Monday, February 27, 2017

Capt. Bradely Ayers - US Army Ranger 1935-2017

                             Bradley Ayers
                                                                     1935-2017 


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When I first picked up Bradley Ayers' book "The War that Never Was" in the pivotal summer of 1976 I knew that he had a lot of key secrets and could answer a lot of questions about the assassination of President Kennedy. So I wasn't surprised when he said the same thing. 

Then, decades later, I read some of what was left out of the "The War" in "The Zenith Secret," - a first hand account of the goings on at JMWAVE - the CIA's anti-Castro Cuban base in Florida. 

After tracking Ayers down to a remote lake cabin in Wisconsin, we had a few long telephone conversations, exchanged letters and clippings via snail mail, and eventually became friends after he got past his initial paranoia, - and he had a lot to be paranoid about. We both had a few things in common - we live on lakes, take in stray cats and dogs, have both worked training soldiers in the military and as street reporters. 

Ayers was a US Army Ranger Captain when he and another Ranger were cross assigned to the CIA on orders of Gen. Victor H. "Brute" Krulak, the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) at the Pentagon. 

Krulak was a Marine but SACSA was a special joint operation that came under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he was responsible for the US military assistance to the CIA, especially Cuban covert operations. In May 1963 Ayers began training anti-Castro Cuban commandos in small arms and small craft operations, while the other Ranger Captain trained them in explosives and marksmanship. 

The Cuban commando teams Ayers trained included a team leader named Julio Fernandez, and they conducted raids against Cuban industrial targets, boat docks and oil terminals that they blew up and escaped in small motor boats that were launched from a larger mother ship, The Rex. Ayers even gives an account of his experience aboard the Rex and a sample raid. 

These violent attacks against Cuban industrial targets were officially approved by the CIA and the Special Group (Augmented with RFK) of the National Security Council (NSC). 

The details Ayers provides include the Germans and those from the Berlin desk that William Harvey had brought in and were still around, including the secretaries, like Maggie, secretary of Gordon Shanklin, the JMWAVE chief, who had previously worked as William Harvey's secretary at Task Force W (in the CIA HQ basemen) and before that in Berlin.

Ayers tells us about Gordon Campbell, his boss as head of the Maritime Section, David Morales and John Rosselli - "Colonel Rosselli," who had his own team of commandos.

Ayers also recounts how RFK himself visited a JMWAVE safehouse on a golf course, where he mingled with JMWAVE case officers, and then a helicopter visit by RFK to a remote commando base in the Everglades, where RFK personally met some of the commandos who were attacking or infiltrating Cuba.

I checked out much of what Bradley Ayers said and what I could check out did, but I knew that what he was saying was going to get him into trouble. That's why I was glad he was holed up in a Wisconsi cabin.

Then it happened. Another journalist hot on a story about the RFK murder got to Ayers, and showed him a photo of some people at the Ambassador Hotel at the time of the shooting, and Ayers and another respectable and reliable source - Wayne Smith, both identified two men they knew from JMWAVE - David Morales and Gordon Campbell.

While I recognized that none of the photo evidence has ever been positive of anything, if true it was sensational, and two reputable journalists - David Talbot and Jeff Morley got a magazine assignment to track it down, and they did. They discovered Gordon Campbell had died in 1962 and presented an authorized death certificate.

This of course, went against the grain of what Bradley Ayers said and wrote about - that Gordon Campbell was head of JMWAVE Maritime operations and was his superior in the training of the Cuban commandos, was alive at the time of JFK's assassination, and was responsible for the winding down and closing of the JMWAVE base in 1964.

Then I found another Gordon Campbell who had the same former Navy, maritime background who did live a lot longer, so maybe there were two different men with the same name, or maybe, as Ayers explains in the strange death of Campbell's assistant and outside man - a German operative who fell out of a helicopter, these guys supervised their own deaths and then moved on to other covert ops somewhere else in the world.

In any case, I have found Bradley Ayers' story credible, and even the most outlandish aspects of it fit into the Dealey Plaza scenario: a team of anti-Castro Cuban commandos, paid by the CIA and trained at JMWAVE to kill Castro, turn around and kill JFK at Dealey Plaza using the same plan they had intended to use against Castro.

While we have seen this scenario as a distinct probability from an historical and strategic standpoint, Bradley Ayers provides the first hand detailed descriptions that fill in the blanks and missing pieces of the puzzle. And they are the most colorful pieces on the board.

God Bless Bradley Ayers.

- Bill Kelly - Feb. 27, 2017


Published February 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm
Stillwater Gazette, MN
Bradley E. Ayers, age 81, of Frederic, Wisconsin, passed away on Friday, February 10, 2017 at his cabin home on Somers Lake.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 7, 1935, he was the son of Earl and Josephine Ayers. He was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota and graduated from Stillwater High School in 1953, where he was a three sport letterman. During high school, Bradley worked for the Stillwater Gazette as a reporter.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served as an Airborne Ranger and was promoted through the ranks from private to captain. In early 1963, he was temporarily assigned to the CIA to train anti-Castro exiles in South Florida. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1964. He graduated from Metro State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in individualized studies.
Over the course of his lifetime, Bradley had a fascinating and varied career. During the 1980s, he worked as an undercover operative with the DEA’s South Florida Task Force. He also worked as a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor, a private investigator, a real estate broker and journalist. He published two books: “The War that Never Was” and “Zenith Secret,” and wrote a number of articles on a variety of topics for local and national publications.
He loved adventure (making his 301st parachute jump at age 79), was an avid environmentalist and always made a home for stray cats and dogs.
Bradley was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, David Ayers and nephew, Doug Ayers.
He is survived by his brothers, Mike and Joe, sons Dan, Brad and Steven, and several grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
Bradley’s life will be celebrated on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 12:30 p.m., with visitation from 12-12:30 p.m. at Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel in St. Paul. Interment will follow at 1:30 p.m. at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home, Webster, WI. Online condolences can be made at www.swedberg-taylor.com.

Spartacus: Bradley Ayers







Re: Gordon Campbell and Vox Pop: Ayers_Sworn_Statement_8-6-07.pdf

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Under a CIA letterhead dated 3 August 2005: 

“….According to our records, (Capt. Bradley Ayers) was detailed (From US Army Rangers) to work with the CIA (training Cubans commandos at JMWAVE) from May of 1963 to December 1964. Because he never was an Agency employee and, as such, never signed a prepublication agreement with us – any suggestion that the CIA tried to censor or suppress his writings is incorrect…”
                                                                                             
The War that Never Was - An insider's account of CIA covert operations against Cuba Hardcover – (Bobbs-Merrill, 1976)    https://www.amazon.com/war-that-never-was-operations/dp/06

Employees of the CIA have never been allowed to publish uncensored accounts of their activities. But Bradley Earl Ayers was never in the CIA. As a Regular Army officer, he was attached to the CIA on orders, and consequently was never required to sign a secrecy agreement. This is Captain Ayers's account of his top secret assignment to the CIA, training anti- Castro guerrilla fighters at hidden bases in the Caribbean and leading them on raids into Cuba. Ayers tells how he was chosen by the Pentagon in 1963 for his background in commando operations, then turned over to the CIA for indoctrination as an undercover operative. Ayers describes the chaotic condition of the CIA Cuban paramilitary training effort and tells of the steps that were taken to reorganize and revitalize the program. He found the men he was training highly dedicated but totally inexperienced. Under almost intolerable physical conditions, and with inadequate equipment and inferior weapons, they conducted raids against specific targets in Cuba, working from secret bases in the Florida Everglades and the Bahamas. Ayers accompanied them. There were speeding boats in the darkness, clandestine rendezvous on the high seas and in steaming subtropic jungles. And there was violent death.

Ultimately, he became emotionally involved in the cause of the Cuban "freedom fighters." But after the assassination of President Kennedy, the program began to lose impetus. Increasingly, Washington favored a policy of neutrality in Cuban affairs. Disagreement with this new passivity, and loyalty to the original ideas on which the mission was based, forced Ayers to reach a radical decision: to leave the CIA mission and resign from the Army. That he did so is a measure of his profound disillusionment with official policy and a testament to his singular and abiding loyalty. With Cuba back in the headlines today this book is especially timely, affording the reader a historical perspective not available anywhere else.

                         Brad Ayers - Bobbs-Merrill - William Harvey 

“…As Bill and CG established a new life in Indiana, Sally Harvey grew into her teenage years. Today she recalls, “Bill found the job editing law decisions for Bobbs-Merrill drudgery! He needed stimulation – a challenge. And he didn’t have that in Indianapolis…There was no one here for him to connect with.”  - Bayard Stockton - (Flawed Patriot, 2008)

- Flawed Patriot was written by a former CIA agent who had the CIA officially approve the book, and then died of natural causes before the book was published. The photo section of the Flawed Patriot contains William Harvey’s Bobbs-Merrill Photo ID.

BK Notes: So William Harvey is replaced at Task Force W by Desmond FitzGerald - who briefs the Joint Chiefs on CIA Covert Ops against Cuba and meets with Rolando Cubella to get him to kill Castro. Harvey is assigned to Rome, but some of his operations were kept going under FitzGerald, and Harvey retains his friendship with John Rosselli. After leaving the CIA William Harvey gets a job as legal counsel to book publisher Bobbs-Merrill, Bradley Ayers' publisher of "The War that Never Was," and the names and identities of key players are changed or removed, including that of Gordon Campbell, the head of Maritime operations - responsible for depositing infiltrating assassins in Cuba. And Bobbs-Merrill had an office and employees in the Texas School Book Depository. 

Bradley Ayers, in The Zenith Secret (VoxPop, 2006, p. 175) wrote: “…only the Bobbs-Merrell Company of New York and Indianapolis was interested (the book about JM/WAVE - The War that Never Was). In 1973, the manuscript was under review by the managing editor, Tom Gervasi. Unbeknownst to me was that upon retirement from the CIA, Bill Harvey went to work for Bobbs-Merrell. Apparently, my manuscript was intercepted and the book’s contents carefully reviewed by the agency and some of its entities. For the next two and a half years, I made revisions and rewrites of the manuscript at the suggestion of Gervasi. The pattern was one of whittling away at those parts that were the most sensitive or potentially embarrassing to the agency. Gervasi explained that Bobbs-Merrill could not accept the libel risks that portions of the book presented. One of the requirements set by Gervasi was that I change all the names of major figures. Also excised was text on David Morales, Rosselli, (and Gordon Campbell), the use of toxic chemical agents against Cuba, Karl’s death, and Ferrie’s presence at JMWAVE. By 1974 I was beaten down trying to make a living and hold my life together. With my marriage to Lee falling apart, I agreed to what Gervasi asked. After all that it had cost, just getting the book into print was better than no book at all… Bobbs-Merrill’s interest in promoting The War That Never Was diminished, and it was left to me to arrange publicity for the book on my own….Now, as I was doing my best to promote The War That Never Was, in an effort to bring the JMWAVE perspective to public attention, Rosselli disappeared…In August, his body was found in a steel drum, floating in a Florida canal…Baffled by Bobbs-Merrill’s handling of my book, and now reconsidering what I’d agreed to in the ‘editing’ process, I pondered why the publisher went ahead with the contract and book in the first place. My contemplation led me in a rather sinister direction…My eyewitness account of the Kennedy White House Special Group having authorized and micromanaged JMWAVE covert paramilitary operations put the CIA in a different light. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s presence at JMWAVE on two occasions that I observed in 1963 flew in the face of the notion the CIA was engaged in unauthorized activities. Kennedy’s presence showed that the agencies activities were fully sanctioned by the White House.” 

Bayard Stockton in Flawed Patriot: 

"Dan Hardway, was a first year law school student when he joined HSCA in July 1977,…Hardway readily admitted he was gunning for Harvey from the get-go. “…Harvey was a natural suspect. He had the assassination teams. He was in charge of JMWAVE. I was convinced that Bill Harvey was involved in the assassination. I wanted to investigate Harvey vigorously…I was determined to prove his complicity in the assassination, if I could. … We had operational action information… operational criteria which didn’t fit into the rules of evidence but, I thought, were enough to make probable cause.”

Hardway now says,…”It was an active disinformation operation. [The CIA] moved so fast after the assassination (it) must have been planned in advance.” Suddenly, the scent he had been following so avidly dissipated when the Agency simply shut down Hardway’s access to documents of the time…The key to the sudden shutdown was the CIA liaison officer who had at first been so forthcoming to the young investigators but then stonewalled them. The officer’s name was George Joannides."






3 comments:

spearman said...

I stopped by Mr. Ayers Wisc cabin back in Aug but he had just come home from the hospital. I didn't get past his security system but we talked about meeting again when he felt better. I meant to get back this winter but I'm sorry I waited too long. I connected with him about 15 years ago & exchanged phone calls & he sent me a lot of material about his life. I'm just glad I met him so I can help keep his memory alive. Rest in peace, Bradley.

Bill Kelly said...

Anthony Summers has noted that he interviewed Ayers for his book and found him credible but after talking with him years later found him paranoid, somewhat desperate and less credible. And I agree. He still provides a detailed window into JMWAVE activities.

spearman said...

After talking with the local newspaper that he sued, for defamation, I believe, and other neighbors I concluded last summer that his alienation from the community had to do with his environmentalism. For example, he would complain in letters to the editor about the bad farming practices in the area. One neighbor, a bee keeper, spoke highly of him as a good neighbor because he respected their aviary.