Bay of Pigs
Chilton Crew: I was a Marine Pvt./Pfc who happened to be embarked aboard the USS Chilton twice during the early 1960's. I was with !st Batt. 6th Marines.
One time in particular that I remember being aboard the Chilton was during the ill fated Bay of Pigs Invasion. During this time I was a messman cleaning pots and pans on the messdeck. I was cleaning pots and pans with a sailor whose last name I believe was Ray from Arkansas.
Anyway, I would come up on deck at night and listen to the rumors of what was going on during the Bay of Pigs. One day a couple of ships, including the Chilton were surrounding landing craft in the middle of the ocean. Eventually some of the landing craft came next to the Chilton and we picked up some of the survivors of the Bay of Pigs. Also there was a cache of guns and ammo brought aboard.
The survivors were put in a compartment up forward and no one was allowed to talk to them. Their guns and ammo were stored in a pile on the forward main deck starboard side. The very next day the pile of guns and ammo was about one quarter the size as it was the day before. Announcements were made, to turn in the missing guns and ammo. Some of it was turned in but not all of it.
For the rest of the cruise, their were shakedowns aboard the Chilton looking for the missing guns and ammo. On the way back up to Onslow Beach I was again on mess duty. I was the bakers assistant. The baker had 2 sub Thompson sub machine guns hidden in the overhead vent in the bakery. As far as I could see, the sailors had all the weapons.
Anyway, after picking up the survivors of the Bay of Pigs, we headed for Vieques where we disembarked the survivors. Some of these Bay of Pigs survivors were definitely Americans, cause they were white and spoke good English. I would listen to them speaking English as they would come through the chow line. They did not eat with the rest of the crew. As I said before, they were berthed in a compartment in the front of the ship and no one was allowed to go near them.
At the end of the cruise, we landed at Onslow Beach and right on the beach their was a shakedown. When we got back to the barracks at Camp Lejeune our seabags were shookdown again.
Later on, at Camp Lejeune we had to sign some papers that we would never reveal this information. OK, go ahead, shoot me. Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it ! Does anybody from the Chilton crew recall this incident ?
Note from Russ: I have been told a number of stories similar to this one. In 1961, the new Administration executed plans made in the ending days of the Eisenhower Administration for an invasion of Cuba. It was a disaster, and the new Administration learned quickly to be wary of the CIA and any CIA planned operations. (see the 1960-1972 tab for John Cronkhite's comment on the time). The official word is that the Chilton "was not directly involved."