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Jacob was the son of John Newton Esterline (May 13, 1893 - ?) and Bess S. Esterline (1894 - 1970). He enrolled at Temple University as an accounting major in 1938. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on July 25, 1941 in Pennsylvania. He was accepted in US Army Officer Candidate School in 1941 at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was recruited to join Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. Beginning in 1943, he served in India and Burma. He was commander of a guerilla battalion in China fighting the Imperial Japanese Army by the end of World War II.
Post-World War II
He completed his accounting degree after World War II, and joined a Pennsylvania law firm. When the Korean War began, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency. He became a guerilla warfare instructor at the CIA training facility known as "The Farm" (Camp Peary) at Williamsburg, Virginia. He was given command of the CIA Washington, D.C. task force in the operation (code-name PBSUCCESS) to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz, President of Guatemala in 1954. He was CIA station chief in Guatemala, Venezuela and Panama. Jacob Esterline's first child was a boy, who has his father's namesake. He is still living and exhibits many characteristics of having Asperger's syndrome.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
During the preparation and operation of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in April 1961, Jacob Esterline was CIA Chief of Western Hemisphere Branch 4 (WH/4), reporting to the CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and his deputy Tracy Barnes, rather than to the Chief of Western Hemisphere, J.C. King.
On the day before the first action, Esterline and Marine Col. Jack Hawkins (also CIA, WH/4/PM) both strongly thought that the impending invasion should be called off because last-minute changes in the plan would guarantee disaster, and wanted to resign. Bissell convinced them to stay on board.
Post-Bay of Pigs invasion
Jacob Esterline was chief of the CIA's Miami, Florida office from 1968 to 1972, and deputy chief of the CIA Western Hemisphere division. He retired from the CIA in 1978, and died at Hendersonville, North Carolina in 1999.
- Operation 40
- Bay of Pigs invasion
- E. Howard Hunt
- David Atlee Phillips
- Felix Rodriguez
- Richard M. Bissell, Jr.
- Frank Sturgis
- Guillermo Hernández-Cartaya
- Porter Goss
- Watergate scandal
- Whitefield, Mimi (April 17, 1991). "Hindsight / Cuban exiles warned of limited support, project director says; Ex-CIA official recounts U.S. errors at Bay of Pigs". Wilmington Morning Star. Wilmington, North Carolina. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- CIA Internal Probe
- Kornbluh (1998) Bay Of Pigs Declassified, pp. 264-265
- Evans, Larry. 3 May 1997. Article - Jack Hawkins. The Free Lance–Star, Fredericksburg, VA
- GWU National Security Archives on Bay of Pigs invasion
- GWU Transcript of Interview with Esterline
- CIA Internal Probe of Bay of Pigs.
- Watson Institute conference
- Spartacus Educational Jake Esterline article
- Cuban Information Archives.