Yet it was a band of mostly civilian volunteers
they outnumbered 40-to-1, led by the heroic Erneido Oliva. (A black Cuban, by the way,
Messieurs Rangel and Sharpton.) A high percentage of these men had wives and
children. But to hear Castro's echo chamber (the mainstream and academia), Fidel was
the plucky David and the invaders the bumbling Goliath.
The invaders themselves suffered 100 dead. Four were American pilot "advisers," who
defied direct orders to abandon the men they'd trained and befriended. "Nuts!" they
barked — but at their own commander in chief.
These U.S. volunteers—Pete Ray, Riley Shamburger, Leo Barker, and Wade Grey—
suited up, gunned the engines, and joined the fight. These were Southern boys, not
pampered Ivy Leaguers, so there was no navel-gazing.
They had archaic notions of right and wrong, of honor and loyalty, of who America's
enemies really are. Their Cuban brothers were being slaughtered on that heroic
beachhead. Knowing their lumbering B-26s were sitting ducks for Castro's unmolested
jets and Sea Furies, all four Alabama air guard volunteers flew over the doomed
beachhead to lend support to their betrayed brothers in arms.
All four Americans were shot down. All four have their names in a place of honor next to
their Cuban comrades on The Bay of Pigs Memorial, plus streets named after them in
Miami's Little Havana, plus their crosses at Miami's Cuban Memorial cemetery.
When Doug MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, he grabbed a radio: "People of the
Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on
Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples."
Cuban soil was similarly consecrated.
To quote author Haynes Johnson, "The Bay
of Pigs was a battle where heroes were made
." And how! We call them "men," but
Brigadista Felipe Rondon was 16 years old
when he grabbed his 57 mm cannon and ran
to face one of Castro's Stalin tanks point
blank. At 10 yards he fired at the clanking,
lumbering beast and it exploded, but the
momentum kept it going and it rolled over
little Felipe. Gilberto Hernandez was 17
when a round from a Czech burp gun put
out his eye. Castro's troops were swarming
in but he held his ground, firing furiously with
his recoilless rifle for another hour, until the
Reds finally surrounded him and killed him
with a shower of grenades.
By then the invaders sensed they'd been abandoned. Ammo was almost gone. Two days
shooting and reloading without sleep, food, or water was taking its toll. Many were
hallucinating. That's when Castro's Soviet howitzers opened up, huge 122 mm ones, four
batteries' worth. They pounded 2,000 rounds into the invaders' ranks over a four-hour
period. "It sounded like the end of the world," one said later.
"Rommel's crack Afrika Corps broke and ran under a similar bombardment," wrote
Haynes Johnson. By now the invaders were dazed, delirious with fatigue, thirst and
hunger, too deafened by the bombardment to even hear orders. So their commander
had to scream.
"There is no retreat, Carajo!" Oliva stood and bellowed to his dazed and
horribly outnumbered men. "We stand and fight!" And so they did, and wrote as
glorious a chapter in military history and the annals of freedom as any you'd care to read.
Right after the deadly shower of Soviet shells, more Stalin tanks rumbled up.
Another boy named Barberito rushed up to the first one and blasted it repeatedly with his
recoilless rifle, which barely dented it, but so rattled the occupants that they opened the
hatch and surrendered. In fact, they insisted on shaking hands with their pubescent
captor, who an hour later was felled by a machine-gun burst to his valiant little heart.
On another front, Lynch, from his command post offshore, was talking with Cmdr. Pepe
San Roman. Lynch knew about the canceled airstrikes and figured the men were
doomed. "If things are really rough," he told Pepe, "we can come in and evacuate you."
"We will not be evacuated!" Pepe barked. "We came here to fight! This ends here!" The
communists had almost 50,000 men around the beachhead now. But Oliva had one tank
manned by Jorge Alvarez, and two rounds. Jorge aimed—Blam! Reloaded—Blam!—and
quickly knocked out two of Castro's Stalins. But more Stalins and T-34's kept coming. So
Alvarez—outgunned, outnumbered and out of ammo—finally had no choice: He gunned
his tank to a horrendous clattering whine and charged!
He rammed into another Stalin tank. Its driver was stunned, frantic. He couldn't get a half-
second to aim his gun. So Alvarez rammed him again. And again. And again, finally
splitting the Stalin's barrel and forcing its surrender.
These things went on for three days, literally until the freedom-fighters very last bullet.
The battle was over in three days, but the heroism was not.
Now came almost two years in Castro's dungeons for the captured Brigada, complete
with the physical and psychological torture that comes with communist incarceration. Last
month when John McCain addressed the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association he learned
that he had shared torturers with the Cuban-American freedom-fighters. (Castro had
sent several of his regime's most promising sadists to North Vietnamese prison camps to
instruct the Vietnamese reds in finer points of their profession.)
But through 18 months of it in Castro's prison and torture chambers, none of
the Brigadistas broke. They even refused to denounce the nation that—for all
they knew at the time—had betrayed them.
They stood tall, proud, and defiant, even sparring with Castro himself during their
televised Stalinist show trials. "We will die with dignity!" Cmdr. Oliva repeatedly snapped
as his communist captors.
After her guilt-stricken husband ransomed these men from Castro's prison, Jacqueline
Kennedy heard the details of their freedom-fight first hand. She then addressed them,
their families and friends at Miami's Orange Bowl with little John-John at her side:
"My son is still too young to realize what has happened here," she spoke in
flawless Spanish. "But I will make it my business to tell him the story of your
courage as he grows up. It is my hope that he'll grow into a man at least half as
brave as the members of Brigade 2506."
Noted military historian and American patriot Michael Moore, on the other hand, refers to
these freedom-fighters differently: "really just a bunch of wimps. That's right—Wimps. Ex-
Cubans with a yellow stripe down their backs."
...The Bay of Pigs Anniversary
of Heroism and Shame
They fought like tigers," writes the CIA officer who helped
train the Cubans who splashed ashore at the Bay of Pigs
46 years ago this week. "But their fight was doomed
before the first man hit the beach."
That CIA man, Grayston Lynch, knows 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 could count on the support of their own
|This eColumn appears
author and conservative
columnist who appears
often on leading talkshows
Humberto was born in
Havana, Cuba in 1954 and
emigrated with his family in
1961 to New Orleans. He
attended the University of
New Orleans, receiving a
B.A. in History in 1977.
His mentor at UNO was the
Dr. Stephen Ambrose.
In 1979, Humberto earned
an M.A. in History from
Tulane University. He then
embarked on a 15-year
career in sales and
marketing for Fortune 500
companies, namely Dun &
Bradstreet and its
He has been a free-lance
journalist since 1992. His
work has been published in
Sierra, Scuba Times, Men’s
Journal, Salt Water
Sportsman and others.
Not wanting to confine his
opinions to the printed
word only, Humberto is also
a bi-weekly guest on two
TalkAmerica radio shows
with Lowell Ponte and
You have undoubtely seen
"The O’Reilly Factor,"
"Hannity & Colmes,"
"The Lou Dobbs Report,"
"Kudlow & Kramer" and
His latest book, Exposing
the Real Che Guevara:
And the Useful Idiots Who
Idolize Him, pulls no
punches about the
revolutionary leader who
remains the darling of
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 Santa Clara, Cuba, but the Ivy League's best
and brightest conferring in Washington.
Grayston Lynch put it on the line for the U.S.
Constitution like few living today. I'd say
he's earned the right to indulge in a little
"freedom of speech."
So when he writes, "Never have I been so
ashamed of my country" about the bloody and
shameful events 46 years ago this month at the
Bay of Pigs, I'd say we owe him a respectful
Lynch commanded, 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.
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." They'd seen the
face of Castro/communism point-blank. And
that's all it takes.
They set their jaws and resolved to smash this
murderous barbarism that was ravaging their
They went at it with a vengeance.
These "brave boys" fought till the last
round, without food or water, and inflicted
losses of almost 30-to-1 against their Soviet-
trained and arm-lavished enemy.
Castro defectors, some the very doctors who
attended the casualties, say the invading
freedom-fighters inflicted over 3,500 casualties
on their Stalinist enemy. Castro and Che were
jittery there for a while, urging caution in the
counterattack. From the lethal fury of the attack
and the horrendous casualties their troops and
militia were taking, the Stalinist leaders assumed
they faced at least "20,000 invading
mercenaries," as they called them.
|Troops hoping to overthrow
Cuba's leader Fidel Castro study a
map prior to the April 1961 Bay of
|Grayston Lynch, Then and Now
|Captured Bay of Pigs soldiers
|Fidel Castro saw the Bay of
Pigs triumph as a victory
over Yankee imperialism.
|U.S. President John F. Kennedy and
then-Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara, integral figures in the
shameful betrayal and failed
Bay of Pigs invasion
|"We will not be
evacuated! We came
here to fight! This
|"The battle was over
in three days, but the
heroism was not."