Maj. Gen. (DCNG-Ret.) Erneido A. Oliva, Former Second-in-Command of the Assault Brigade 2506. CAMCO, April 13, 2006.
On April 17, 1961, approximately 1,300 courageous Cuban patriots belonging to the Assault Brigade “2506” landed on Cuban beaches. Our mission was to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and to reestablish democracy in our homeland. However, the military operation at the Bay of Pigs which had been personally approved by President John F. Kennedy lasted only three days.
After 72 hours of continuous fighting, exhausted, we found ourselves surrounded by more than 40,000 enemy troops, hundreds of artillery pieces and more than 50 heavy tanks. Soon we realized that we had been abandoned by those who had recruited, encouraged, organized and trained us—American U.S. warships carrying more than 2,000 marines watched our inevitable defeat from only miles away. The American fighter planes flew over our heads, rocked their wings as a sign of friendship, and continued their flight without firing a single shot.
History records show that our invasion forces were able to land, secure and defend our assigned positions and repel continuous attacks at Playa Larga and Playa Giron as had been initially planned. However, by our second day our ammunition was exhausted, and I had to redeploy the forces I commanded at Playa Larga to Gir�n’s Western Front. The lack of the promised American air support enabled the sinking of the Rio Escondido and the Houston by Cuba’s air force. Along with the ships, the supplies required to sustain the military operation were lost.
By the end of the third day, with no supplies or ammunition and with 114 of our heroic comrades already dead, I realized that our “allies,” only a short distance away from the beachhead, would never come to our aid. Facing that bitter reality, I withdrew to the Zapata swamp with the last defenders of Playa Larga and Playa Giron where we eventually were confronted by our enemies—several brigadistas were executed on the spot and the majority taken prisoners.
Unfortunately, despite the politically motivated promises of “FREE CUBA” made during the last 45 years by all U.S. administrations, nothing has changed in Cuba . Despite their intense crackdown on dissidents, executions of innocent people and continued human rights violations, the 79-year-old Fidel Castro and his 74 year-old brother Raul remain entrenched in power unchallenged by the international community.
Unfortunately, the Castro brothers have now outlasted ten U.S. presidents who have failed to recognize the threat that they represent to the national security of the whole American Continent. Yet despite almost half a century of unfulfilled U.S. promises, the Bay of Pigs veterans still hold out hope that the Free World will awaken and enforce appropriate economic and political pressures to the communist dictatorship that will eventually bring freedom and democracy to the enslaved Island.