University Archives


Bay of Pigs Gold Veteran Ring, Inscribed 2506, with F.B.M. Inside

Bay of Pigs Veteran awarded ring from the historical failed mission in 1961. The solid gold ring is stamped "Brigada De Asalto / Giron 17 Abril". The sides of the ring are stamped "Cuba", and "Dios", "Patria" (homeland). The center of the ring is stamped "2506", for Brigade 2506, the troop of Cuban exiles who were responsible for carrying out the amphibious assault at the Bay of Pigs. The ring is about 1" x .75", and weighs 15 grams, representing approximately .53 ounces. With one ounce of gold valued at over $1800, just the gold value of the ring alone is over $950.

*Note: This ring has not been tested. It is likely 18k and could be 14k thus lowering the melt value but we all know the historical value is PRICELESS.  Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

The Bay of Pigs was a failed operation on the coast of Cuba in 1961 led by Cuban exiles who opposed Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution. Covertly financed and directed by the U.S. government, the operation took place at the height of the Cold War, and its failure led to major shifts in international relations between Cuba, the United States, and the Soviet Union. What appeared as a simple mission, was originally to be set into motion with a series of air strikes to take out Castro's defenses first. Then, a brigade of 1,500 Cuban expats would land in Cuba's Bay of Pigs, storm the beach, and spark an overthrow of the Castro regime. The battle was a monumental defeat for the Cuban exiles who anticipated more assistance from the United States. These men landed in Cuba with a rifle, a pistol and a dagger and no food, as they were given the expectation that the entire operation would be over before dinner. However, the horror of the event can be understood through the eyes of one of the survivors from Brigade 2506, who parachuted into Cuba only to find that all the planned support had failed.

The events described below were experienced from one of the paratroopers from Brigade 2506, and the CIA-backed force of Cuban exiles that invaded the Bay of Pigs in 1961. This ring is believed to be owned by one of the members of this brigade: 

On April 17, 1961, just as dawn reached Cuba, the Brigade had parachuted into Cuba as a part of the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Brigade 2506, named after the membership number of a fighter who died training for the mission, was a force of about 1,400 when it came ashore on the Cuban sands and/or dropped into the swamps. It was an ambitious cabal of Americans and Cubans put together to take the country back from Castro and the communists and restore a U.S.-friendly government and a democracy. Many of the exiles in Brigade 2506 that April had owned farms and businesses in Cuba, or they were sons of landowners and business owners. Many had backed Castro’s guerilla fight against Batista only to see Fidel and Raul Castro turn hard left to Marxism and a partnership with the Soviet Union. The CIA decided to lead a revolution against the revolutionaries, and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a budget for the operation in August of 1960.

Conducted three months after the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs Invasion failed miserably. The CIA, which trained the exiles in Guatemala and promised a supply of arms, was forced to abandon the 1,400 “invaders” almost immediately as they came ashore. Adlai Stevenson told Kennedy he would resign if the U.S. supported the invasion with bombing of Castro’s military. Kennedy ordered the U.S. military to back down after the initial bombing runs at Cuba. The general belief is that the Bay of Pigs failed and Cuba was lost because of decisive mistakes by the CIA. Martin Elena, the commander of the 2506, was relieved of his command in Guatemala by the CIA as the troops trained for the invasion. The men lost a trusted commander.

Then, to make matters worse, three weeks before the Bay of Pigs, the CIA withdrew support for the anti-Castro guerrillas in the mountains. The guerillas were surrounded by Castro’s army and were whittled down little by little and were of no use by April 17. The main landing force for the Bay of Pigs sailed away from Nicaragua the night of April 16, 1961, without Elena and without established support from the guerrillas. Men climbed off ships at the Bay of Pigs in the early morning of April 17. Others were in the airborne phase of four parachute drops. The plan was for the airborne invaders to keep Castro’s army from getting to the beach to disrupt the landing.

Members of the brigade recall approaching the Cuban coast on a C-46 transport plane the morning of the invasion, and the sunshine illuminated the bright blue-green water washing onto white beaches. When the red light came on over his head, the signal to jump, they had no hesitation. This was for Cuba. This was for their families. Che Guevara, the revolutionary warlord who was idolized internationally, had crushed freedom of speech. Fidel Castro plundered still more freedoms. The Castros and Che had to go. The team leapt from the plane at a mere 900 feet.

As the parachuters floated to the ground, they could see Castro’s militia running away under the billowing chutes of the invaders. Castro’s militia were farm workers who had been handed guns and ordered to fight the imperialist invaders. This communist defensive force, northeast of the Bay of Pigs, scattered into the swamps. To the paratroopers, it just looked like practice out there, with nothing unexpected. The paratroopers had been trained by veterans of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. They were skilled, and now emboldened, when the Castro militia fled. But they had no clue as to the disaster unfolding on the beach of the Bay of Pigs. The U.S. warplanes that were supposed to suppress Castro’s militia and strafe his tanks abandoned the attack. The supply ships of the invaders were sunk by Castro’s three planes. A U.S. destroyer that was supposed to offer protection floated a mile offshore without firing one shell. The 1,200 Cubans who had landed at the beach to fight Castro were isolated and had no element of surprise, and no means of resupply. Castro, the head of the armed forces, was bringing 60,000 militia from the northwest right down on top of the unlucky on the beach.

The troopers were landing with only a rifle, a dagger and a .45-caliber pistol. They did not even land with food because this incursion was supposed to be over by dinner, or at least lunch the next day. They expected to pick up Castro defectors and build a swarm of counter-revolutionaries on the way to Havana. That first day, the squad made their way toward the first objective, but it was on the third day on the ground, that the first hint something had gone horribly wrong with the plan emerged. Where Castro’s militias had previously scattered under the parachutes, there were now emboldened swarms of militiamen. They covered the roads, and they had tanks. This was when things dramatically took a turn for the worse. Firefights broke out with the militias and the team ducked in and out of the cover of the swamp brush. Soon, the invaders were scattered in the swamp, three here, four there. They dodged in and out of the trees and tall swamp grass. They were eating leaves now because this surely was not going to be over by dinner. On the 10th day, Brigade 2506 was down to three men in the muck of the swamps. The thick, moist air made it impossible not to cough. They would cough and then hear 50 yards away in the bog another cough, then another, and then another. They stayed hidden in the thick brush because Castro now had helicopters combing the swamp. Many moved cautiously from abandoned hut to abandoned hut. The militia, he says, had hauled off the owners of many huts, accusing them of helping the invaders. They ran out of chlorine tablets to purify the swamp water. And they had no food. It was only a matter of time before they were captured. Many had been rounded up in the preceding days and carted off as prisoners. There were 114 exiles killed by the Cuban militia before the force surrendered. The unlucky, the really unlucky, tried to make a desperate escape in a 20-foot sailboat on Day 3 of the invasion. Twenty-two men found the boat and set sail from the Bay of Pigs hoping to make the U.S. mainland, but they became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Ten men were alive on the boat when a freighter rescued them. 

The captured were paraded in front of international media in Havana in a sports coliseum, jailed and described as “imperialist” tools of the U.S. Fidel Castro had decided executions would be poor public relations for his fledgling revolution. The new leader of Cuba fed more than a thousand prisoners in the Sport Palace to show off his humanity. Many others in Cuba were being dragged into the streets and shot, some by Che Guevara himself, who wasn’t even Cuban, just Marxist, an Argentine partner of the Castros. Executions were done off in the shadows, away from the glare of international media. Anti-Castro plotters were lined up and shot, including two Americans who worked inside Cuba for the CIA, he says.

Finally, in October 1962, the American government began to acknowledge its moral obligation. There was a spotlight on Cuba now and some in the U.S. felt a moral obligation to free the captured members of Brigade 2506. The U.S. started clandestine diplomatic maneuvers to rescue the 1,200 exiles.

This ring was for a veteran of this clandestine operation, proudly emblazoned with #2506

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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