When Japan’s ferocious General Tomoyuki Yamashita (“The Tiger of Malaya”) finally emerged from his headquarters on Luzon to surrender on September 2nd 1945 he handed his pistol, samurai sword and battle flag to the nearest U.S. soldier he saw. This was staff sergeant Manuel Perez-Garcia of the 32nd Infantry Division. Perez-Garcia was born in Cuba but immigrated to the U.S. after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Army and volunteer for combat.
At war’s end the 82nd Airborne presented a special trophy to the U.S. soldier who had racked up the most enemy kills in the Pacific theater. Today that trophy sits prominently in Miami’s Bay of Pigs Museum, donated by the man who won it, WWI and Bay of Pigs veteran Manuel Perez-Garcia (who started with the 82nd but fought in the Pacific with the 32nd.). The trophy sits alongside Yamashita’s samurai sword and battle flag—and the three purple hearts, three bronze stars and three silver stars Mr. Perez-Garcia earned in the Pacific.
Upon the Communist invasion of South Korea in June of 1950, Manuel Perez-Garcia rallied to the U.S. colors again, volunteering for the U.S. army again at age 41. It took a gracious letter from President Harry Truman himself to explain that by U.S. law Manuel was slightly over-aged but mostly that, “You, sir, have served well above and beyond your duty to the nation. You’ve written a brilliant page in service to this country.” Mr. Perez-Garcia’s son, Jorge, however was the right age for battle in Korea and stepped to the fore. He joined the U.S. army, made sergeant and died from a hail of Communist bullets while leading his men in Korea on May 4th 1952.
When Perez Garcia was 51 years old the Quisling Castro brothers in partnership with Soviet proxy Che Guevara were rapidly converting his native country into a Soviet satrapy. So Manuel volunteered for combat again, in what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
At the time, Cuba’s enraged campesinos had risen in arms by the thousands as Castro and Che started stealing their land to build Soviet Kolkhozes, and murdering all who resisted. Alarmed by the savage insurgency, Castro and Che sent a special emissary named Flavio Bravo whimpering to their sugar-daddy Khruschev. “We are on a crusade against kulaks like you were in 1930,” whimpered this old–line Cuban Communist party member.
In short order, Soviet military “advisors,” still flush from their success against their own campesinos in the Ukrainian Holocaust, were rushed to Cuba.
This anti-Stalinist rebellion 90 miles from U.S. shores and involving ten times the number of rebels, ten times the casualties and lasting twice as long as the puerile skirmish against Batista, found no intrepid U.S. reporters anywhere near Cuba’s hills. What came to be known as The Bay of Pigs invasion was originally planned as a link-up with the Cuban resistance of the time, which was more numerous (per capita) than the French resistance before D-Day.
At the bloody beachhead now known as the Bay of Pigs, Manuel Perez-Garcia gave the Castroites a thrashing as bad as he’d given the Japanese. These Cuban freedom-fighters battled savagely against a Soviet-trained and led force 10 times theirs’ size, inflicting casualties of 20-to-1. “They fought magnificently—and they were NOT defeated!” stressed their trainer Marine Col. Jack Hawkins, a multi-decorated veteran of Bataan, Iwo Jima and Inchon. “They simply ran out of ammunition after being abandoned by their sponsor the U.S. Government.”
“Wimps!” sneers Michael Moore about Bay of Pigs veterans in his book “Downsize This.” “Ex-Cubans with a yellow stripe down their backs– and crybabies too!”
“Florida’s Cubans” continues Michael Moore in his book, “Downsize This,” are responsible for “sleaze in American politics. In every incident of national torment that has deflated our country for the past three decades…Cuban exiles are always present and involved.”
To fight America’s enemies, Cuban-American Manuel Perez-Garcia and his son were shipped thousands of miles to distant continents. When Senor Perez-Garcia tried fighting an enemy every bit as rabid and murderous as Tojo or Kim Il Sung but only 90 miles away—and who had converted Perez-Garcia’s homeland into a island prison, a Soviet colony and daily playground for Che Guevara’s firing squads—he was sold down the river.
When their CIA trainer and de facto liaison with Washington realized the Cuban freedom-fighters had been abandoned by the Best and Brightest at the Bay of Pigs, he pleaded with their commander to allow an evacuation from the doomed Bay of Pigs beachhead. “We will NOT be evacuated!” yelled that commander, Pepe San Roman, into his radio. “We came here to fight. This ends here!”
And so it did. Then came the real heroics. Living under a daily firing squad sentence for almost two years these men refused to sign the confession damning the “U.S. Imperialists” (the very nation, which for all they knew at the time, had betrayed them on that beachhead). “We will die with dignity,” responded their second-in-command, Erneido Oliva, to his furious Communist captors, again and again and again.
“These Cuban exiles, for all their chest-thumping and terrorism, are really just a bunch of wimps. That’s right—wimps!” stresses Michael Moore in his book “Downsize This.” His smear refers to all Cubans who escaped Castroism at the risk of their lives and at the sacrifice of all their capitalistically earned (much like Moore’s) property. But the rotund filmmaker singles out the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters for particular scorn.
A guilt-stricken JFK finally ransomed back the Bay of Pigs prisoners. Hundreds of these promptly joined the U.S. Army and many volunteered for action in Vietnam. One of these was named Felix Sosa-Camejo.
By the day Mr. Sosa-Camejo died while rescuing a wounded comrade, he’d already been awarded 12 medals, including the Bronze Star, three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. I’ll quote from his official citation:
On February 13, 1968, the lead platoon was hit by an enemy bunker complex manned by approximately forty North Vietnamese Regulars. Upon initial contact the point man was wounded and lay approximately 10 meters in front of the center bunker. The platoon was unable to move forward and extract the wounded man due to the heavy volume of fire being laid down from the enemy bunker complex.
Captain Sosa-Camejo immediately moved into the firing line and directed the fire against the enemy bunker. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded point man to safety. After ensuring that the wounded man was receiving medical treatment, Captain Sosa-Camejo returned to the fire fight and again exposed himself to the intense enemy fire by single handedly assaulting the center bunker with grenades killing the two NVA soldiers manning the bunker. As he turned to assault the next bunker an NVA machine gun opened up and he was mortally wounded. Captain Sosa-Camejo’s valorous action and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
From his limousine Michael Moore sneers at this Cuban-American veteran and his Band-of-Brothers as “wimps and crybabies with yellow lines down their back.”
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