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The Invasion Begins (April 1961)

The invasion started off on bad footings on April 15, 1961, when eight bombers flew from Nicaragua to perform a raid on Cuban Airfields.  These bombers were supposed to divert attention from the actual invasion point and cripple the Cuban airforce, but in actuality didn’t accomplish much.  Photos of the painted over bombers, disguised to look like the Cuban air force, were leaked to the US news outlets. 

Two days later, Brigade 2506, as the Cuban-exiles called themselves, landed on the beaches of Playa Girón, or Bay of Pigs.  They were immediately met by heavy fire from Aircraft.  Additionally, bad weather and the presence of reefs offshore sank several of the escorting ships, leaving the men without crucial supplies. Backup paratroopers, who were supposed to support the amphibious landing, had landed in the wrong place.  Though the landing group successfully overwhelmed a small, local militia, their luck would soon run out.   Within 24 hours, 20,000 of Castro’s forces, led by Captain José Ramón Fernández, advanced towards the beach to meet the 1,400 Cuban exiles.

Later in the day, Castro himself arrived on the scene to take over command.  By this point, Cuba had totally dominated the battle in the air, as Kennedy decided not to provide further air cover.  With Castro arrived tanks to match the invaders armored units.  The battle was pretty much over by the next day, and by the 19th, 200 soldiers from Brigade 2506 had been killed with the rest taken captive.  Mass trials were held for the captured, with some being excuted.  For the next 20 months, negotiations were held, and in total, $53 million worth of food and medicine were traded for their release, most of which was raised by public donations.  In Washington, the main three responsible for the invasion, CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director of Operations Richard Bissell, and Air Force General Charles Cabell, were fired.

Later in the day, Castro himself arrived on the scene to take over command.  By this point, Cuba had totally dominated the battle in the air, as Kennedy decided not to provide further air cover.  With Castro arrived tanks to match the invaders armored units.  The battle was pretty much over by the next day, and by the 19th, 200 soldiers from Brigade 2506 had been killed with the rest taken captive.  Mass trials were held for the captured, with some being excuted.  For the next 20 months, negotiations were held, and in total, $53 million worth of food and medicine were traded for their release, most of which was raised by public donations.  In Washington, the main three responsible for the invasion, CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director of Operations Richard Bissell, and Air Force General Charles Cabell, were fired.