Pepe San Román
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José Alfredo Pérez San Román (1930 – 10 September 1989), known as Pepe San Román, was the commander of Brigade 2506 ground troops in the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in April 1961. Pérez was his father's last name.
He enlisted in the Cuban Army in 1949 after graduation from high school, when financial problems forced him to give up studying architecture at the University of Havana. In 1950, he was accepted as a cadet at the Military Academy, and, three years later, graduated with honors and was promoted to second lieutenant in the infantry. Soon afterwards, he left for the United States, in a program of US assistance to the Cuban Armed Forces. In the United States, he took a combat engineering course for field officers. He spent some time at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. During the next four years, from 1954 to 1958, San Román was an instructor in the combat engineering corps. In 1956, he was promoted to first lieutenant, second in command of a company. He went to the US Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he graduated from the infantry course for field officers. In 1957, in Cuba, an incipient guerrilla army was challenging the regular troops. For several months, San Román commanded a company in the zone of operations. There, he felt an aversion toward those military officers who carried out abuses and excesses against the civilian population.
In 1958, he was appointed a professor at the Military Academy. That same year, he was promoted to captain and named G-3 of the Infantry Division, a post equivalent to lieutenant colonel. He was arrested in December 1958, accused of conspiring against the powers of the state. He had been involved in an assassination attempt against Batista. Because of that and his clean service record, San Román was later released and regained his rank after the Cuban Revolution. He formed part of the commission that was created to cleanse the Armed Forces, but was arrested and accused in Case 39/59 in April 1959. San Román had helped former Commander Ricardo Montero Duque to leave the country. Montero Duque was wanted by the revolutionary courts, accused of having committed abuses against the civilian population during his service in Oriente. In November 1959, Pérez San Román left for the United States.
In May 1960 he was one of a group of ten former Cuban officers in Miami planning a campaign against the Castro regime. They were graduates of Cuba's military academy, the Cadet School. On 2 June 1960, San Román and nine fellow 'recruits', including his brother Roberto San Román, were transported by CIA agents to Useppa island off Fort Myers, Florida, for physical and psychological assessments. On 22 June 1960 San Román and 27 others were taken by land and air to Fort Gulick in Panama for paramilitary training. On 22 August 1960 he flew via CIA C-54 aircraft to San José, Guatemala.
At the CIA-run infantry training base known as 'Trax Base' in the mountains near Retalhuleu, Pepe San Román was in charge of weapons and demolition training. In about November 1960 he was appointed Brigade 2506 commander with about 430 recruits in training.
After the brigade had ceased fighting on 19 April 1961, the third day of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, San Román and his men scattered into the woods and swamps. He was captured by Cuban militia on 25 April 1961. He was finally released from prison and flown to Miami on 24 Dec 1962.
On 29 December 1962, Pepe San Román was on stage next to the 35th US President, John F. Kennedy, at the Orange Bowl in the City of Miami, Florida, during the 'welcome back' ceremony for captured Brigade 2506 veterans. The other leaders of the Brigade also on stage at the occasion were José Miró Cardona and Manuel Artime.
Pepe Perez San Román committed suicide in the City of Miami, Florida on 10 Sep 1989. He was survived by two sons, Alfredo, of Houston, and Robert, of Miami; two daughters, Marisela and Sandra, both of Miami; a brother, Roberto Pérez San Roman, and a sister, Laly de la Cruz, both of Miami, and five grandchildren.