Bay of Pigs Invasion

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Bay of Pigs Invasion
Part of the Cold War
Date April 17–19, 1961
Location Bay of Pigs, southern Cuba
Result Cuban Government victory
Cuba United States

Cuban exiles

Fidel Castro
José Ramón Fernández

John F. Kennedy
Grayston Lynch
Pepe San Roman
Erneido Oliva
15,000 1,400 Cuban exiles in United States
2 CIA agents
Casualties and losses
176 killed[1] (Regular Army)
4,000-5,000 killed, missing, or wounded[2][3]
(Militias and armed civilian fighters)
118 killed
1,189 captured

The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as La Batalla de Girón in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba with support from U.S. government armed forces to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

The invasion — planned and funded by the United States government beginning in 1960 — 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 force in three days and the event accelerated a rapid deterioration in Cuban-American relations. This was exacerbated the following year by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The invasion is named after the Bay of Pigs, which is possibly inaccurately translated from the Spanish Bahía de Cochinos. The main landing at the Bay of Pigs specifically took place at the beach called Playa Girón.


[edit] Political background

On March 16, 1960, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to a recommendation from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to equip and drill Cuban exiles for action against the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro.[4] Eisenhower stated it was the policy of the U.S. government to aid anti-Castro guerrilla forces.[5] The CIA was initially confident it was capable of overthrowing the Cuban government, having experience assisting in the overthrow of foreign governments such as that of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in 1954. The plan (code-named Operation Pluto) was organized by Richard Mervin Bissell, Jr., CIA Deputy Director for Plans, under CIA Director Allen Dulles.

The original CIA plan called for a ship-borne invasion at the old colonial city of Trinidad, Cuba, about 270 km (170mi) south-east of Havana, at the foothills of the Escambray Mountains in Sancti Spiritus province. Trinidad had good port facilities, and arguably was close to much existing counter-revolutionary activities in the Escambray. The CIA later proposed alternative plans, and on 11 March 1961 President Kennedy and his cabinet selected the Bay of Pigs option (also known as Operation Zapata), because it had an airfield suitable for B-26 bomber operations and it was less militarily "noisy", so potentially more plausible deniability of US direct involvement. The invasion landing area was changed to beaches bordering the Bay of Pigs in Las Villas Province, 150 km south-east of Havana and east of the Zapata peninsula. The landings were to take place at Playa Girón (code-named Blue Beach), Playa Larga (code-named Red Beach), and Caleta Buena Inlet (code-named Green Beach).[6][7]

In early 1961, Cuba's army possessed Soviet-designed T-34 and IS-2 Stalin tanks, SU-100 self-propelled 'tank destroyers', 122 mm howitzers, other artillery and small arms, plus Italian 105 mm howitzers.[8] The Cuban air force armed inventory included Douglas B-26 Invader light bombers, Hawker Sea Furies, and Lockheed T-33 jets, all remaining from the Fuerza Aérea del Ejército de Cuba (FAEC), the Cuban air force of the Batista regime.

[edit] Preparation and training for invasion

In April 1960, the CIA began to recruit anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the Miami area. Until July 1960, assessment and training was carried out on Useppa Island and at various other facilities in South Florida, such as Homestead AFB. Specialist guerrilla training took place at Fort Gulick, Panama. For the increasing ranks of recruits, infantry training was carried out at a CIA-run base code-named JMTrax near Retalhuleu in the Sierra Madre on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.[4] The exiles group named themselves Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506).[8]In summer 1960, an airfield (code-named JMMadd, aka Rayo Base) was constructed near Retalhuleu, Guatemala. Gunnery and flight training of Brigade 2506 air crews was carried out by personnel from Alabama ANG (Air National Guard), using at least six Douglas B-26 Invaders in the markings of FAG (Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca), legitimate delivery of those to the FAG being delayed by about 6 months. A further 26 B-26s were obtained from US military stocks, 'sanitized' to obscure their origins, and about 20 of them were converted for offensive operations by deletion of defensive armament, standardization of the Eight-gun nose, addition of underwing drop tanks, rocket racks, etc.[9][10] Nearby, paratroop training was at a base nicknamed Garrapatenango, near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Training for boat handling and amphibious landings took place at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Tank training took place at Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Benning, Georgia. Underwater demolition training took place at Belle Chase near New Orleans.[7]

The CIA used Douglas C-54 transports to deliver people, supplies, and arms from Florida at night. Curtiss C-46s were also used for transport between Retalhuleu and the CIA base code-named JMTide (aka Happy Valley), at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. On April 9, 1961, Brigade 2506 personnel, ships, and aircraft started transferring from Guatemala to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.[11]

[edit] Prior warnings of invasion

The Cuban security apparatus knew the invasion was coming, via their secret intelligence network, as well as loose talk by members of the brigade, some of which was heard in Miami and was repeated in US and foreign newspaper reports. Nevertheless, days before the invasion, multiple acts of sabotage were carried out, such as the bombing of the El Encanto department store in Havana, desultory explosions, and arson. The Cuban government also had been warned by senior KGB agents Osvaldo Sánchez Cabrera and "Aragon", who died violently before and after the invasion, respectively.[12] The general Cuban population was not well informed, except for CIA funded Radio Swan.[13] As of May 1960, almost all means of public communication were in the government’s hands.[14][15]

[edit] Parties involved

[edit] Cuban government order of battle

The Cuban government order of battle is unclear and subject to dispute. Cuban government sources credit Fidel Castro with directing strategy. Major Juan Almeida[16] was Head of the Central Army at Santa Clara.[17] Sergio del Valle Jiménez was Director of Headquarters Operations at Point One, Havana.[18] Antonio Enrique Lussón Batlle, a Raul Castro loyalist, is also placed there. Orlando Rodriguez Puerta, previous commander of Fidel Castro's personal guard, was charged with direction of Cuban government forces in Matanzas Province directly north of combat area. Captain José Ramón Fernández was head of the School of Militia Leaders (Cadets) at Matanzas. Efigenio Ameijeiras was the Head of the Revolutionary National Police. Ramiro Valdés Menéndez was Minister of the Interior in 1961, and head of G-2.[19]

Hispano-Soviets Francisco Ciutat de Miguel, Enrique Lister, and Alberto Bayo were advisors/and or commanders to intelligence and militia forces. Ciutat de Miguel under the name Angel Martínez Riosola was a significant leader/advisor for Cuban forces coming from Central Provinces. Victor Emilio Dreke Cruz, although nominally in charge of Central Province forces is generally considered to have played subordinate role to Ciutat de Miguel. Victor Dreke describes his part in the action as first fighting with parachutists and then being wounded in an ambush.[20] The documentary Brothers in Arms[21][22] covers the life of one South African, Robert Herboldt, who had a role as quartermaster. While his presence at the site of action is generally conceded, the exact role of Arnaldo Ochoa, later to be commander of Cuban forces in Angola, is obscure. On 17 April, the head of the Cuban air force, "Maro" Guerra Bermejo, former driver for Raul Castro, was replaced by Raúl Curbelo Morales, Minister of Communication.[23]

[edit] Hispano-Soviet advisors to Cuban government forces

Soviet-trained advisors were brought to Cuba from Eastern Bloc countries. These advisors had held high staff positions in the Soviet Armies during World War II and having resided in the Soviet Union for long periods are thus known as "Hispano-Soviets"; the most senior of these were the Spanish Communist veterans of the Spanish Civil War Francisco Ciutat de Miguel (Cuban alias: Ángel Martínez Riosola, commonly referred to as Angelito), Enrique Lister and Cuba born (1892) Alberto Bayo.[24]

The role of other Soviet Agents at the time is not well known, although they were there and well established in Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion and can be presumed that in that emergency to have been actively involved in the Cuban government's defence. Some of these agents acquired far greater fame later. For instance, two KGB colonels, Vadim Kochergin and Victor Simanov were first sighted in Cuba about September 1959.[25][26]

[edit] Existing resistance in Cuba

After the success of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, counter-revolutionary groups grew both in cities and in the countryside, particularly in the Escambray mountains, where a guerrilla war "War Against the Bandits" continued sporadically until about 1965. Prior to the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the CIA supported and supplied various groups with arms and other resources, but they were not included in the invasion plans due to concerns about information security.[27] No quarter was given during the suppression of the resistance in the Escambray mountains, where former rebels from the War Against Batista took different sides.[28]

On April 3, 1961, a bomb attack on militia barracks in Bayamo killed four militia and wounded eight more; on April 6, the Hershey Sugar factory in Matanzas was destroyed by sabotage.[29] On April 14, 1961, the guerrillas of Agapito Rivera fought Cuban government forces near Las Cruces, Montembo, Las Villas, where several government forces were killed and others wounded.[29]

[edit] Prelude to invasion

[edit] Air attacks on airfields (15 April)

At about 06.00 Cuba local time on 15 April 1961, eight Douglas B-26B Invader bombers in three groups, simultaneously attacked three Cuban airfields, at San Antonio de Los Baños and at Ciudad Libertad (formerly named Campo Columbia), both near Havana, plus the Antonio Maceo International Airport at Santiago de Cuba. The B-26s had been prepared by the CIA on behalf of Brigade 2506, and had been painted with the markings of the FAR (Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria), the air force of the Cuban government. Each was armed with bombs, rockets and machine guns. They had flown from Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua and were crewed by exiled Cuban pilots and navigators of the self-styled Fuerza Aérea de Liberación (FAL). The purpose of the action (code-named Operation Puma) was to destroy most or all of the armed aircraft of the FAR in preparation for the main invasion. At Santiago, the two attackers reportedly destroyed a C-47 transport, a PBY Catalina flying boat, two B-26s and a civilian DC-3 plus various other civilian aircraft. At San Antonio, the three attackers reportedly destroyed 3 FAR B-26s, one Sea Fury and one T-33, and one attacker diverted to Grand Cayman due to low usable fuel. At Ciudad Libertad, the three attackers reportedly destroyed only non-operational aircraft such as two F-47 Thunderbolts. One of those attackers was damaged by anti-aircraft fire, and ditched about 50 km north of Cuba with the loss of its crew Daniel Fernández Mon and Gaston Pérez. Its companion B-26 continued north and landed at Boca Chica field (Naval Air Station Key West), Florida. The crew, José Crespo and Lorenzo Pérez-Lorenzo, were granted political asylum and made their way back to Nicaragua the next day via Miami and the daily CIA C-54 flight from Opa-Locka Airport to Puerto Cabezas. Their B-26, purposely numbered 933, the same as at least two other B-26s that day for disinformation reasons, was held until late on 17 April. Shortly before the attacks, a FAR T-33 piloted by Orestes Acosta crashed fatally into the sea during a reconnaissance sortie from Santiago de Cuba. That was probably unrelated to the actions that day, but on 17 April his name was quoted as a defector among the (CIA?) disinformation circulating in Miami.[30][27]

[edit] Deception flight (15 April)

About 90 minutes after the eight B-26s had taken off from Puerto Cabezas to attack Cuban airfields, another B-26 departed on a deception flight that took it close to Cuba but headed north to Florida. Like the bomber groups, it carried false FAR markings and the same number 933 as painted on at least two of the others. Prior to departure, the cowling from one of the aircraft's two engines was removed by CIA personnel, fired upon, then re-installed to give the false appearance that the aircraft had taken ground fire at some point during its flight. At a safe distance north of Cuba, the pilot feathered the engine with the pre-installed bullet holes in the cowling, radioed a mayday call and requested immediate permission to land at Miami International airport. The pilot was Mario Zúñiga, formerly of the Cuban air force, and after landing he masqueraded as "Juan Garcia", and publicly claimed that three colleagues had also defected from the FAR. The next day he was granted political asylum and that night he returned to Puerto Cabezas via Opa-Locka.[30][10][31]

[edit] Reactions (15 April)

At 10:30am on 15 April at the United Nations, the Cuban Foreign Minister Raúl Roa attempted to accuse the US of aggressive air attacks against Cuba, and that afternoon formally tabled a motion to the Political (First) Committee of the UN General Assembly. In response, Adlai Stevenson, the US ambassador to the UN, stated that US armed forces would not "under any conditions" intervene in Cuba, and that the US would do everything in its power to ensure that no US citizens would participate in actions against Cuba. He also stated that Cuban defectors had carried out the attacks that day, and he presented a UPI wire photo of Zuniga's B-26 in Cuban markings at Miami airport. Stevenson was later embarrassed to realise that the CIA had lied to him and to Dean Rusk, Secretary of State.[6][32][11]

On 15 April, the national police, led by Efigenio Ameijeiras, started the process of arresting thousands of suspected anti-revolutionary individuals, and detaining them in provisional locations such as the Blanquita Theatre, the moat of Fortaleza de la Cabana and the Principe Castle all in Havana, and the baseball park in Matanzas.[33]

[edit] Phony war (16 April)

Following the air strikes on airfields on April 15, 1961, the FAR managed to prepare for armed action at least four T-33s, four Sea Furies and five or six B-26s. All three types could be armed with machine guns and rockets for air-to-air combat and for strafing of ships and ground forces. CIA planners had reportedly failed to discover that the US-supplied T-33 jets had long been armed with M-3 machine guns. The Sea Furies and B-26s could also carry bombs, for attacks against ships and tanks.[34]

No additional air strikes against Cuban airfields and aircraft were specifically planned before 17 April, but pilots' exaggerated claims gave the CIA false confidence in the success of the 15 April attacks, until U-2 reconnaissance photos on 16 April showed otherwise. Late on 16 April, President Kennedy ordered cancellation of further airfield strikes planned for dawn on 17 April, to attempt plausible deniability of US direct involvement.[7]

On April 16, Merardo Leon, Jose Leon, and 14 others staged armed rising at Las Delicias Estate in Las Villas, only four survived[29] Leonel Martinez and 12 others took to the countryside (ibid). On April 17, 1961, Osvaldo Ramírez (then chief of the rural resistance to Castro) was captured in Aromas de Velázquez and immediately executed.[35] The CIA was unaware or unconcerned at this repression's effects on the planned operation (notably two former "Comandantes" Humberto Sorí Marin and William Alexander Morgan).[36][11] Others executed included Alberto Tapia Ruano, a Catholic youth leader. Some estimates quote several hundred thousand people as being imprisoned before, during, and after the invasion.[37]

Late on April 16, 1961, the CIA/Brigade 2506 invasion fleet converged on "Rendezvous Point Zulu", about 65km (40 miles) south of Cuba, having sailed from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua where they had been loaded with troops and other materiel, after loading arms and supplies at New Orleans. The fleet, cryptically labelled the "Cuban Expeditionary Force" (CEF), included five 2,400-ton (empty weight) freighter ships chartered by the CIA from the Garcia Line and outfitted with anti-aircraft guns. Four of the freighters, Houston (code name Aguja), Río Escondido (code name Balena), Caribe (code name Sardina), and Atlántico (code-name Tiburon), were planned to transport about 1,400 troops in seven battalions of troops and armaments near to the invasion beaches. The fifth freighter, Lake Charles, was loaded with follow-up supplies and some Operation 40 infiltration personnel. The freighters sailed under Liberian ensigns. Accompanying them were two LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) "purchased" from Zapata Corporation then outfitted with heavy armament at Key West, then exercises and training at Vieques Island. The LCIs were Blagar (code-name Marsopa) and Barbara J (code-name Barracuda), sailing under Nicaraguan ensigns. The CEF ships were individually escorted (outside visual range) to Point Zulu by US Navy destroyers USS Bache, USS Beale, USS Conway, USS Cony, USS Eaton, USS Murray, USS Waller. A task force had already assembled off the Cayman Islands, including aircraft carrier USS Essex with task force commander John A. Clark (Admiral) onboard, helicopter assault carrier USS Boxer, destroyers USS Hank, USS John W. Weeks, USS Purdy, USS Wren, and submarines USS Cobbler and USS Threadfin. Command and control ship USS Northampton and carrier USS Shangri-La were also reportedly active in the Caribbean at the time. USS San Marcos was a Landing Ship Dock that carried three LCUs (Landing Craft Utility) and four LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicles, Personnel). At Point Zulu, the seven CEF ships sailed north without the USN escorts, except for San Marcos that continued until the seven landing craft were unloaded when just outside the 5km (3mi) Cuban territorial limit.[38][11][39]

[edit] Invasion

[edit] Invasion day (17 April)

Map showing the location of the Bay of Pigs.

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 1,300 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 35km further northwest at Playa Larga (Red Beach), using small glass fibre 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.[32]

At daybreak at about 06.30, FAR Sea Furies, B-26s and T-33 jets started attacking those CEF ships still unloading troops. At about 06.50, and 8km south of Playa Larga, Houston was damaged by several rockets from a Sea Fury and a T-33, and about two hours later captain Luis Morse intentionally beached it on the western side of the bay. About 270 troops had been unloaded, but about 180 men either drowned or struggled ashore, where they were incapable of taking part in further action. At about 07.00, two FAL B-26s attacked and sank the Cuban Navy Patrol Escort ship El Baire at Nueva Gerona on the Isle of Pines.[30] They then proceeded to Giron to join two other B-26s to attack Cuban ground troops and provide distraction air cover for the paratroop C-46s and the CEF ships under air attack. At about 07.30, five C-46 and one C-54 transport aircraft dropped 177 paratroops from the parachute battalion of Brigade 2506 in an action code-named Operation Falcon.[40] About 30 men plus heavy equipment were dropped south of Australia sugar mill on the road to Palpite and Playa Larga, but the equipment was lost in the swamps and the troops failed to block the road. Other troops were dropped at San Blas, at Jocuma between Covadonga and San Blas, and at Horquitas between Yaguaramas and San Blas. Those positions to block the roads were heavily maintained for two days, reinforced by ground troops from Playa Girón.[27]

At about 08.30, a FAR Sea Fury piloted by Carlos Ulloa Arauz crashed in the bay, due to stalling or anti-aircraft fire, after encountering a C-46 returning south after dropping paratroops. By 09.00, Cuban troops and militia from outside the area had started arriving at Australia sugar mill, Covadonga and Yaguaramas. Throughout the day they were reinforced by more troops, heavy armour and tanks often carried on flat-bed trucks.[27] At about 09.30, FAR Sea Furies and T-33s attacked with rockets the Rio Escondido, that 'blew up' and sank about 3km south of Girón.

At about 11.00, a FAR T-33 attacked a FAL B-26 (serial number 935) piloted by Matias Farias who then survived a crashlanding on the Girón airfield, his navigator Eduardo Gonzales already killed by gunfire. His companion B-26 suffered damage and diverted to Grand Cayman Island; Pilot Mario Zúñiga (the "defector") and navigator Oscar Vega returned to Puerto Cabezas via CIA C-54 on 18 April. By about 11.00, the two remaining freighters Caribe and Atlántico, and the CIA LCIs and LCUs, started retreating south to international waters, but still pursued by FAR aircraft. At about 12.00, a FAR B-26 exploded due to heavy anti-aircraft fire from Blagar, and pilot Luis Silva Tablada (on his second sortie) and his crew of three were lost.[10]

By 12.00, hundreds of militia cadets from Matanzas had secured Palpite, and cautiously advanced on foot south towards Playa Larga, suffering many casualties during attacks by FAL B-26s. By dusk, other Cuban ground forces were gradually advancing southwards from Covadonga and southwest from Yaguaramas towards San Blas, and westwards along coastal tracks from Cienfuegos towards Girón, all without heavy weapons or armour. During the day three FAL B-26s were shot down by T-33s, with the loss of pilots Raúl Vianello, José Crespo, Osvaldo Piedra and navigators Lorenzo Pérez-Lorenzo and José Fernández. Vianello's navigator Demetrio Pérez bailed out and was picked up by USS Murray. Pilot Crispín García Fernández and navigator Juan González Romero, in B-26 serial 940, diverted to Boca Chica, but late that night they attempted to fly back to Puerto Cabezas in B-26 serial 933 that Crespo had flown to Boca Chica on 15 April. In October 1961, the remains of the B-26 and its two crew were finally found in dense jungle in Nicaragua.[30][41] One FAL B-26 diverted to Grand Cayman with engine failure. By 16.00, Fidel Castro had arrived at Australia, joining José Ramón Fernández whom he had appointed as battlefield commander before dawn that day.[27]

At about 21.00 on 17 April 1961, a night air strike by three FAL B-26s on San Antonio de Los Baños airfield failed, reportedly due to incompetence and bad weather. Two other B-26s had aborted the mission after take-off.[34][10] Other sources allege that heavy anti-aircraft fire scared the aircrews, the resultant smoke perhaps a convenient excuse for "poor visibility".[27]

[edit] Invasion day plus one (D+1) 18 April

By about 10.30 on 18 April, Cuban troops and militia, supported by tanks, took Playa Larga after Brigade forces had fled towards Girón in the early hours. During the day, Brigade forces retreated to San Blas along the two roads from Covadonga and Yaguaramas. By then, both Fidel Castro and José Ramón Fernández had re-located to that battlefront area.[27]

At about 17.00 on 18 April, FAL B-26s attacked a Cuban column of 12 civilian buses leading trucks carrying tanks and other armour, moving southeast between Playa Larga and Punta Perdiz. The vehicles, loaded with civilians, militia, police and soldiers, were attacked with bombs, napalm and rockets, suffering heavy casualties. The six B-26s were piloted by two CIA contract pilots plus four pilots and six navigators from Brigade 2506 air force.[30][32] The column later re-formed and advanced to Punta Perdiz, about 11km northwest of Giron.[27]

[edit] Invasion day plus two (D+2) 19 April

The final air attack mission (code-named Mad Dog Flight) comprised five B-26s, four of which were manned by American CIA contract air crews and pilots from the Alabama Air Guard. The Cubans shot down two of these B-26s, killing four American airmen.[11]

One of the C-46s delivered arms and equipment to the Girón airstrip occupied by Brigade 2506 ground forces. The C-46 also evacuated Matias Farias, the pilot of B-26 serial '935' (code-named Chico Two) that had been shot down and crash-landed at Girón on 17 April.[40]

Combat air patrols were flown by Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk jets of VA-34 squadron operating from USS Essex, with nationality and other markings removed. Sorties were flown to reassure Brigade soldiers and pilots, and to intimidate Cuban government forces without directly engaging in acts of war.[30]

Without direct air support, and short of ammunition, Brigade 2506 ground forces retreated to the beaches in the face of considerable onslaught from Cuban government artillery, tanks and infantry.[42][43][8][44]

Late on 19 April, destroyers USS Eaton (code-named Santiago) and USS Murray (code-named Tampico) moved into Cochinos Bay to evacuate retreating Brigade soldiers from beaches, before opportunist firing from Cuban army tanks caused Commodore Crutchfield to order a withdrawal.

[edit] Invasion day plus four (D+4)30 April

From 19 April until about 22 April, sorties were flown by A4D-2Ns to obtain visual intelligence over combat areas. Reconnaissance flights are also reported of Douglas AD-5Ws of VFP-62 and/or VAW-12 squadron from USS Essex or another carrier, such as USS Shangri-La that was part of the task force assembled off the Cayman Islands.[30][32]

On 21 April, Eaton and Murray, joined on 22 April by destroyers USS Conway and USS Cony, plus USS Threadfin (submarine) and a CIA PBY-5A Catalina flying boat, continued to search the coastline, reefs and islands for scattered Brigade survivors, about 24-30 being rescued.[45]

[edit] Aftermath

[edit] Casualties

Aircrews killed in action between April 15, 1961 and April 19, 1961 totalled six from FAR (Cuban air force), ten Cuban exiles and four US citizens.[10]

By the time fighting ended on April 21, 1961, 68 Brigade 2506 ground forces personnel were killed in action and the rest were captured. Cuba's losses during the Bay of Pigs Invasion are more difficult to determine, but they are considered to be higher. Most sources estimate them to be in the thousands, mostly resulting from a number of failed counter-attacks to drive Brigade 2506 into the sea. Triay[2] mentions 4,000 casualties; Lynch[46] states about 5,000. Other sources indicate over 2,200 casualties. Unofficial reports list that seven Cuban army infantry battalions suffered significant losses during the fighting. The Cuban government initially reported its army losses to be 87 dead and many more wounded during the three days of fighting the invaders. The number of those killed in action in Cuba's army during the battle eventually ran to 140, and then finally to 161. However, these figures are for Cuban army losses only, not including militia or armed civilian loyalists. Thus in the most accepted calculations, a total of around 2,000 (perhaps as many as 5,000, see above) Cuban militia fighting for the Republic of Cuba may have been killed, wounded or missing in action. In addition, two Cuban FAR B-26s, one Sea Fury, and an unknown number of military vehicles, T-34 tanks, artillery and other equipment were lost or damaged in the battle.

The total casualties for Brigade 2506 were 104 killed in action, and a few hundred more were wounded. One US paratrooper attached to the unit was also killed.

In 1979 the body of Alabama National Guard Captain Thomas Willard Ray, who was shot down flying a B-26, was returned to his family from Cuba. In the 1990s, the CIA admitted to his links to the agency and awarded him its highest award, the Intelligence Star.[47]

[edit] Prisoners

On April 18, 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.[29]

Between April and October 1961, hundreds of executions took place in response to the invasion. They took place at various prisons, particularly at the dreaded Fortaleza de la Cabana and El Morro Castle, 18th-century Spanish fortresses built to protect Havana Harbor. The Cuban government authorities had converted their dungeons into prisons, their walls into paredones de fusilamiento (firing squad walls). Infiltration team leaders Antonio Diaz Pou and Raimundo E. Lopez, as well as underground students Virgilio Campaneria, Alberto Tapia, and more than one hundred others died within these colonial prisons.[6]

About 1,204 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. The trade rose to US$28 million.[4] Negotiations were non-productive until after the Cuban missile crisis. 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. 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.[48] 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; the money was raised by private donations. 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. On 29 December 1962, President John F. Kennedy attended a 'welcome back' ceremony for Brigade 2506 veterans at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.[8]

[edit] Political reaction

Robert F. Kennedy's Statement on Cuba and Neutrality Laws, April 20, 1961

The failed invasion severely embarrassed the Kennedy Administration and made Castro wary of future US intervention in Cuba. As a result of the failure, CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell, and Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell were all forced to resign. All three were held responsible for the planning of the operation at the CIA. Responsibility of the Kennedy administration and the US State Department for modifications of the plans was not apparent until later.

In August 1961, during an economic conference of the Organization of American States in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Che Guevara sent a note to Kennedy through Richard N. Goodwin, a young secretary of the White House. It said: "Thanks for Playa Girón. Before the invasion, the revolution was weak. Now it's stronger than ever."[49]

[edit] Later analysis

[edit] CIA report

The CIA wrote a detailed internal report that laid blame for the failure squarely on internal incompetence. Errors by the CIA and other American analysts contributed to the debacle:

  • The administration believed that the troops could retreat to the mountains to lead a guerrilla war if they lost in open battle. The mountains were too far to reach on foot, and the troops were deployed in swamp land, where they were easily surrounded.
  • They believed that the involvement of the US in the incident could be denied.
  • They believed that Cubans would be grateful to be liberated from Fidel Castro and would quickly join the battle. This support failed to materialize; many hundreds of thousands of others were arrested, and some executed, prior to the landings. (see also Priestland 2003; Lynch 2000). The invasion by a foreign country boosted the support of the Fidel Castro government.

The CIA's near certainty that the Cuban people would rise up and join them was based on the agency's extremely weak presence on the ground in Cuba. Cuban government's counter-intelligence, trained by Soviet Bloc specialists including Enrique Lister, had infiltrated most resistance groups. Because of this, almost all the information that came from exiles and defectors was "contaminated." CIA operative E. Howard Hunt had interviewed Cubans in Havana prior to the invasion; in a later interview with CNN, he said, "…all I could find was a lot of enthusiasm for Fidel Castro."[50] Grayston Lynch among others, also points to Cuban government forces rounding up of hundreds of thousands of anti-Castro and potentially anti-Castro Cubans across the island prior to and during the invasion (e.g. Priestland, 2003), destroying any chances for a general uprising against the Castro regime. Thus the million voices that had cried "Cuba si, comunismo NO!" on November 28 1959, were gone or silent. [33]

Many military leaders almost certainly expected the invasion to fail but thought that Kennedy would send in Marines to save the exiles. Kennedy, however, did not want a full scale war and abandoned the exiles.

[edit] Hindsight of invasion warnings

An April 29, 2000 Washington Post article, "Soviets Knew Date of Cuba Attack", reported that the CIA had information indicating that the Soviet Union knew the invasion was going to take place and did not inform Kennedy. Radio Moscow broadcast an English-language newscast on April 13, 1961 predicting the invasion "in a plot hatched by the CIA" using paid "criminals" within a week. The invasion took place four days later.[51]

According to the British Ambassador to the US, David Ormsby-Gore, British intelligence estimates, which had been made available to the CIA, indicated that the Cuban people were predominantly behind Castro and that there was no likelihood of mass defections or insurrections following the invasion.[4] More recent analysis suggests that the sources such as those used in the Ormsby-Gore intelligence estimate were not aware of related material.[29][35]

[edit] Invasion legacy in Cuba

The invasion is often criticized as making Castro even more popular, adding nationalistic sentiments to the support for his economic policies. Following the initial B-26 bombings, he declared the revolution "Marxist-Leninist". After the invasion, he pursued closer relations with the Soviet Union, partly for protection, which helped pave the way for the Cuban Missile Crisis a year and a half later. Castro was now increasingly wary of further US intervention and more susceptible to Soviet suggestions of placing nuclear weapons on Cuba to ensure its security. There are still yearly nationwide drills in Cuba during the 'Dia de la Defensa' (Defense Day) to prepare the population for an invasion.

[edit] Invasion legacy for Cuban exiles

Many who fought for the CIA in the Bay of Pigs remained loyal after the fiasco. Some Bay of Pigs veterans became officers in the US Army in Vietnam, including 6 colonels, 19 lieutenant colonels, 9 majors, and 29 captains.[52] By March 2007, about half of the Brigade had died.[53]

[edit] Popular culture references

The song Washington Bullets by the band The Clash references the invasion in the third verse:

And in the Bay of Pigs in 1961,
Havana fought the playboy in the Cuban sun,
For Castro is a colour,
Is a redder than red,
Those Washington bullets want Castro dead
For Castro is the colour...
...That will earn you a spray of lead

Playa Girón is a well-known song by Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, from the eponymous album that was a success in Latin-America.

In his book "Downsize This!", Michael Moore has a chapter called "Those Keystone Cubans", discussing US-Cuban relations. He says that the Bay of Pigs Invasion "...resembles an old Keystone Cops movie," due to the mismanagement of the operation.

The plot of the novel "American Tabloid," by James Ellroy, surrounds the lives of various fictional characters responsible for plotting the invasion. In the book, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by the planners as a direct result of his failure to provide U.S. military aid, particularly air support, to the exiles.

The preparation and undertaking of the invasion is extensively covered in Littel's novel "The Company", with a major character joining the invasion forces on the beach. Though it is a fictionalised account, it seems to tally with what others have written here.

The invasion and its failure play a prominent role in the plot of the semi-historical 2006 film The Good Shepherd.

Billy Joel references the event in the song "We Didn't Start the Fire".

In the Fox TV series "24", President Taylor referenced the Bay of Pigs when discussing the Sangala political crisis in an episode aired on January 12, 2009.

The Arrested Development episode "Mr. F" refers to the CIA as the organization responsible for the Bay of Pigs "catastrophe".

Muppets Tonight introduced a parody of the TV-series Baywatch under the name Bay of Pigswatch in episode 1, 1996.

Part of Norman Mailer's novel, Harlot's Ghost is concerned with the invasion. The protagonist, fictional CIA agent Herrick Hubbard, is intimately concerned with the Miami side of the operation.

An upcoming film, Fire Bay recounts the invasion from the standpoints of some of the key people involved. Michael Biehn is set to star as the CIA mastermind Richard M. Bissell, Jr. who along with several others, plan and carries out the infamous invasion. The film is scheduled for release in 2010.

In the video game Metal Gear Solid 3, the main antagonist, named The Boss, states that the disaster and betrayal of the Bay Of Pigs Invasion, of which she was a part of, was one of the main reasons for her defection.

Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 Yuri's Revenge features a Skirmish map named after the invasion.

The song, Bay of Pigs, by heavy metal outfit, Machine Head, is concerned with the event.

The invasion was also featured in W.E.B. Griffin's novel "The Colonels".

[edit] Playa Girón today

Museum of the invasion with a preserved Hawker Sea Fury.

Little remains of the original village, which in the 1960s was small and remote. It is still remote, with just a single road to the village and out again, but it has grown markedly since the invasion. Few people there today were residents at the time. The road from the north is marked by frequent memorials to the Cuban dead. There are billboards marking where invaders were rounded up and showing pictures of their being led away. Another at the entrance to the village quotes Castro's comment that the Bay of Pigs was the "first defeat of Yankee imperialism." A two-room museum, with aircraft and other military equipment outside, shows pictures, arms and maps of the attack and photos of Cuban soldiers who died. Billboards and other material also remember the US financed "mercenaries".

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Triay (2001), p. 81.
  2. ^ a b Triay (2001), p. 110.
  3. ^ Lynch (2000), p. 148.
  4. ^ a b c d Schlesinger (1965)
  5. ^|Atlantic Mag,June 2004, p. 91. DEAD LINK
  6. ^ a b c Faria (2002), pp. 93-98.
  7. ^ a b c Kornbluh (1998)
  8. ^ a b c d Johnson (1964)
  9. ^ Overall, Mario E. (2003). Bay of Pigs: The Guatemalan Connection
  10. ^ a b c d e Hagedorn (2006)
  11. ^ a b c d e "Bay of Pigs, 40 Years After: Chronology". The National Security Archive. The George Washington University. 
  12. ^ Welch and Blight, p. 113.
  13. ^ Montaner (1999). "Viaje al Corazón de Cuba" (in es) (PDF). Plaza & Janés. 
  14. ^ "The New York Times". 1960-05-26. p. 5. 
  15. ^ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (1983-10-04). "The Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, Seventh Report — Chapter V". Organization of American States. Retrieved on 2004-12-24. 
  16. ^ Alfonso, Pablo 2001 Los Ultimos Castristas. Centro de Documentacion y Formacion, Caracas. ISBN 978-9800756577, pp. 18–9.
  17. ^ Rodriguez (1999), p. 169.
  18. ^ Wyden (1979), p. 262.
  19. ^ Alfonso, Pablo 2001 Los Ultimos Castristas. Centro de Documentacion y Formacion, Caracas. ISBN 978-9800756577, pp. 125–6.
  20. ^ Dreke (2002), pp. 10.28, 90, 99–102.
  21. ^ "Brothers in Arms Press Release". Idol. 
  22. ^ "News". Screen Africa.  DEAD LINK
  23. ^ del Pino, Rafael (2002-03-02). "Como te Paga un Dictador" (in es). Network 54. Retrieved on 2007-12-24. 
  24. ^ Paz-Sanchez (2001), pp. 189–99.
  25. ^ British Foreign Office. Chancery American Department, Foreign Office, London September 2, 1959 (2181/59) to British Embassy Havana classified as restricted Released 2000 by among British Foreign Office papers. Foreign Offices Files for Cuba Part 1: Revolution in Cuba “in our letter 1011/59 May 6 we mentioned that a Russian workers' delegation had been invited to participate in the May Day celebrations here, but had been delayed. The interpreter with the party, which arrived later and stayed in Cuba a few days, was called Vadim Kotchergin although he was at the time using what he subsequently claimed was his mother's name of Liston (?). He remained in the background, and did not attract any attention.” These two agents went on to train overseas personnel including Carlos the Jackal (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez) and subcomandante Marcos (Rafael Sebastián Guillén).
  26. ^ "El campo de entrenamiento "Punto Cero" donde el Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) adiestra a terroristas nacionales e internacionales" (in es). Cuban American Foundation. 2005-11-07. Retrieved on 2009-01-25. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h Rodriguez (1999)
  28. ^ Dreke (2002), pp. 40–117.
  29. ^ a b c d e Corzo (2003), pp. 79–90.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g Ferrer (1975)
  31. ^ Szulc, Tad. (1961-4-17). Asylum Granted to Three Airmen.
  32. ^ a b c d Wyden (1979)
  33. ^ a b Thomas (1971)
  34. ^ a b MacPhall, Doug & Acree, Chuck (2003). Bay of Pigs: The Men and Aircraft of the Cuban Revolutionary Air Force.
  35. ^ a b "Nuevo Acción" (in es). 
  36. ^ "Morgan Buried In Cuban Crypt, Fugitive Wife Stays In Hiding". La Habana: Associated Press. 1961-03-13. Retrieved on 2007-12-24. DEAD LINK
  37. ^ Priestland (2003)
  38. ^ Fernandez (2001)
  39. ^ FRUS X, Document 87
  40. ^ a b Cooper, Tom (2007). Clandestine US Operations: Cuba, 1961, Bay of Pigs.
  41. ^ FOIA document 141167
  42. ^ Lynch (2000)
  43. ^ De Paz-Sánchez (2001)
  44. ^ Vivés (1984)
  45. ^ FRUS X, document 110
  46. ^ Lynch (2000), p. 148.
  47. ^ Thomas, Eric. "Local Man Forever Tied To Cuban Leader: Father Frozen, Displayed by Fidel Castro". KGO ABC7, KGO-TV/DT. Retrieved on 2007-02-22. 
  48. ^ Szulc (1986)
  49. ^ Anderson, Jon Lee (2006) [1997]. "24. Esos tiempos atómicos" (in spanish). Che Guevara. Una vida revolucionaria. Barcelona: Anagrama. pp. 482. ISBN 84-339-2572-5. "Cuatro meses" 
  50. ^ Hunt, Howard (1998). "Backyeard". Cold War. CNN. Retrieved on 2007-12-24. DEAD LINK
  51. ^ LINK
  52. ^ Ros, Enrique (1994), pp. 287–98.
  53. ^ Iuspa-Abbott, Paola. "Palm Beach County Bay of Pigs veterans remember invasion of Cuba". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. 

[edit] References

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