April 15, 1961
Approximately 60 members of the Alabama Air National Guard secretly participated in the Bay of Pigs, a failed invasion of Cuba. In 1960, Gov. John Patterson approved a request by the Air National Guard to assist the CIA by recruiting personnel to train Cuban exiles to fly 16 Douglas B-26 Invaders disguised as the Cuban Air Force. While Americans were not meant to participate in the invasion directly, eight Alabamians volunteered to support the exhausted exiles on the final day of the invasion. Four of those men, Riley Shamburger, Wade Gray, Pete Ray, and Leo Baker died in the attack. The CIA posthumously awarded the four guardsmen the Distinguished Intelligence Cross in 1978.
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