports that are consistent, that Earhart survived the landing, and combines with other details, that she was arrested by the Japanese, detained, and incarcerated on Saipan.  Her plane was reportedly found by US Forces in 1944, and her body was partially recovered in 1945.”

Those are what the eyewitness reports actually say. The photo is one piece of evidence in a mountain of it. Journalism 101. (And yes, I have a Masters of Professional Writing from USC, took many Journalism courses while graduating Magna Cum Laude from Boston University.  Yes, I’ve written and/or directed eight theatrical features, and I do have a series of “best selling” books at Amazon (the “Flipside” series.)

I’ve been researching this story since 1986, and it has not changed since I began to explore what eyewitnesses have said.  Details yes, but the overall thrust of what they’ve said is consistent.

I worked on “Amelia” and the Diane Keaton film – both using my extensive research of over 30 hours of archived footage and 5000 photographs. But because I’ve never been interested in being swallowed up by the Earhart research juggernaut, I’ve kept my research to myself (but published in “Hacking the Afterlife”) but in this case, I’m contributing to this story not for profit – but for the sake of Amelia’s story.

She deserves to be treated no less than any other American hero – as someone whose life mattered, and how she died matters as well.

So, to recap:

1. The “1935 book” is not a book or from 1935. It’s a photo album with a librarian’s stamp of 1935.

2. The photo accurately depicts Jabor docks post 1936. The docks were not built until 1936.

3. The Koshu is listed in the photo from the portfolio of pictures, so that photographer inadvertently proved that it was the Koshu in Jaluit by adding that caption when he put the photograph in his collection. (Can’t have it both ways. He called it the Koshu. Clearly towing a 38 foot long plane (the precise dimensions of the Electra)

4. The photo shows the Japanese barge that carried the Electra from Mili to Jaluit – and there’s an interview with the US Navy vet who met the man responsible for putting the Electra on that barge. (Andrew Bryce reported the story to me on camera, is in the footage above “other eyewitnesses.”)

5. Bilimon Amaron says that he went aboard the Japanese ship and met both Earhart and Noonan. His reputation is defended by his business partner in the same footage.

6. In the letter from the Frenchman arrested as a spy, he claims she was taken away by seaplane which is corroborated in Fred Goerner’s reports from eyewitnesses on Saipan.  (Ms. Blanco Akiyama, also interviewed on the History Channel show and in the eyewitness footage above, makes that same claim, as she saw her and Fred come ashore on the seaplane dock in Garapan, Saipan.)

7. I’ve been on Saipan, where I recently filmed 15 new eyewitnesses who claim either they saw Amelia in her cell, on the island, or in custody, people who’ve never spoken on camera before, people who are sick of being ridiculed by theorists. Either they directly saw her, had relatives who saw her, or had some story about her that was corroborated by other eyewitnesses.

8. US Marines who found her plane and Saipan, found her briefcase, who guarded the plane, who drove down from Mt. Tapachou to view the plane, who were nearby and confirmed the same dialog spoken outside the hangar, etc, etc, etc. Who watched as US forces took the plane onto the runway and destroyed it. Who decoded the secret messages regarding finding her plane, flying her plane and destroying it.  

9. Oliver Knaggs went to Mili and interviewed numerous eyewitnesses who saw her plane come down.  I interviewed the cameraman who shot that footage, and he confirmed everything Knaggs wrote in his book.

10. At some point – you just have to say “enough already.”  On behalf of those Marines who entrusted me with telling their story – Robert Wallack and Earskin Nabors, veterans Tom Devine and Andrew Bryce and Douglas Bryce – all honest Americans who fought in the war, and don’t deserve to have their story swept under a rug either.  Enough already. Stop acting like they didn’t see what they saw, or they were deluded, crazy, or any of the other “conflicting reports” nonsense. Nothing conflicting about them at all if you actually listen.

There’s more information on this page if you read the posts below or watch the footage to the side.

But no, the dock wasn’t built prior to 1936, ergo the argument “it’s from a book in 1935” is inaccurate.



July 18th, 2017 the Government of the Marshall Islands issued a new press release regarding the recent History Channel program, (I’m told its an amended press release, but does not negate the above information about the date of the docks.)  

It is clearly a message of support for Les Kinney and those islanders interviewed who saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in Jaluit.  There is nothing in this letter that contradicts the original claim that the docks were built in 1936. Either they were – or they weren’t. Evidence indicated above shows that they were. 

By the way – I will not post vitriolic replies to any posts. If you’ve spent the past 31 years investigating this story as I have done, seen footage, seen the documents, verified the details, interviewed the experts – if you’ve been hired, paid or spent time as a serious investigator (As I was paid by 20th Century Fox to work on “Amelia” and other films) I’m happy to discuss research. If you have a question about my research, I’m happy to answer it.  

I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’m also familiar with the vitriolic opinions and theories that her story engenders. 

Frankly, I’m not interested in theories or belief or replying to angry pilgrims.  Amelia Earhart landed on Mili, she was arrested, incarcerated and died on Saipan. Sorry if those details upset people. 

Frankly, it’s beyond my comprehension to understand why anyone would be upset about it. If it wasn’t true, then there’s no point to argue with me about it. I’ve been in the military library in Tokyo, I’ve looked at the records of every prison camp the Japanese ran from 1936 to 1945. I’ve seen every volume of records.  

There is only one volume missing out of the 19 I’ve examined.  It is the records of the prison at Garapan, the site of the Naval Headquarters during the War. 

The reason that volume is not in the official records, (according to the head librarian who told my translator) is because “all prison records went to the US after the war. These are the volumes that were returned to us. So if Garapan is missing, it never returned.”

I’ve been to Saipan. I’ve been to Ms. Akiyama’s home and interviewed her. I’ve spoken to 15 new eyewitnesses who had never been interviewed before. People who either saw her, had a relative who talked about her, took care of her, got a ring from her, washed her clothes, cleaned her jacket, changed her sheets.  People who saw her plane in Aslito airfield before it was found by US Marines. Countless eyewitnesses, who saw her come down in Mili, saw her in Jaluit, saw her in Saipan.  Not a few. Not contradictory. All saying THE SAME STORY.

I highly recommend looking at the above footage, or the footage to the side of this post. You’ll see excerpts of over 30 hours of raw footage of people telling their stories. Family members, and actual eyewitnesses who saw her alive on Saipan. US Marines who found her briefcase and plane.  The story isn’t complex, but it is fascinating.

I find it amusing how this upsets people who are convinced that their theory, belief, philosophy is accurate.  

I’m not sure what human quality that is – that despite 200 eyewitnesses who claim they saw her, who saw her plane land on Mili, who saw her transported to Jaluit, saw her aboard a Japanese ship, saw her transported to Saipan, saw her on Saipan, took care of her, buried her when she died – US Marines who found her briefcase and plane – are convinced beyond any shadow of rational doubt that their theory – which may or may not include a stamp on a photo album, includes no eyewitnesses, no physical evidence whatsoever – and yet, they’re furious! Upset! Vitriolic! over the idea that they might be adhering to a belief, a philosophy, a theory that is not based on any evidence.

Not sure what this human quality might be – but having worked on this story for over 30 years, I’ve seen my share of them, and generally try to avoid them. I’ve met zealots from both sides of the coin – “she was beheaded!” “she was shot!” “she was tortured!” to “she crashed in the sea!” “She wound up in China!” “She returned to New Jersey!” It’s fabulous that people are so eager to attach emotions to their beliefs. But I’m not posting opinions or beliefs or theories. These are eyewitness accounts that can and have been corroborated.

All I can surmise is that there’s something deeply powerful or religious about her – something that’s beyond rationale thought – or something of a spiritual nature that makes people treat her, treat her story, as if she’s some kind of wax figure in a museum. 

I wish that the research showed different results. I wish that the Marshalls agreed that the docks in Jaluit were built in 1935.  I wish that she had come down in the Gilberts and not the Marshalls. I wish that the US revealed they knew she was on Saipan and negotiated for her.  I wish that the US didn’t decide to cover up what happened to her.  I could have stopped researching her story back in 1986 when Diane Keaton made a film based on my script, but left out the eyewitness parts.  I wouldn’t be here posting anything about this story.  

After all, it’s not about how Amelia died – who cares? – it’s about how she lived.  Created the equal rights amendment. Single handed did incredible feats of daring. Was a terrific author, poet, explorer. She loved and was loved.  

No one cares about where her body is – least of all her – but it is important to stay true to what really happened to her.  Because she had courage to live through that experience – courage to take whatever slings and arrows that came her way and continued to remain the sweet-hearted soul she always was.

She deserves to be honored for the hero that she is and remains to be.  Just not in the fantasies of some who believe she “screwed up” at the end of her life and “missed her target.”  She did not. Just not here to argue opinions, am offering just a small sampling of the vast research already done. 

Stay tuned.

Note: The photos and letters could not be reproduced on our site. Please see original post on the


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  1. Bob


    July 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    We received this comment from B Miller

    To Les Kinney-There were 3 koshu marus sunk in WWII, 2 koshu marus and 1 koshu maru II. Also, a lot of aircraft were lost on mili in several battles making the search more difficult..


    • Bob


      July 22, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      B Miller, thank you for your comments. Les Kinney does reply to our posts on occasion. We are aware of the 3 Koshus,; 2 of them were built after 1937.
      Bob Wheeler

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