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Identification Lab Examines Bay of Pigs Remains From Nicaragua

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 1998 – The Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii is examining bone fragments found in Nicaragua that could be those of two fliers missing since the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.

"We have fragmented remains, but at this point we haven't confirmed them as those of two individuals," said Johnny Webb, the lab's deputy director. "It will take time to confirm them as two individuals from that crash site. We have to go through the identification process, which includes forensic anthropology and dental examinations. It may require DNA comparison. We won't know if we have remains of two individuals until the examinations are complete."

B-26 pilot Crispin Garcia Fernandez and navigator Juan de Mata "Nabel" Gonzalez Romero crashed in the Nicaraguan jungle on April 19, 1961, during a flight supporting the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs operation. The crash site was so remote investigators and their equipment were flown in aboard a Black Hawk helicopter, said team anthropologist Bradley Adams. The only other access would have been by riding a mule for a couple of hours from the nearest village.

Arriving in Nicaragua March 15, the nine-member laboratory team spent nearly three weeks excavating the area before uncovering what might be remains of the missing air crew. The team also found wreckage of the plane.

"When we turned the plane over, there was an 'FA' on one of the wings; the piece with the 'R' was missing," Adams said. "'FAR' refers to the Spanish acronym for the Cuban armed forces."

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