“I have carefully studied the presentation. Its conclusion that there was more than one Irene O’Crowley Craigmile has completely convinced me that this is indeed the case. The study results also convinced me that one of them used to be Amelia Earhart. Incredible. It is quite an impressive package.”

A note forwarded to the forensic analysis and comparison study orchestrator, Tod Swindell, from retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Ernest Eugene (Gene) Tissot. Rear Admiral Tissot was a prominent member of the Amelia Earhart Society of Researchers from 1989 to 2014. His father, Ernie Tissot, served as Amelia Earhart’s head plane mechanic during her 1935 Hawaii to Oakland flight.

In the photo: U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Ernest Eugene (Gene) Tissot Jr.

The Foundation of the Amelia-Irene Controversy
that Led to Discovering some New Realities

1966, by Fred Goerner said Amelia went down in the Marshall Islands and lived on.

1970, The Joe Klaas book about the Gervais, Dinger, and Briand ten year investigation known as: ‘Operation Earhart’ said Amelia became known as “Irene.”

1985, by Robert Meyers, said Amelia became known as “Irene.”

1994, by Randall Brink, updated the previous work of Fred Goerner and Operation Earhart said Amelia survived WWII.

2004, by Rollin C. Reineck said Amelia became known as “Irene.”

2016, by W.C. Jameson said Amelia became known as “Irene.”

Tod Swindell

About the six Earhart
books displayed above:

In the 1990s I began looking into Amelia Earhart’s old missing person case.

It is now 2022, and for the past several years the results of a research and comparison study dedicated to testing a decades-old, never disproved assertion about Amelia Earhart, enabled a fresh, updated look at a half-century old controversy that was never put to bed.

The reason the study was called for was simple: No one had done such a thing before, leaving a need for it to be forensically ascertained if it was actually true that Amelia Earhart survived her 1937 disappearance and lived to become known as Irene.

This was largely because of the many individuals who quietly professed that Amelia lived on and changed her name, aa expounded on in four of the six books displayed above, that concluded that Amelia Earhart lived to become known as Irene. The other two books that were published in 1966 and 1994, concluded that Amelia lived well past the date of her storied disappearance, without delving into what eventually became of her.

The final two books by Rollin Reineck’s and W. C. Jameson, referenced my then in-progress forensic analysis and agreed that its preliminary findings were correct were they to ultimately surface that Amelia did become known as Irene.

Colonel Rollin C. Reineck, was a person I especially befriended along the way. He had studied Amelia Earhart’s disappearance for many years and was part of a contingency of people who attested that Amelia survived and went on to become known as Irene. In 2002 & 2003, Rollin was so impressed by some of the initial study results I had achieved with some help and guidance from Dr. Walter S. Birkby, a noted forensic anthropologist, that it inspired him to write his book, Amelia Earhart Survived. Rollin credited my study within his book for, “making it plain for the world to see” that Amelia did become known as Irene. At the time, though, the study still had a long way to go before it would be finalized for public review. No matter, Rollin was a World War Two flying hero who was getting old, and he wanted to make sure that he left behind his version of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and her later incognito return to the United States. (Colonel Reineck died in 2007.)

W. C. Jameson, on the other hand, who never reached out to me, agreed that Amelia became known as Irene, he had heard of my study and referenced it in his book, but he was not aware of its finer points at the time. (I had just submitted the study for copyright when W.C. Jameson’s book came out in 2016.)

Elements of my study had been viewable over the internet well before Jameson’s book came out. The Associated Press had written about it as well, and portions had been displayed on the National Geographic Channel. I can add that until I embarked on the study, to the general public the old Amelia became known as Irene assertion had been dormant for decades. It was mainly the recent years advent of digital composite photographs the study presented that slowly elevated the forgotten Amelia-Irene controversy back to the forefront of people’s awareness.

I never met the late Robert Meyers, author of Stand By To Die, who came to know the post-1940 Irene and averred that she had confided in him about her having previously been known as, Amelia Earhart.

Through my friend, author Randall Brink, I did meet and befriend another World War Two flying hero, Joseph A. Gervais, during the last decade of his life. Joe’s ten year (1960-1970) investigation known as “Operation Earhart” had inspired the 1970 book, Amelia Earhart Lives by Joe Klaas. Joe Gervais was the original person to meet and (somewhat candidly) photograph the post-1940 Irene at a 1965 gathering of retired pilots in New York. It was there, to his own astonishment, that he believed he instantly recognized who the Irene he met that day used to be through her post-1940 veil. She rebuffed him when he tried to go public with his claim five years later, though, by citing factual errata in the just released book, Amelia Earhart Lives, that attempted to out her. Joseph A. Gervais became a subject of ridicule after that, but he never stopped insisting that the post-1940 Irene was the former Amelia Earhart, all the way to his dying day in 2005. Now, thanks to a lot of recently achieved hard work, a lot more about Amelia Earhart’s past is known, to include the new realized, albeit still unheralded verisimilitude that supports the assertion of Amelia having been known as Irene from the 1940s on.

By the way, all of those other stories you’ve heard about Amelia; that her bones were found on a desert island; that she was captured by Japan and executed for spying on its military installations; or that with hours of fuel remaining she aimlessly flew on until her tanks ran dry — thus causing her to spiral down into the sea; they were all false claims issued by people who saw a way to financially capitalize on the so-called “mystery” of Amelia’s disappearance. Reality now states, however, that theirs were never official historical offerings.

Warning: A wikipedia page touts that the Amelia became known as Irene assertion was debunked in 2006. It wasn’t debunked then or any other time. Wikipedia is misleading in other ways as well, where it fails to at all address the pre-1940 existence of the original Irene O’Crowley Craigmile. Wikipedia’s “Irene Craigmile Bolam” page implies that the National Geographic Society hired a detective in 2006, who forensically concluded that Amelia never became known as Irene, and that simply is not true. There was a detective by the name of Kevin Richlin, who appeared on the Nat Geo Channel special about Amelia Earhart that year, but he merely steered the curious away from considering the idea at the time and never forensically concluding anything, beyond perhaps, his not having enough information that would enable him to conduct a serious forensic analysis. That would have taken a lot more work on Detective Richlin’s part. The person who posted the wikipedia page in 2007, Dr. Alex Mandel, is part of a small contingency of individuals that did not want the idea of Amelia’s post-1940 life as Irene to be seriously regarded, and he used the ‘public information driven’ wikipedia platform to campaign against it. [There are people akin to Dr. Mandel out there who continue to shout the study results down.]

Take heart in knowing, the reality path you’re on here continues below. Thank You : – )

JOSEPH A. GERVAIS PHOTO, 1965

Amelia Earhart and the post-1940
Irene O’Crowley Craigmile

Note the photograph taken by retired Air Force Major Joseph A. Gervais in 1965. (The photo was taken at a gathering of retired pilots in East Hampton, New York.) By then, Amelia had been gone for 28 years and she was no longer current in the public mindset. With the post-1940 Irene’s different hair and dress style, and slight weight gain, it truly was hard to recognize her similarity to Amelia.

After the post-1940 Irene married Guy Bolam of England in 1958, she became known as Mrs. Irene Bolam. The forensic study results showed that she appeared nowhere identified as Irene prior to the 1940s. She did not emerge from out of thin air though, because she had existed on earth for many years prior to the 1940s, although not as ‘Irene’.

A quick refresher: In November of 1970, the new book titled, Amelia Earhart Lives caused quite a stir when it asserted that the post-1940 Irene O’Crowley Craigmile Bolam, was possibly the still-living Amelia Earhart, sporting a different identity. Needless to say, the press had a field day over this.

Below are a few comments made by Mrs. Bolam, the day she held a news conference to deny the book’s allegation that suggested she was the former Amelia Earhart.

JOSEPH A. GERVAIS PHOTO, 1965

After Amelia Earhart Lives was published, as noted, Mrs. Irene Bolam told the press that her maiden name had been Irene O’Crowley, but when she earned her pilot’s license in 1933, she was known as, Irene Craigmile. She also freely verified that she used to know Amelia Earhart, that they had even been “close friends” and that she had, “sat and chatted with Amelia many times.” It’s somewhat peculiar that it did not strike anyone odd, then, that no one had ever heard of the formidable person that Irene clearly was in 1970, or that she was a figure anecdotally connected to Amelia Earhart’s life during Amelia’s fame years, especially where there was no mention of her in any of Amelia’s biographies. The reason is now known: The original Irene O’Crowley Craigmile was never as formidable as Amelia Earhart was, and beyond the few pilots who came to know her during her brief days of plane flying, including Amelia in that number, the original Irene was relatively unknown.

Amelia’s sister, Muriel

Significantly, after the Amelia-Irene story broke in 1970, when asked, Amelia Earhart’s sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey, acknowledged that she “knew” [the post-1940 only] Mrs. Irene O’Crowley Craigmile Bolam. Of course Muriel insisted that she was not her sister, Amelia, admonishing as well that she demonstrated, “practically no physical resemblance” to Amelia.

[Note the newspaper article that quoted Muriel’s negative reaction to the claim about her friend, Irene, after the book, Amelia Earhart Lives came out.]

The comparison results edified that Muriel, who died in 1998, was not necessarily shooting straight arrows with her perpetual denial and “no physical resemblance” comment. Notwithstanding the negating fulminations of Amelia’s other extended family members, and those of a few stodgy historians in lofty positions, it may be certain anymore that Muriel was instrumental in helping to obscure the truth of her sister’s ongoing incognito existence as Irene.

Few people had heard of Irene O’Crowley Craigmile Bolam, before the book, Amelia Earhart Lives was published, yet after it was published, people who were still living that used to be friends of Amelia’s, especially the ones whom were closest to her, unilaterally insisted that [the post-1940 only] Mrs. Irene O’Crowley Craigmile Bolam, was in no way the survived Amelia Earhart with a different name applied to her person. This included the post-1940 Irene herself, and she most definitely had her reasons.

At the time, few would have been able to comprehend why the blanket denial to allow any truth about Amelia’s ongoing existence was so forceful, nor did anyone conceptualize that the publicly known facts that pertained to Amelia’s disappearance had been predestined to forever remain as they were — dating back to the World War Two era. To see through to the reality of the matter, it would have been essential to grasp the following simplified concept: The permanence of the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance came into existence because long ago, certain individuals willed it to.

In other words, pertaining to what actually happened to Amelia Earhart in July of 1937, and what became of her afterward, to this very day one could almost hear someone in our nation’s highest halls audibly state under his or her breath, “the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance exists because it’s supposed to exist.

Should anyone take the time to notice, though, there was never an official investigation that looked into what happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. As well, the federal government of the United States never issued any kind of official statement about the outcome of their 1937 world flight. This in itself tells us something.

Japan? Recall, we won the war, and after doing so Japan was immediately subjected to the will of the United States government, that no doubt issued it a credo to always remain officially silent when it came to any awareness it had pertaining to the true outcome of Amelia Earhart’s world flight attempt:

“Numerous investigations foundered on official silence in Washington and Tokyo, leaving the true fate of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan an everlasting mystery.” 1982, aviation historians, Marylin Bender and Selig Altschul on the 1937 disappearance and subsequent missing person cases of Amelia Earhart, and her navigator, Fred Noonan, quoted from their book, The Chosen Instrument.

Not so with the people of the Marshall Islands, who were subjugated by Japan’s governing military authority leading up to and during the war years. Ever since the post-war era, a number of eyewitnesses had freely described Japan’s involvement with Amelia’s world flight outcome to the rest of the world, with no rebuttals to their statements ever issued by the United States or Japan.

With the above being so, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, going down in the Marshall Islands and being picked up there by Japan, reflects a simple modus ponens, “if this, then that” argument that applies where the question of what became of them afterward was left unanswered. “If they ended up there, then what became of them?” It’s interesting to note here, that both the United States and Japan have never officially verified or stated anything at all about Amelia’s world flight

Top: A 2002 Associated Press article lead-in. Bottom: 1987’s 50th anniversary marking of Japan’s retrieval of Earhart, Noonan, and the plane.

Top: A 2002 Associated Press article lead-in. Bottom: 1987’s 50th anniversary marking of Japan’s retrieval of Earhart, Noonan, and the plane.

Not so with the people of the Marshall Islands, who were subjected to Japan’s governing military authority leading up to and during the war years. Ever since the post-war era, dating back to eyewitnesses, they have freely been describing Japan’s involvement with Amelia’s world flight outcome to the rest of the world, with no rebuttals to their statements ever issued by the United States or Japan.

With the above being so, that of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, going down in the Marshall Islands and being picked up there by Japan, a simple modus ponens, “if this, then that” argument would apply where the question of what became of them afterward was left unanswered. “If they ended up there, then what became of them?” It’s interesting to note here, that both the United States and Japan have never officially verified or stated anything at all about Amelia’s world flight outcome. Rather, both countries have always quietly gone along with the adage that said the duo ‘disappeared without a trace‘ in July of 1937, and they, along with Amelia’s plane, were never seen again.

Back to Muriel: Not long before Amelia’s sister, Muriel, died in 1998, a small contingency of Earhart researchers began to recognize the fact that the ‘Amelia became known as Irene’ assertion was never officially settled. In response to their rekindled pursuit of the controversy, Muriel still derided the effort. Here she is quoted again:

outcome. Rather, both countries have always quietly gone along with the adage that said the duo ‘disappeared without a trace‘ in July of 1937, and they, along with Amelia’s plane, were never seen again. Yet according to many people in the Marshall’s and other South Sea Islands locales, that simply was not true.

Back to Amelia’s sister, Muriel: Not long before Muriel died in 1998, a small contingency of Earhart researchers began to recognize the fact that the ‘Amelia became known as Irene’ assertion was never officially settled. No matter. In response to the rekindled pursuit of the controversy, Muriel still derided the effort. Here she is quoted again:

Pertaining to the post-1940 only Irene:

Note: The “professional women’s club” that Muriel mentioned she and Irene Bolam had both belonged to was the International Zonta Club of career women. As shown in the clipping below that referred to the post-1940 only Irene, it was not until after World War Two that the post-1940 only Irene joined the Zontas. When she was Amelia Earhart, however, she joined the Zonta’s right after she became famous in 1928, and her Zonta membership was still active when she went missing in 1937.

The original Irene O’Crowley Craigmile, (who further down is written about) wasn’t a career woman and was never a Zonta member. She also did not become a member of any flying clubs in the 1930s, likely due to the complexities she dealt with during her piloting days. The following clipping, though, describes some impressive exploits of the post-1940 only Irene that exclusively took place after World War Two.

It should be recalled that Amelia Earhart was a highly intelligent and worldly person with good business acumen. She also spoke several languages. This would have left her well suited to become a Zonta International Relations chairperson in her later-life years as Irene. Consider as well how that same

‘International Relations’ position was previously filled by the original Irene O’Crowley Craigmile’s aunt, a well known New York and New Jersey attorney by the name of, Irene Rutherford O’Crowley. Attorney Irene was a Zonta charter member who Amelia met and looked up to after she joined the Zonta’s. It was Irene Rutherford O’Crowley who introduced her niece, the original Irene Craigmile, to Amelia. The linchpin of Attorney Irene Rutherford O’Crowley having brought her niece’s desire to become a pilot to Amelia’s attention in 1932, also surfaced in the research portion of the analysis.

Below, throughout her adult life, the original Irene O’Crowley Craigmile’s aunt, Attorney Irene Rutherford O’Crowley, was often featured in newspaper stories that covered her various attainments. The story on the left ran in 1928, the year she met Amelia Earhart. The story on the right ran in 1963. Note: Where Amelia becoming Irene is accepted by some, it is certain to them as well that Attorney Irene Rutherford O’Crowley must have played a pivotal role in keeping her niece’s identity ‘alive’ for Amelia to use from the 1940s on, notating that Attorney Irene and her mother, Sarah O’Crowley, had raised the original Irene from age twelve on.

It’s of little surprise, really, that when the post-1940 only Irene O’Crowley Craigmile, faced the press in 1970, Attorney Irene Rutherford O’Crowley, the original Irene’s aunt who had raised her niece from age twelve on, was still very much alive at the time, but she was not sought for comment and she issued no statement.

Continue With The Study

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ABOUT PROTECTING EARHART

The Protecting Earhart MSS and Forensic Analysis [1997-2020; copyright registrations: TXu 1-915-926 & TXu 2-061-539] mark one Investigative Journalist’s comprehensive forensic research evaluation combined with a human comparison analysis.

After meeting some World War Two veterans who insisted that Amelia Earhart privately lived well beyond the war years, Writer-filmmaker, Tod Swindell, developed a consuming interest in the facts attributed to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and missing person case, that led him to orchestrate a comprehensive forensic research study that featured an in-depth ‘Amelia to Irene’ comparison analysis, the first one ever done.

The complete Study was inspired by the original findings of Joseph A. Gervais [of the ‘Operation Earhart’ investigation Gervais conducted from 1960 to 1970] and a long time collaborator of his, Author Randall Brink. The study features over ten-thousand pages of rare documents, analytical text, photographs, human physical and character trait comparisons, maps, charts, and past-obscured, but once again revisited investigative research findings.

The condensed Protecting Earhart MSS features 415 total pages; 110 of which exclusively exhibit logistical and visual elements drawn from the overall ‘Amelia to Irene’ Comparison Analysis. From a layman’s viewpoint, the Study results appear to exhibit Amelia Earhart’s ongoing existence after World War Two with the re-purposed name of, ‘Irene O’Crowley Craigmile’ applied to her person. (Surname of ‘Bolam’ added by marriage in 1958.) It also examined the post-World War Two, ‘let’s move on‘ logic that left the general public out of the loop of the complexities that surrounded Amelia’s 1937 disappearance. Simply put, a year and a half after she was declared ‘missing‘ in 1937, Amelia Earhart was declared ‘dead in absentia‘ in 1939, a declaration that has never changed.

The intention to keep the name ‘Amelia Earhart’ exclusively associated with a dead person no matter what, evidently came into strong focus during the final days of World War Two. The controversy over the post-1940 only Irene was most notably exposed by a close friend and confidant of the post-1940 Irene’s, former Seton Hall College President, Monsignor James Francis Kelley. In the 1980s and 1990s, Monsignor Kelley admitted to select individuals that his friend, Irene, actually did used to be known as Amelia Earhart, and that he had helped her to become Irene Craigmile during the final days of World War Two. Non-believers insisted that the well-known monsignor was ‘senile’ and his mental condition caused him to fabricate his statements about his friend, Irene. People who knew Monsignor Kelley well, however, remarked that the monsignor was ‘quite lucid’ when he described to them what he did about Amelia Earhart quietly living on and becoming known as ‘Irene’.

When regarded seriously, what would have theoretically been Amelia Earhart’s post-loss FWPP (Federal Witness Protection Program) that allowed her to become the new Irene O’Crowley Craigmile from the 1940s on, would have been something most likely put in place under the omniscient guise of the federal government’s long time FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI’s ‘Amelia Earhart’ file contents from the World War Two years, that included Mr. Hoover’s signatures, indicated an awareness that he had gleaned pertaining to indications of Amelia Earhart’s ongoing existence during the war years under the auspice of Japan. Mr. Hoover was still the Director of the FBI when the ‘did Amelia become known as Irene’ assertion first surfaced in 1970, and he was sure to remain silent about it, where otherwise he would have been expected to weigh-in with an FBI opinion. Hindsight also reveals that no one from the Federal Government of the United States offered an official opinion at all toward the Amelia-Irene matter after the controversy surfaced, and it remained that way ever since.

Importantly as well, the 1970 claim stating that Amelia lived-on and became known as ‘Irene’ from the 1940s on, was never disproved.

The complete Study is available for review on a selective basis. The portions displayed here are revealing of the overall Amelia-Irene congruence controversy.

Questions? Comments? E-mail admin@protectingearhart.com