For weeks, Angones cried himself to sleep at the Kendall camp. ''I missed my parents,'' he said. He remembers calling them on the phone. 'I would tell them: `Hurry up and come get me.' ''
Angones was lucky. He reunited with his parents four months later.
The wait was much longer for many others whose parents became trapped by the political tension between Havana and Washington, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
When travel between the two nations was suspended, many parents -- like those of future U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez -- could not get out until the Cuban Freedom Flights approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson began in 1965.
Juan Pujol's parents never made it out of Matanzas. He was sent alone at age 16.
''For family reasons -- my brother was military age and my grandmother was elderly -- my parents stayed behind. I did not see them again until 1979 -- 17 years after I got here,'' said Pujol, a merchant in Miami Beach who returned to Cuba on a short visit to see his family.
THE SEEDS OF PEDRO PAN
The seeds of Operation Pedro Pan began just after the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
In the spring of 1960, Castro announced the closing of secondary schools and the opening of ''youth camps'' in the countryside, where Cuban children would learn to work in agriculture and embrace a revolutionary lifestyle.
The best and the brightest were given scholarships to study abroad in the Soviet Union, Castro's new ally. In a speech that sent chills down many Cuban parents' spines, Castro announced he would ``. . . terminate the school year and mobilize all the students from sixth grade up and send them to revolutionary schools in the countryside.''
For many parents, it became obvious that indoctrination was seeping into the public, private and religious schools on the island.
Many middle- and upper-class Cubans who opposed Castro began looking for ways to get their children out.
'My parents' idea was to send us to the U.S. until this whole thing blew over. At that time, no one thought Castro would last long,'' Echazábal said. ``Sending us to the U.S. was just a temporary solution to remove us from what was happening in Cuba.''
A SECRET PLAN IS HATCHED
Some Cuban parents approached James Baker, head of the Ruston Academy, an American school in Havana.
A secret plan coalesced involving Baker, a priest in Miami and the U.S. government.
In December of 1960, Baker traveled to Miami and met with the Havana-American Chamber of Commerce to try to secure funds for about 200 children whose parents wanted them out of Cuba.
He also met with Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh, then director of the Catholic Welfare Bureau for the Archdiocese of Miami, to discuss the care of the unaccompanied minors.
Walsh flew to Washington to meet with high-ranking officials who came up with an unprecedented plan to allow Walsh to sign U.S. immigration visa waivers for the Cuban children.
The signed waivers were distributed throughout the island via the American Embassy. But the operation had to be kept secret to safeguard against the risk of detention by Cuban intelligence officers.
A committee of the American Chamber of Commerce of Havana and a group of Cubans raised funds for the youngsters' passage from Havana to Miami.
The Catholic Welfare Bureau assumed the responsibility of caring for the children until they could be reunited with their parents -- either in Cuba or in the United States. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. government paid about $100 a month per child to help pay for their care.