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Abner Stokes

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About Abner Stokes

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  • Birthday 05/02/1942

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    sunny South Florida
  • Interests
    classic cars, family, friends, The USA and The USMC

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  1. Chris, No, I never heard anything about that. Butch
  2. I don't recall that name. I made an error on the last post. It was Big Tonys' boat being brought to Miami, not Rips. Sorry. Butch
  3. Safe Harbor was owned by the Toppino family. They are a very prominent Keys family. George Toppino and Chuck were good friends. Funny story: One of the workers at the Marina was born and raised in Key West. He had never been north of Marathon. He was given the job of taking one of Rips boats to Miami. This was his first trip there. He was about 20 years old. The boat had a cover on it to hide the machine gun. Don't you know he got stopped by the Highway Patrol and detained when they found it. He swore he would never leave Key West again. Things like that happened often, even to me once. I thought I was going to jail for sure, when Rip appeared on the dock. Talked to the cop, and he motored off. Butch
  4. James That looks more like my best friend back then. Mickey had the same hairline, but his face was fatter. He always dressed nice, even when working. Shirts with collars, etc. He was well liked. This could be him later than when I knew him. Butch
  5. Ron I will admit the portrait photo of Rip resembles the man at DP. However, I saw Rip just days before JFK was killed, he looked nothing like the portrait. You would need a Hollywood make up artist to change his skin features that much..If you could find some Brigade members or some of the frogmen he worked with, I think they would tell you the same thing. Then there is always Gray Lynch. When I went to his book signing, the place was packed with old 2506 fighters. Gray gave a talk for about 45 minutes. He really blasted the Kennedys and the administration. I think he disliked Bobby K. more than JFK. I tried to find a couple men I worked with, but you could barely move around. Not doing to well in spanish anymore didn't help either. Gray ended up being the only one I spoke with. I am surprised his name isn't used more often. Do you know what ever happened to Mickey? Butch
  6. Thanks, Butch. Do you know who Bob went to Cuba with or did he go his own? Also with all this activity going on around Miami at the time, do you remember a guy by the name of David Morales? He had the nickname 'Big Indian'. He worked with Rip and was one of his drinking buddies. James I don't remember that name at all, and I don't know who Bob went with. I doubt he was alone. Asking questions was not something I did too often. I was a better observer and just did what I was told. Questions about operations would not normaly get an answer. My boss usually knew what was going on. He was very friendly with Rip. Butch This picture of Rip is very flattering. I have a problem believing that is him in Dealey Plaza. Rip's skin was very sunburned and dark, and wrinkled. That is why he was called Alligator Man. The photo in Dealey just doesn't show that. Butch
  7. I can tell you about the Cuban Missile Crisis though. Bob had taken a V-20 outboard with two 100 hp Mercs to Cuba. He brought back first hand pictures of the missiles taken on Cuban soil. I went to Key Largo to pick up the boat. It was in pretty bad shape. He had made the crossing in a bad storm. There was a private airstrip two blocks from where the boat was. A small plane picked up Bob and flew him to Homestead AFB, where he was immediately taken to Washington to hand the pictures to JFK. I remember that very well. It was a very tense time. Trains loaded with military gear, tanks, trucks and men were rolling by our shop all day.. Butch
  8. I don't remember anything about that, although I had read about it with interest.
  9. Thank you for allowing me access to your forum. I can only help out or answer questions up until the time Kennedy was assassinated. That was the last time I had any contact with Rip or the Cuban frogmen he worked with. They just vanished along with the boats I worked on. Gray was considered to be Rip's boss. We didn't see him very much, and never for long. He usually came in with a briefcase and cash to pay the bills. Big Tony, as we knew him, had left the group and started his own. We only heard from him and his exploits second hand. I worked on his boats in late 61. I can tell you he really hated Castro, but I never heard him say anything about JFK. I also never heard Rip say anything about him either. Gray never said much at all. He was like a ghost. The Cubans I worked with didn't like JFK too much. They blamed him for the defeat at Bay of Pigs. They were fun to be around and we conversed in spanglish most of the time. They were all good loyal men and admired and respected Rip very much. As I did. I also worked with two other Americans..only two. Mickey Kappes and Bob Stevens, or Bob Burke. They told me they had been recruited from the Merchant Marine Academy, and they wore class rings from there. I was pretty friendly with Bob. He said he was leaving to open a helicopter business in Orlando in 63. Although I saw a picture of an Air America pilot in a Vietnam magazine two years ago that sure favored him. They had many ID's and drove different vehicles most of the time. They had trucks with names like "Keys Navigation and Research" on them. I believe Mickey also owned a Corvette. When they came back from a mission, they would bring the boat to our yard. They had keys for the gates. This place was called Dade Marine. It was located in South Miami on US1. We had a worker who came to work around 5 am to get away from his kids going to school. He would check out the boats, patch up any bullet holes, pull off broken windshields, clean out shell casings, grenade pins, the wire left behind when you fired a recoilless rifle, and machine gun links. He would paint over the patches, and make the boat look like a commercial fishing boat. These boats and motors were usually painted all one color. Dark flat green or gray. If the motors were black, they were not painted. They also worked with a friend of mine that ran Safe Harbor Marina in Key West. His name was Chuck Mersereau. He had been head of the Mercury Race Team before taking this job. I could ramble on but will answer some other questions now. I never heard Rip refered to as Carlos, but Carlos is a pretty popular name with the Cubans. I went to Parris Island in early Jan 64. I tried to find out what happened to Rip through my former boss, but he had lost contact with Rip's wife also. The farm was their main base near Homestead AF Base. They had a few farms as they called them. There was another one on 117th Ave just south of North Kendall Drive. They kept a lot of boats there. Also had a radio station there, as well as on Adams Key. They had a shrimp boat in Miami on the River just packed full of communications gear, and a full crew manning it 24 hours a day. They seemed to be near a missle base also, as I saw lots of boxes of weapons and ammo with tac marks from them. I also saw a Ryder trailer that they brought from Texas loaded with weapons. And yes, Rip drove a Rambler wagon, around a 59 model. I could tell you for sure if it was anything but a Rambler. Thanks again for your kind welcomes. I hope what I know can help fill in some blanks. Butch
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