The Miami Herald
Sat, Apr. 15, 2006

Bay of Pigs veterans

Felix Rodriguez, 64, was part of the infiltration team that sneaked into Trinidad before the invasion to try to open up a second front. He was in Havana during the invasion, and sought asylum in the Venezuelan Embassy. A few years later, he led a CIA team that tracked down Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara in the Bolivian jungle. Today, he is the president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association.

Eduardo Zayas-Bazán, 70, fired the first shots at the Bay of Pigs as he sneaked ashore with five other men as part of an underwater demolition team. As the inflatable boat was nearing the beach, Cuban soldiers in a Jeep heard a noise and turned headlights toward the water. Grayson Lynch, an American who joined the Brigade, gave the order to fire, and they did, destroying the Jeep. ''In Girón, the first shots were ours when we went to take the beach.'' Zayas-Bazán is professor emeritus of languages at East Tennessee State University.

Mattias Farias, 66, piloted a B-26 that was shot down over the Bay of Pigs airfield and lost his co-pilot instantly. Badly wounded, he spent several hours unconscious on April 17, but awoke on the battlefield and helped defend the airfield until a plane landed to evacuate him and others. The next day, he led the final bombing run on the Bay of Pigs from an air base in Nicaragua.

Esteban Bovo, 68, co-pilot and navigator of a B-26 doing bombing runs. ''It never crossed my mind when we were doing bombing runs that we could lose. I was destroyed when I heard they lost. Completely destroyed. Wednesday morning, when we were called to the flight shack, it really touched me to see how many pilots were missing that we couldn't account for.'' Fourteen Cuban and American pilots were killed in the attack.