“I really admire toughness and courage, and I will tell you that the people of this brigade (Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters) 2506 really have that…you were let down by our country.” (Donald Trump, addressing Bay of Pigs Veterans at Bay of Pigs museum Miami Fl, 11/16, 1999.)
“It’s a great honor and I’m humbled for this endorsement from these freedom fighters—from TRUE freedom fighters… You were fighting for the values of freedom and liberty that unite us all. (Candidate Donald Trump, receiving endorsement of Bay of Pigs Veterans at Bay of Pigs museum Miami Fl, 10/25, 2016.)
“The Republicans have allowed a communist dictatorship to flourish eight jet minutes from our borders…We must support anti-Castro fighters. So far these freedom fighters have received no help from our government.”(Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy baiting Richard Nixon during the famous 1960 debates.)
Short weeks before the debates CIA chief Allen Dulles (on President Eisenhower’s orders) had briefed Kennedy about Cuban invasion plans (what became the Bay of Pigs invasion,) so Kennedy was lying through his teeth. He knew damn well the Republican administration was training Cuban freedom fighters. And since the plans were secret, he knew damn well Nixon couldn’t rebut.
To blindside his Republican opponent Kennedy relied on that opponent’s patriotism. Let’s face it, Republicans are at a woeful disadvantage here. Nixon bit his tongue. He could easily have stomped Kennedy on it. But to some candidates national security (and those freedom-fighters lives) outweighs debating points.
“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty,” proclaimed President Kennedy at his inauguration.
Not only had KGB satraps the Castro brothers and Che Guevara extinguished liberty “eight jet minutes from U.S. borders” but had also sent armed guerrillas to attempt the violent overthrow of five sovereign Latin American countries, (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Haiti,) had stolen $2 billion from American businessmen at Soviet gun point after torturing and murdering several U.S. citizens who resisted, had invited in thousands of Soviet military and police agents, had kidnapped 50 U.S. citizens from Guantanamo Bay, and jailed and executed several Americans—all this before the U.S. even started contingency plans to disturb them.
In fact during this period, the State Dept. made over 10 back channel diplomatic attempts to ascertain the cause of Castro’s tantrums and attempt to appease him. Argentine President Arturo Frondizi (himself a leftist) was the conduit for many of these and recounts their utter futility in his memoirs. At long last the U.S. started contingency planning for what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Surely, in light of all the factors above, we’re among the luckiest freedom-fighters in modern history, must have reasoned the Cuban volunteers. Few great powers in history have had such overwhelming justification for intervening against a neighboring terrorist enemy than does the mighty USA in April of 1961. And the newly elected, fire-breathing President has gone on record– both as candidate and as Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful nation– promising to back us to the hilt against the Communist regime wrecking our homeland, jailing, torturing and murdering our families, and subverting half the hemisphere on behalf of the Soviet Empire.
“Freedom is our GOAL!” Roared Pepe San Roman to the men he commanded on April 10, 1961. “Cuba is our CAUSE! God is on our SIDE! ON TO VICTORY!”
Fifteen hundred men crowded before San Roman at their Guatemalan training camps that day. The next day they’d embark for a port in Nicaragua, the following day for a landing site in Cuba named Bahia De Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). Their outfit was known as Brigada 2506, and at their commander’s address the men absolutely erupted…
A scene of total bedlam unfolded. Hats flew. Men hugged. Men sang and cheered. Men wept. The hour of liberation was nigh – and these men were putting their lives on the line to see their dream fulfilled. Their dream was a Cuba free from the murderous barbarism that tortured it, free from firing squads, torture chambers and the teeming Castroite Gulag. A Cuba where the chilling command of “FUEGO!” to firing squads would be a horrible memory and nothing more. A Cuba where patriots served their nation. Not one where they were beaten, bound, gagged and tied to a stake at dawn, to be riddled by Russian bullets on the order of KGB satraps.
Terms like “liberation” were point-blank and crystal clear to these men. No navel gazing about the merits of “regime change” for them. Babbling foreigners in sandals and strange robes wouldn’t be the ones greeting them. They’d be bashing open prison doors and bulldozing down barbed wire, all right – but their own fathers, uncles, cousins and even sisters, aunts, daughters would be the ones staggering out to suffocate them with hugs and sobs.
One of 19 Cubans was a political prisoner that horrible year. Dozens of American citizens languished in Cuba’s KGB-designed dungeons too.
Every one of those proud and pumped men (and boys – some were as young as 16) of Brigada 2506 was a volunteer. A good number had wives and children. Some were formerly wealthy.
“SEE?! SEE?!” snivel the pinkos “We told ya! Only those beastly, slave-driving sugar mill, gambling casino and factory owners opposed Castro!”
Other freedom-fighters hailed from humble backgrounds …”SEE?! SEE?!” snivel the pinkos again. “Just like those effete millionaires to sit back and hire their gardeners and foot servants to recoup their mansions for them!”
Forget trying facts and logic with Castro and Che Guevara groupies. You’re better off trying to wean your teenybopper daughter from her Justin Bieber poster. Point is, Brigade 2506 included men from every social strata and race in Cuba – from 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 much of Europe of the time.
“My observations the last few days have increased my confidence in the ability of this force to accomplish not only initial combat missions, but also the ultimate objective of Castro’s overthrow. These (Cuban) officers are young, vigorous, intelligent and motivated with a fanatical urge to begin battle for which they have supreme confidence they will win all engagements against the best Castro has to offer. I share that confidence.”
This was the final report before they hit the beaches from Marine Col. Jack Hawkins, a highly decorated WWII and Korea vet, who after escaping from Japanese captivity after the Bataan Death March, trained and organized Philippine guerrillas then helped plan the invasion of Okinawa. During the Korean war Hawkins landed at Inchon and fought his way out of Red Chinese encirclement at the famous battle of “Frozen” Chosin Reservoir. I’d say Col. Hawkins qualified as a good judge of military morale.
“In war morale forces are to physical as three to one,” famously said Napoleon Bonaparte.
(Tune in next week when we hit the beaches with Brigada 2506.)