Newly declassified U.S. documents show a CIA operative accidentally fired on friendly pilots during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
The B-26 bombers flown by the Cuban exiles were disguised to look like Cuban military planes, but the ruse worked too well, the documents indicated. It was not clear, though, if anyone was hurt.
The documents also show U.S. officials authorized limited use of napalm on military targets and to protect the invasion’s beachhead area.
Earlier this month, the U.S. made public all but one of five top secret volumes covering the CIA’s official history of the failed attack on Fidel Castro’s fledgling government. The move came in response to a lawsuit filed in April by the independent, Washington-based National Security Archive. The nonprofit research group has sought for years to declassify all five volumes on the invasion.
The Archive posted more of the documents on its website Monday.
In them, CIA operative Grayston Lynch, who was in charge of guns aboard one of the landing craft that remained off the Cuban coast during the invasion, recalled warning the exile pilots to “to stay away from us, because we couldn’t tell them from the Castro planes.”
He said the B-26 bombers failed to heed his warning.
“We ended up shooting at two or three of them,” he said, explaining, “our planes were a little nosey, and they wanted to take a look at the action.”