Frogmen of the Bay of Pigs (and a dubious conspiracy claim)

In response to the June 9 post about memories of the CIA in Miami, JFK Facts contributor Arnaldo Fernandez sent this photo of a group of Cuban frogmen shortly before the invasion at the Bay of Pigs.

Bay of Pigs Frogmen
From left to right, Andrés Pruna, Jorge Silva, Amado Cantillo, Eduardo Zayas-Bazán, Octavio Soto, and Carlos Fonts. (Photo credit: Miami New Times)

“They started training on the Miami River aboard the WW II assault landing craft Blagar, which would be the command ship in the invasion. Their final trainer was CIA paramilitary operations officer Grayston Lynch,” Fernandez writes.

“According to Bradley Ayers, a U.S. Army officer assigned to JM/WAVE for undercover operations,” Fernandez goes on, “Grayston Lynch was one of the nine people based at the CIA Station in Miami, who would ‘have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the [Kennedy] assassination.’ The other eight, according to Ayres, were station chief Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick, Tony Sforza, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, and Felix Rodriguez.”

I can’t accept Ayres’ assertion. Yes, the CIA’ still-secret records about David Morales are among the most important JFK records that remain subject to government censorship. Yes, Tony Sforza, known inside the CIA as “Henry Sloman,” was an assassin, according to Seymour Hersh.

But Gordon Campbell, who ran maritime operations for the CIA, died in September 1962. So the claim that he had “intimate operational knowledge” of JFK’s assassination 14 months later is unfounded or supernatural.

Here’s Campbell’s death certificate.



13 thoughts on “Frogmen of the Bay of Pigs (and a dubious conspiracy claim)”

  1. When looking at the death certificate for Gordon Campbell, it says birthplace is New Jersey, but his SSN starts with 037. The 037 prefix corresponds to Rhode Island. New Jersey SSN would start with 135-158

  2. I visited the Bay of Pigs in 2013 and snorkeled there. I plan to post those pics on my FB page which I believe Jeffrey will be able to see if he’d like to post them here. I saw an old poster with Fidel beyond the beach which said something to the effect that ‘we stopped them here’, but I don’t think I took that pic since we were driving too fast in a 57 Chevy station wagon.

    It is true that it is full of coral which might have made maneuvering difficult. The flora and fauna is beautiful there.

    The beach is simply called Playa Larga.

    I didn’t see any military relics, but it’s a large area.

  3. Thank you to all of the commentators in this thread. It is an excellent example of the best of this site: crowd sourced information from a variety of sources, including what I am assuming are Cuban and Hispanic perspectives. Invaluable.

    As mentioned, elsewhere David Atlee Phillips allowed multiple operations officers to use the names Maurice and Morris Bishop, so it is not at all inconceivable that Gordon Campbell was two people, or that the name was used by more than one person. Sources: a personal friend of Phillips; a case officer who worked with Phillips; and a confidential source with intelligence contacts.

  4. UDT team sat in the mountains overlooking the invasion and watched the whole thing. It was months before they were retracted and had to survive up in the mountains

  5. Who became chief of maritime operations at JMWAVE after Gordon Campbell died?

    There was another Gordon Campbell – an ex-US navy man who worked for Wright Macine Co.


    1. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

      Colonel Gordon S. Campbell died in 1962, but Ayers wrote in “The Zenith Secret” that he had worked in 1963 with someone in his forties who introduced himself as “Gordon Campbell” and was actually a deputy chief at JMWAVE (pages 45-102 passim).

  6. If the deputy chief of station in Miami, David Sanchez Morales, is in Ayres’ picture, there is a noteworthy absentee: David Atlee Phillips, who was very closed to Morales since their days in Havana. Sanchez Morales frequently visited Phillips in Mexico City, and Phillips used to visit him in Miami, since Phillips was actually the chief of covert operations at the Cuban desk in Langley.

  7. Lynch and Zayas-Bazan were among the first ones to open fire in Bay of Pigs. About 11.45 p.m., the head of the militia post at Playa Girón, Mariano Mustelier, saw a red light in the sea. He and a companion jumped in a jeep and turned the lights on and off. When the frogmen fired, Mustelier put out the lights, fired back, and returned to the post with the breaking news “The Americans have arrived.”

    1. Interesting post. Where is the information from?
      Showing a red light during a landing would be a red flag for a lack of training or incompetence.
      JFK was deceived into agreeing with the BOP by Allen Dulles about in the event they were not successful on the beach they would “Go Guerrilla” in the mountains. Yet they were never trained for or instructed to do this.

      1. That’s Cuban author Quintin Pino Machado’s account in La Batalla de Girón [The Giron’s battle], published in 1983 (only in Spanish, I think). By the way, the alternative “Go Guerrilla” was even more irrational given the place of landing, in the midst of the swamp, which made almost impossible to reach the mountains.

        1. Thank you. Nice to read a little of a Cuban operations perspective. I’ve never questioned the brigades heard, courage or dedication. I think the whole operation was intended to bring about the military invasion the MIC wanted, or, as an alternative a planned failure to be pinned on JFK (as happened).

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