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Who's Who @ Bay of Pigs - A Guide

This list is a work in process (as is this whole web site), and does not claim to be the definitive list of participants in the Bay of Pigs invasion. If I left a name out that should be included, its only because I've not yet gotten around to it.

Dean Acheson

Opposed the invasion: “It seemed to me that this was a disastrous idea. We talked about it for a little bit and then I went off. I really dismissed it from my mind because it seemed like such a wild idea. While I was in Europe the Bay of Pigs came off and this really shattered the Europeans. They had tremendously high expectations of the new administration, and when this thing happened they just fell miles down with a crash.”

Dr. José Almeida

Brigade physician

Juan Almeida

Cuban revolutionary leader

In charge of Santa Clara and head of the Army of the center.

Manuel Alvariño

Charcoal Maker

Local Playa Larga resident. After being offered money to join the invaders, he refused. Of the 400 prisoners at that time, only six joined the invading Brigade 2506.

Efigenio Ameijeiras

Head of the Revolutionary National Police.

Claudio Argüelles

Cuban Militia

One of the first militia to be killed in the attack at Playa Larga. Also killed with him is 19-year-old Félix Edén Aguada.

Manuel Artíme Buesa

“Political Chief” Brigade 2506

Escaped into the Zapata swamp with 21 invading soldiers and was not captured until 5/2/61. Years later he organized the Miami Watergate Defense Relief Fund for those accused of the break-in at Watergate.

Angel Villafuente Ayala

Cuban militia

Along with his son (Jesús) and various friends, kept invaders from advancing towards the town of Pálpite in the early hours of the invasion.

Leo Francis Baker

Brigade 2506 pilot

One of four American pilots killed in the invasion. Eight American pilots flew combat missions without the approval of President Kennedy. Baker, the navigator in Pete Ray’s plane, survived the crash and was shot in a ground battle while holding a grenade.

Bernard L. Barker

Brigade 2506 Soldier

Survived Bay of Pigs. Arrested years later for the break-in at the Watergate building. Barker was in General Batista's secret police before the revolution and is said to have become an informer for the CIA in 1959.

José Basulto

CIA Operative

Basulto was sent to Cuba in advance of the invasion to commit sabotage, but was not given a specific assignment. He escaped arrest after the bombings by climbing the wall at the Guantanamo Naval Base. Basulto has had an extensive career as an anti-Castro activist, participating in over three decades of Cold War against Cuba.

In 1991 Basulto was one of the founders of Brothers To The Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate), a search and rescue operation out of Florida with a 1.5 million dollar yearly budget. It was Basulto’s plane that violated Cuban air space three times on February 24, 1996. Cuban MiGs followed and shot down the other two planes in Basulto’s company over international waters.

Colonel Stanley W. Beerli

CIA Chief of Air Operations

In charge of air operations.

Gerald Droller Bender

aka, Frank Bender

Chief, Political Affairs Officer

Worked with E. Howard Hunt keeping track of the various anti-Castro exile groups in the U.S. to ensure their support for the invasion. He approached anti-Castro leaders, using the name Frank Bender, claimed to represent a group of wealthy businessmen and offered massive financial assistance for operations against Cuba.

Richard Bissell

CIA, Deputy Director of Plans

Organized and ran the Bay of Pigs project. He is one of three high-level CIA officials later fired by Kennedy on 2/62. Replaced by Richard M. Helms.

Esteban Bovo

Brigade 2506 Pilot

Forty years later: "We are not going to talk to Castro, period."

Chester Bowles

Under Secretary of State

Opposed the invasion.

McGeorge Bundy

National Security Advisor

Informed CIA’s General C.P. Cabell that “air strikes the following dawn should not be launched” until they can be conducted from a strip within the beachhead.”

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke

Chief of Naval Operations

(until August 1961) Gave an OK to the plan.

Gen. C.P. Cabell

Deputy Director, CIA

During the invasion, he was left in charge of the CIA. Fired by Kennedy on 1/31/62. In his posthumously published memoirs, General Cabell was harshly critical of Kennedy and his staff.

Mario Cabello

Brigade 2506

Bay of Pigs survivor. Forty years later he was expelled from the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association for participating in a Havana conference commemorating the conflict.

José Miró Cardona

President of exile government

Would have been immediately recognized by U.S. officials as the legitimate government of Cuba. During the invasion, Cardona and others were held by CIA forces in Opa-Locka, Florida. The statement he delivered to the media on April 17 was actually written by CIA agent E. Howard Hunt.

Captain Enrique Carreras Rojas

Cuban pilot

Destroyed two invasion vessels before they could be unloaded. This was a key factor in the Cuban victory.

Fidel Castro

Prime Minister of Cuba

The armed forces under Castro responded with vigor and enthusiasm, defeating the invaders in less than 72 hours.

Raul Castro

Fidel's Brother

In charge of securing Oriente Province.

Captain Cordero

Head, Battalion 339

At the very beginning, he sent a platoon to Playa Larga.

Bob Davis

CIA station chief, Guatemala

In charge of building the airport at Retalhuleu that was used by Brigade 2506.

Lt. Rafael del Pino

Cuban pilot

Spotted U.S. destroyers.

Allen W. Dulles

Director, CIA

Managed top level planning and execution. Accused of misleading Kennedy. He was fired by Kennedy on November 29, 1961, and replaced by John Alex McCone.

Richard J. Walton, from Cold War and Counterrevolution: The Foreign Policy of John F. Kennedy: “In conferences with the President and other planners at the White House, [Dulles] gave the impression that a wide uprising could be expected, he had never asked his own people in the CIA to investigate that point further, and, as we see, the Sate Department was not asked either.”

AW Dulles also served as president of United Fruit (later United Brands and Chiquita Brands).

John Foster Dulles

U.S. Secretary of State

Brother to AW Dulles. JF Dulles was also a stockholder and a long-time legal advisor to United Fruit Co.

Alfredo Duran

Brigade 2506 soldier

Served time in a Cuban jail after the invasion. After returning to the U.S. he organized the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami. "We were there as Cuban patriots," he told CNN in April, 2001, "trying to defend our land from what we believe was an evil that was coming to it. We were looking towards the future of Cuba and to the best interests of the Cuban people and the republic."

Frank Egan

CIA Chief, Strikes and Plans Unit

Member of the Cuba Task Force. Died on December 11, 1999 in Ventura, California, at age 76.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

U.S. President (until 1/61)

Approved initial planning and budget.

Jacob D. "Jake" Esterline

CIA Chief of Branch 4

Member of the Cuba Task Force. Also served as Guatemala station chief between 1954-57. Died of a heart attack in October 1999. From an interview with author Don Bohning on June 10, 1995: "…if we had been ale to learn several months earlier there were going to be these restrictions put on us, we would have gotten out in a gentlemanly manner and said 'we think you better use somebody else. We don't think that we're going to be able to do what you want.' But unfortunately we didn't have that luxury of time. We didn't discover the problems, the limitations we were going to have until it was too late to quit. You just can't walk away and leave the ship to sink."

José Ramón Fernández

Cuban commander

Took Playa Larga from the invading army.

General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes

President of Guatemala

Cooperated with CIA efforts to overthrow Castro. Provided land used for training Brigade 2506 (a ranch owned by his brother).

J. William Fullbright

Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Opposed the invasion: “To give this activity even covert support is of a piece with the hypocrisy and cynicism for which the United States is constantly denouncing the Soviet Union in the United Nations and elsewhere. This point will not be lost on the rest of the world—nor on our own consciences… The Castro regime is a thorn in the flesh; but it is not a dagger in the heart.”

Benito Garay

Cuban Militia

Killed on the road advancing from Pálpite to Playa Larga. A day later his wife gave birth to a little girl.

Guillermo Garcia

Cuban revolutionary leader

Head of the tactical center of Managua, city of Havana.

Crispin Lucio Garcia Fernandez

Brigade 2506 pilot

Killed in a plane crash with Mata Gonzalez Romero, after a bombing run over Cuba, when their B-26 crashed on the way back to their home base in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

Virgilio Gonzales

Brigade 2506 Soldier

Survived Bay of Pigs. Arrested years later for the break-in at the Watergate building.

Pedro Gonzalez

Brigade 2506

Assistant to Oliva. Ex Batista police. Executed a wounded prisoner (shot him in the head with a pistol) so they would not have to carry him.

José Ramón González Suco

Militia Commander, Battalion 339

One of five men stationed in Playa Larga when the invasion began. He was the first to report the invasion.

Billy Goodwin

Brigade 2506 pilot

One of eight American pilots that flew combat missions (four were killed in combat). The pilots, recruited in secrecy by the CIA to “train” Cuban pilots for the invasion, came form the Alabama Air National Guard, due to the fact that they also used the outdated B-26 planes used by the Cuban Air Force.

Richard Goodwin

White House advisor

[No relation to Billy Goodwin] Opposed the invasion.

Wade Gray

Brigade 2506 pilot

One of four American pilots killed in the invasion. Eight American pilots flew combat missions without the approval of President Kennedy.

Brigadier Genral David W. Gray

JCS, Chief of the Joint Subsidiary Activities Division

Examined the "Trinidad Plan" and concluded that the invading Brigade "could last for up to four days, given complete surprise and air supremacy, but success depends on uprisings in Cuba."

Jack Hawkins

Chief Paramilitary, Cuba Task Force

Less than a week before the invasion, Hawkins sent Kennedy a telegram: "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." From: American Spy, by E. Howard Hunt, "He professed to want to 'lead the boys ashore' himself, saying that the next president of Cuba would be decided b military, not political, action. Our disaffection was instantly mutual."

Richard Helms

CIA Chief of Operations (Plans)

Ana María Hernández Bravo


She was in charge of the literacy teachers at Playa Girón. Held prisoner by Brigade 2506 soldiers.

E. Howard Hunt

Propaganda Officer

Maintained contact with the various anti-Castro groups in the U.S. and coordinated their actions (as much as was possible). Hunt discusses his involvement in this and other CIA operations in his book Give Us This Day.

From his book American Spy: "I filed a report that included four recommendations for the invasion. First and foremost, all efforts should be made to assassinate Castro before or coincident with the invasion. This would be a task for a Cuban patriot."

Lyndon B. Johnson

U.S. Vice President

Lem Jones

Revolutionary Council

Issued statements to the press from the Revolutionary Council (in the U.S.).

John F.Kennedy

U.S. President

Approved the operation and assumed responsibility for its failure. Began to shake up the CIA within a year of the invasion. Assassinated in 1963. "There's an old saying," he said, "that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan." Kennedy began to shake up the CIA within a year of the invasion. He was assassinated in 1963.

Robert Kennedy

U.S. Attorney General

Encouraged and supported a variety of covert operations against Castro, including a Mafia hit, etc. Assassinated in 1967.

Lyman Kirpatrick

Inspector General, CIA

Conducted an internal investigation after the invasion and wrote analysis of the operation after the fact. His report angered CIA Director Dulles, and was classified until February 1998.

Colonel Eduward G. Landsdale

Member, Special Group

At a meeting of the Special Group (12/8/60) expressed doubts that the Cuban people would rise up against Castro.

General Lyman L. Lemnitzer

Chairman, JCS

Okayed the plan.

Grayston L. Lynch

CIA operative

Fired the first shot of the invasion. A veteran of the Normandy invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, and Heartbreak Ridge (in Korea) Lynch is said to have shot down two Cuban warplanes. According to Peter Wyden (author of Bay of Pigs) Lynch “became the closest thing to an on-the-spot military commander that the Cuban operation ever had.

Lynch reveals his contribution to the invasion in his book Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at Bay of Pigs. He blames the failure of the invasion on Kennedy. After the Bay of Pigs, Lynch became involved in “Operation Mongoose,” and directed 2,126 clandestine CIA assaults on Cuba, directly participating in 113 of them. He is said to be working on another book titled: The CIA’s Secret War on Cuba.

Thomas Mann

Assistant secretary for Inter-American Affairs

On 2/15/61 he wrote a memo to Dean Rusk opposing the invasion.

Eugenio R. Martinez

Brigade 2506 Soldier

Survived Bay of Pigs. Arrested years later for the break-in at the Watergate building.

Major Augusto Martínez Sánchez

Cuban Army

Robert McNamara

U.S. Secretary of Defense

Expressed skepticism about the CIA plan after a meeting on 1/28/61.

Captain Luís Morse

Captain of the freighter Houston

The freighter Houston was hit by rockets (fired by Captain Enrique Carreras) and was run aground near Red Beach. The troops were slow to leave the ship and most never joined the battle. Morse went on to become a successful Republican politician in Miami.

Mariano Mustelier

Head of Militia

The first to spot light at sea at Playa Girón.

Captain Manuel Navarro

Brigade 2506 Pilot

Flew a C-46 into the airfield at Playa Girón to deliver 8,500 pounds of ammunition and picked up a wounded pilot (Matías Farías).

Richard M. Nixon

Vice-President (until 1/61)

Supported the plan vigorously. Elected U.S. president in 1968 and 1972. Forced to resign as a result of the Watergate Scandal. Pardoned by President Gerald Ford. Still remembered as “tricky dick.”

Erneido Oliva

Deputy Commander, Brigade 2506

After the invasion, he became the highest ranking Cuban in the U.S. Army Reserve as a major general and deputy commander of the National Guard in Washington D.C.

Néstor Ortiz

Radio-telegraph operator

On duty when the message from José Ramón came in: “A boat is landing and shooting at the beach. They’re right on top of us. We’re going to destroy this radio and head for the trench.” He passed the message to Captain Cordero.

Tom Parrott


Assistant to CIA director Allen Dulles during the planning of BOP invasion. Asserted that the White House did not receive their share of the blame for the negative outcome.

Virgilio Paz

Brigade 2506

One of two Brigade 2506 members who served time for the fatal bombing of exiled Socialist leader Orlando Letelier in Washington, September 1976.

Buck Persons

American pilot, Brigade 2506.

Julio Pestonit

Brigade 2506 soldier

Survived sixteen days at sea with other Brigade 2506 soldiers by resorting to cannibalism. “It was crazy,” he recalled in a Fox network special in 1998, we were desperate, people were dying one after the other…” Pestonit broke his vow of secrecy because of his anger toward the Kennedy administration.

David Atlee Phillips

Chief Propaganda, Cuba Task Force

Veteran of the agency’s 1954 coup against Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Operated Radio Swan, a CIA-funded anti-Castro radio station and various other stations. He developed concepts and “news alerts,” including what led to the Operation Pedro Pan exodus, and everything broadcast during the invasion, such as fake reports that “Castro’s troops are surrendering…” and “It is reported that Raul Castro has committed suicide.” His book is called The Night Watch.

Thomas Willard “Pete” Ray

Brigade 2506 pilot

One of four American pilots killed in the invasion. Ray’s body was embalmed, placed in a glass coffin and stored in a freezer. This was the only real proof of U.S. participation, but the U.N. never pursued an investigation, in spite of requests by Cuba’s Raul Roa. Eighteen years later, in December 1979, the body was identified after Cuban officials sent copies of the fingerprints to the FBI, and returned to the U.S. family, which had been kept in the dark by CIA and State Department officials. As part of the “cover story,” the family was told that Ray had died in a cargo plane crash.

Raul Roa Garcia

Cuban Minister of External Relations

Alerted the United Nations that a U.S. attack of Cuba was about to get under way.

William “Rip” Robertson

CIA Operative

One of two CIA agents assigned to Brigade 2506 as “troubleshooters.” (The other is Grayston Lynch.) Robertson died in 1973 of malaria in Laos.

Felíx I. Rodríguez

CIA Operative

According to his testimony (May, 1987) at the Iran-Contra Congressional hearings, he infiltrated Cuba in February 1961, two months before the invasion with Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero. Most of the infiltration team is killed or captured. After the invasion Rodríguez hides in the Venezuelan Embassy for five months. Like many other Bay of Pigs veterans, he joins the U.S. Army in 1963.

Carlos Rodriguez Santana

Brigade 2506 is named after him

The first casualty of the exile force. He died in a training accident in Guatemala by falling from a 2,000-foot cliff.

Dean Rusk

U.S. Secretary of State

He opposed the expedition, but didn’t speak up against it until after the fact.

José “Pepe” Peréz San Román

Commander, Brigade 2506

Julio Monzon Santos

Brigade 2506

Transmits the final message from Brigade 2506: “we have nothing left to fight with.”

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

Advisor to Kennedy (low ranking)

Wrote memos to Kennedy opposing the invasion, most notably on February 11, 1961, in which he asks whether it's possible to "induce Castro to take offensive action first?" Authored a number of books, including "1,000 Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House." Schlesinger died on February 28, 2007. He was 89 years old.

Riley Shamburger

Brigade 2506 pilot

American pilot killed in battle. Eight American pilots (two per plane) flew combat missions without the approval of President Kennedy. Four died.

Col. Joe Shannon

Brigade 2506 pilot

American pilot. Flew missions without Kennedy’s knowledge. Survived an air battle with a Cuban–piloted T-33. “We had lived with the Cubans for three months,” he recalls, “and we were so close to them that their cause became our cause.”

David Shoup

Commandant General

U.S. Marine Corps

Patria Silva

Cuban volunteer teacher

While being held prisoner by Brigade 2506 soldiers: “Let’s write our names and where we’re from, so we can be identified if they kill us.”

Luis Somoza

Nicaraguan President

Gave a speech to Brigade 2506 members as they were embarking on their invasion, and asked them to “bring me some hairs from Castro’s beard.”

Dr. Juan Sordo

Assistant to Brigade physician

Theodore Sorensen

Special Counsel to President Kennedy

Did not know about the operation until it was over. The author of several books, including Kennedy. From page 295: “But in the days that followed the fiasco the President talked to me about it at length—in the Mansion, in his office and as we walked on the White House Lawn. He was aghast at his own stupidity, angry at having been badly advised by some and let down by others…

"But the CIA authors of the landing plan not only presented it to the new President but, as was perhaps natural, advocated it. He was in effect asked whether he was as willing as the republicans to permit and assist these exiles to free their own island from dictatorship…”

Adlai Stevenson

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

At the United Nations, he flatly denied any U.S. involvement in the invasion. (A few hours later he learned that Kennedy referred to him as “my official liar.”)

Jose Dionisio Suarez

One of two Brigade 2506 members who served time for the fatal bombing of exiled Socialist leader Orlando Letelier in Washington, September 1976.

Captain Hugo Sueiro

Brigade 2506

Head of Battalion 2. Wiped out Castro’s Battalion 339 at Playa Larga.

General Maxwell D. Taylor


Investigated the invasion for Kennedy immediately after the fact. Submitted a report to the president on June 13, 1961. Cited failure to destroy Castro’s air forces “due to the restraints placed on the anti-Castro air force” as key factor in the failure (in essence putting the blame on Kennedy).

Ramiro Valdez

Cuban revolutionary leader

Responsible for Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

Lieutenant Jacinto Vázquez de la Garza

Militia Leader, Battalion 180

About the fight at Playa Larga: “I have often thought of the heroism displayed by the fighters… they made the mercenaries at Playa Larga lose all hope of winning the war.”

Mario Zúñiga

Brigade 2506 pilot

Was presented to the world press as a “defector” and photographed next to his plane.

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