Skip to comments.What Really Happed at the Bay of Pigs
Posted on 04/19/2014 5:24:45 AM PDT by Kaslin
(You always hear and read of a fiasco, a defeat a disaster at the Bay of Pigs, 53 years ago this week. But you rarely hear about the cause. Here it is.)
"They fought like tigers," writes the CIA officer who helped train the Cubans who splashed ashore at the Bay of Pigs 53 years ago this week. "But their fight was doomed before the first man hit the beach."
That CIA man, Grayston Lynch, knew something about fighting and about long odds. He carried scars from Omaha Beach, The Battle of the Bulge and Korea's Heartbreak Ridge. But in those battles Lynch and his band of brothers counted on the support of their Commander in Chief. At the Bay of Pigs, Grayston Lynch (an American) and his band of brothers (Cubans) learned first in speechless shock and finally in burning rage that their most powerful enemies were not Castro's Soviet-armed soldiers massing in nearby Santa Clara, but the Ivy League's best and brightest dithering in Washington.
Lynch trained, in his own words, "brave boys who had never before fired a shot in anger" college students, farmers, doctors, common laborers, whites, blacks, mulattoes. They were known as La Brigada 2506, an almost precise cross-section of Cuban society of the time. The Brigada included men from every social strata and race in Cubafrom sugar cane planters to sugar cane cutters, from aristocrats to their chauffeurs. But mostly, the folks in between, as befit a nation with a larger middle class than most of Europe.
Short on battle experience, yes, but they fairly burst with what Bonaparte and George Patton valued most in a soldier: morale. No navel-gazing about "why they hate us" or the merits of "regime change" for them. They'd seen Castroism point-blank.
Their goals were crystal-clear: firing-squads silenced, families reunited, tens of thousands freed from prisons, torture chambers and concentration camps. We see it on the History Channel after our GIs took places like Manila and Munich. In 1961 newsreels could have captured such scenes without crossing oceans. When those Cuban freedom-fighters hit the beach at the Bay of Pigs 50 years ago this week, one of every 18 Cubans suffered in Castro Gulag. Mass graves dotted the Cuban countryside, piled with hundreds whod crumpled in front of Castro and Che Guevaras firing squads. Most of the invaders had loved-ones among the above. Modern history records few soldiers with the burning morale of the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters.
From the lethal fury of the attack and the horrendous casualties their troops and militia were taking, the Castro brothers and Che Guevara assumed they faced at least "20,000 invading mercenaries," as they called them. Yet it was a band of mostly civilian volunteers their Soviet armed and led-troops outnumbered 20-to-1.
Where are the planes? kept crackling over U.S. Navy radios two days later. Where is our ammo? Send planes or we cant last! Commander Jose San Roman kept pleading to the very fleet that escorted his men to the beachhead (and sat much closer to them than the Sixth Fleet sits to the Libyan coast today). Crazed by hunger and thirst, his men had been shooting and reloading without sleep for three days. Many were hallucinating. By then many suspected theyd been abandoned by the Knights of Camelot.
Thats when Castros Soviet Howitzers opened up, huge 122 mm ones, four batteries worth. They pounded 2,000 rounds into the freedom-fighters over a four-hour period. It sounded like the end of the world, one said later. Rommels crack Afrika Corps broke and ran under a similar bombardment, wrote Haynes Johnson in his book, the Bay of Pigs. By that time the invaders were dazed, delirious with fatigue, thirst and hunger, too deafened by the bombardment to even hear orders. But these men were in no mood to emulate Rommels crack Afrika Corps by retreating. Instead they were fortified by a resolve no conquering troops could ever call uponthe burning duty to free their nation.
"If things get rough," the heartsick CIA man Grayston Lynch radioed back, "we can come in and evacuate you."
"We will NOT be evacuated!" San Roman roared back to his friend Lynch. "We came here to fight! We don't want evacuation! We want more ammo! We want PLANES! This ends here!"
Camelots criminal idiocy finally brought Adm. Arleigh Burke of the Joints Chief of Staff, who was receiving the battlefield pleas, to the brink of mutiny. Years before, Adm. Burke sailed thousands of miles to smash his nation's enemies at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Now he was Chief of Naval Operations and stood aghast as new enemies were being given a sanctuary 90 miles away! The fighting admiral was livid. They say his face was beet red and his facial veins popping as he faced down his commander-in-chief that fateful night of April 18, 1961. "Mr. President, TWO planes from the Essex! (the U.S. Carrier just offshore from the beachhead)" that's all those Cuban boys need, Mr. President. Let me order...!"
JFK was in white tails and a bow tie that evening, having just emerged from an elegant social gathering. "Burke," he replied. "We can't get involved in this."
"WE put those Cuban boys there, Mr. President!" The fighting admiral exploded. "By God, we ARE involved!"
Admiral Burkes pleas also proved futile.
The freedom-fighters spent ammo inevitably forced a retreat. Castro's jets and Sea Furies were roaming overhead at will and tens of thousands of his Soviet-led and armed troops and armor were closing in. The Castro planes now concentrated on strafing the helpless, ammo-less freedom-fighters.
"Can't continue, Lynch's radio crackled - it was San Roman again. "Have nothing left to fight with ...out of ammo...Russian tanks in view....destroying my equipment.
"Tears flooded my eyes," wrote Grayston Lynch. "For the first time in my 37 years I was ashamed of my country."
When the smoke cleared and their ammo had been expended to the very last bullet, when a hundred of them lay dead and hundreds more wounded, after three days of relentless battle, barely 1,400 of them -- without air support (from the U.S. Carriers just offshore) and without a single supporting shot by naval artillery (from U.S. cruisers and destroyers poised just offshore) -- had squared off against 21,000 Castro troops, his entire air force and squadrons of Soviet tanks. The Cuban freedom-fighters inflicted over 3000 casualties on their Soviet-armed and led enemies. This feat of arms still amazes professional military men.
They fought magnificently and were not defeated, stressed Marine Col. Jack Hawkins a multi-decorated WWII and Korea vet who helped train them. They were abandoned on the beach without the supplies and support promised by their sponsor, the Government of the United States.
"We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty!" proclaimed Lynch and Hawkins Commander-in-Chief just three months earlier.
A new verb?
I hadn’t heard all of this. “Coat and tails”...
Saint JFK just another slimy politician. Whodathunk?
And the sad thing is that it’s not a transcription error. It actually says that on the web site headline.
Yeah. I checked that before posting. Sad, very sad and lazy. I mean, even a spell checker would catch that.
It appears a spell checker did catch it but even the spell checker didn't detract from the message. Thanks for sharing.
This single event is the most upsetting of the JFK decisions.
“Saint JFK” - just another Benghazi politician.
Kind of like Benghazi except much much worse.
And then “Saint JFK” apologized to the nation for the Bay of Pigs and is beloved for his humility. He also gets sainted by letting his PT boat get rammed.
JFK also got schooled by Khrushchev just like our bamster is with Putin.
this incident is what lead to castro requesting and giving permission to russia to place nukes on the island..
jfk did not solve the cuban missile crisis...
jfk CAUSED the cuban missile crisis...
“This single event is the most upsetting of the JFK decisions.”
Upsetting, yes. But for a democrat it is par for the course.
B-26 Intruders. One of the coolest planes ever.
I was living in Miami near the small Cuban (at that time) community.
It was terrible that JFK abandoned those men. Brigade 2506.
CRS.. AKA A-26 Invader.
We have been paying heavily in blood and treasure since JFR betrayed the Cuban patriots during the Bay of Pigs invasion and mishandled the October Missile Crisis burying for good the Monroe Doctrine, another treason, this time U.S. was the direct victim of JFK incompetence.
The secret accord between JFK and Nikita Khrushchev gave Castro the green light to subvert Latin America and to send Cuban troops to Africa counting with the protection of the promise of JFK that the US government will not allow any attack to Castros regime departing U.S or from any other country in this hemisphere.
A Beautiful Mediocrity: JFK was a so-so president, a deeply flawed man.
National Review ^ | 11/20/2013 | The Editors
By almost any measure, John F. Kennedy was a middling president at best, and an occasionally disastrous one. The Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban missile crisis, setting the nation on the wrong course in Vietnam, his nepotism, the spying on political rivals all must weigh heavily in our judgment of his presidency. And while Kennedy the president was a middle-of-the-range performer at best, Kennedy the man has been relentlessly diminished by the eventual revealing of the facts of his day-to-day life.
Conservatives who see in Kennedy a committed combatant in the Cold War and a supply-side tax-cutter must keep in mind his bungling at home and abroad. Liberals who see in Kennedy a receptacle for all they hold holy must keep in mind his calculating cynicism for example, his opposition to civil-rights legislation when he believed its passage would strengthen the Republican president proposing it. Kennedys virtues his vocal anti-Communism, his assertive sense of the American national interest, his tax-cutting would hardly make him a welcome figure among those who today claim his mantle. His vices, on the other hand, are timeless.
The Cuban missile crisis is generally presented as the great episode of Kennedys hanging tough in the face of Communist aggression, but, like so much about Kennedys life, that story represents a triumph of public relations over substance. Kennedy gave up much more than he let on to resolve the crisis, agreeing to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey on the condition that the concession remain secret, so as not to undermine his political career or his brothers. And the Cuban missile crisis was brought on in no small part by Kennedys inviting displays of weakness:
His performance at the 1961 Vienna summit made little impression on Nikita Khrushchev, and within a few months the Berlin Wall was under construction. After the Bay of Pigs, the Soviets had little reason to suppose that Cuba was anything but a safe port for them.
But Kennedy had a gift for spinning gold out of goof-ups.
John Kennedy looms large in the American imagination, but not for anything he accomplished in office. He was a handsome and vivacious man whose ascendancy coincided with that of television, a politician who was one part royal, one part movie star. That Americans found his celebrity and his pretensions to aristocracy appealing is beyond argument; however, it does not speak well of our political culture. But as created personas go, JFK was a doozy: He won the Pulitzer Prize for a book largely written by somebody else; his reputation as an intellectual was largely the creation of Arthur Schlesinger; and his family was figuratively and perhaps literally in bed with Joe McCarthy (who dated two of the Kennedy women), but the stigma of McCarthyism has never attached itself to his name.
His pathological sexual appetites gave him the reputation of a charming rogue, when the truth is that he was closer to a mid-century Anthony Weiner. He was a veteran with an admirable military record, an unexceptional and difference-splitting senator with an Irish name: But for his celebrity, he would have been John McCain or John Kerry.
Kennedy did not transform the country, but he did transform the presidency largely for the worse. Combining grandiose rhetoric with shallow policy, he established the modern template of president as media hero, beginning the conversion of the office of the presidency from that of chief administrator of the federal government to the modern grotesquery it has become. The main effects of his time in the White House were to make his immediate predecessor look like Cincinnatus by comparison and to unleash the ugliness of Johnson and Johnsonism on the republic after his martyrdom at the hands of a deranged Communist. That Lyndon Johnson, a man he detested, was Kennedys political heir is a testament to the fact that there was hardly any devil he was unwilling to get in bed with if it brought him political power.
And what did he do with that power? Among the heaviest burdens facing the American public in 2013 are the direct expenses and unfunded liabilities associated with Medicare and Medicaid, two ill-shaped programs conceived of by the Kennedy administration but executed under Johnson which is to say, well be paying the price for Kennedys grand dreams for a long time to come.
He looked great in a suit, and he could deliver an applause line with the best of them. We may grieve the murder of a president, but our grief should not blind us to what kind of president, or man, he was.
Two of my classmates survived the Bay of Pigs and prison to escape and eventually got his PhD in Chemical Engineering. He never talked about it. I learned about him from other Cuban students.
He never talked about it, but the words he used for Castro and Kennedy cannot be printed here.
Or else you will have to ransom some the participants captured and in prison by giving the ENEMY lots of money, medical supplies and 500 tractors.
According to this article there are still survivors in Cuban prisons. It was not agricultural tractors but industrial tractors like Caterpillar type tractors.
And after 54 years, the Castros are still trying to make "La Revolo-o-shun" a success.
And Castro went on to infiltrate and poison Central and South America. If Kennedy had not been shot...
I tell all teens I know if the subject matter turns to history, to question the myth of his Presidency and introduce the concept he dropped the ball at the Bay of Pigs and to do your research.
I think it is true to say, he was mediocre at best, ranking right up their with the worst of the 19th and 20th Centuries, you can name the rest, you all know them well....
American RATS have more in common with Castro than with freedom. Was and stlll is the case.
Did that decision perhaps resulted in what happened to him in Dallas?
I think so.
Yes, JFK failed the freedom fighters in Cuba, and our own men trying to protect citizens from the Castro takeover. Even more telling is the prisoner abuse afterward, just read “Against All Hope” by Armando Valladares translated by Andrew Hurley, it will open your eyes to the horrors of Communist prison abuse.
There was another book, by one of our men left to fend for themselves behind enemy lines, and he escaped somehow getting home...and lived to tell his story.
Che Guevera, that the Democrats love was a brutal sociopath, whose Revolution was one of evil...yet we saw the T Shirts calling him a hero in Obama campaign offices and on the workers in 08, that should have been a warning to Americans to fight with all that was in them!
A little payback from someone in the CIA maybe?
JFKS HANDLING OF MISSILE CRISIS A TRIUMPH THAT KILLED THE MONROE DOCTRINE.
September 3, 1987| By GEORGE WILL, Washington Post Writers Group
Clio, the muse of history, is in bed with a splitting headache, prostrated by the task of trying to correct the still multiplying misunderstandings of the Cuban missile crisis. Most Americans believe it was a famous victory won by a resolute president prepared to take the world to the brink of nuclear war. Actually, there was not much of a brink, and no triumph worth celebrating.
Kennedy In last Sunday`s New York Times magazine, J. Anthony Lukas reported on a reunion of former Kennedy administration participants in the crisis. The meeting was last April at a Florida resort with the wonderfully inapt name of Hawk`s Cay.
Because the crisis began when the Soviet Union began putting missiles in Cuba and ended when the missiles were removed, it was considered an unambiguous triumph achieved by a president more hawkish than some dovish advisers. (The terms ``hawks`` and ``doves`` were popularized by this crisis.)
Now much is being made of a letter from former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, a letter read at the April reunion. The letter is said to show that Kennedy was a dove.
In the crisis, Robert Kennedy notified Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin that U.S. missiles in Turkey would be withdrawn within months of withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, but it was imperative (obviously for domestic American political reasons) that the linkage of the withdrawals not be announced. Rusk`s letter reveals that if the Soviet Union had insisted on public linkage, Kennedy would have complied.
That historical morsel is only redundant evidence of what should by now be patent: Kennedy succeeded because his military advantage was huge and his goal was tiny.
The Soviet Union was not going to war at a time when U.S. advantages were three to one in long-range bombers, six to one in long-range missiles and 16 to one in warheads. The Kremlin must have been astonished and elated when Kennedy, in spite of advantages that would have enabled him to insist on severance of Soviet military connections with Cuba, sought only removal of the missiles. He thereby licensed all other Soviet uses of Cuba.
The stunning revelation in Lukas` report is not Rusk`s letter; it is something said at the reunion by Ted Sorensen, the aide closest to Kennedy.
On Aug. 31, 1962, five weeks before the administration discovered the missiles, New York`s Republican Sen. Kenneth Keating, trusting information received from intelligence and refugee sources, said offensive missiles were going into Cuba. Republicans were making an election issue out of Soviet shipments to Cuba. In September, Kennedy warned the Soviets, with interesting preciseness, not to put in Cuba ``offensive ground-to-ground missiles.`` Now, Sorensen says that the president drew a line where he soon in October wished he had not drawn it:
``I believe the president drew the line precisely where he thought the Soviets were not and would not be. That is to say, if we had known the Soviets were putting 40 missiles in Cuba, we might under this hypothesis have drawn the line at 100, and said with great fanfare that we would absolutely not tolerate the presence of more than 100 missiles...``
Sorensen is a member of the McGovernite wing of the virtually one-wing Democratic Party. But he also is an assiduous keeper of the Camelot flame. Thus it is fascinating that he says, in praise of Kennedy, that Kennedy wanted to practice appeasement but calculated incorrectly.
This is amusing in light of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.`s rhapsodizing about Kennedy`s handling of the crisis that Kennedy, according to Sorensen, wanted to define away: ``He coolly and exactly measured... He moved with mathematical precision... This combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated...``
Even assuming Sorensen is wrong, Schlesinger`s romanticizing is not right. In 1978, Mig-23s (nuclear-delivery vehicles far more menacing than the 1962 missiles) were introduced into Cuba. Kennedy`s non-invasion pledge, given as part of the crisis-ending deal, guaranteed the survival of this hemisphere`s first communist regime and makes attempts to remove or reform the second seem disproportionate.
The Reagan administration, which began by talking about dealing with Nicaragua by ``going to the source`` Cuba, is reduced to clawing for piddling sums for the Contras, a recipe for another protracted failure. Today, most ``peace plans`` for Central America postulate the moral equivalence of U.S. and Soviet involvements in the region, another legacy of the missile- crisis ``triumph`` that killed the Monroe Doctrine.
A few more such triumphs and we shall be undone. The romanticizing of the missile crisis makes such triumphs more likely.
Funny you mention this.
I too studied ChemE with Cubans who had returned from the Bay of Pigs debacle and they were pretty bitter about the whole affair. Whether they continued for their PhDs, I don’t know. Lost track of them.
Georgia Tech grad?
Karma Police! Bay of Pigs alone justified his getting shot to hell in Dallas! Even of Lyndon did it for totally different reasons.
Good points, and don’t forget the Panama Canal giveaway by Carter.
Those who lived this last four decades understand, but the younger Americans are unaware of how the Communist STRONGHOLD took hold. 1917 donation to Columbia University and 30+ years later Nikita Kruschev and his infiltration of the education system of teachers from Russia...clear in his famous statement ‘we will take America without firing a shot’; all show the importance of his association with JFK and how the underground Communists worked with the openly above ground Communists to make Cuba & Castro happen. No backlash.
The book by J Edgar Hoover “Masters of Deceit” discusses the Communist infiltration of America and their intent, it was copyrighted in 1958...I think his cross dressing caused the man not to be taken seriously, yet the FBI information he had was so important to us as a nation.
The SDS had over 100,000 members when the Weathermen Underground formed with Bill Ayers, this was a Marxist organization that said ‘they would disban’ intentionally false, to go Underground as teachers, union members, politicians, executives of corporations, bankers, wall street and government officials...it was a preplanned effort in 1968.
The whole point is the average American does not understand the evil of communism and how it deceives, controls, and using subterfuge to get it’s way. The NWO aligns itself with Communism and manipulates wars.
The left being the hippie and college intellectuals, instead of intelligence crowd, allowed the Democrat Party to take over in 1964, and the Republicans have been infiltrated by members of the communist party individually.... complicating the party.
That division of the conservative party complicates a recovery through voting. All the information is out there but many cannot seem to put it together...in order to see the conspiracy that really does exist to takeover America.
‘allowed the Democrat Party to take over in 1964’
meant to say ‘the Democrat Party allowed a communist infiltration to begin their takeover in 1964 beginning with the leftist party.’
I thought they were A-26 invaders.
Sobering summary. Thank you.
And the restoration of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians...1999?, I think...and wanted by the UN now.
There has been discussion of a new canal through Nicaragua, but with the earthquakes last week, who knows?
Book-worthy summation. Thank you!
The article you offer is well considered.
I was a child in 1961 but remember it well enough. JFK was as much a creation as obarry is, more of a philanderer than clintoon is. He was also a very reluctant president I think. He was created by his father. It was Joe who was to be president but he was killed in a a B-24 loaded with explosives.
The kennedy’s used the white house for their personal camelot just as much at the obarry’s but were much more tasteful about it.
I wonder if all politicians are not creations of their own minds or some other opportunist.
Making Cuba safe for mob boss Santos Trafficante. The presumed anti-Castro citizens of Cuba were supposed to rise up in support of the invasion. Bad bit of intel gathering there. Apparently were so disgusted with their tin horn dictator Batista, they were willing to trade for one without the mob or C&H sugar as the invisible hand in Cuban affairs. Our raw materials exploitation throughout the 3rd World handed nation after nation to the commies and still does today. We need to get smarter faster, that’s all there is to it.
This is a bullsh!t rumor started by his left wing enemies. Please don't repeat here on a reputable conservative site like FR.
JFK abandoned the Cubans on the beach to a waiting Castro. It was for him the better answer than canceling the operation.
He did essentially the same thing to Eisenhower’s Tibetans who were wiped out to the man. They died as their CIA handlers begged for ammo and an air drop.
He pulled Eisenhower’s team out of Viet Nam (the ones who had beat the communists in the Philippines) and turned it over to his Harvard brain trust, and murdered Diem.
The guy was a wrecking ball.
thanks for the update. I had not heard that about another canal.
But even if he did like to wear women's clothing now and again, so what? Women wear men's clothing all the time and they are never criticized for it!
Anyway, I am convinced, absolutely convinced, that JFK was shot in Dallas as revenge for Bay of Pigs. We may never know how it happened, and who else was involved besides Oswald, but I'm pretty sure about the why.
Lee Jackson’s recent historical fiction novel, Curse of the Moon, starts with the invasion and lack of US support. A great novel.
Wasn’t RFK the motivating force?
This is not the first time the US has promised aid and bailed. Just ask Hungary in 1956!
Hoover did cross-dress. Just ask his Live-In Boyfriend!
J. Edgar was one sick puppy.
Admiral Burke said to President Kennedy:
“The history never questions the winners; but always blame the losers”.
The Communist infiltration and take over of the State Department started with F.D. Roosevelt.
The Infiltration of the U.S. Government
Cliff Kincaid November 6, 2012
“this incident is what lead to castro requesting and giving permission to russia to place nukes on the island..
jfk did not solve the cuban missile crisis...
jfk CAUSED the cuban missile crisis...”
And not news to those of us who pay attention to what REALLY happens in the world.
Even back in the early 60s the news media was protecting the left.