When John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President of the United States in January 1961, his administration, in a misguided attempt to bolster the “plausible deniability” of U.S. involvement, began making disastrous changes to the plan. The landings were moved from Trinidad, an ideal landing site, to the desolate and swampy Bay of Pigs. Days before the April 17, 1961, invasion, the first air attacks designed to eliminate Castro’s air force were scaled back and the planned subsequent air strikes were canceled. Consequently, instead of landing under the “umbrella of protection” it was promised, Brigade 2506 encountered skies dominated by attacking enemy fighters soon after landing in Cuba. Faster and far more maneuverable than the Brigade’s B-26s, the enemy fighters downed a number of Brigade planes, making it impossible for them to carry out their mission of helping to seal off the beachhead from the air.
The Brigade’s ships, meanwhile, having landed their ground troops but still carrying the greater part of their ammunition and equipment, were sunk, beached, or forced to withdraw to international waters because of the Castro fighters. Brigade 2506’s ground units thus faced Castro’s war machine virtually alone with approximately one day’s worth of ammunition and supplies. Possessed by deep patriotism, a commitment to democracy, and an unshakable faith in their American ally, the Brigade battled fiercely for three solid days against overwhelming odds. They ceased fighting only after running out of ammunition. Brigade 2506 never surrendered. More than one-hundred members of Brigade 2506 lost their lives as a result of the Invasion, including four members of the Alabama Air National Guard and nine Brigade members who were executed by the Castro regime (four of whom were members of the Infiltration units sent into Cuba clandestinely in the weeks before the Invasion).