BAKER, LEO
Name: Leo Baker
Rank/Branch: Flight Engineer/Alabama National Guard
Unit:
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 19 April 1961
Country of Loss: CUBA
Loss Coordinates:
Status (in 1973): Died in Captivity
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B26
Missions:
Other Personnel in Incident: Thomas "Pete" Ray, DIC
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews. 2010
REMARKS:
From the National Alliance BITS 'N' PIECES newsletter 03/27/98
"CIA Acknowledges U.S. Pilots downed in Bay of Pigs Mission"
How many American Servicemen, Active Duty, Reserves or National Guard
were lost during the ill fated CIA operation to invade Cuba on April 19,
1961? According to an L.A. Times article by Mark Fineman and Dolly
Mascarenas at least two Americans recruited from the Alabama National
Guard, were shot down over Cuba.  Both crewmen, Capt. Pete Ray and
flight Engineer Leo Baker survived the crash.  Both men were shot and
killed by Cuban soldiers. "Baker whose features appeared Latin was
buried along with other unclaimed Cuban invaders..."
What happened to Pete Ray?  According to the article "Castro was so
determined to prove the Americans were there he froze Ray's remains for
more than 18 years."
Finally, in 1979, due to efforts of Ray's daughter, Janet Ray Weininger
"and after 19 months of painstaking diplomacy with a U.S. government
that still did not want to claim him as one of its own, Cuba returned
the pilot's body to Alabama."
In 1978, agents met with Weininger "...the agents told the truth about
Ray and handed over two medals and a citation posthumously awarding Ray
the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, the agency's highest award for
valor..."
"Last month, the CIA released a document confirming that U.S. pilots had
in fact been shot down over Cuba in 1961.  And last week, agency
officials acknowledged publicly for the first time that the Alabama
pilot was one of theirs."
"These were vortex people, the most important people in the world for a
few moments, and then the government just cuts the strings and cuts them
loose to drift," said Ray's cousin, Thomas Bailey an Alabama journalist"
"...Weininger said she harbors no animosity toward the Cubans for
keeping her father's body all those years.  "I blame my government...
They led these men into harm's way and then turned  [their] back on
them."
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The Miami Herald
May 15,1982, pg. 1-6
 
Her long vigil ends in a common grave

By LIZ BALMASEDA
Herald Staff Writer

The hero’s funeral Catherine Baker had planned for her husband 21 years is off. Last week the State Department broke the news to her: Leo Francis Baker, an Alabama Air National Guard pilot killed during the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, already has been buried. .....

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Los Angeles Times
03/15/98
Bay of Pigs: the Secret Death of Pete Ray
* The Alabama Air Guard pilot died during ill-fated Cuban invasion
attempt. For years, the CIA hid his fate from his family.  Havana,
meanwhile, kept his body frozen.
By MARK FINEMAN and DOLLY MASCARENAS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 15, 1998
Home Edition Part A Page I Foreign Desk
HAVANA--When Thomas "Pete" Ray's B-26 bomber was shot down by Cuban
antiaircraft batteries near Playa Giron on April 19, 1961, he wasn't
there.
So said the CIA........
Times staff writer Fineman reported from Havana, Washington, Miami and
Birmingham, Ala.  Times researcher Mascarenas reported from Havana.