JFK GIVEN BAY OF PIGS BRIGADE FLAG FOR SAFEKEEPING
Miami, Florida (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, December 29, 1962, President John F. Kennedy, accompanied by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, welcomed released prisoners of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs to Miami.
The brigade of anti-Castro Cuban exiles hit the beach at Cuba’s Bahia de Cochinos on April 17, 1961. They had been secretly trained and supported by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
In presenting the flag of the Cuban Invasion Brigade 2506 to President Kennedy, Deputy Commander Erneido Oliva said…
“Mr. President, the men of Brigade 2506 give you their banner. We temporarily deposit it with you for safekeeping.”
In accepting the flag, President Kennedy broke from his prepared remarks and said…
“Commander, I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.”
The President went on to say in his formal address…
“You are here following an historic road. Seventy years ago, Jose Marti, the guiding spirit of the 1st Cuban struggle for independence, lived in exile on these shores.
You come to us from behind prison walls. But you leave behind more than 6 million countrymen who are also, in a very real sense, in a prison. On behalf of my government & my country, I welcome you to the United States.
I bring you my nation’s respect for your courage & belief in your cause.
Your small brigade is a tangible reaffirmation that the human desire for freedom…is essentially unconquerable. I am confident that in your stay here you will sow the seeds of that constructive American which, God willing, in the not too distant future we will see transported to the shores of your beloved island.”
*Emeido Andres Olivia Gonzalez was born in Aguacate, Cuba in 1932 & graduated from the Cuban Military Academy in 1934. EAOG served as professor of artillery at the CMA from 1955 to 1958 & became deputy commander of Brigade 2506. He was captured by Castro’s forces on April 23, 1961.
EAOG developed a close relationship with Attorney General Robert Kennedy after his release & continued work in Operation Mongoose in hopes of freeing his people from Castro’s rule. That work ended when LBJ cancelled all anti-Castro activities.
EAOG earned a Master’s Degree at American University & became Deputy Commanding General of the DC Army National Guard.
“Why Did the Assault Brigade 2506 Give Its Flag to President Kennedy For Safekeeping,” by Erneido A. Oliva, The Cuban-American Military Council, www.camcocuba.org/