- Tinian is best known as the launching place from which
a B-29 named the 'Enola Gay' took off on August 6, 1945, loaded with the
'Little Boy' atomic bomb that it dropped over Hiroshima.
- The components for the two atom bombs, 'Little Boy' and
'Fat Man' were brought to Tinian by air, while the critical atomic cores
were sent by sea on the USS Indianapolis. Special loading pits were constructed
on Tinian to place the bombs into the B-29's.
- Another B-29, 'Bocks Car', had accompanied the Enola
Gay to Tinian. Shortly after the Enola Gay returned to base after its historic,
deadly flight to Hiroshima, 'Bocks Car' departed Tinian and dropped the
other atomic bomb, 'Little Boy', on Nagasaki.
- Today, 59 years later, a cow pasture on the island is
the focus of an historic archeological expedition searching for clues about
the one of the biggest aviation mysteries of the last century: the disappearance
of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on July 2, 1937.
- The Tinian Earhart Expedition has spent the last four
days searching in a hot, steamy, rainy, jungley area for the remains of
the two lost fliers.
- In 1944, Saint John Naftel was a young USMC Gunner's
mate who was assigned to duty on Tinian. His job was to drive workers from
a just liberated Japanese internment camp back and forth to the town of
- One day, a Hawaiian man held captive by the Japanese
for years before the Americans liberated Tinian and the camp, confided
to Naftel that he had been forced by his Japanese captors to dig two holes
and help bury two white people, one a woman, the other a man...in 1937.
- The man showed Naftel the exact spot just off the road
Naftel drove the former prisoners back and forth each day.
- The Hawaiian told him how the Japanese said that if he
ever told anyone about the graves, they would force him to dig another
hole...for himself. Naftel said the Hawaiian man did not tell him of the
graves for nearly ten days after the Americans had freed him so fearful
was he of the Japanese threat.
- The Expedition
- A year ago, the Tinian Earhart Expedition was formed
at a coffee shop on Guam. The members, Jim Sullivan, Bob Silvers and Jennings
Bunn, then flew to Tinian several times and when they had located the general
area described by Naftel, they made arrangements to fly him out from Alabama.
- For the past four days, all the men and several other
highly-skilled archeologists and volunteers were back at the same spot
on Tinian directing the Tinian Earhart Expedition excavation.
- Saint John Naftel, who is now 82, has been on site the
entire time and hasn't missed a thing. (Except for his clothes that were
accidentally shipped to Saigon instead of Saipan.)
- Earlier today, he spoke to a history class of about 20
sophomores and juniors at Tinian High School.
- "One of the things that the children did not know,"
Naftel began, "is that Tinian was occupied by the Japanese. I told
them how the island had many air strips on it."
- He then told them about Suicide Point...where many native
Tinian islanders had thrown their babies and children off the cliff into
the sea and then jumped to their deaths after them - so brainwashed were
they by the Japanese that they actually believed the advancing Americans
were going to cook and eat their babies.
- Naftel has literally spent the last four days out in
the field - now a cow pasture - but so far, nothing conclusive has been
discovered. How does he feel?
- "I'm not giving up," he said. "We just
haven't hit the right spot yet. After 67 years, it's going to take some
sort of miracle to pinpoint it. But I really think (eventually) we will
find her (Amelia Earhart)."
- "We're going to use all of our options to find the
grave sites," Naftel continued. "I know that the road did exist
and we discovered some old coral road beds just yesterday." (The Japanese
used coral as a base for all the roads they constructed on the island before
and during the war.)
- "It will just take a while. We're working to get
an old map from Hawaii, and (we'll) keep at it."
- Naftel had packed something useful in his lost luggage.
A metal detector.
- "It could have helped," he said. "There
is a lot of shrapnel around here, so we'd have been digging a lot. But
it might have helped find any metal that Amelia or Fred may have had on
- "I just don't want this knowledge to go to my grave.
That's why I wanted the children to know. If nothing else, I want to make
sure that everything has been done in a very positive way to help solve
- "I'm so pleased that so many people have responded,"
he continued. "Everyone from the man with the mechanical earth moving
equipment (backhoe) to Bob Silvers of the Tinian Earhart Expedition."
- "Bob has brought vast insight to the process,"
Naftel explained. "Everyone has really put out the effort to make
this happen. I'm just very grateful" he concluded.
- Naftel will leave Tinian tomorrow, flying back to his
home in Alabama.
- 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