When Japan’s ferocious General Tomoyuki Yamashita (“The Tiger of Malaya”) finally emerged from his headquarters on Luzon to surrender on September 2nd 1945 he handed his pistol, samurai sword and battle flag to the nearest U.S. soldier he saw. This was staff sergeant Manuel Perez-Garcia of the 32nd Infantry Division. Perez-Garcia was born in Cuba but immigrated to the U.S. after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Army and volunteer for combat.
At war’s end the 82nd Airborne presented a special trophy to the U.S. soldier who had racked up the most enemy kills in the Pacific theater. Today that trophy sits prominently in Miami’s Bay of Pigs Museum, donated by the man who won it, WWI and Bay of Pigs veteran Manuel Perez-Garcia (who started with the 82nd but fought in the Pacific with the 32nd.). The trophy sits alongside Yamashita’s samurai sword and battle flag—and the three purple hearts, three bronze stars and three silver stars Mr. Perez-Garcia earned in the Pacific.
Upon the Communist invasion of South Korea in June of 1950, Manuel Perez-Garcia rallied to the U.S. colors again, volunteering for the U.S. army again at age 41. It took a gracious letter from President Harry Truman himself to explain that by U.S. law Manuel was slightly over-aged but mostly that, “You, sir, have served well above and beyond your duty to the nation. You’ve written a brilliant page in service to this country.” Mr. Perez-Garcia’s son, Jorge, however was the right age for battle in Korea and stepped to the fore. He joined the U.S. army, made sergeant and died from a hail of Communist bullets while leading his men in Korea on May 4th 1952.
When Perez Garcia was 51 years old the Quisling Castro brothers in partnership with Soviet proxy Che Guevara were rapidly converting his native country into a Soviet satrapy. So Manuel volunteered for combat again, in what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
At the time, Cuba’s enraged campesinos had risen in arms by the thousands as Castro and Che started stealing their land to build Soviet Kolkhozes, and murdering all who resisted. Alarmed by the savage insurgency, Castro and Che sent a special emissary named Flavio Bravo whimpering to their sugar-daddy Khruschev. “We are on a crusade against kulaks like you were in 1930,” whimpered this old–line Cuban Communist party member.
In short order, Soviet military “advisors,” still flush from their success against their own campesinos in the Ukrainian Holocaust, were rushed to Cuba.
This anti-Stalinist rebellion 90 miles from U.S. shores and involving ten times the number of rebels, ten times the casualties and lasting twice as long as the puerile skirmish against Batista, found no intrepid U.S. reporters anywhere near Cuba’s hills. What came to be known as The Bay of Pigs invasion was originally planned as a link-up with the Cuban resistance of the time, which was more numerous (per capita) than the French resistance before D-Day.
At the bloody beachhead now known as the Bay of Pigs, Manuel Perez-Garcia gave the Castroites a thrashing as bad as he’d given the Japanese. These Cuban freedom-fighters battled savagely against a Soviet-trained and led force 10 times theirs’ size, inflicting casualties of 20-to-1. “They fought magnificently—and they were NOT defeated!” stressed their trainer Marine Col. Jack Hawkins, a multi-decorated veteran of Bataan, Iwo Jima and Inchon. “They simply ran out of ammunition after being abandoned by their sponsor the U.S. Government.”
“Wimps!” sneers Michael Moore about Bay of Pigs veterans in his book “Downsize This.” “Ex-Cubans with a yellow stripe down their backs– and crybabies too!”
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