- I found myself late last night down at the Marriott Hotel
with Jerry and Eleanor Wilson.
- They are from Eastern Washington State and, by pure coincidence,
found themselves at the Tinian Earhart Expedition dig. They'd been on a
WWII tour of the Northern Marianas Islands and, after reading a newspaper
article that Iíd written, found themselves carrying a cooler of
ice and a box right into the dig site.
- We spent a few hours at breakfast yesterday, comparing
- Then, Jerry called me last night and said "Sandy,
I know where Amelia's buried."
- "I'll be down after work," I answered.
- If you're reading this article, you probably have it.
Jerry and Eleanor have it. The Tinian Earhart Expedition has it. Thousands
of our readers have it. And I have it.
- We all have the highly-contagious 'AEF' - which is short
for 'Amelia Earhart Fever.'
- Jerry had made notes on three pages of Marriott stationary
and drew a little map. He's a retired history teacher and school superintendent.
- He drew a map of the old road he'd spent an hour on with
Saint John Naftel at the dig.
- Jerry excitedly explained his research and reasoning
behind his conclusions, which are, by the way, being explored and seriously
- They walked up and down the road, between some pipes
that were sticking up out of the ground, for about an hour.
- "He (Naftel) had on faded blue jeans and a Hawaiian
shirt with old fashioned station wagons on it," said Eleanor. "He
was deep in thought as he and Jerry walked up and down the road, over and
- As they walked, Naftel told the Wilsons some old war
- Apparently, Tinian's main crop during WWII was sugar
- After taking over the island, the Japanese needed workers
to keep production going so they could send the sugar back to their country.
They enticed people to work in the fields and, according to what Naftel
told the Wilsons, the Japanese ripped up the employment contracts after
the workers arrived so they became slave labor.
- When Tinian was liberated August 1, 1944, so were the
sugar field workers. The U.S. Army divided those left on Tinian into three
groups: POWs, natives and the slave laborers.
- The laborers were hired by the U.S. and Saint John Naftel
was in charge of a group of the workers. He drove them back and forth to
work, and one day, in 1944, one of the workers from Hawaii said "I've
got something I want to show you."
- As they drove along the road, the worker told the driver
to slow down, and then pointed to where he had helped bury the bodies.
- "It was a woman and she was unique because she had
slacks on," the worker said. "I saw her and didnít know
the story but I heard it was the lady who was flying around the world."
- "Amelia Earhart?" Naftel asked.
- "Yes," said the Hawaiian. "She was wearing
a shirt with at metal pin, with wings on it."
- After that, Naftel was sworn to secrecy because the Hawaiian
man had been threatened with death if he told anyone.
- Naftel told Wilson another story about having to pick
a bone with Eleanor's uncle who'd been on Tinian at the same time, serving
as an MP or military policeman in the Army.
- "According to Naftel, the Army had cases of beer,"
Wilson reported, "boxes were stacked about 20 yards long and six feet
high. And the Army would not share the beer with the Marines."
- There was one Marine unit on Tinian at the time, the
18 AAA Anti-aircraft battalion, the same one in which Naftel served.
- "So," Wilson continued, "the Marines found
where the Army hung their laundry to dry and, in the middle of the night,
would take the Army uniforms off the clothesline, put them on, walk into
the Army camp, take the beer, hang the uniforms back up and then go back
to their camp."
- The Wilson's had taken pictures of Tinian and Eleanor
was kind enough to show them to me.
- One of the pictures she showed me was of one of the airfield
from where the Enola Gay took off to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.
- The picture was of pink flowers growing on vines, like
Morning Glories, pushing up through cracks in the airfield.
- Jerry and Eleanor flew out of Guam at 8 a.m. to spend
a few days in Hawaii before heading back the cold of eastern Washington.
- They'll probably be the hit of every Christmas party
they go to this year.
- Back to the expedition.
- I'm picking Jim Sullivan up from the same airport in
about 45 minutes.
- Others, like Jennings Bunn and Saint John Naftel, headed
from Tinian to Saipan, then flew on to Japan and back to the states.
- Naftel's lost luggage was supposed to be waiting for
him. (His luggage had been mistakenly shipped to Saigon, not Saipan, so
the poor man didn't have his clothes with him during the dig!)
- OK, Iím back home now from picking up Jim Sullivan.
- He's tired and dirty. As I'm writing, he's on the phone,
lining up guests for tonight's radio show.
- He's the one who introduced me to the Wilsons. He's also
the host of 'The DEEP,' a local science radio talk show on Guam's Newstalk
- If anyone has 'AEF,' Jim probably has it the worst. Were
it not for him and his radio show, the expedition would never have taken
- I updated him on my call to John Mark Joseph, the staff
archeologist at the CNMI Office of Historical Preservation or OHP on Saipan.
- The office is staffed with a Historic Preservation Officer,
professionals in the field of History and Archaeology, Historic Preservation
Coordinators, Specialists, and Technicians. In addition, HPO is equipped
with a federal grants manager, a community development specialist, and
administrative assistants. The Office is under the auspices of the Department
of Community and Cultural Affairs.
- They issued the permit that authorized last week's dig
and are now trying to work with the maps to pin point the road that Naftel
remembers being on in 1944.
- "We're trying to get everything in place in the
office," Joseph said. "We're trying to help the expedition with
- Joseph said that the Earhart dig isn't the only thing
happening in the northern Marianas.
- "We have tons of projects on all the Marianas islands,"
he continued. "Saipan, Rota and Tinian. The Earhart dig is not the
only thing going in our historically rich environment."
- Once the geographic software program is loaded into the
computer and things are set up, the topographical layers will be superimposed
to see where the old road is. The different GPS points will be included
into the digital data crunch.
- When will this start to happen?
- "We don't know yet," Joseph said. "We're
really busy right now."
- Next: An interview with Jim Sullivan
- Cassandra 'Sandy' Frost is an award winning e-journalist
and editor who has covered the topics of Intuition, Remote Viewing and
Consciousness from an Athabascan or Alaska Native point of view the past
- More of her articles can be found at: http://blogs.salon.com/0003531