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DCI Statement on the Recovery of B-26 Remains

March 16, 1998

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding an effort to locate, recover, and return to the United States from Nicaragua the remains of B-26 crew members Crispin Lucio Garcia Fernandez and Juan De Mata ''Nabel'' Gonzalez Romero. Both men died in 1961 when their aircraft crashed in a remote area near the Bocay River during a CIA-sponsored, Bay of Pigs-related mission.

''Mr. Garcia and Mr. Gonzalez distinguished themselves by their valor and their patriotism and made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation,'' said Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet. ''The Agency recognizes the sacrifices their families have made. Returning our fallen colleagues to the United States for burial is not only a humanitarian gesture, but also is the right thing to do,'' Tenet said.

Following discovery of the B-26 wreckage in November 1961, Nicaraguan and US officials agreed that the remains would be buried at the crash site. A Catholic missionary conducted appropriate religious rites. Their families, however, have always wanted their loved ones’ remains located and returned to the United States for burial. Ms. Janet Ray Weininger represents the two families and brought their plight to the CIA’s attention in 1994. Since then, she has worked with Mr. Garcia’s son, Frank, the CIA, and other Federal officials to organize a recovery operation. She has visited the crash site several times.

Information in declassified CIA documents released to Ms. Weininger last August indicated that the two men were buried alongside the wreckage of the B-26. The forensic team’s search will focus on a twenty-by-twenty-meter grid, centered on the downed plane’s fuselage. Information obtained during previous, privately-sponsored visits to the site confirms that the plane wreckage is that of the B-26 which the two men flew.

The recovery operation is being conducted under the auspices of the Department of Defense POW/MIA Office. A forensic team from the DoD’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii is conducting the search. Ms. Weininger is accompanying the DoD team.

The operation, which may last up to five weeks, is not expected to cost more than $70,000.

For additional information, please contact Mike Stepp in our Public Affairs office at (703) 482-7677.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:52 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:47 PM