At a joint news conference on February 28 with House Minority Leader Charles A. Halleck, party of a semi-regular series that had become known "Ev and Charley Show," Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen had called for a Senate investigation into the ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation of April 1961. Dirksen was evidently prompted in part by a report in an Alabama newspaper the previous month that claimed that four American pilots, all from Alabama, had been killed when their B-26 bomber had been shot during the invasion. The source of the claim was a reporter who had participated in the air operation over Cuba and had known the pilots who had died. Responding to the implication of an administration coverup, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield∇ said that the deaths of four American pilots, all of whom had volunteered to fly combat missions, had been reported to a select few Congressional leaders at the time.1
Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus had subsequently claimed that 12 Arkansas Air National Guard pilots had volunteered for the 1961 invasion and had flown missions.2
The taping begins while the conversation is already in progress.
President Kennedy: Were there any Arkansas [National] Guard people?
McGeorge Bundy: There were more than Alabamians, and I would guess there were Arkansas, but not in--not in casualties.
President Kennedy: No, but--none of them--no Arkansas people were killed, were they?
Bundy: No. Not that I know of. I'm pretty sure not.
President Kennedy: [Unclear] that only four were killed?
Bundy: That's right, and they were all Alabama, as I understand it. Let's check it out.
President Kennedy: Well, I'd like to find out about when these Arkansas people were recruited.
President Kennedy: Whether it was before--and they didn't fly any combat missions, as I under--or did they?
President Kennedy: Have we got any information?
Bundy: Let's find out. I don't know.
President Kennedy: Is somebody looking that up?
Bundy: Yeah. I'll check it.
President Kennedy: Would you call me right back?