"Where are the PLANES?" her father’s commander yelled into his radio from the blood-soaked beachhead. "Send planes or we can’t last!” he yelled while Soviet Howitzers decimated his horribly outnumbered men, Soviet tanks closed-in, and his casualties piled up.
Meanwhile “The Leader of the Free World” seemed oddly distracted.
“We must support anti-Castro fighters,” these ladies had heard (candidate) Kennedy implore short months earlier during his debates with Richard Nixon. “So far these freedom fighters have received no help from our government,” (candidate) Kennedy complained.
Short weeks before the debates CIA chief Allen Dulles (on Ike's orders) had briefed Kennedy about Cuban invasion plans. And since the plans were secret, Kennedy knew Nixon couldn't rebut. And indeed, Vice President Nixon (the invasion’s main booster, in fact) bit his tongue. He could easily have stomped Kennedy on it. But to some candidates national security trumps debating points.
“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!” these ladies heard from Kennedy mere minutes after he was elected “Leader of the Free World.”
Four months later, 1,500 of those very Cuban freedom-fighters that "we must support" were slugging it out 90 miles from U.S. shores against 31,000 Soviet-armed troops, squadrons of Stalin tanks and Castro’s entire air force. The beachhead is now known as the Bay of Pigs.
"We will NOT be evacuated!" yelled the commander of these ladies’ dads and husbands into his radio. "We came here to fight!" He was responding to the enraged and heartsick CIA man who - upon realizing the magnitude of the betrayal from “The Leader of the Free World.’--was offering to evacuate the Cuban freedom-fighters from the doomed beachhead.
“We don’t want evacuation!” roared San Roman back into his radio. “Send planes! Send ammo! We came here to FIGHT!”
The pleas made it to Navy Chief Admiral Arleigh Burke in Washington, D.C., who conveyed them in person to his commander-in-chief.
"Two planes, Mr. President!" Admiral Burke sputtered into his commander-in-chief's face. The fighting admiral was livid, pleading for permission to allow just two of his jets to blaze off a U.S. carrier just offshore from the beachhead and support the desperately embattled freedom-fighters.
"Burke, we can't get involved in this," replied Kennedy, who’d just emerged in a white tux from an elegant ball where he’d twirled a smiling Jackie around the dance-floor, to the coos, claps and twitters of the enchanted crowd.
"WE put those Cuban boys there, Mr. President!" the fighting admiral exploded. "By God, we ARE involved!"' But Admiral Burke could not budge The Leader of the Free World from betraying his pledge to the freedom-fighters desperately battling Soviet Imperialism 90 miles from U.S. shores.
The freedom-fighters were expending their last bullets as Lynch again offered to evacuate them. But San Roman again responded: “No!--This ends here!”, his response was barely audible over the deafening blasts from the storm of Soviet artillery.
"Can't continue," crackled the final message from San Roman a day later. For three days his force of mostly volunteer civilians had battled savagely against a Soviet-trained-and-led force 10 times theirs’ size, inflicting casualties of 20 to 1. To this day their feat of arms amazes professional military men. “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.”
Morale will do that to a fighting force. And there's no morale booster like watching Soviet proxies Fidel Castro and Che Guevara ravage your homeland and families, believe me.
Ammo finally ran out. "Russian tanks overrunning my position," reported San Roman on his radio... "destroying my equipment.” Finally the radio went dead.
"Tears filled my eyes," writes CIA man Grayston Lynch, a multi-decorated WWII and Korea vet who trained and befriended the Cuban freedom-fighters—and took their final message. "I broke down completely,” writes the Silver Star-winner who carried scars from Omaha Beach, Bastogne and Korea’s Heartbreak Ridge. “For the first time in my 37 years I was ashamed of my country.”
If instead of the above, it requires Mimi Alford’s tabloid-gossip for some to finally feel ashamed of their nation’s “leader” of the time…well, better (half-a-century) late than never.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.