Bradley Ayers

Bradley Ayers

Bradley Earl Ayers was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on 7th March, 1935. Immediately following high school, at the age of eighteen, Ayers enlisted in the United States Army. He served as a paratrooper and was promoted through the ranks from private to captain.

In early 1963, Bradley Ayers was selected by the Department of Defense for a sensitive undercover assignment with the Central Intelligence Agency that involved trying to remove Fidel Castro from power in Cuba. According to Ayers he was briefed at the CIA by General Victor Krulak, a personal friend of President John F. Kennedy and a member of the Special Group (SGA).

Ayers was based at JM/WAVE where he worked with members of anti-Castro groups like Alpha 66 and took part in Operation Mongoose. Gaeton Fonzi claims that Ayers worked closely with Johnny Roselli in attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. In his book, The War That Never Was (1976), Ayers claimed he trained small teams of commandoes "to infiltrate Cuba, reach human targets, and assassinate them. Anyone in a senior position in government was fair game, and it reached down to the provincial heads, police chiefs and so on. But the principal target, we knew, was Castro - there was no secret about that amongst our people."

Ayers also points out the Robert Kennedy visited CIA personnel at their base in the Everglades: "I'm confident in my gut, that Bobby Kennedy was aware of what we were doing down there. It wasn't a case of the Agency mounting these assassination operations without the knowledge of the Special Group... RFK had a hands-on kind of control of the operations." After the assassination of John F. Kennedy the CIA ordered Ayers to shut down the operation.

Bradley Ayers was one of the first career officers to voice opposition to the Vietnam War and to speak out publicly against the influence of private and special interests in American politics. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1965 and was recommissoned in the United States Army Reserve.

After leaving the United States Army Bradley Ayers worked as licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor. Later he was employed as a real estate broker and as a private detective in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. He also supplied information to investigative journalist, Jack Anderson.

In 1976 Bradley Ayers published The War That Never Was, an insider's account of CIA covert operations against Cuba. An expanded paperback version was published in 1980. In the 1980s Ayers worked as an undercover operative with the Drug Enforcement Administration's South Florida Task Force.

In a letter sent to John R. Tunheim in 1994, Bradley Ayers claimed that nine people based at JM/WAVE "have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination" of John F. Kennedy. Ayers named Theodore Shackley, Grayston Lynch, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, David Morales, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick and Tony Sforza as the men who had this information.

Bradley Ayers was interviewed by Jeremy Gunn of the Assassination Records Review Board in May, 1995. According to Gunn: “Ayers claims to have found in the course of his private investigative work, a credible witness who can put David Morales inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of June 5, 1968 (RFK’s assassination)."

In 2006 Bradley Ayers published The Zenith Secret: A CIA Insider Exposes the Secret War Against Cuba and the Plot that Killed the Kennedy Brothers.

Bradley E Ayers, aged 81, died on Friday, 10th February, 2017.

Primary Sources

(1) Jack Anderson, St. Paul Dispatch (22nd April, 1971)

The suppressed story can now be told of how the Central Intelligence Agency organized a Cuban exile raid on Cuba's key oil refinery in 1963 but aborted, it after the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Insiders say the corporate oil giants, hoping eventually to recover their property in Cuba, brought quiet pressure to quash any raids upon refineries. Lyndon Johnson, who canceled the raid after succeeding Kennedy in the White House, was close to Texas oil interests.

We have learned the dramatic details from Bradley Ayers, a 36-yearold former Army captain, who was selected by the CIA to train Cuban exiles for infiltration and assault missions including the refinery raid in Matanzas Province.

We have checked out Ayers' story with our own sources, who confirm Ayers is correct about names, places and dates. From a group of pictures, he was also able to pick out immediately a CIA undercover operative whom we knew had been involved in the CIA raids against Cuba.

The rugged Ayers, a former Army Ranger instructor, trained the refinery raiders. The recruiting for the mission had already been completed before he was assigned to the project. CIA officials took him by motor launch through swampy Everglades canals and across the open sea to secluded Florida Keys to meet the recruits.

Ayers and the CIA men selected Palo Alto Key, Upper Key Largo and Card Sound on the edge of the Everglades as training sites. "Most of the Cubans," said Ayers, "were bank clerks, busboys, waiters, musicians, laborers, men who had fled to the U.S. Many had never fired a weapon. They were disorganized and undisciplined. I got the job.

Ayers ran off simulated raids near Card Sound against a local Southern Bell microwave facility, with a high security fence. Other nights, he shared black beans and rice, drank rum and smoked "pot" with his Cuban cadre.

The ragtag recruits gradually became a fighting team: For first hand experience, he secretly accompanied two infiltration groups on missions to Cuba.

"We went on a commercially rigged trawler, a cover vessel." he said. "We ran blackout under g quarter moon, towing A V-20 launch, a high-powered fiberglass boat."

"We exchanged light signals with the partisans ashore in Pinar del Rio and launched two rubber boats. The team made contact with the partisans, and we picked up a wounded man who'd been a prisoner of Castro. But the Cuban partisans were careless with the lights.

"After we got the wounded man into a rubber boat, we were discovered by a Soviet-type patrol craft with spotlight. We covered our withdrawal with machine guns from the V-20 boat. Although we took casualties, we finally got back to the trawler. Our boats were pretty well shot up.

"On the way home, we saw a Cuban fishing craft flying a distress flag and found it had a load of refugees. We took them on board."

A second sortie to cache supplies for agents already in Cuba was less eventful. Finally, in September, 1963, Ayers was instructed by the CIA to make detailed training plans for the refinery raid.

He was given specific orders not to land on Cuba himself during the raid. But he was too emotionally involved with the Cubans' cause to stay out and wrote himself into the plans. "We were all on a live-for-today, tomorrow we die philosophy," he explained.

But the CIA ordered Ayers to shut down the operation. "I was in a tort of trauma" said the swashbuckling instructor. "I made trips to Washington to plead the cause of the freedom fighters with the minor officials I knew. But I just got disappointed and angry."

Finally, in October, 1964, Ayers resigned from active duty with a long statement of principle to his CIA and Army superiors. "As a soldier I had been taught I, shouldn't question political or,diplomatic action," he wrote, "But as a free-thinking American citizen, I couldn't subordinate my duty. My country was no longer playing to win, and, my faith in the goals to which I dedicated my life was shaken."

Ayers now runs a charter plane service, sells real estate and is finishing the first draft of a book. It will be a true story of his life of intrigue and action.

(2) Bradley Ayers, letter to John R. Tunheim (23rd August, 1994)

I make reference to your letter of February 23d and my subsequent communications with your staff in preparation for our meeting which is scheduled for 10.00 CDT this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you concerning matters relating to the assassination of President Kennedy and your appointment as a member of the board that will oversee the release of documents pertaining thereto.

Over the past several months I have furnished your staff with details of my background and other materials which I trust have provided you with some perspective for the information I hope to personally convey. Assuming you have read or been briefed on the essence of this history, I will not dwell upon it here. However, I take this opportunity to convey copies of two documents which I recently received that relate directly to our discussion of this date. They are self-explanatory.

With the context of our meeting hopefully established, I wish to call your attention to the following specifics which I urge you and the Board to be alert for and to pursue within the framework of your mandate. These areas of interest and individual identifications are recommended as adf.rect result of my experience with the CIA/JMWAVE Miami station during the period immediately preceding and following the death of JFK and my synthesis of other information developed since that experience.

I believe the following living individuals have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination and the possible role of the persons and/or operations listed in the paragraph which follows:

Theodore Shackley - Chief of Station, JMWAVE Robert Wall - Deputy Chief of Operations, JMWAVE

Grayson Lynch - Contract paramilitary trainer/agent, JMWAVE

Felix Rodriguez - Contract paramilitary agent (Cuban born), JMWAVE

Thomas Clines - CIA paramilitary case officer, JMWAVE

Above named persons with reference to:

Gordon Campbell (current status unknown) - Deputy Chief of Station, JMWAVE

David Morales (deceased) - Chief of Operations, JMWAVE

"Rip" Robertson (deceased) - Contract paramilitary agent JMWAVE

Edward Roderick (current status unknown) - U. S. Army Major, explosives expert/Corp of Engineers, attached to JMWAVE and later CIA employee upon retirement from Army

Tony Sforza (deceased) - Contract paramilitary agent, JMWAVE

Operation (code name) "Red Cross" - JMWAVE, Fall 1963

Further, I invite your attention to the forthcoming issue of Vanity Fair Magazine (October issue) which I am advised will contain an article by Tony Summers, a highly credible journalist/author (CONSPIRACY) that will offer certain revelations complimenting the recommendations made in this communication.

I know for a fact that Summers has been diligently pursuing lines of inquiry that may be relevant to the work of the Board and may be useful in unscrambling and evaluating the JFK related documents produced by the CIA and other government agencies.

I hope the information I've provided is helpful to the Board and I remain prepared to testify under oath to any aspect of my activities should that be desired.

(3) Bradley Ayers, letter to Jack Anderson (1st March, 1995)

It will be twenty-four years next month since I sat in your living room , identified a photograph of John Rosselli and answered the rest of your test questions about his personality, dress, drink and activities. You needed someone to verify Rosselli's contention that, despite his admitted mobster-Mafia connections, he had served honorably with the CIA in the secret war against Cuba following the Bay of Pigs and, in fact, was a key player in the Castro assassination plots. I responded to your detailed questioning to your satisfaction because I had been with JMWAVE, the CIA's Miami station in 1963 and 1964.

In so doing, as a former Army officer and CIA operative, I was torn by conflicting emotions. At that time no one who had been on the inside with the Agency had ever gone public. Nevertheless, my Catholic sense of integrity prevailed. I came to Washington and became your source because I trusted you and felt you were on your way to making revelations far more significant than the CIA-Mafia connection and the plans to kill Castro. Had there been conspiracies in the murders of the Kennedy's, I believed you would uncover the truth and expose the perpetrators.

I left the military and the CIA after the death of JFK because l felt in my guts that some of those I was serving with were involved in the murder of the President. What I have learned in the years since has reinforced that instinctive perception. I cannot understand why you did not continue with your discovery efforts.

It was very difficult for me to leave the life to which I had devoted a dozen years - the only life l really knew from age 18. And, although I have made a pretty lousy civilian, I do not regret making the moral decision I did. I still feel a sense of purpose and have a keen sense of the historical significance of my experience. Civilian life has and continues to be difficult, somewhat because of what I shared with you so many years ago.

Despite the obstacles and distractions, I have persevered in my effort to make known that information from my service with the CIA that I believed was relevant to the Kennedy assassination and that I felt the American people had a right to know. Naively, I wrote a book, THE WAR THAT NEVER WAS, which was published in 1976, expecting that my manuscript would make a contribution to the growing body of evidence pointing to a conspiracy in the President's death. I have recently learned that the managing editor at the publishing house was on the CIA payroll, intercepting and censoring books that might be damaging to the Agency.

I will be sixty years old in a few days. Physically, I am much the same as I was in 1971; 1501bs, trim and hard as nails, ready to run six miles at the drop of a hat, positive in attitude and direction. Still a professional soldier in mind, spirit and body, I await with enthusiasm my next "mission," whatever my God has in mind for me.

One of the tasks I am determined to complete is to place the information I possess into the hands of those who may use it in the pursuit of truth and justice. I still have faith in you. In the spirit of your mentor, you must press on. For that reason and no other, I am compelled to place the accompanying documents in your hands - for whatever purpose they may serve. Regardless of what you may think or others may say, I was motivated by the same honorable purpose when I became your source twenty-four years ago.

(4) Memorandum from Christopher Barger to Tim Wray (undated)

The purpose of this memo is to give you background on who Brad Ayers is and the story he tells. His story is accepted to differing degrees, depending on who one talks to, but the basics of his story check out, according to our research.

Ayers was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army during the early 1960's, specializing in paramilitary training. In early 1963, (records checks indicate it was in early April) Ayers was "loaned" by the Army to the CIA, which assigned him to the JMWAVE station. Ayers' job was to train Cuban exiles and prepare them for an invasion of Cuba. This much of his story is borne out by checks of his military and CIA files.

From here, the veracity of Ayers' claims are less easy to discern. He claims to have seen many figures at JMWAVE who were not there, according to the official record; these include Johnny Roselli and William Harvey (former Task Force W /SAS chief for CIA, who was removed from that position by Kennedy after Harvey overstepped his authority after the Missile Crisis). Ayers also claims to have gone on several raiding missions with his proteges, and to have come under fire from Castro's forces in the summer of 1963. This is significant because according to the official record, all government sanctioned action against Castro had ceased by that point.

Ayers says that many of his colleagues at the JMWAVE station built up a strong resentment of President Kennedy, and says that he believes several of them to have played roles in the assassination. Foremost among these, he says, was David Morales, the operations officer for CIA in Miami.

The HSCA interviewed Ayers, and performed searches for his records. In doing so, they discovered five sealed envelopes in his file, which HSCA staff was not allowed access to. The envelopes have ben the source of some speculation among those in the research community who believe Ayers' story.

On May 12, I interviewed Ayers at his home outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. At that point, the questions were based on information obtained from open sources only, as few of the staff had their clearances yet.

(5) Memorandum from Christopher Barger to Jeremy Gunn (18th May, 1995)

Ayers claims to have found in the course of his private investigative work, a credible witness who can put David Morales inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of June 5, 1968 (RFK’s assassination). Ayers offered to put me (and the Board) in touch with this unnamed person, who he feels would be willing to work with the Board.

(6) Christopher Barger, memorandum to Jeremy Gunn (18th May, 1995)

I interviewed former US Army captain and CIA employee Bradley Ayers on May 12, 1995, at Ayers' home in Woodbury, Minnesota. The interview lasted from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The following is a summary and report of the interview...

Q. Did Morales ever try and pass himself off as Cuban?

A. Not to Ayers' knowledge, but "he could easily pass for Cuban." Morales was allegedly a very good actor, and "could pull off lots of roles." Here the conversation drifted into a discussion of David Morales and his emotional makeup. Ayers charged that Morales was a "mean" man who "paraded around the station like a tyrant." Everyone was apparently afraid of him. Morales hung with what Ayers called the "circle" - Morales, Roselli, Tony Sforza, Manuel Artime and Rip Robertson. The four were drinking buddies and of like mind on politics. Ayers said they were vicious, too. "If anyone put together a sniper team to hit the President, Morales, Rip, Rosselli and Sforza would have done it." Ayers noted that Artime, Robertson, Rosselli and Sforza all died just as the HSCA began investigating. He suggests checking for Morales' whereabouts during the late seventies, especially on the times these men were killed.

(7) Obituary for Bradley E Ayers (February, 2017)

Ayers, Bradley E., age 81, of Frederic, Wisconsin, passed away on Friday, February 10, 2017 at his cabin home on Somers Lake.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 7, 1935, he was the son of Earl and Josephine Ayers. He was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota and graduated from Stillwater High School in 1953, where he was a three sport letterman. During high school, Bradley worked for the Stillwater Gazette as a reporter. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served as an Airborne Ranger and was promoted through the ranks from private to captain. In early 1963, he was temporarily assigned to the CIA to train anti-Castro exiles in South Florida. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1964. He graduated from Metro State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Individualized Studies.

Over the course of his lifetime, Bradley had a fascinating and varied career. During the 1980s, he worked as an undercover operative with the DEA’s South Florida Task Force. He also worked as a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor, a private investigator, a real estate broker and journalist. He published two books: “The War that Never Was” and “Zenith Secret,” and wrote a number of articles on a variety of topics for local and national publications. Brad had a passion for Native American Culture, the environment, and family history. He loved adventure (made his 301st parachute jump at age 79) and always made a home for stray cats and dogs.

Bradley was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, David Ayers, and nephew, Doug Ayers.

He is survived by his brothers, Mike and Joe, sons Dan, Brad and Steven, and several grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Bradley’s life will be recognized on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 12:30 PM (visitation 12-12:30 PM) at Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel in St. Paul. Interment will follow at 1:30 PM at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home, Webster, WI. Online condolences can be made at