Tom Dunkin

Tom Dunkin

Tom Dunkin was born in Los Angeles on 8th January, 1925. Dunkin joined the US Marines in 1942 and took part in the invasion of Okinawa. After the Second World War he was sent to China (1945-46). He also served at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station (1946-47) before becoming squad leader with the Second Marine Division (1947-48).

In 1952 Dunkin graduated with a degree in journalism, from the University of Georgia. He worked as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune (1952-54), Orlando Sentinel (1952-55) and the St Petersburg Times (1955-61). Dunkin covered the Fidel Castro led revolution in Cuba as a photo-journalist. He also did freelance radio and television work while in Cuba (WSUN-TV and WDAE). He also wrote for the Soldier of Fortune magazine and La Gaceta, a Cuban newspaper printed in Tampa.

Dunkin was a close friend of Tony Cuesta and other important figures in the anti-Castro community based in Florida. He was also associated with several members of the Intercontinental Penetration Force. This included Gerry P. Hemming, Roy Hargraves, William Seymour, Steve Wilson, Howard K. Davis, Edwin Collins and Dennis Harber.

Dunkin became editor of the Glades County Democrat in 1961. He took leave of absence in early 1963 so that he could cover the activities of Commandos Liberty, an organization run by Tony Cuesta. Commandos Liberty was involved in the sinking of the Russian merchantman Baku. His articles and photos of these missions appeared in Life Magazine in April, 1963.

Tom Dunkin on an assignment (1962)
Tom Dunkin on an assignment (1962)

After leaving the Glades County Democrat in 1964, Dunkin worked as an undercover agent for for Florida Legislative Investigations Committee. Later that year he joined the Atlanta Journal. His work included the coverage of the Summerhill and North Avenue riots in 1966 and the effort to depose the Francois Duvalier regime in Haiti. He also joined the team that established a base in Haiti with the long-term objective of overthrowing the Fidel Castro government in Cuba.

In 1967 Dunkin joined the Columbus Ledger. It was while working for this newspaper he covered the court-martial at Fort Benning of William Calley. This was followed by work as a photojournalist for Florida Today (1972-74). Dunkin then served a research assistant, secretary and writing collaborator with the Florida Supreme Court Justice, Alto Adams. Together they produced two books, The Fourth Quarter and The Law of the Land. As well as working as a freelance journalist and photographer, Dunkin worked as a part-time division judge and as a volunteer at the Fort Pierce Police Department.

Tom Dunkin died in 1994. Gordon Winslow later recalled: "A month after his (Tom Dunkin) death in 1994, we were given access to his home where he worked. His files had been ransacked and most covered two to three inches on the living room floor. Luckily there were about ten boxes of salvageable records which included about 5,000 sleeves of negatives, around 300 cassettes, a few reels of movie film, numerous slides and a few photographs. Most of the negatives were made for local news stories but many also had been taken in the Cuban rebel area and later in the anti-Castro camps in South Florida."

Primary Sources

(1) Tom Dunkin, letter to Richard Billings (June, 1967)

First contact with No Name Key group was in July or August, 1962, when small group was camping on south shorts of Lake Okeechobee, near Pahokee-Belle Glade.

Among those present were Howard K. Davis, identified as "car leader", Gerald Patrick Hemming, aka "Jerry Patrick", Joe Garman, and Steve Wilson.

Group a bit publicity shy, but in September, at request of WFLA-TV Tampa friend, Don Starr, tried for footage on their activities. Met with Davis and Patrick in Miami on Sat. Sept. 15, finally, around 2 a.m. Sunday Sept. 16, got approval.

Two carloads departed Miami for No Name Key, including Davis, Patrick, Cuban known only as Pino, among others. At the camp on No Name Key, Steve Wilson was in charge. Other Americans there included Ed Collins, Bill Seymour, Canadian Bill Dempsey, one individual identified as Finnish and in doubtful status with Immigration, named Edmund Kolbe, also Roy Hargraves.

Number of men transported by boat from No Name Sunday, Sept 16, for a demonstration which was filmed on Big Pine Key, near No Name, by WFLA-TV sound crew, by myself with film going to WTVT Tampa, plus stills which were used in Miami Herald story on 20 September and in Glades County Democrat 21 September 1962.

Democrat article read by a friend Larry Newman Jr., managing editor of Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, resulting in request for a feature with fresh art, dated 15 October.

Returned to Miami on Saturday 20 October, or possibly Friday. At any rate, after beer-drinking session in bar of Hotel Flagler, at which time Dennis Harber first encountered, accompanied Roy Hargraves to tourist court on Flagler where he was living with female know only as "Betty" whom he later reportedly married.

Arrival at 2 a.m. brought protest from Betty, who rather profanely instructed Hargraves to "get the hell out of here and take your queer friend with you." Later gratifyingly learned she had thought Harber was outside instead of me.

She protested to Hargraves that he was wasting his time with a revolution. He advised her he had too much time invested to quit. We slept in my car outside Patrick's headquarters, Federico's Guest House, 220 NW 8th Ave.

Howard K. Davis at that time lived at 3350 NW 18th Terrace. He accompanied both trips to No Name Key, and was reported leader of group. (Davis, interestingly, was listed in Associated Press Florida wire story F56MH ( believed to be March 24, 1960, but could have been 1959) as among 29 persons whom the Miami News listed as banned from aircraft rental on Border Patrol orders. Davis, and another American known only as "Art", later identified as Arthur Gerteit, were check pilots for CBS-Rolando Masferrer Haitian invasion "air Force" in November, 1966. Gerteit was later identified in United Press International dispatch from Tifton, Cal, early 1967 (Apr. 11) where Cuban arrested with bombs as he rented an airplane, as "an FBI Decoy")

On second trip to No Name on behalf of Dayton Daily News, Harber accompanied group, which included Cuban known to me only by last name of Pino, who also had been present at first filming session. Pino reportedly head of an exile group called Christian Army of Anti-Communist Liberation (ECLA), and not quotable by name at that time.

Harber was drunk on departure from Miami, and took one pint of whisky with him, which he asked be rationed to him slowly. I performed this task. Pino much amused at Harber, whom he called "el profesor."

Harber at that time was night clerk for the Flagler Hotel, 637 West Flagler, and also taught English (to Cuban exile students) at a language school next door to the hotel.

Harber was described by Patrick at that time as having terminal cancer. At present, according to last report from Patrick, Harber was serving sentenced in Mexico for murder, undocumented to me.

Harber lived in a small apartment behind Flagler Hotel, and shared it with various of the Americans occasionally, including Seymour, Collins, and a Czeck lad known as Karl Novak, who I don't recall seeing on No Name.

(2) Tom Dunkin, Deposition on Project Nassau (29th August 1969)

I first became aware that the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) was going to film a documentary of a planned invasion of the Republic of Haiti by Cuban and Haitian exiles some time around April or May, 1966. Mr. Andrew St. George, a freelance writer with whom I had been acquainted since we were reporting on the activities of Fidel Castro from the hills of Oriente Province, Cuba, in July 1958, first called this operation to my attention. At this time I was employed as a newspaper reporter for the Atlanta Journal.

During the same period (April-May, 1966), I attended a meeting at the home of one Mitchell Wer Bell in Powder Springs, Georgia, along with Andrew St. George and a Mr. Jay McMullen, who St. George introduced to me as a producer from CBS. At this meeting the discussion was very general in nature and principally concerned with the feasibility of undertaking a filmed documentary of an attempted invasion of Haiti. It was also at this time that Jay McMullen approached me with regard to my future availability for employment on this project as a cameraman and writer in the event that the operation took place. At this stage, there were no concrete plans discussed in my presence. The project seemed to be in the offing. Wer Bell was obviously being contacted because of his knowledge of and contacts in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Latin America in general.

My next direct involvement in the project took place on September the 11th, 1966. About 7:00 a.m. I received a telephone call from St. George. He asked me to meet him at the Atlanta airport. On this occasion, St. George was accompanied by Jay McMullen, a cameraman named James Wilson, and a sound technician named Robert Funk. I gathered from their conversation that they had been filming something to do with the invasion operation up in the New Jersey area. The entire crew stayed in Atlanta about two or three days.

It was on Sunday, September the 11th, 1966, that Jay McMullen offered me a job on his CBS production crew as general assistant. My duties were to do camera and sound work and anything else that came up. I was hired on a freelance basis by McMullen and he told me my salary would be $150.00 per week plus expenses for food, lodging and transportation. McMullen did not have to do a selling job on me, I was eager to become a part of what then had all the earmarks of being a top news project.

On September 12, 1966, I took a two-months' leave of absence from the Atlanta Journal. My agreements with Jay McMullen were all oral, there was no written contract of employment made.

On Monday and Tuesday, September 12-13, 1966, accompanied by the above named CBS crew members, we shot a filmed sequence of weapons being loaded in a car and on a boat. This sequence was filmed at Mitchell Wer Bell's home in Powder Springs, Georgia, and both the car, a Volvo, and the boat belonged to Wer Bell. The weapons consisted of about a dozen or so Enfield 30 caliber rifles and about a half-dozen 38 Special two barrel over-and-under Roehm Derringers.

This film sequence was shot by Wilson. There was some sound also as I recall, but Wer Bell's face was never photographed. Mostly the shots consisted of Wer Bell's hands loading rifles into the trunk of the car and into a box on the boat. We also filmed some scenes of Wer Bell's car towing the boat on a highway in the vicinity of Powder Springs. Georgia.

Immediately upon completing the filming of the loading sequence, Jay McMullen and his crew departed for Miami leaving me with the car, boat and Wer Bell. I was to accompany a Haitian driver on the trip south to Miami supposedly towing the boat containing the weapons. My job was to film the travel sequence, tape record an interview with the Haitian driver during the trip and also to record news and weather from the radio in the car during the course of the trip for purposes of time and location identification on sound. The only problem was that St. George did not provide a Haitian driver for the trip. The interview of the "Haitian driver" took place a few days later, in Miami and was simulated to make it sound like it took place during the actual transportation of the car and boat from Powder Springs, Georgia to Miami.

(3) Tom Dunkin, statement (1990)

January to August, 1964, worked as undercover investigator with the Florida Legislative Investigations Committee. Duties included infiltration Committee for Nonviolent Action, which was approaching Florida on "Peace March" from Quebec via Washington and bound for Guantanamo, Cuba, to protest U.S. policy regarding Cuba.

Mission was to prevent Florida getting the notoriety Georgia had acquired for alleged law enforcement mistreatment of marchers. Contacted group at Americus, GA, and after initial encounter, recommended procedures that accomplished goal until the group tangled with Key West conchs and Cubans, but no serious situations.

Later investigated various university pacifist groups including students and faculty members. This involved University of Miami, University of Florida and Florida State University. A major point of interest was efforts by one faculty member at University of Florida, to abolish ROTC.

Later assigned to riots in St. Augustine during June-August, 1964, with objective of intelligence-gathering to aid in preventing violence. During this time, researched progress on National State's Rights Party's efforts to get enough signatures on petitions to enable inclusion on Florida ballot for candidates John Kasper and J.B. Stoner. Reported to Tallahassee headquarters that possibility practically non-existent. Committee Staff Director John Evans promulgated this information to the public via United Press and party's political progress aborted in Florida. Also attended and photographed a number of Ku Klux Klan rallies in St. Augustine-Ocala area and reported to committee on them.

(4) Tom Dunkin, letter to Jim Garrison (29th April, 1968)

It is my understanding that the Clay Shaw trial may be scheduled during early May.

I hope to be assigned to cover the trial for the Ledger, as I did the preliminary hearing a year ago last month.

I'm certain the trial date will be well noted by the wire service and will trust in such for notification of the date.

Having had the opportunity to encounter some of the people in whom your investigation has shown an interest, I should be willing to offer any assistance to you that this past experience might possibly provide.

Should you have any questions with which you might feel I could be of help, I will be available to you, your staff or representatives at any time.

(5) Tom Dunkin, Intrigue at "No Name" Key, Back Channels (Spring 1992)

Oliver Stone's JFK seems to have achieved a double objective of being a moneymaker and a political activity stimulus, one of the movie's directors avers.

Although he denies any spooky associations, it's going to be interesting to see if future release of classified files on the Kennedy assassination pinpoints new intelligence community involvement, Roy Hargraves, a man with some shadowy past connections, acknowledges.

Hargraves denies any "contract CIA agent" links, although he was involved in military training of Cuban exiles in Florida and Louisiana. British author Anthony Summers hung the contract agent tag on members of the International Penetration Force in his book, Conspiracy.

Summer's book on the JFK assassination cites an FBI raid and the closing of a training site near Lake Ponchatrain several months before Kennedy's death as a possible contributing factor in the assassination.

Hargraves recalls there are many unanswered questions in the Cuban exile aspect of the Kennedy case. Early in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's probe, "Garrison accused us of training the ‘triangulation team' of three alleged snipers at No Name Key."

No Name Key was the principal Florida training site for the IPF freelance volunteer instructors. "We testified before Garrison and convinced him he was wrong," Hargraves recalls, "and we went to work for him for about a month" early in Garrison's late 1966 and early 1967 investigation.

Garrison's, whose two non-fiction books, A Heritage of Stone, and On the Trail of The Assassins, were the basis of Stone's JFK said in them that Kennedy's "ordering an end to the CIA's continued training of anti-Castro guerrillas at the small, scattered camps in Florida and north of Lake Ponchatrain "added to the disenchantment which contributed to the President's murder.

Another interesting aspect of the Garrison investigation, is that, according to Hargraves, a Cuban exile investigator hired by Garrison" ripped off half the budget" to handicap the probe. Bernardo de Torres, a Bay of Pigs veteran, "was working for the CIA", Hargraves said, during the Garrison investigation.

De Torres, who has since disappeared from his former Miami haunts, also served as a security consultant to local and federal law enforcement units during President Kennedy's visit to Miami after Fidel Castro's release of the prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion.

(6) Gordon Winslow, Cuban Exile Website (2004)

A month after his (Tom Dunkin) death in 1994, we were given access to his home where he worked. His files had been ransacked and most covered two to three inches on the living room floor. Luckily there were about ten boxes of salvageable records which included about 5,000 sleeves of negatives, around 300 cassettes, a few reels of movie film, numerous slides and a few photographs. Most of the negatives were made for local news stories but many also had been taken in the Cuban rebel area and later in the anti-Castro camps in South Florida.