Erneido Oliva

Last updated
Erneido Oliva
Born (1932-06-20) June 20, 1932 (age 87)
Aguacate, Havana Province, Cuba
Allegiance Flag of the United States.svg United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
District of Columbia National Guard
Cuban Constitutional Army
Cuban Revolutionary Army
Assault Brigade 2506
Years of service1951–1993
RankMajor General (DCNG) (1992)
Brigadier General of the Line (USA) (1984)
MP Brigade Commanding Officer (1982)
UnitDistrict of Columbia Army National Guard (Deputy Commanding General)
82nd Airborne Division
Assault Brigade 2506 –Bay of Pigs Invasion (Second in Command)
Battles/wars Bay of Pigs Invasion
Dominican Republic Intervention
AwardsLegion Of Merit Medal (1OL)
Army Meritorious Service Medal (4OL)
Army Commendation Medal (1OL)
Army Achievement Medal (1OL)
Army National Guard Achievement Medal (4OL)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
DCNG Distinguished Service Medal (1OL)
Combat Infantry Badge
Senior Parachute Badge

Erneido Andres Oliva Gonzalez (Born 20 June 1932 in Aguacate, Havana Province, Cuba) [1] is a Cuban-American who was the deputy commander of Brigade 2506 land forces in the abortive Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in April 1961.

Aguacate is a community of about 5,000 people in the province of Mayabeque in Cuba. Until 1976 it was part of the former province of Havana. It was a town until 1973 when it became incorporated into the municipality of Madruga. As of January 1, 2011, the locality became part of the new Province of Mayabeque. Aguacate is also a station on the main line of the Cuban National Railway.

Brigade 2506 was the name given to a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles formed in 1960 to attempt the military overthrow of the Cuban government headed by Fidel Castro. It carried out the abortive Bay of Pigs Invasion landings in Cuba on 17 April 1961.

Bay of Pigs Invasion Failed U.S.sponsored invasion of Cuba, 1961

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored rebel group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military group, trained and funded by the CIA, Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Castro.



In 1954 Oliva was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Cuban Army after graduating from the Cuban Military Academy, "the Cadet School." After graduating with honors from the Artillery Academy in 1955 he was appointed professor of Artillery in the Cadet School until 1958. From 1958 to 1959 he was a student, also graduating with honors, and an instructor at the US Army Caribbean School in the Canal Zone, Panama. In late 1959 after the Castro revolution overthrew General Batista, the Cuban army was "purged", but Oliva was appointed General Inspector at the INRA. In May 1960 he was one of a group of former Cuban officers planning a campaign against the Castro regime. They were all graduates of Cuba's military academy. He left the army early in August 1960 and flew to Miami. On August 29, 1960, Oliva and about 40 young Cuban exiles, recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency were transported via CIA C-54 aircraft to San José, Guatemala to perform guerrilla training that later became conventional. [2]

Panama Canal Zone Former unincorporated territory of the United States surrounded by the Republic of Panama

The Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated territory of the United States from 1903 to 1979, centered on the Panama Canal and surrounded by the Republic of Panama. The zone consisted of the canal and an area generally extending five miles (8.0 km) on each side of the centerline, excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of the Zone. Its border spanned three of Panama's provinces. When reservoirs were created to assure a steady supply of water for the locks, those lakes were included within the Zone.

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

Central Intelligence Agency National intelligence agency of the United States

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.

Oliva was appointed deputy commander of Brigade 2506, the assault brigade of Cuban exiles, that landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961 under the command of Jose (Pepe) San Roman. San Roman landed at Playa Giron and Oliva, commanding a brigade task force, established a beachhead at Playa Larga about 20 miles east of Giron. After the Brigade had ceased fighting on April 19, 1961, due to lack of air support promised by the Kennedy administration, Oliva organized all the Brigade's men that were withdrawing to Playa Giron and, with men of the 2nd and 6th battalions, tried to reach the Escambray mountains. However, Castro's air attacks forced the Brigadistas to scatter into the woods and swamps near Girón. [3] He was captured by Cuban militia on April 23, 1961. He was finally released from prison and flown to Miami on December 24, 1962 after the U.S. Government paid a ransom of $500,000 for each of the three leaders of the Brigade.

Cuban exile Defectors from Communist Cuba

The term "Cuban exile" refers to the many Cubans who fled from or left the island of Cuba after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Many waves of emigration from Cuba would occur during the rule of Fidel Castro eventually bringing in Cubans of diverse backgrounds and different economic standings. The first wave would occur directly after the revolution, only for a later mass emigration of Freedom Flights to begin in 1965 and end in 1973, again during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, and after 1991 with balseros emigrating by raft.

On December 29, 1962, Oliva was on stage next to the US President, John F. Kennedy, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, during the 'welcome back' ceremony for ransomed Brigade 2506 veterans and he addressed the veterans. On behalf of the members of the Brigade, 1,500 of whom were in formation at the stadium, he presented the Brigade flag to the President who said: "Commander I assure you that this flag will be returned to this Brigade in a free Havana." [4] Since his arrival in the United States, Oliva developed a close relationship with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Bobby Kennedey involved him in the Cuban Project (Operation Mongoose), a White House-organized counterrevolutionary unit led by Manuel Artime based in Costa Rica and Nicaragua that staged commando raids on Cuban shore installations. In March 1963 Oliva was commissioned in the US Army as a second lieutenant and was appointed by President Kennedy to represent Cuban-American personnel serving throughout the US armed forces. In 1965, he was promoted to Captain at the Pentagon by Cyrus Vance, then Secretary of Defense. The Special Army Training for the officers of Brigade 2506 was terminated by President Johnson two months after the assassination of President Kennedy. At the White House in February 1964, in the presence of the then Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, President Johnson informed Oliva of his decision to end all Cuban anti-Castro projects sponsored by the government including the one led by Oliva in the U.S. Army.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Robert F. Kennedy 20th-century American politician and brother of John F. Kennedy

Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. Kennedy, like his brothers John and Edward, was a prominent member of the Democratic Party and has come to be viewed by some historians as an icon of modern American liberalism.

Cuban Project CIA anti-Castro effort aka Operation Mongoose

The Cuban Project, also known as Operation Mongoose, was a covert operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was commissioned in March 1960 during the final year of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration. On November 30, 1961, covert operations against Fidel Castro's government in Cuba were officially authorized by President Kennedy and after being given the name Operation Mongoose at a prior White House meeting on November 4, 1961. The operation was led by United States Air Force General Edward Lansdale and went into effect after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Oliva underwent infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and artillery training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He participated in the U.S. intervention of the Dominican Republic where he served over a year. In 1969, he requested to be transferred to the US Army Reserve. In 1970, he joined the District of Columbia National Guard as a major. In August 1984, Oliva was promoted to Brigadier General of the line in the US Army Reserve and commanded a Military Police Brigade. He earned a master's degree in International Affairs from the American University, Washington, DC and attended the Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security at Harvard University. In July 1987, US President Ronald Reagan, appointed him to the position of Deputy Commanding General of the D.C. Army National Guard. In December 1992, he was promoted to Major General in the District of Columbia Army National Guard. Since retirement on January 1, 1993, Oliva has remained active in the anti-Castro effort, though largely steering clear of exile politics. [5] In 1996, he founded the private Cuban-American Military Council (CAMCO), to promote cooperation between all Cuban military veterans, whether members of the Brigade 2506, the US Army or the Cuban army under Batista or Castro. Oliva has been a member of all four. In January 2008, was honored with the Heritage Award, a nationally recognized award of Heroes and Heritage which was presented to him by the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was later appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of the United States Organizations, Incorporated (USO) for a three-year term. Oliva lives with his wife, Graciela Ana Portela Avila, in the Washington Metropolitan Area. They have a daughter and a son and two grandsons. [1]

Ronald Reagan 40th president of the United States

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

Fulgencio Batista military leader of Cuba

Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was a Cuban politician who served as President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and as its U.S.-backed military dictator from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the Cuban Revolution. Batista initially rose to power as part of the 1933 Revolt of the Sergeants, which overthrew the provisional government of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada. He then appointed himself chief of the armed forces, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the five-member "pentarchy" that functioned as the collective head of state. He maintained this control through a string of puppet presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a populist platform. He then instated the 1940 Constitution of Cuba and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in Florida, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup against President Carlos Prío Socarrás that preempted the election.


  1. 1 2 Bohning, Don. Miami Herald. 2000-04-16.
  2. Johnson (1964)
  3. Wyden (1979)
  4. Johnson (1964), p. 32
  5. Marquis, Christopher. Miami Herald 1998-03-29 Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine accessed 2009-03-19

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