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MAY 1961

[Reference: Dade County OCB file #153-D]

CI 153-D

DATE: May 10, 1961

TO:  THOMAS J. KELLY, Metropolitan Sheriff

FROM: LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence

                  Additional Information

Reference is made to the report under the same case number dated May 1, 1961 containing related information about the abortive invasion by Cuban Counter-revolutionaries on April 17, 1961.

The following is a chronological succession of military operations as related by the informant who contacted the writer on April 26, 1961.

According to the informant, the expeditionary force was transported on four surplus L.C.I.'s leased for the operation from Garcia Lines.  The ships were listed as: Houston, Atlantico, Caribe, and Rio Escondido.  Two P. C.'s, the Braggart and Barbara J., were to serve as command ships and carried the communications equipment.  The four L.C.I.'s had been code-named respectively Barracuda, Tiburon, Sardina, and Ballena.

The Atlantico (Tiburon) was equipped with eight landing craft consisting of five 19 foot boats powered by 75 hp Evinrude outboard motors and three 17 foot boats powered by 45 hp Evinrude outboard motors.  The crews of these boats received training for 30 days prior to the invasion; the training took place in Puerto Cabezas.

The ships of the convoy were assembled at point Zulu and proceeded from there to point Charlie- Charlie where two destroyers escorted them to the landing point.

The two United States destroyers were code-named Santiago and Tampico.  Aerial cover was provided by a two-engine observation aircraft.

Enroute to point Charlie-Charlie, the crews and troops were briefed on the operation and specifically told that the landing was in no way connected with an uprising from within as the invasion was strictly an operation by the Brigade.

The Brigade consisted of five battalions with a total strength of 1,258 infantrymen and approximately 300 men for the supply services.  The battalions had the actual strength of a United States infantry company and almost no heavy weapons.

There was no artillery and the only support was given by six Mark IV Sherman tanks which joined the invasion in three L.C.T.'s and were landed before the infantrymen.  Apparently the lack of sea transports forced the planners of the operation to reload the L.C.T's with the motorized equipment, land it , and then return to the troop transports to pick up the infantrymen.  Each L.C.T. carried two tanks, two trucks, and two jeeps.  The infantrymen were armed with Garand rifles and M1 carbines plus heavy weapons consisting of six 60 mm mortars, six 81 mm mortars, an six 4.2 mortars.  A number of 57 mm recoilless rifles and .50 caliber machine guns was also used by the expeditionary forces.

April 17, 1961, 3 a.m. - Landing operations began with first contingents of frogmen who were to establish the three beaches Red, Green, and Blue.  The frogmen reached the Bay of Cochinos aboard the Braggart and proceeded for the shore under the command of their American instructor.  Upon landing, they were discovered by a patrol of militiamen and they were forced to kill them.  The shots attracted the attention of the other troops and the alarm became general.

April 17, 1961, 5 a.m. - the infantrymen began to land from the transports with only sporadic opposition from the militiamen.  According to the informant, about 15 militiamen joined the invaders and several peasants of the nearby village approached the troops with gifts.  The landing took place in Playa Giron.

The L.C.T.'s landed the tanks and other motorized equipment an then returned to the transports to unload the infantrymen.

April 17, 1961, 5:30 a.m. - At approximately this hour, the first attack by the Castro Air Force began on the troops loaded in the L.C.T.'s.  The informant stated that at this time, there were no more than three Sea Furies engaged in the attack.  The enemy aircraft came one at a time an they were often mistaken for friendly aircraft because the only distinguishing mark was a blue stripe under the wings used by the invaders' air force.

April 17, 1961, 6:15 a.m. - The transport "Houston" entered the narrow Bay of Cochinos to offer protection against enemy aircraft but her four .50 caliber machine guns could do very little to alleviate the plight of the troops on the beach.  At approximately the same time the last platoon of Company F of the second battalion was leaving the Houston where the coastal batteries from both sides of the Bay began firing on her.  The Captain then decided to beach the vessel and permit the remaining troops to disembark.

While the men of company F were proceeding towards the beach, they were attacked by an enemy B-26.  The aircraft made two passes and on the first one, the pilot was observed waving at the men below but immediately afterwards, he turned around and began  strafing the landing barge.

The deputy Company Commander, ARTURO M. SANCHEZ, was wounded in the back by a .50 caliber bullet and the barge was ordered to turn back and proceed to the Barbara J. With the wounded officer.

From approximately that hour until the end of the day, the Barbara J. Was subjected to 17 attacks by enemy aircraft.

During the air attacks the transport "Atlantico" shot down a "Seafury" and the "Braggart" a B-26.

April 17, 1961, 9:15 a.m. - The transport "Rio Escondido" was hit by a rocket and caught fire.  The "Rio Escondido" was the transport carrying all the ammunition for the tanks and heavy weapons.  Also on the "Rio Escondido" were stored the fuels for the tanks and aircraft.  After a futile attempt to control the fire, the Captain of the ship received orders to "abandon ship".  The "Rio Escondido" later sunk with no loss of life.

April 17, 1961 9:45 a.m. - At approximately this time, the ships engaged in the operation received orders to close in on the beach and offer what support they could to the ground forces with their A.A. machine guns.

By this time, the Castro forces had the opportunity to place their heavier batteries and their fire forced the ships to withdraw out of range.

April 17, 1961, 10 a.m. - The U.S. destroyer code named "Santiago" gave orders to the transports to get out of range of the coastal batteries.  From that time on, according to the informant, there was practically no contact with the ground forces.

In the early hours of April 18th, the ships received orders to return to the beaches and unload some of the material but when they approached the Bay of Cochinos, the initial order was countermanded.

The informant stated that toward the evening hours of April 18, 1961, the transports received orders to return to Puerto Cabezas and there await orders.

The group was joined by another transport, the "Lake Charles" carrying the personnel of "Operation 40" and the convoy reached its destination about April 22, 1961.  There they received the visit of the high representatives of the Revolutionary Council.  "Operation 40" had been prepared to cope with the internal uprising that was to follow the invasion.  These were the men trained in the South Dade residence reported by the writer in a report dated February 28, 1961 under this same case number.  The officer in charge of the group, Col. LEON, is reported to have died by his own hand when the situation became unbearable on the beaches.

Additional information concerning this case will be forthcoming.

Respectfully submitted,

Intelligence Agent

LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor
Criminal Intelligence

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