The Bay Of Pigs-The Truth
By Humberto Fontova
'They fought like Tigers," writes the man who commanded the Cubans who splashed ashore at the Bay of Pigs 41 years ago this month. "But their fight was doomed before the first man hit the beach."
That commander, CIA operative Grayston Lynch, knows something about fighting--and about long odds. He carries scars from Omaha Beach, The Bulge and Korea's Heartbreak Ridge. In those battles freedom's cause also appeared doomed. In each, Americans were out-manned and out-gunned. In each, the odds looked hopeless. In each, surrender beckoned.
But in France, Belgium and Korea people are free to rant, screech and trample American flags today because half a century ago Lynch and his "band of brothers" yelled "NUTS!" rammed in another clip, and charged forward, smiting the enemies of freedom.
America's reward? Her compensation for sacrificing her treasure and boys? Surely some booty? Some mines or oil wells? Some ports? Harbors? Colonies?
Nope. "Just a little land to bury our dead." as Barry Farber so pricelessly put it.
They won every time. But those earlier enemies were out front, they wore swastikas and red stars. They carried Mausers and burp guns. They manned Tiger and Stalin tanks. They wore military uniforms. Such enemies might be tough, but not invincible. Back then Lynch and his brothers could count on the support of their own chief executive.
At the Bay of Pigs Lynch and his men learned-- first in speechless shock ,and finally in burning rage-- that their most powerful enemies were not Castro's soldiers massing in Santa Clara, 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" himself. So when he writes, "Never have I been so ashamed of my country," about the bloody and shameful events 41 years ago this month, I'd say we owe him a respectful audience.
Problem is, he writes this in a book that castigates Kennedy's Camelot. Such impudence wont get you a respectful anything from the Beltway media. Their darling remains untouchable. So Lynch's eye-opening and simply superb, "Decision to Disaster: Betrayal at The Bay of Pigs" has been mostly ignored or mocked by "The Best and The Brightest."
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. 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 didn't need a Frank Capra to explain in brilliant documentaries "Why We Fight." They'd seen Communism point-blank, stealing, lying, jailing, poisoning minds, murdering.
They'd seen the midnight raids, the drumbeat trial. They'd heard the chilling "FUEGO!" as Castro's firing squads murdered thousands of brave countrymen. More importantly, they heard the "VIVA CUBA LIBRE!" from the bound and blindfolded patriots, right before the bullets ripped them apart.
They set their jaws and resolved to smash this murderous barbarism that was ravaging their homeland. And they went at it with vengeance. When the smoke cleared and all their ammo had been expended, when a hundred of them lay dead and hundreds more wounded, after their very mortars and machine gun barrel had melted from their furious rates of fire-after three days of relentless battle-- barely 1,200 of them without a single supporting shot fired by naval artillery, and without air support-- had squared off against 51,000 Castro troops, his entire air force and squadrons of Stalin tanks.
Tigers indeed! These men fought till the last round, without food or water, and inflicted losses of 20 to one against the Soviet-trained enemy. Castro defectors, some the very doctors who attended the casualties, tell us these invaders inflicted over 2200 casualties. 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 Red leaders assumed they faced at least 20,000 invading "mercenaries" as they called them.
Yet it was a band of mostly civilian volunteers they outnumbered 40 to one, led by the heroic Erneido Oliva. (A black Cuban, by the way, Messieurs Rangel and Jackson and you too Mrs Waters.) A high percentage of these men had wives and children.
But to hear Castro's echo-chamber (the Beltway media and leftist academics) Fidel was the plucky David and the invaders the bumbling Goliath! How appropriate that Fidel awarded his chum Yasser Arafat with something called the "Bay Of Pigs medal" in 1974. It's perfect. "For meritorious service in the war of humbug. For turning facts on their heads. For conspicuous bravery in grinding the organ of propaganda and managing to keep a straight face while the media monkeys chatter and dance to the tune."
The invaders themselves suffered 100 dead. Four were American "advisors," who gagged on, snarled at, and finally defied direct orders to abandon the men they'd trained and befriended. "Nuts!" they barked, but at their own commander in Chief. Then they flew in to try and provide some air cover. But they piloted lumbering B-26s and Castro had jets.. They had to know it was hopeless. And every one gave his life.
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. I wouldn't call them "mercenaries" anywhere near Little Havana, especially on the streets named after them.
To quote Haynes Johnson. "It was a battle when 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 ten 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 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 it's toll. Many were hallucinating. That's when Castro's Soviet Howitzers opened up, huge 122 mm ones, four batteries worth. They pounded two-thousand 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 Commander Pepe San Roman. Lynch knew about the canceled air strikes 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 will fight to the END!"
The Reds had 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. It's 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, my friends. But here's what Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year on the invasion's 40th anniversary: "The battle lasted half a day and the men quickly surrendered." Et Tu Peggy! You expect this from reporters credentialed by the Castro government, because they're no longer reporters; they're stenographers. They walk in gaping with imbecile grins, sit down, and write down whatever Fidel or his propagandists tell them. That 's how the howler that Castro's forces suffered "151 casualties" in the Bay Of Pigs battle got into Time, Newsweek, Yahoo, MSNBC, AP, UPI --and yes, sadly-the WSJ last year at this time.
Any of the dozens of Cuban-American websites could refute this conclusively, as could any of the books written about the invasion, even those written by liberals like Haynes Johnson and Peter Wyden. They'd show that Castro's forces suffered casualties almost TWENTY TIMES that number. But why bother when you're a stenographer?
You'd never know about these men's heroism from the mainstream media. Indeed you'd get the impression the anti-Castro invaders were all scoundrels and cowards; at worst, mercenaries; at best, hopeless bumblers.
The question of "air support" over the invasion still haunts. Camelot groupies have a point when they claim that U.S. air support was ever part of the plan. Ah, but control of the skies was. The original plan (but how many battles go by this?) was for Cuban exile pilots flying from bases in Nicaragua to totally destroy Castro's air force, before the invasion. So Castro would have no air power to bring against the invaders.
But then JFK, eager to hide the U.S. hand, (yeah boy! That was a BIG secret!) canceled 70 per cent of these air strikes. This left Castro's planes free to sink the ammo and supply ships, and wreak general havoc over the invasion site.
That's when some air support was desperately needed. That's when two planes from the carrier Essex, (which was lying right offshore, its pilots pounding their fists and screaming in tears of desperate rage against Washington.) might have flown in, engaged a few Castro planes and changed the course of the battle-and thus of history.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke (a man responsible for some dynamite dive sites in the Pacific today, by the way. These consist of the shell-riddled carcases of about half the Japanese fleet circa 1944) knew the stakes in Cuba at the time. And he came damn near a mutiny.
He wouldn't let up. "Two planes, Mr President." He pleaded with JFK, fighting to keep his composure. "That's all they need."
"Burke!" replied Kennedy. "We can't become involved in this."
The fighting Admiral almost lost it. "Hell Mr President!" he barked inches from the young president's face. "But we ARE involved!"
Two planes folks.
Think about it. We can enforce a "no-fly zone" half a country wide on another continent with half the U.S Air Force for a decade. But we couldn't provide one three miles across, 90 miles away for half a day with two planes......You figure it out. I've given up.
Even crazier, this same president then dispatched U.S. forces to openly engage Communists half a world away in Indochina. But he refused even token help to allies in a desperate battle to the death against Communists 90 miles away.....Like I said: you figure it out. I'll start beating my dog again if I continue.
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. And remember, these communist jailers, psychopaths and sadists later gave hands-on training in their techniques to John Mc Cain's torturers in Hanoi.
But through 18 months of it, 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.
Please excuse me, but I'm forced to quote Jackie Kennedy approvingly here. The Brigade had been ransomed back from Castro and were gathered at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, 1962. She's addressing them 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."
I daresay that the story of these men's bravery has been not just forgotten, but deliberately trashed and slandered by Castro's flock of stenographers.
Small wonder that such men as these Brigadistas refuse to file meekly into the Liberal plantation, like good little "Hispanics," with a nice pat on the head by Chris Dodd , Jose Serrano, Maxine Waters and Dan Rather.
Small wonder the Beltway media, Academia and liberal Democrats spare no opportunity to impugn their honor. Well, brother-in-arms Grayston Lynch does them the ultimate honor-the truth. And coming from a man like him, it almost makes up for 40 years of mud-slinging and calumny by liberals.