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Pseudonym: Bull, Sitting

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Ernest W. Sparks. Also known as Ernie, Bernie, and Ned. Chief of Base for Cuban project JMATE that became the Bay of Pigs - first in Florida, then in Guatemala.
John Newman opines that Jack Hawkins was Ernest Sparks (Into the Storm, p. 286), but Sparks went to Korea in 1952 and Hawkins went in 1950 - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Hawkins_(U.S._Marine_Corps_officer). Bradley Ayers identified Ernie Sparks as Carl Jenkins, but it appears he was mistaken. Appears Sparks was also known as "Ned". Says he was a "PM chief, retired Marine officer: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=153364#relPageId=1&tab=page It appears Ernest Sparks also used the pseudonym Elmer Shapiro while chief of Training in 1964.


7/18/60, memo by Ernest W. Sparks, C/WH/4/PM, re Daily Log, PM Section: "The entire PM Staff attended a meeting held with Mr. (Robert) Reynolds (note: true name Al Cox) in the conference room at Barton Hall. The basic concept of operations in its various phases was presented. Following this presentation, various aspects of this operational plan were discussed by the staff, which included logistics, staging area, and personnel required for this operation...Agent RIVERO (note: AMPANIC-7) was taken to the Warrington, VA firing range where he was checked out in the use of the Special 38 Airweight semi-hammerless pistol; British Welrod pistol, single shot, 9 mm parabellum with silencer; carbine with folding stock; and the 7.65 British Welrod with silencer. He is also to be checked out this week in the use of a sporting rifle with telescopic lens attachment..."

Peter Kornbluh, editor, Bay of Pigs Declassified, p. 211

"Ernest Sparks E.O.D. Entering on duty as Ops Instructor in 1952, Mr. Sparks departed for Korea with the USMC and remained there as an IO/PM and Maritime Officer until 1954. He then served at (deleted) until 1958 first as an Instructor, then Chief of the Maritime Branch, later as Instructor, and ultimately, Chief of the Ops Course. He was commended as an outstanding instructor and capable administrator. Prior to his assignment to the Cuban Task Force he served as Chief/Cover Training (deleted) where he set up an administered a highly competent tutorial facility. His performance was noted as being outstanding."

Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume II: Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy Current Section: E. November Revolt -- Policy Makers vs Pragmatists

Earlier in 1960-September 1960: "...Carl Jenkins, assigned to WH/4/PM, was providing operational guidance to REDACTED prior to assuming him job as COB TRAV (note: Chief of Base, JMTRAV, the infantry training base in Guatemala). In September 1960, Ernest W. Sparks was named Chief, JMATE activities in Guatemala and thus became the adviser to REDACTED on ops plans."


9/30/60 cable from JMTRAV to Director: "Dissident problem came to head night 25 Sept. Carol called 20 to meeting with cadre plus Zaboth and Varlejos (also rcvd Vallejos) (note: reference to Napoleon Valeriano). Told them some guilty of conspiracy and undermining operation with continual rumors, slander, agitation and factionalism. Zaboth backed up point with strong statement AMRASP wishes only group at TRAV the Armed Forces AMRASP and no individual or group be allowed interfered success no matter what the cost...Zaboth and Carol agreed 9 others must be removed TRAV and its program soonest as completely incompatible. Hard core agitators: 2513 Guido Vallafares, 2523 Jose Clark Sanchez, 2525 Jose Lopez Castillo, 2560 Manuel Rodriguez Treto, 2533 Jorge Soulary Flaguer, who appears (to) Zaboth likely penetration by Commies, Fidelistas, or Lorie group...Followers too committed for salvage: 2532 Guillermo Fernandez Mascaro, 2705 Raul Villaverdu, 2524 Javier Souto, 2581 Jorge Sonville...only workable solution we know is designate nine as special team for direct control AMCIGAR...move them immediately to RAND for own training program and use as HQS and AMCIGAR may decide...Zaboth personal opinion is (if) men like Nino Diaz, Pepin, Lopez, Guido, Clark, Soulary get into Cuba before other AMRASP forces we will have to fight them too. This decision only HQS can make."


Circa 1960: Chief of Base for Cuban project, first in Florida, then in Guatemala; responsible for selection and training of cadre; assignment of officers for invasion brigade; maritime infiltration and operational management of small teams and individual agents.

Haynes Johnson, et al., The Bay of Pigs: The Leader's Story of Brigade 2506, pg 61

1960-61: "To the Cubans he was known as "Sitting Bull" because of his short, stocky, swarthy appearance."


Circa 1960-1961: "Ernie Sparks, the overall liaison officer for Project JMATE for COS Guatemala, requested that Headquarters approve a rotational plan since 'most personnel adjusted family and business problems to period they told to be absent and fact they on duty seven days a week as well being confined to training areas which lack recreational facilities."

Peter Wyden, Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story, pg 58-59

Early 1961: With Colonel Frank away, his superior, another American officer named "Bernie" and known as "Sitting Bull" because of his squat appearance, assembled the brigade in formation and announced from a wooden platform, 'I am boss here, and the commander of the Brigade is still Pepe San Ramon....(Son of the former Cuban defense minister Rodolfo) Nodal ..(had) been elected one of the five leaders of the (one hundred) dissidents...Nodal found himself under arrest in tents normally occupied by the Brigade's tank units. He was one of twenty men who were considered the principal troublemakers and he was (apprehended)...along with fellow dissidents, he was spirited by seaplane and canoe to a camp in the Peten, a mountainous, almost inaccessible jungle in northernmost Guatemala. It was guarded by four Americans and twenty-five Guatemalans. The prisoners were issued thin slippers to discourage escapes. Nobody tried to get away. Two weeks after the invasion, Nodal was flown to Miami and released. He phoned his family at 3 am. They did not know he was alive."

176-10030-10422: Memo to President CIA Reorganization

6/30/61 memo by aide Arthur Schlesinger to the President: "The Cuban episode leaves the strong impression that CIA is not able to control its low-level operatives. While the CIA people in Washington are men of exceptionally high quality, the men attracted to field jobs are sometimes tough and even vicious people motivated by drives of their own and not necessarily in political or even moral sympathy with the purpose of the operation. Such actions as locking up the Revolutionary Council, such enterprises as Operation 40 in Miami where CIA agents reportedly trained Cubans in methods of torture, such episodes as the detention and third degree reportedly administered to Dr. Rodolfo Nodal Tarafa and 16 other democratic Cubans this February - all these suggest that things go on under CIA sponsorship with which CIA in Washington is only dimly acquainted."

1993.08.02.09:51:09:560060: OFFICE OF SECURITY FILE ON AYERS, BRADLEY

Re 1964: Memo by Richard V. Long, Chief, Security Support Division: "All staff members, with the exception of one, have their names disguised. The one exception is that of Ernest 'Ernie" Sparks, a retired operations officer, identified as the JMWAVE Chief of Training in the 1964 time frame."

Bradley A. Ayers, The Zenith Secret (Vox Pop, 2006), p. 105

1964: "...the Elliott Key operation, for which I had been responsible, was placed under the control of the training branch. Cal had departed for a new assignment in Washington at the CIA 'farm' in Virginia. Rudy (Enders) temporarily assumed duties as chief of training. I had always gotten along well with him, and he gave me all the freedom I needed to carry out my tasks. Eventually, an old training officer, Ernie Sparks, arrived and took over as chief of the branch...Ernie was well known in CIA circles for his gruff, flamboyant character. Ernie dressed in Western style, with cowboy boots, jeans, and an open collared riding shirt. Often he would have a big revolver holstered at his side. He was about 50, with grey hair, a droopy moustache, ruddy complexion, and piercing blue eyes. He had been nicknamed 'Sitting Bull' while serving as a training officer in Guatemala, preparing Cuban exile Brigade 2506 for the Bay of Pigs invasion. As time went by, I learned he had a penchant for booze, women, and sports cars. Ernie and I got along pretty well, but I often had the feeling he was having a hard time taking care of business and that compounded my concerns about maintaining the training structure we had worked so hard to create."


In this 1964 document, the Chief of Training is Elmer Shapiro, a similar name to Ernest Sparks.

Bill Simpich • John Newman

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