The Fayetteville (NC)
on Friday, February 01, 2008
Cold War figure dies
By Corey G. Johnson Staff
former soldier who trained Cubans to fight against Fidel
Castro and had
been a central figure in assassination probes of John F.
Martin Luther King Jr. died this week in Fayetteville,
Gerald Patrick Hemming, 70,
his sleep at his Haymount Manor apartment, his daughter,
Roderick, said Thursday.
An exact date and cause of
still being determined. Mr. Hemming will be buried with
at 2 p.m. Monday in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery.
"My father was a Cold War
fighter," Kristi Hemming said. "He put country first, which
wasn't around as much as we like, but that's OK, we loved
Born March 1, 1937, in Los
Angeles, Mr. Hemming joined the Marines in
1954. Four years later, he
Marines to go to Cuba, where he fought side-by-side with
to overthrow then president Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
"A lot of people don't
initially we supported Castro," said Mr. Hemming's wife,
Hemming. Patricia and Kristi Hemming live in Fayetteville.
Shortly after Castro assumed
Mr. Hemming discovered the Cuban leader secretly working
Soviet Union. He felt betrayed.
"He didn't know nuclear
warheads were being pumped into Cuba," his wife said. "When
he found out, he tried his best to stop it."
Castro learned of Mr.
to organize an uprising and threw him and his friends in
Hemming said. Sometime later, Mr. Hemming was able to
escape. Many of
his fellow insurgents weren't as lucky.
"My father named my brother
Vidal Santiago, in honor of Felipe Vidal, who was executed,"
Hemming said. Vidal was a Cuban naval officer who went into
Castro gained power.
Mr. Hemming returned to the
States and settled in Miami, where he gradually became a
fixture in the
anti-Castro community. At the time, the CIA - operating out
non-descript office on the campus of the University of Miami
heavily recruiting Cubans for a secret offensive against
according to congressional records.
Mr. Hemming was also
training Cubans to fight in his organization, called the
Intercontinental Penetration Force (Interpen), the records
people alleged that Mr. Hemming was working with the CIA
His wife and daughter deny
"If he did, where were the
checks?" Patricia Hemming said. "We scraped and struggled
all of our life."
After President Kennedy was
assassinated in 1963, the FBI questioned Mr. Hemming as a
Investigators dropped the inquiry once they learned he was
taking care of his pregnant wife, Patricia Hemming said.
But in the 1970s,
investigators questioned Mr. Hemming again after he revealed
met Lee Harvey Oswald years before the assassination.
FBI files show that Mr.
Hemming told agents in March 1968 that someone had offered
to pay him to kill King.
Patricia Hemming said her
began to fervently research both assassinations, in part to
get to the
truth and in part to clear his name.
"Those accusations were like
a cloud that he wanted to get rid of," she said.
As part of that effort, Mr.
spoke out at assassination-related conferences. He is also
listed as a
technical adviser on Oliver Stone's film J.F.K.
But he got his most joy in
his humanitarian work, Kristie Hemming said.
In the 1970s, Mr. Hemming
group of doctors and Special Forces veterans for a rescue
Peru after an earthquake hit.
And he led a rescue mission
into Honduras after a Hurricane flooded an entire area,
family members said.
He moved from Florida to
in the 1990s because he wanted to be near the Veterans
Center and old buddies.
"He wasn't driven by money or
the world," Patricia Hemming said. "Honor was his most
Staff writer Corey G. Johnson
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
323-4848, ext. 487 Copyright
2008 - The Fayetteville (NC) Observer