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Robert McNamara’s Ornate “Order of the Cuban Red Cross First Class” Undoubtedly Presented to him for his Crucial Role as Secretary of Defense in the Aftermath of the Bay of Pigs Invasion

Order of the Cuban Red Cross First Class. A silver gilt and enamel medal comprising a coat of arms within a white ring with “Inter Inimicos Charitas” in the center of a Red Cross mounted on an 8-point star, measuring 2.25” across, flanked by four 5-point stars; the hanger is an enamel laurel wreath. With a red and white 17” long grosgrain ribbon. Housed in its original Antigua Vilardebo & Riera (Cuba’s official medal makers) 4” x 7.25” x 1.25” box. Ex-Estate of Robert S. McNamara, JFK and LBJ’s Secretary of Defense from 1961-1968.  From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

On April 14, 1961, 1400 Cuban exiles launched their invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba and were crushed by roughly 20,000 Cuban troops. Almost 1,200 exiles surrendered, and more than 100 were killed.

The Cuban Red Cross was involved in the distribution of the $53 million in supplies, mostly food and medicine, agreed to by Premier Fidel Castro in exchange for the release of 1,113 prisoners in December 1962.

McNamara had played a large role in the Administration’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October 1962. He was a strong proponent of the blockade option over a missile strike and helped persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree with him. Negotiations for the exchange had begun in mid-1961. A missile strike would have ended any chance for the prisoners’ release.

On December 27, 1962, three days after all 1,113 Cuban prisoners had arrived in Miami, McNamara met with President Kennedy in Palm Beach, Florida. Later that day, JFK met with a Cuban exile group. It is possible that McNamara was at this meeting and that this medal was presented to him by the Cuban exiles for his crucial role during the negotiations.

Sold by our firm for $2,800 in 2014.

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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