“If things get rough,” the heartsick Grayston Lynch radioed back, “we can come in and evacuate you.”
“We will not be evacuated.” San Roman roared back to his friend Lynch. “We came here to fight! We don’t want evacuation. We want more ammo! We want planes! This ends here!”
Camelot’s criminal idiocy finally brought Adm. Arleigh Burke of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was receiving the battlefield pleas, to the brink of mutiny. Years before, Adm. Burke sailed thousands of miles to smash his nation’s enemies at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Now, he was chief of Naval Operations and stood aghast as new enemies were being given sanctuary 90 miles away. The fighting admiral was livid. They say his face was beet red and his facial veins were popping as he faced down his commander-in-chief that fateful night of April 18, 1961. “Mr. President, two planes from the Essex.” The Essex was the U.S. carrier just offshore from the beachhead. “That’s all those Cuban boys need, Mr. President. Let me order.”
JFK was in white tails and a bow tie that evening, having just emerged from an elegant social gathering. “Burke,” he replied. “We can’t get involved in this.”
“We put those Cuban boys there, Mr. President!” the fighting admiral exploded. “By God, we are involved.”
Admiral Burke’s pleas also proved futile.
The freedom-fighters’ spent ammo inevitably forced a retreat. Castro’s jets and Sea Furies were roaming overhead at will and tens of thousands of his Soviet-led and armed troops were closing in. The Castro planes now concentrated on strafing the helpless, ammo-less freedom-fighters.
“Can’t continue,” Lynch’s radio crackled — it was San Roman again. “Have nothing left to fight with …out of ammo…Russian tanks in view….destroying my equipment.”
“Tears flooded my eyes,” wrote Grayston Lynch. “For the first time in my 37 years I was ashamed of my country.”
When the smoke cleared and their ammo had been expended to the very last bullet, when a hundred of them lay dead and hundreds more wounded, after three days of relentless battle, barely 1,400 of them — without air support from the U.S. carriers just offshore and without a single supporting shot by naval artillery — had squared off against 41,000 Castro troops and the dictator’s entire air force and squadrons of Soviet tanks. The Cuban freedom-fighters inflicted casualties of 20 to 1 against their Soviet-armed and led enemies. This is a feat of arms that still amazes professional military men.
“They fought magnificently and were not defeated,” stressed Marine Col. Jack Hawkins, a multi-decorated WWII and Korean War vet, who helped train them. “They were abandoned on the beach without the supplies and support promised by their sponsor, the government of the United States.”
“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” proclaimed Lynch and Hawkin’s commander-in-chief, Kennedy, just three months earlier.
Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara and Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant. Visit hfontova.com
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