Thursday, April 17
Bahía de Cochinos
On this day, April 17, 1961, four 2,400-ton chartered transports (named the Houston, Río Escondido, Caribe, and Atlántico) transported the 1,511 men of the Cuban exile Brigade 2506 to the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba, where they came up against the soldiers of Castro's revolutionary army. Reports of what followed describe a full-scale tank engagement, with air attacks on the exiles leaving one transport damanged and other sunk. Despite a few preliminary air attacks in the days preceding the landing, promised U.S. air support was almost wholly denied, leaving the tiny Brigade 2506 virtually crippled, with 1,189 taken prisoner and 115 killed. A number were executed, while the remainder languished in prison camps under a thirty-year sentence for treason. Almost two years later, they were returned to the United States after a torturous series of negotiations.
To this day, the communist government of Cuba refers to the exile warriors in their official propaganda solely as "mercenaries."