With any glorious sunrise, optimism abounds when plowing a mirror-like tropical lagoon for what I had hoped would be THE day that I have been hoping for. After fourteen plus years, I had found the exact location Amelia Earhart researcher Joe Gervias and his contemporary researcher, Charlie Hill, had both adamantly claimed that the remains of the passengers and crew of the ill-fated Hawaii Clipper lay. That was the hard part. The easy part would be to excavate the site and respectfully identify the remains. August 19th proved those two efforts would be swapped 180 degrees. The location was found fairly early on this third expedition, however the the site remains a mystery. After much reflection, I have come to two conclusions:
1. The human remains are still on this site but in a location not within the area that we searched. I would have liked to demolish the home and excavate the entire site but was limited in the effort due to my budget and time allowance.
2. The remains were never there and the story is false. I learned today that one of the people that lead Joe Gervais to the site was known as “98%”… meaning ninety-eight percent of what he told was a lie. So, did he actually help bury the 15 Americans? Did he just speak of a story he had heard of 15 Americans and point to an arbitrary location and say “they are there?” At this point, I don’t know anything for sure, except we destroyed the floors of a person’s home and now will spend a few days to repair it.
So now I leave Truk Lagoon with fellow filmmaker, Jeff Riegel, much the same way we came: perplexed. Are the bodies of those 15 men here? I can only say, perhaps. The only way to definitively know is to return with a much larger budget to excavate the entire site. We have fostered excellent good-will with the local villagers and made strong bonds that ended with an invitation to return if more information is discovered.
Until then, we will now turn to taking all the interviews and new footage to create a documentary that will tell the story of a group of people that I had never met but certainly changed my life.