Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Bahia de Cochinos debacle. "I did not come to fight in Cuba because I wanted to go swimming".

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The conflict was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in the United States. The Cuban armed forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the invading combatants within three days. -- Wikipedia.

The Bay of Pigs is the name we now call the 1961 CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba. Bahia de Cochinos, the Spanish place name, is a body of water (a bay) adjacent on the southern edge of the Zapata swamp on the Caribbean side of Cuba. The Cubans in Cuba refer to the Bay of Pigs Invasion as "Playa Giron", a beach on the bay. The translation of "Cochinos" is NOT "pigs" although pigs are also called cochinos. Cochinos is the name of a fish, thus the bay of the fish Cochinos.

Brigade 2506 was the self designation of the Cuban exiles who named their invasion force after the number of the first training casualty. (The exiles were all given numbers. To make the force seem larger than it really was, each soldier was given a number, the first being number 2500.) --

At about 00:00 on April 17, 1961, the two CIA LCIs Blagar and Barbara J, each with a CIA 'operations officer' and an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) of five frogmen, entered the Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos) on the southern coast of Cuba. They headed a force of four transport ships (Houston, Río Escondido, Caribe and Atlántico) carrying about 1,400 Cuban exile ground troops of Brigade 2506, plus tanks and other armour in the landing craft. At about 01:00, the Blagar, as the battlefield command ship, directed the principal landing at Playa Girón (Blue Beach), led by the frogmen in rubber boats followed by troops from Caribe in small aluminum boats, then LCVPs and LCUs. The Barbara J, leading Houston, similarly landed troops 35 km further northwest at Playa Larga (Red Beach), using small fiberglass boats. Unloading troops at night was delayed, due to engine failures and boats damaged by unseen coral reefs. The few militia in the area succeeded in warning Cuban armed forces via radio soon after the first landing, before the invaders overcame their token resistance. -- Wikipedia.

Exile Transport Houston after attacks by Castro air force.

The subsequent battles were characterized by many mistakes on both sides, the principal one from the point of view of the Free Cubans was the failure of their air force of B-26 Invaders to blow up Castro's small collection of T-33 and British Sea Fury fighter bombers on the ground. Although the exiles had been promised direct U.S. air support if they needed it, Kennedy refused to permit it, and after a gallant fight of three days, resistance collapsed.

Brigade 2506 prisoners guarded by Castro milicianos.


Aircrews killed in action totaled 6 from the Cuban air force, 10 Cuban exiles and 4 American airmen. Paratrooper Herman Koch Gene was killed in action, and the American airmen shot down were Thomas W. Ray, Leo F. Baker, Riley W. Shamburger and Wade C. Gray. In 1979, the body of Thomas 'Pete' Ray was repatriated from Cuba. In the 1990s, the CIA admitted to his links to the agency, and awarded him the Intelligence Star. 114 Cuban exiles from Brigade 2506 were killed in action.

The final toll in Cuban armed forces during the conflict was 176 killed in action. Other Cuban forces casualties were between 500 and 4,000 (killed, wounded or missing) The airfield attacks on 15 April left 7 Cubans dead and 53 wounded.


On 19 April 1961, at least seven Cubans plus two CIA-hired US citizens (Angus K. McNair and Howard F. Anderson) were executed in Pinar del Rio province, after a two-day trial. On 20 April, Humberto Sorí Marin was executed at Fortaleza de la Cabaña, having been arrested on 18 March following infiltration into Cuba with 14 tons of explosives. His fellow conspirators Rogelio Gonzalez Corzo (alias 'Francisco Gutierrez'), Rafael Diaz Hanscom, Eufemio Fernandez, Arturo Hernandez Tellaheche and Manuel Lorenzo Puig Miyar were also executed.

Between April and October 1961, hundreds of executions took place in response to the invasion. They took place at various prisons, including the Fortaleza de la Cabaña and El Morro Castle. Infiltration team leaders Antonio Diaz Pou and Raimundo E. Lopez, as well as underground students Virgilio Campaneria, Alberto Tapia Ruano, and more than one hundred other insurgents were executed.

About 1,202 Brigade 2506 members were captured, of which nine died from asphyxiation during transfer to Havana in a closed truck. In May 1961, Fidel Castro proposed to exchange the surviving Brigade prisoners for 500 large farm tractors, valued at $28 million (US). On 8 September 1961, 14 Brigade prisoners were convicted of torture, murder and other major crimes committed in Cuba before the invasion, five being executed and nine jailed for 30 years. Three confirmed as executed were Ramon Calvino, Emilio Soler Puig ('el Muerte') and Jorge King Yun ('el Chino'). On 29 March 1962, 1,179 men were put on trial for treason. On 7 April 1962, all were convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. On 14 April 1962, 60 wounded and sick prisoners were freed and transported to the US. On December 21, 1962, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro and James B. Donovan, a US lawyer, signed an agreement to exchange 1,113 prisoners for US$53 million in food and medicine, sourced from private donations and from companies expecting tax concessions. On 24 December 1962, some prisoners were flown to Miami, others following on the ship African Pilot, plus about 1,000 family members also allowed to leave Cuba. -- Wikipedia.

Of the prisoners, Ulises Carbo recalled:

A group of the first prisoners to be captured, totaling 152 was packed in a refrigerator trailer for the trip to Havana. There was no ventilation in the insulated van and soon the heat and the lack of air rendered the situation unbearable. One of the prisoners managed to open a hole with the aid of a crucifix allowing thus a small group to take turns in breathing fresh air. No amount of pounding on the sides of the van resulted in improving the captive's conditions since they were escorted by a hardened communist, Captain OSMANI CIENFUEGOS, Minister of Public Works and brother of CAMILO CIENFUEGOS who disappeared on October 28, 1959, allegedly killed on CASTRO'S orders.

At the end of the 90 mile trip, nine prisoners were found dead by asphyxiation. Five of them were identified as follows: RENE SILVA, PEPE MILLAN, PEPE VILLARELLO, CUCO CERVANTES, and JOSE IGNACIO MACIA. RENE SILVA is a cousin of ULISES CARBO who asked that this incident be kept from the press until the negotiations for the tractors were ended.

CARBO revealed that he underwent a 4 ½ hour interrogation by FIDEL CASTRO who was extremely polite and at one point revealed that his side had deployed no less than 49 battalions of an estimated strength of 50,000 men. According to CASTRO, 80,000 mortar and 50,000 cannon shells were expended during the battle. CASTRO called the invaders fools for opposing such a superior force as long as they did.

One of the prisoners in the group, a Negro named ELOY FELIX PEREZ TAMAYO, when told by CASTRO during a television interrogatory that Negroes in Cuba could swim in the same beaches with whites replied, "I did not come to fight in Cuba because I wanted to go swimming".

So remember the gallant men of Brigade 2506 at the Bahia de Cochinos on this fiftieth anniversary of their doomed fight.


J said...

And I remember that although my own father was left with one of his friends, 'holding the bag' in Florida instead of deploying by boat - after being informed that JFK had emphatically refused the promised support by air and sea - most of those who died or suffered imprisonment did so because of the Judas-like betrayal by the filthy bastard JFK, who, like all the Kennedys before or since, left a wake of dead women, betrayed friends and corruption wherever he went.
When I recall the gallantry and courage of the Cubans who -like the South Vietnamese Marines - exemplified undaunted courage in spite of the immeasurable odds - I also take a moment to hope that their betrayer is burning like a coal in Hell with all his kin.

Anonymous said...

JFK - just another womanizing red-loving democrap. Not much change ther in 50 years.

Disciple of Night said...

Three months into office, Kennedy proved that he was a fool. The men of 2506 inflicted a 20:1 kill ratio because they wanted their country back, just like the men at Lexington were doomed to fail. Sadly, the men of 2506 did not inspire continued resistance.

Anonymous said...

Humberto Fontova offers an excellent anniversary article on the BofP @ Big government blog.

Ken said...

Not to defend JFK, but...Bush the Elder wasn't worth a dry fart either. Both wings of the vulture. The Cubans and the Iraqi Kurds could swap some stories.

Just goes to show, "Welp...'92 election is in the bag" is not a war aim.

Mark Matis said...

What J said said.

Anonymous said...

JFK in effect betrayed Brigade 2506 again in December of 1962. After the survivors of the landing, combat, and detention in Castro's prisons had been ransomed, Kennedy said, after being presented with the brigade's flag at Miami's Orange Bowl, that it would be returned to them in a free Havana, knowing full well that the previous October he had promised the USSR that the USA would never be used as a platform for an invasion of Cuba making such a promise all but impossible to keep.

Younger readers may feel that this is all ancient history, and of no bearing on todays world. But the guilt felt by JFK and the US government over their treatment of Brigade 2506 can be seen today in "The Cuban Adjustment Act" of 1966 and the current "wet foot dry foot" policy on the treatment of immigrants from Cuba.