- July 4, 1937, the U.S. Navy in Hawaii received a garbled
Morse code message on one of Amelia Earhart's calling frequencies, using
her call sign, KHAQQ.
- The message was:
- "281 North Howland calls KHAQQ - beyond North won't
hold with us much longer...above water - shut off" - which was interpreted
as "281 miles north of Howland."
- That is the last time she was heard from.
- The Tinian Expedition will begin an archeological excavation
on Friday, November 12 on the island of Tinian as they try to confirm that
a site they discovered a year ago is, indeed, the final resting place of
Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.
- A year and a half ago, radio talk show host, Jim Sullivan,
launched his show 'The DEEP' on Guam's Newstalk K-57, coincidentally, on
June 2, 2003. His first topic was the Earhart mystery.
- One of the callers to the program, Jennings Bunn, was
at the time, managing a U.S. Navy maritime museum and told Sullivan he
had learned of a letter sent to the Governor of Guam and military authorities
by a friend of 81 year old World War II veteran, John Naftel. The letter
described how Naftel had been shown Earhart's burial place in 1944, when
he was a young USMC gunner's mate stationed on Tinian.
- Sullivan and Bunn then met at a local coffee shop along
with marine engineer, Bob Silvers, to discuss the possibility of verifying
Naftel's story. They then formed the Tinian Earhart Expedition. Sullivan
and Silvers, with the help of University of Guam professor Dirk Ballendorf,
prepared for aerial surveys by studying maps and charts at the UOG to verify
- Sullivan discovered a map that showed an internment camp
as described by Naftel and with the help of Joe Edhlund, president of Sky
Blue Air, a Guam-based charter operation, who donated his services, they
flew to Tinian in fall of 2003 and began a series of trips to try and match
Naftel's descriptions with the terrain.
- The expedition flew Naftel, himself, to Tinian on October
10-12, 2003 to search for the burial spot he had been shown 60 years ago.
He remembered that it was 15 to 20 yards on the left hand side of the road
he'd driven up and down as a young Marine.
- They kept returning to a spot that was about 150 yards
from the1944 road he thought heíd driven down, but the distances
didn't seem to match Naftel's landmarks.
- After four days of tromping around in the jungle, the
group was nearly ready to quit. Silvers and Sullivan felt they were close,
and returned to the Tinian historical preservation office to look for more
- They dug through cobwebs and found one chart, drawn in
1944, that showed one road that had not been recorded on any of the other
maps they'd studied.
- And it matched Naftel's description.
- They drove to the spot on the map, began searching through
the thick jungle and, indeed, found the overgrown road that Naftel remembered.
- Sullivan and Bunn headed towards the left side, searching
for - and finding - the remains of the old road.
- Silvers and Naftel then took off towards the right side
and found not only the road but also two depressions in the dirt located
15 to 20 yards on the left side of the road ...exactly where Naftel had
remembered the graves to be.
- This Friday morning, the Tinian Expedition will be closer
to solving this 70 old year mystery.