On this day in Alabama history: Alabama Air National Guard secretly participated in Bay of Pigs

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama Air National Guard secretly participated in Bay of Pigs
Four Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk (BuNo 144894 in front) from Attack Squadron 34 (VA-34) "Blue Blasters" in flight. VA-34 Det.45 was assigned to Carrier Anti-Submarine Air Group 60 (CVSG-60) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CVS-9) for a short deployment to the Caribbean from 3 to 29 April 1961. The aircraft flew sorties over combat areas during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, on 17–19 April 1961.(U.S. Department of State, Office of Historian: The Bay of Pigs Invasion and its Aftermath, April 1961-October 1962, Wikimedia)

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.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

 

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