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Revisiting 9/11, Betty Ong, and the Mystery of “Black Betty”

Je vous parle d’un temps ♫
♫ Que les moins de vingt ans ♫
♫ Ne peuvent pas connaître

     Charles Aznavour

I recall how, as a child, in my teens, and as a much younger man than now, people of the older generation would reminisce nostalgically about where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. When such conversations arose, naturally, people of my generation would feel kind of left out. On the day in question, 11/22/1963, I myself was not yet born. In fact, I did not exist at all, since I was conceived about 4 months after that.

It occurred to me recently that now, with 9/11, things have come full circle. Now, younger readers will have to bear with us oldsters when we reminisce about the events of 9/11/2001. Those who were not there can only imagine the ambiance of the time. In retrospect, we must have been in a state of induced trauma as we were presented a whole series of extraordinary events, a fantastical story with a diverse cast of unlikely characters.

Almost immediately, they presented us with the terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden. In retrospect, Bin Laden seems to be a kind of cut-out cartoon character, an orientalist villain in the mold of Fu Manchu or Dr. No, plotting deadly terrorist attacks around the world from his mountain lair in far-off Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding Bin Laden’s cartoonish aspects, within 6 weeks, the United States, along with her NATO allies, had launched a full-scale invasion of this huge country (about as big as Germany and Italy combined) in order to locate this one man and bring him to justice. Wanted. Dead or Alive.

Suddenly, life was imitating art. (Even worse, bad art.)

One far lesser character (among others) presented to us in those days was the ethnic Chinese flight stewardess Betty Ong, a brave woman who, right before her tragic untimely death, had managed to make a phone call from Flight 11, that (conveniently?) established much of the official hijacking story.

Dead Chinese flight attendants tell no tales. Or do they?

A couple of years ago, maybe in a fit of nostalgia, I recalled the fearless Chinese superwoman, Betty Ong, and was looking for information about her. She has a Wikipedia page with a short (very short, minimal) biographical blurb. Betty was born in San Francisco on 5 February 1956 and, after a rather uneventful life in which she never married or had children or, apparently, much of a social life, made a phone call from a hijacked plane, and then died.

Now, at this point in the exposition, I shall make no bones about the fact that I quickly developed great doubts regarding whether this Betty Ong is a real, flesh and blood person. As much as I looked, I could not find any description of this person that sounded like it was written by somebody who really knew her. The Wikipedia blurb is one thing, but the memorial website maintained by her ostensible family is another. It jumped out at me that whoever had written the description of Betty on that site, obviously never knew this person.

I even expressed these doubts here and here, which is when I broached the subject to Ron Unz.
Now, from the point of view of 9/11 Truth investigations, the only important thing to establish regarding Betty Ong is whether the phone call she allegedly made is real. Whether Betty Ong herself is real hardly matters. The general view in the 9/11 Truth community is that all the phone calls allegedly made from hijacked airplanes on that day, including Betty’s, are plainly fake.

My own view is that, while Betty Ong being a real person is not of any importance regarding 9/11 per se, the issue has a more general significance. If you can establish one case of an invented vicsim in a synthetic event, then there are surely other cases in other synthetic events and narratives. (And probably in the 9/11 narrative itself.)

The Elusive Betty Ong

After I brought up the case of Betty Ong in a discussion that developed under that earlier article, Ron Unz expressed that he was flabbergasted that I could seriously doubt this person’s existence. (N.B. I only ever expressed doubt, never absolute certainty.) “Surely, Ron reasoned, “given the available public information about Betty, it would be easy to verify her existence.”

Well, Betty’s life history is rather sparse. One thing that she is alleged to have done is to have graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco in 1974. This datum occurs in various places. Ron expressed a very high level of confidence in private email that the high school yearbook of that year would put any doubts to rest.

I got in touch with the school’s alumni association, representing that I was an alumnus from that time period, and was very interested in getting my hands on some old yearbooks.

Oh, the memories…”

My contact there told me that there was a long waiting list to get any original yearbooks. However, she did add that there was a project afoot to digitize them all and put them up on the Internet. So there was little more for me to do on the yearbook front.

I also scoured social media looking for anybody who both claimed to have known Betty and, in particular, described this person in a way that it seemed like they really knew her. I could not find anything. I also discovered that there were very few photos of Betty available and what few there were all seemed to have been photoshopped.

One thing that I did learn meanwhile (from a correspondent in Colorado who had also taken an interest in our gal Betty) is that a site called had all the George Washington High graduating class lists online. In fact, at the time Betty would have attended this school, there were two graduating classes per year: Spring and Fall. For example, the Spring and Fall of 1974 are available here and here.

No sign of Betty Ong. My Colorado correspondent pointed this out to me but then a little while later wrote me a new message to tell me that Betty was indeed on the Spring 1973 Graduating class list. Yes, there she was all right! Right in between Vivian Olsen and Jacki Ono! I have to admit that I was excited by this since it was the first somewhat official corroboration of any of Betty’s meager life history. Of course, she allegedly graduated in 1974, but decades later, surely one could misremember 1973 as 1974. It’s an easy mistake.

Now, I was hardly convinced. It also seemed quite possible that somebody had been pressured to add her name to the list, since, by now, heroic Betty Ong was one of the more famous alumni of George Washington High School.

“There is some innocent ommission on this list and the flight attendant Betty Ong is not on the graduating list. This was obviously an oversight. Could you please add her name?”

What would really have put things to rest would have been a page from the original yearbook with a photo that was clearly a younger version of Betty Ong. However, as I say, I had no access to any yearbooks.

Betty, Betty, where are you?

Nearly two years passed, but I guess I never completely got over Betty. Not very long ago, I was idly typing Betty Ong related search strings into Google, not expecting anything new, but then, much to my surprise, I saw that the relevant yearbooks were now online! On a site called The site required me to sign up for an account which I duly did and I located the 1973 yearbook and eagerly looked for the Spring 1973 graduating class photos.

I assume you are on the edge of your seat by now, dear reader, and I will not keep you in suspense any longer. Here is the relevant yearbook page:

George Washington High, Spring 1973 Graduating Class. No Betty Ong.

As I pointed out above, Betty Ong should be right between Vivian Olsen and Jacki Ono, in the right hand page, on the second row. As you can see, those two people directly follow one another and there is no space in between their photos where a photo of Betty Ong (or anybody else) ever could have been.

I reasoned that it was possible that some people did graduate, but for some reason, they were not present the day the yearbook photos were taken. I cannot absolutely exclude that. However, I note that, on the above yearbook page there are 20 people, spanning from Russell Nakai down to Devon Owyang. If you compare this with the people on the Spring 1973 graduating class, there is perfect correspondence — EXCEPT for one person, Betty Ong. On the list, there are 21 people between Russel Nakai and Devon Owyang. The extra person is Betty Ong.

It looked pretty clear that my original suspicion was probably true: Betty Ong was not in the Spring 1973 graduating class either and had been inserted into that list. I was about ready to wrap up the Betty Ong high school yearbook investigation, when I did remember that there were two graduating classes in that year: Spring 1973 and Fall 1973. Betty was not on the list for Fall of 1973, but just for completeness, not expecting to find anything, I looked in the appropriate page in the yearbook.

My Encounter with Black Betty

Whoa, Black Betty (bam-ba-lam)… ♫
She really gets me high (bam-ba-lam)… ♫
You know that’s no lie (bam-ba-lam)… ♫

Consulting the Fall 1973 graduating class list, I saw that, if (contrary to fact) Betty Ong were there, she would have to be in between Wayne Ogawa and Betty Ow. So I located the appropriate page in the online yearbook and I discovered something absolutely extraordinary:

Yes, there was indeed an entry for Betty Ong in the appropriate page of the Fall 1973 graduating class! She’s right there on the right-hand page, second row in the center. However, I had been looking for the Chinese flight attendant Betty Ong, but now I had my first encounter with Black Betty! The Chinese Betty Ong was intriguing enough, but I daresay that Black Betty is even more fascinating!

Here is a close-up:

No Shit, Sherlock

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
     Sherlock Holmes, famous (fictional) English detective

Like many of you, I read the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child, and I remember Sherlock Holmes’s famous line. To apply the Sherlock Holmes reasoning, we need a comprehensive list of all the various possibilities that we could then eliminate one by one. This is what I come up with:

  1. The page contains no error and has not been tampered with. Ergo, there really was a Black Betty Ong (obviously, no relation to Chinese Betty) who coincidentally attended from the same high school in the same time period that our Chinese Betty Ong, the flight attendant, was allegedly there.
  2. Either by mistake or by deliberate tampering, somebody put the picture of the black girl where Chinese Betty’s photo should be.
  3. The page has been tampered with and the name of the black girl was replaced with that of Betty Ong. (It looks to be inconceivable that this is an innocent mistake.)

I would say that possibility #1, though it is not an outright physical impossibility, is so utterly improbable that we could reject it out of hand. That leaves us with options #2 and #3.

Possibility #2 is a stretch, especially the variant where this is an honest mistake. It is quite a stretch to think that, of all the places for there to be an “innocent mistake” in the yearbook, it is precisely where Chinese Betty Ong should appear. I would add also that I have looked through quite a bit of the yearbook looking for clues, and I can say that, whenever somebody has an obviously Asian surname, the corresponding photo is always of somebody who is clearly Asian! There are no black (or white) students with surnames like Ong, or Wong, or Nakamura anywhere in the yearbook, except for on this page, where we have our Black Betty Ong!

In any case, unless you are willing to believe the coincidence theory of #1, we see clearly that the photo and the name do not match. Finally, in my view, it is far more likely that the name was altered than the photo. I am not myself in the business of tampering with high school yearbooks or any other documents, but I think it stands to reason that altering text on a page is far far less work than altering graphical or photographic content. So the working assumption is that it is the text that was altered.

Based on that, we could certainly make the conjecture that, if you could get your hands on the original page in an original yearbook (not this digitized version) Black Betty would be there, but she would have some other name. Her real name. And the surname would fall in between Ogawa and Ow on an alphabetical list.

O’Leary? Osborne?

I think the above converges on what must have happened. It is hard to understand why anybody would put in Betty’s name in place of a black girl’s on that page, but all the other possibilities really make no sense whatsoever. Granted, it hardly makes sense for anybody to do this as part of a 9/11 cover-up. After all, anybody who goes through the above steps and encounters Black Betty is going to start becoming very suspicious indeed.

Duping Delight

I have a vague memory in my student years of a rather zany professor who liked to party with his students. He had a lot of great stories. He told us that, years back, he had a summer job at the urban planning division of the local government. As a prank basically, in a new suburban area that was in the planning phase, he had named a street or two after himself. Not only was he, even years later, well into middle age, delighted with himself over this caper, but all of the students were mightily impressed as well.

Whoa, dude! That’s soooo cooool!

In retrospect, though I did not know the term at the time, this was a perfect example of duping delight. This is the term commonly used by people in the Truth Community who make a point of analyzing the fake testimony of people in synthetic events. There are some incredible examples of duping delight in videos on YouTube. Well, fewer than there used to be, since, over the past year or so, YouTube has been making a point of scrubbing all of those videos.

One of the more famous examples is one Christine Leinonen, who, just a few days after her beloved son was gunned down in Orlando, looks strangely happy. That video segment is, unaccountably, still up on YouTube.

I remember some private email correspondence in which somebody commented that Ms. Leinonen looked absolutely exalted, more like a woman who had just got laid for the first time after a multi-year dry spell than a bereaved parent. (Come to think of it, that was me that said that…)

This delight we can take in duping others is a dark little corner of human nature and, as such, I think we all have a bit of it. For example, recently, for the fun of it, I created a virtual memorial to a non-existent person on the website. After doing this, I must admit that I also felt a sort of duping delight when I saw how easy this was to do!

Whoa, Black Betty (bam-ba-lam)… ♫
She really gets me high (bam-ba-lam)… ♫
You know that’s no lie (bam-ba-lam)… ♫

When I wrote Ron Unz in private to bring Black Betty to his attention, he did ask the obvious question of why the 9/11 conspirators would create this Black Betty yearbook page. I have to admit that I was initially stumped by this question, but then I realized that I had never said that it was the 9/11 conspirators who had tampered with the page. Actually, I have no idea who did this! Really, I don’t. The best theory I currently have is that somebody in a position to alter text on a page replaced the name of the black girl with that of Betty Ong as a kind of little in-joke. I daresay it is hard to ignore the impish sense of humor in this “Black Betty”.

Still, that is just speculative. The answer to that question is that I have no idea who did this or why.

Black Betty Found at Last?

Now, dear reader, I went the whole 9 yards on this investigation. I looked hard for Betty. Well, now, for either Betty, the Chinese one or the Black one. Aside from the page with Black Betty, there is no other Betty Ong — black, yellow or white — in the 1973 yearbook.

If our Betty Ong was there, she certainly kept a low profile. She did not play any varsity sports, no musical instrument. She did not sing in a choir. She was not in the Spanish club or the debate club… Well, there are a lot of people like that, who just do their course work and do not participate in any extra-curricular activities, but I felt it was still worth looking.

Betty, oh, Betty… where are you?

Finally, it occurred to me that if somebody was a senior in 1973, that person would be in their junior year in 1972 and would usually appear in the 1972 yearbook as a junior.

So I scanned the 1972 yearbook. It turns out that there is no Betty Ong at all there of any color of the rainbow. However, the two people who flank Black Betty in the 1973 yearbook photo, Wayne Ogawa and Betty Ow, both appear in the 1972 yearbook. Here is the relevant page:

Here is a close-up of the relevant part of the page.

Note that there is an extra unaccounted for person, one “Oka, L.”, in between Wayne Ogawa (whose name contains a typo here) and Betty Ow. However, I finally did account for him. That is clearly Lawrence Oka, who, it turns out, graduated in Spring of 1973. He is both on the list and in the 1973 yearbook as being part of the Spring 1973 class. I infer that, at this point, he was slated to graduate in Fall of 1973 but must have then assumed an extra heavy course load in order to graduate finally on time with the Spring 1973 class.

That is a little wrinkle, but Ogawa and Ow are exactly where one one would expect, listed as being in the class of Fall 1973 in both the 1972 and 1973 yearbooks. But what about Black Betty?

Well, on the list of the Spring 1973 graduating class in the 1972 yearbook, there is a black girl listed as “Ole, V.”. Now, I would be the first to admit that these digitized photos are pretty grainy and it is certainly hard to swear that “Ole, V.” from the 1972 yearbook is the same person as the Black Betty Ong in the 1973 yearbook. However, I think finally it must be the same person. In the intervening year, she would have changed her hair and lost some baby fat in the face.

Though I am not 100.0% certain, and it is not a sine qua non either, there are some strong indications. For one thing, “Ole, V.”, unlike the previous people, Ogawa, Oka and Ow, does not appear in the 1973 yearbook. Granted, she could have transferred to another school or dropped out entirely. Everything is possible. However, the simplest explanation is that she is in fact the black girl who is labeled as “Betty Ong” in the 1973 yearbook. Note that the surname “Ole” fits right between Ogawa and Ow and this seems like too neat to just be a coincidence.

By the way, I had never heard of the surname “Ole” before. It sounds vaguely Hispanic, but, in fact, it is a moderately common surname in Kenya.

So, this concludes the investigation of Betty Ong’s high school career. We can certainly say that Ron Unz’s conjecture proved wrong: getting one’s hands on the relevant high school yearbook certainly did not put to rest the doubts about Betty Ong. In fact, it looks quite unlikely that there was any Chinese ethnic student by the name of Betty Ong at George Washington High School in the early seventies. The one mention of a Betty Ong corresponds to the photo of a black girl, who is probably “Ole, V.” from the 1972 yearbook. Betty Ong’s name does appear on this Spring 1973 graduating list but, as I point out above, the name is pretty clearly inserted.

Concluding Remarks

Not to worry, dear reader. I am looking for professional help to cure me of my Betty Ong obsession. I hope you find it in yourself to feel some sympathy for me. It is a hell of a thing to become obsessed with a figment of other people’s collective imagination. Maybe my caregiver will tell me that it is best to shift my obsession over from “Chinese Betty” to “Black Betty”. I think the latter is, at least, a real person, and she could perfectly well still be alive, though her real name is not Betty Ong, of course. And most likely, her last name is not “Ole” either. She likely married at some point and that would now be her maiden name.

Last year, I wrote a detailed article, part of which was devoted to minutely dissecting the story of a brawl in the Russian Arctic that apparently never happened. I received the criticism from various people, Ron Unz himself among them, that I had devoted a ridiculous amount of energy to debunking some insignificant little story. Well, that point may be well taken. We are so inundated with bullshit and a brawl that certainly never happened and now, a Chinese ethnic flight attendant who probably never existed maybe don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

But… to such a critique, I would say we have to start somewhere. The real goal is for people to understand, at long last, the difference between real, established facts and storytelling. When we learn that these things are not real, it should really not even come as such a surprise.

After all, there is no particular reason for a character in a fictional narrative to be real. As I recall, in some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, real historical figures, such as Queen Victoria, do make their appearance. However, that is more the exception than the rule. That Sherlock Holmes and Watson and an entire cast of less important characters are not real should surprise no one.

Thus, the flight attendant, Betty Ong, who appears in a fictional narrative we were presented shortly after 9/11/2001 could still be a real person, since a character in a fictional narrative could still be based on a real person. I am still not expressing any absolute certainty over this, and anyway, given all the absurdities and plot holes in the 9/11 narrative, one fake Chinese ethnic flight attendant is really quite minor.

I still tend to believe that there was a real person by the name of Osama Bin Laden. However, if somebody made the case that the person never even existed, I would carefully listen to the arguments. It is really not such a crazy idea. It’s mostly just storytelling, after all. Besides, what’s the difference anyway? If he didn’t exist, then they would have had to invent him!

Now, time for the the closing credits and theme music….


3 Thoughts to “Revisiting 9/11, Betty Ong, and the Mystery of “Black Betty””

  1. John Day

    Fine work, drilling down beneath the “thick enough” veneer of fake-reality.
    I salute you detective rigor.

  2. richard chlders

    I would not trust anything that is online. Even the images of the yearbooks should not be trusted, unless you scanned them yourself, checksummed the file so that you could detect modification, and kept those checksums offline.

    I’m not sure but I think you might well find copies of the school yearbooks in the libraries of the schools themselves, as well as somewhere in the depths of the San Francisco Public Library. A polite request to the archivists might result in some scanned images of the relevant sections of the relevant years’ graduates.

    Other sources of corroboration might be junior high and elementary school yearbooks, as well as contemporary Yellow Pages phone books.

    You might use the yearbooks to get the names that could now be found in Yellow Pages, to contact those families, to see their copies of the yearbooks, to see if there is any difference, also.

    I would think that as it became obvious to the planners of 9/11 that details would be scrutinized, resources were deployed to address details that were left hanging – but they cannot get to every copy of the yearbook that is in private hands.

    Beware of someone bringing you a copy of the book that they ‘just’ found. You want to locate THEM; not have ‘them’ locate you.

    Good luck.

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