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If I Keep silent now, I'll regret it later!

"Ignorance, incompetence and arrogance", That is how Mr. Craig Nelson's article begins, published in early August, 1999 by The Associated Press in New York. Mr. Nelson is referring to the 150-page secret document, release by the CIA itself almost four decades after the failure of the historic event. In said report the agency exonerates President John F. Kennedy of any blame for the fiasco, assuming responsibility for the whole failed attempt to free Cuba from the communist yoke, as a good son assumes the blame of his father, who was, of course, without a doubt, the great architect of the disastrous and humiliating event for this country. In deciding to refute this official CIA document as well as Mr. Nelson's article after several days reflecting about it, I promised myself to write based on my own experience during the nine months that the conflict lasted, in which I was one of the first one hundred soldiers of the liberation army. So then, my words are limited just to what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. "Ignorance, incompetence and arrogance", So it was…in many instances, such as the fact that the Cuban pilots who went to Guatemala at the beginning of the recruitment to be trained had to serve as cooks and latrine scrubbers, while the advisors enjoyed the happy hour drinking beer in a bar in the base that bore a sign reading "Classified personnel only". Plus the attitude that at the beginning of the training our advisors did not show the proper professional respect toward the Cuban pilots, who, while it is true that some did not have much flying experience, others surpassed the instructors capacity and flight hours. Another difficulty was caused by the language, since most of the advisors were Southern and their accent contributed to hamper the communication. The stories that the advisors instructed to cover ourselves in case of some mishap in the provision air missions to the guerrillas were improbable, given that the planes used for this purpose did not have a license number or a flag and were conditioned to drop parachutes. To this must be added that they ordered us, in case of an emergency, not to land on the Guantanamo air Base, for were we to do so, we would be turned over to the Cuban authorities.

On one of any missions to the Maestra Range, when I heard the absurd message, I burst our laughing, which agitated the advisor, who turned the magnetophonic instrument at the same time he asked me the reason for my laughter. I did not waste time in replying before my whole crew that, if I landed in Guantanamo and the American authorities committed the betrayal of luring us over to the enemy, I couldn't be beaten into silence about all that went on in the camps, and that the orders they were giving us were an insult of our intelligence.

In my book Operation Puma - the air battle of the Bay of Pigs - I recount in more detail moments when it seemed to us that, instead of one enemy, we had two, Castro and the CIA.

The methods of provision the anti-Castro guerrillas who were operating on the Cuban mountains to the guerrillas were a failure in 70% of the cases.

But time took care of the dissipating all those discriminatory and stupid obstacles, when many of use could prove the capacity required among professional to the point that from my own experience I once imparted knowledge of air navigation, not only to my fellow trainees, but also to a group of advisors who did not know the handling of a then new electronic instrument, the Loran, which I, as celestial navigator, used for help in my more than 200 Atlantic crossing during eight years on Cubana de Aviacións Havana-Madrid route.

Another one of my colleagues acted as instructor of the advisors on a type of plane, C-46, which some of them had not flown. And nine months later, when the war started, we were already brothers, to the point of carrying out mixed crew mission and suffering the casualties of our air force equally when a Cuban as when an American was downed.

From the 16 advisors who voluntarily flew alongside of us, four were shot down by Castro's fighter planes and ten of the 52 Cuban pilots who flew in combat missions lost their lives.

The CIA used childish cover story when the bombing of the enemy started on April 15, by claiming a rising or revolt of the pilots of the communist aviation sending one of our B-26 bombers to Miami. The plane used did not have the same configuration as Castro's and the pilot who flew it was well known to all the Cuban authorities, since he had left the country only a few month before. Afterwards, although the press promptly published the scandalous news, it didn't take long in divulging CIA's farce.

The weapons of Brigade 2506 and especially those of the air force were not adequate to fight an enemy with more modern war material and the ships that transported the infantry were inappropriate for the three-day trip, on which the troops that were going to enter combat were fed "K" rations.

At the beginning we were informed that we could count on fighter planes, mid-size bombers and transport planes, but in the end, the total of the air weapons was limited to 17 B-26 bombers from World War II, devoid of machine guns on the tail, 6 two-engine C-46 transports and 4 four-engine C-54's for the long missions.

Another of CIA's errors was that none of the chiefs of the Brigade or the air force took part in the invasion plans, incredible thought it may seem, which constitutes a humiliation for many professional Cuban army and air force officers. After all, it was in Cuba and among Cubans who knew their land and their people's idiosyncrasy better than any foreigner.

We could expand more on these assessments, but I think it is better to refer to the tangible causes of the failure.

Mr. Nelson says in his article that the lack of air strikes to back the landing of the infantry was not the President's fault. This is a flagrant lie, since I heard straight from the project director Mr. Richard Bissell's mouth years later how the President had ascribed himself the right to cancel the invasion 48 hours before the landing, which clearly shows his indecision. When Mr. Bissell contacted the President on the telephone two days before the landing only hours away from the first bombing on April 15, which was hence the most important because of the element of surprise, the President asked him: "How many planes are going to take part in the first attack tomorrow?" "Sixteen, Mr. President", Bissell Answered. "Well…I don't want it on that scale, I want the minimum."

In the end, only eight planes of the 16 available carried out the attack. The Cuban pilots vigorously protested that absurd measure. But the severe criticism was not heeded, the advisors argued that the orders had to be obeyed.

It is necessary to clarify that the first and most important safety measure for the victory of the conflict was, as the military chiefs of the Pentagon explained most emphatically, that command of the air was absolutely indispensable.

After the first air strike on April 15 on the air bases "Libertad" (formerly Columbia), San Antonio and Antonio Macao in Santiago de Cuba, Castro had three Sea Fury propeller fighter planes and two T-33 jets left, both planes with much over the air, sinking two of the most important ships, the "Houston" and the

"Rio Escondito", where was most of the weapons and the aviation fuel to operate our planes from the Girón airport, besides the decisive incident of the loss of 14 of our pilots, in 72 hours.

May people have asked us throughout the years how it was possible that, with the countless anxieties, proofs of inefficiency and continuous mistakes, we who took part in the battle went on believing with almost blind faith in our allies up to the end. My replay has always been the same; We did not have the experience in 1960 that we do now, after having lived in the country for 40 years, aside from being 40 years older, but, who could doubt back then the power of this nation? It was the most powerful country in the world, which had made decisions in two world wars, besides our being in the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency, an organism up to then respected, admired and feared by every country. The consensus among us who were there was almost unanimously. They must know what they are doing."

Why do I sustain my opinion that the biggest guilty and sine qua non for the failure of the Giron Beach invasion was President John F. Kennedy? To list the faults that decided and culminated with the debacle, I am going to refer to the irrefutable history facts:

Number one: The first invasion plan was drawn by the CIA with the approval of the four Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to the chiefs, the plan had over 50% chance of success. Said plan consisted of a landing of the invading forces-around 1,200 soldiers-in the city of Trinidad, a small town of some 19,000 people back then, located in the middle of the South coast of the island, with an excellent beach - Casida - very appropriate for the landing operation, with the Escambray Range located on the edge of the town, to the mountains of which the invaders could retreat - The infantry of Brigade 2506 was trained on the mountains of Guatemala, not in a swamp - and fight in guerrilla fashion, in case something went wrong, with an airport that had 4,100 -foot long paved strip- only 700 feet shorter than the gravel strip of the air base in Guatemala, where the planes were operated with their maximum take-off weight due to the 1,200 nautical-mile average round trip distance to Cuba. -Access to the town was only by two roads, located to the East and West, furnished with bridges which could be blown easily. If the CIA did one grandiose thing, it was choosing that unsurpassable place for the landing.

On March 11, 327 days before the invasion, President Kennedy rejected the plan for landing in Trinidad, arguing that this was too spectacular and too similar to the invasion of World War II although on a smaller scale, and he asked the CIA to study three alternate places, because he preferred a more quiet landing and preferably at night.

Number two: After the first attack reduced to eight b-26's, half of the 16 we had, and with the pilots in their cockpits ready to start the enfines on the afternoon of the 15th, Major General Reg Doster, chief of the Alabama Air Guard, who acted as one of the high chiefs in our air base in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, received in the radio room, the order issued by the President to cancel the second attack of the day and the following ones on the 16th. General Dosler, visibly angry, threw his cap against the wall of the radio room and cried out, "There goes the whole f-way."

Number three: My friend the late Admiral Arleigh Burke, one the four Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me in his residence on one of my visits to Virginia, that upon learning of the fateful news, he almost flew in his car toward the White House, where he met with the other chiefs of the Pentagon and they emphatically protested the preposterous measure before the President.

"I said to the President", he told me, "that, if Castro were left only one fighter plane, it would be enough to destroy the invaders' ships and planes".

The President did not listen to the appeals of the chiefs, arguing that he had many political pressures, particularly from the Soviet Union, which he had to consider.

The Admiral told me that he had dispatched 22 warships to the area of the Bay of Pigs, among them two airplane carriers, one of them the Essex with over a dozen A4D fighter planes with the Navy insignias erased and a transport ship with 2,000 Marines ready to go into battle if there was any contingency.

Number four: On April 18, when the situation on the war started to look bad, Admiral Burke said to the President: "Let me operate the fighter planes that are on the Essex carrier to shoot down the enemy planes".
The President replied agitated:

"No, I don't want the United States armed forces to be involved in this." "We are in a moment of crisis", said the Admiral. "Then let me use the destroyers to open fire on Castro's advancing tanks, this could change the course of the war." "Burke, I repeat that I don't want the United States to be involved in this", the President almost yelled. "G-damn, Mr. President, we are already involved and there is nothing you can do to avoid it."

The last opportunity for a victory was thus lost.

On the early morning of the 19th almost all was lost and the chiefs being gathered in the Oval office, the debate still continued over whether the Navy jets should take part in the war. Finally, the President authorized Admiral Burke to use six of the planes to fly a cover mission to protect our B-26's, but without authorization to attack the enemy forces on land and the cover limited to only one hour-another cretinous act, since by then what did length matter?-But to crown the misfortune, the cover time was fixed by the CIA by local Cuban time instead of, as the Admiral himself said to me, by GMT, as all wars are fought. The one-hour difference between Nicaragua and Cuba made the Navy jets not be in the air when our B-26's arrived, an error that cost the lives of our American pilots who flew that morning.

Epilogue: in the court of time, the conjectures and opinions have been many about President Kennedy's behavior and action regarding the Girón Beach invasions and its failure. Some hold the opinion that the President was not sufficiently informed about the project…Others, that he was surrounded by leftist and liberal elements opposed to the plan. And even some, who go beyond what is sensible, that the President acted that way to entrench Castro in power. And, since this is theoretically a country of free expression, I take the liberty of expressing my conviction: I firmly believe that Kennedy took over the presidency of this country at too early an age -43- and, only three months after his inauguration, he inherited from the Eisenhower administration the first hot potato of his term, being a rookie in its discipline, surrounded by leftist elements and influenced by his haughty and aristocratic lineage, who, by not accepting the recommendations of the high-ranking army officers of the Pentagon, showed his marked apprehension of the Soviet Union, when even back then vociferated through the figure of Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev - the biggest bluffer of the Bolshevik revolution -its famound sentence "Hand off Cuba".

Nevertheless, the President had the dignity of accepting the full blame for the failed attempt for the liberation of Cuba from communism in a press conference on April 21, 1961.

Now it turns out the CIA in its report almost 40 years later discredits the President himself. As the popular saying goes, "I don't buy that." "If the administration has the problem of getting rid of the brigade, it's best to dump them in Cuba, especially if that is where they want to go", said John F. Kennedy.


Captain Eduardo B. Ferrer

Chief of Air Transport Squadron (C-46) of the
Liberation Air Force in the Invasion of April, 1961
Author of the book Operation Puma


Cuba, España y los Estados Unidos | Organización Auténtica | Política Exterior de la O/A | Temas Auténticos | Líderes Auténticos | Figuras del Autenticismo | Símbolos de la Patria | Nuestros Próceres | Martirologio |

Presidio Político de Cuba Comunista | Costumbres Comunistas | Temática Cubana | Brigada 2506 | La Iglesia | Cuba y el Terrorismo | Cuba - Inteligencia y Espionaje | Cuba y Venezuela | Clandestinidad | United States Politics | Honduras vs. Marxismo | Bibliografía | Puentes Electrónicos |

Organización Auténtica