One of their American trainers, multidecorated WWII and Korea veteran Grayston Lynch, called the Bay of Pigs freedom fighters, “brave boys who mostly had never before fired a shot in anger.”
Indeed, they were college students, farmers, doctors, common laborers, whites, blacks and of mixed race. They were known as La Brigada 2506, an almost precise cross-section of Cuban society of the time. The Brigada included men from every social strata and race in Cuba — from sugarcane planters and cutters, to aristocrats and their chauffeurs. But mostly, La Brigada comprised the folks in between.
Short on battle experience, yes, but they were bursting with what Napoleon Bonaparte and Gen. George Patton valued most in soldiers: Morale. No navel-gazing about “why they hate us” or pondering the merits of regime change for them. They’d seen Castroism point-blank.
When those Cuban freedom fighters hit the beach at the Bay of Pigs 53 years ago this weekend, one of every 18 Cubans suffered in Castro’s gulag.
Mass graves dotted the Cuban countryside, filled with hundreds of victims of Castro and Che Guevara’s firing squads. Modern history records few soldiers with the burning morale of the Bay of Pigs freedom fighters.
Too bad their fate rested with “the best and brightest.”
Humberto Fontova, Miami