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Lacombe Training Camp location part duex


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Chris,

I just found out something that you must already know -- that the name of that "dog leg" road is "Big 7 Road."

A "local" posted this on the "Lascombe Community News" page on Facebook in July of 2015:

"About 30 years ago, Mark Lotz and I once drove down a road in Lacombe, just being nosey and it didn't have any notice on it about being a private road (Big 7 Road). Well we were met at the end of the road near the bayou by armed guards all dressed in black with BIG guns all pointing at us in our little car! Mark drove in reverse really FAST till he saw a place he could make a quick turn around. I looked back and these armed guys were still chasing us. We never drove down that road again and passed it along Hwy 434 almost every day. We just assumed it was a mafia hangout since the "family" had a well known outpost in Lacombe at the time. This article is eye opening."

The article she's talking about is an article by Daniel Hopsicker on Facebook.

If what she's talking about happened about 30 years ago, that would have been around 1985, right about the time of the Iran - Contra Affair.

It's hard to believe that the road, or at least the last part of it, wasn't posted "Private Road -- No Trespassing."

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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Thanks Tommie, Yup. I had that street name but good find -that Facebook entry is fascinating. Maybe Hopsicker was just lucky he didn't run into anyone. I remember reading that it was thought that an oil company had purchased that property - I'll try to retrace my steps and see if I can relocate that citation.

I think we need to look at Lacombe carefully. There are far too many myths and commingled facts - I've even found some really glaring mistakes and missed opportunities.

For example:

Garrison and his boys were zeroed in on the second house on the right on Ponchartrain Street just north off US Hwy 190. They supposedly took pictures of it and went and checked property records of it and the neighbors. The names on the records did not reveal any McLaneys or their relatives or any of the mysterious names on the FBI list.

Of course those records are wrong - because that was the wrong house!

The FBI clearly stated the day after the Raid that the house was on an "unknown" street at an unknown address perpendicular to Ponchartain Street and one block west. In the same statement they say it was the second house on the left on the west side. Note one FBI mistake: there is no Ponchartrain Street it is Ponchartrain Road. The "unknown" street is 31st Street. The property on 31st has a large fence with a large double gate around it today. I cannot compare it with a photo that Olas says was taken of the house back in 1967.

edit - correction SR 190 to US Hwy. 190

Edited by Chris Newton
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In addition to the misidentified William McLaney Cottage noted above, I think there was another major error.

Alcock, Eckert and Oser (Garrison’s Investigators) were all over an area they called “Big Branch” looking for a source of gunfire and explosions. Apparently they asked some locals and found out that this area or subdivision was located generally NW of the McLaney Cottage between it and Mandevile, La.

Here’s a map they marked up as a visual aid:

If you look closely you will find the mismatched McLaney Cottage (Labeled “House”) and a circled area just to it’s west marked “Big Branch”. The problem with this label is that although it may be generally accurate there are lots of things called “Big Branch” such as the “Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge” and the actual Big Branch Bayou that all these other things are named for.

So they walked, they drove, they reported back to Garrison that they flew aerial recon over the area. They found nothing. I think that it wasn’t there. There was no “Big Branch” camp where they were looking for it. Despite this I think that there was a Big Branch Camp.

We have to understand that the 2 camps in this area were not “connected”. Attendees at one camp never visited or were told about the other camp, different camps had different activities going on. Despite this, the two camps may have had the same sponsors. Let’s call them Camp “A” and Camp “B”.

Camp “A” is the camp we’ve identified right off SR 434.

This is the Christian Democratic Party Training Camp.

This is where Angel Vega took Al Oser.

This is a camp close to Lacombe, La.

Angel Vega stated that they did no live fire at Camp A.

They had some weapons for breakdown and cleaning training only.

I think all the Cubans who were picked up in the Raid were “detained” from this Camp.

Camp A shut down shortly after Nov. 22nd (for these OPs anyway).

Camp “B” is the Big Branch Camp.

They did live fire here.

They may have been training assassination teams. (who according to Garrison left the camp for Dallas)

The attendees were armed with rifles and heavy weapons.

Attendees were estimated to be 25 - 40 in numbers at various times by different people.

It was guarded by security teams.

Rudolph Richard “Ricardo” Davis was associated with this group.

Davis had been tipped off to the Raid(s) and got some attendees out the day/night before

I think it’s doubtful it got raided at all.

This would have been the Camp that the FBI were told to stay away from. Al Oser noted that the way the FBI reports were written it seemed they (the FBI) were frightened of this Camp. Imagine that.

It took a hell of a long time to drive there on dirt roads and over many old bayou bridges.

In my next post I’ll theorize where I think this camp is exactly.

-Chris

Edited by Chris Newton
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In addition to the misidentified William McLaney Cottage noted above, I think there was another major error.

Alcock, Eckert and Oser (Garrison’s Investigators) were all over an area they called “Big Branch” looking for a source of gunfire and explosions. Apparently they asked some locals and found out that this area or subdivision was located generally NW of the McLaney Cottage between it and Mandevile, La.

Here’s a map they marked up as a visual aid:

If you look closely you will find the mismatched McLaney Cottage (Labeled “House”) and a circled area just to it’s west marked “Big Branch”. The problem with this label is that although it may be generally accurate there are lots of things called “Big Branch” such as the “Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge” and the actual Big Branch Bayou that all these other things are named for.

So they walked, they drove, they reported back to Garrison that they flew aerial recon over the area. They found nothing. I think that it wasn’t there. There was no “Big Branch” camp where they were looking for it. Despite this I think that there was a Big Branch Camp.

We have to understand that the 2 camps in this area were not “connected”. Attendees at one camp never visited or were told about the other camp, different camps had different activities going on. Despite this, the two camps may have had the same sponsors. Let’s call them Camp “A” and Camp “B”.

Camp “A” is the camp we’ve identified right off SR 434.

This is the Christian Democratic Party Training Camp.

This is where Angel Vega took Al Oser.

This is a camp close to Lacombe, La.

Angel Vega stated that they did no live fire at Camp A.

They had some weapons for breakdown and cleaning training only.

I think all the Cubans who were picked up in the Raid were “detained” from this Camp.

Camp A shut down shortly after Nov. 22nd (for these OPs anyway).

Camp “B” is the Big Branch Camp.

They did live fire here.

They may have been training assassination teams. (who according to Garrison left the camp for Dallas)

The attendees were armed with rifles and heavy weapons.

Attendees were estimated to be 25 - 40 in numbers at various times by different people.

It was guarded by security teams.

Rudolph Richard “Ricardo” Davis was associated with this group.

Davis had been tipped off to the Raid(s) and got some attendees out the day/night before

I think it’s doubtful it got raided at all.

This would have been the Camp that the FBI were told to stay away from. Al Oser noted that the way the FBI reports were written it seemed they (the FBI) were frightened of this Camp. Imagine that.

It took a hell of a long time to drive there on dirt roads and over many old bayou bridges.

In my next post I’ll theorize where I think this camp is exactly.

-Chris

Great work, Chris.

Thanks for spelling all this out for us, and so clearly, too.

--Tommy :sun

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Thanks a lot Tommie!

It’s hard to notice when you first look at the little map I linked to above, but there are very few east/west routes north of State Hwy. 190. Interstate 12 won’t begin to open until 1967 and won’t be finished until well into the 70’s. When you look at most mapping software like GoogleEarth you can’t normally look back farther than the late 80’s. In 1963 most of what we see on a modern map doesn’t exist, sprawl-wise. The Bayou is a very dense and remote environment.

To help, I found a 1934 USGS Map of Slidell, La.. I know 1934 is 30 years too rural but I couldn’t find a 60’s version on short notice.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/louisiana/txu-pclmaps-topo-la-slidell-1934.jpg

Note: to the NNE of Lacombe you’ll see Big Branch Bayou snaking north.

In 1968 Harold Weisberg drove around this area trying to dig up some leads. He came up with several good ones, one really remarkable taped interview and a lead he wrote about but I can’t find any evidence he followed up on. Both those leads and something I noticed when I examined the site lead me to believe it’s the best candidate location.

The interview is with a young lady that had a very interesting “date” with Richard Davis and nearer to the end of his account the last clue comes from the guy that fixes his car.

http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/T%20Disk/Turner%20Dione%20Miscellaneous%20Notes/Item%2003.pdf

Mr Weisberg was astonished to hear Chelise Ann describe Richard Davis to a “T”.

There’s a long journey to a camp.

She describes a security team without knowing what it is.

She describes what are probably assault rifles carried by some people, rifles by others.

She describes people who despite being shirtless have plenty of ammo. (I’m not trolling you, I swear)

She even confirms what we know from plenty of other sources about the night before the Raid.

That’s incredibly lucky and not something you can “just make up” so I’m also linking the transcript of her recorded statement.

http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/D%20Disk/Davis%20Ricardo/Item%2007.pdf

Now on to the the mechanic…

Weisberg details his conversation with the mechanic while the guy is fixing his battery. The mechanic describes another camp - not Camp A or Camp B. This will be the future Camp C (I'm clueless on this one).

Astonishingly, (and this is the clue I’m suggesting Weisberg did not follow up on -that I can tell), he suggests that there was another camp he knew of at Dixie Ranch. There is no reason why this can't be the same camp the girl describes above. I think it is Camp B.

Go back to that 1934 map and look at Dixie Ranch just to the east of the northern end of Big Branch Bayou. Would a local say that’s in Big Branch? I think so.

One other thing that jumped out at me about Dixie Ranch. I had a good friend in Germany that passed away a few years ago but he had been a sniper in the German Army (NATO era). We used to debate JFK conspiracy theories - or more accurately I probably asked him stupid questions. We were having a chat about the need for any shooter to “hit the range” and he commented that if he was assigned an assassination as an active shooter in an operation like Dallas -he would have liked a range tower to practice fire from.

Dixie Ranch has a tall tower today. it lies at the end/beginning of Firetower Rd. and adjacent to a long field. Until I can find a 60's photo I can't say for certain it's there in 1963.

- Chris

edit grammar and corrected

Edited by Chris Newton
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Thanks a lot Tommie!

It’s hard to notice when you first look at the little map I linked to above, but there are very few east/west routes north of State Hwy. 190. Interstate 12 won’t begin to open until 1967 and won’t be finished until well into the 70’s. When you look at most mapping software like GoogleEarth you can’t normally look back farther than the late 80’s. In 1963 most of what we see on a modern map doesn’t exist, sprawl-wise. The Bayou is a very dense and remote environment.

To help, I found a 1934 USGS Map of Slidell, La.. I know 1934 is 30 years too rural but I couldn’t find a 60’s version on short notice.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/louisiana/txu-pclmaps-topo-la-slidell-1934.jpg

Note: to the NNE of Lacombe you’ll see Big Branch Bayou snaking north.

In 1968 Harold Weisberg drove around this area trying to dig up some leads. He came up with several good ones, one really remarkable taped interview and a lead he wrote about but I can’t find any evidence he followed up on. Both those leads and something I noticed when I examined the site lead me to believe it’s the best candidate location.

The interview is with a young lady that had a very interesting “date” with Richard Davis and nearer to the end of his account the last clue comes from the guy that fixes his car.

http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/T%20Disk/Turner%20Dione%20Miscellaneous%20Notes/Item%2003.pdf

Mr Weisberg was astonished to hear Chelise Ann describe Richard Davis to a “T”.

There’s a long journey to a camp.

She describes a security team without knowing what it is.

She describes what are probably assault rifles carried by some people, rifles by others.

She describes people who despite being shirtless have plenty of ammo. (I’m not trolling you, I swear)

She even confirms what we know from plenty of other sources about the night before the Raid.

That’s incredibly lucky and not something you can “just make up” so I’m also linking the transcript of her recorded statement.

http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/D%20Disk/Davis%20Ricardo/Item%2007.pdf

Now on to the the mechanic…

Weisberg details his conversation with the mechanic while the guy is fixing his battery. The mechanic describes another camp - not Camp A or Camp B. This will be the future Camp C (I'm clueless on this one).

Astonishingly, (and this is the clue I’m suggesting Weisberg did not follow up on -that I can tell), he suggests that there was another camp he knew of at Dixie Ranch. There is no reason why this can't be the same camp the girl describes above. I think it is Camp B.

Go back to that 1934 map and look at Dixie Ranch just to the east of the northern end of Big Branch Bayou. Would a local say that’s in Big Branch? I think so.

One other thing that jumped out at me about Dixie Ranch. I had a good friend in Germany that passed away a few years ago but he had been a sniper in the German Army (NATO era). We used to debate JFK conspiracy theories - or more accurately I probably asked him stupid questions. We were having a chat about the need for any shooter to “hit the range” and he commented that if he was assigned an assassination as an active shooter in an operation like Dallas -he would have liked a range tower to practice fire from.

Dixie Ranch has a tall tower today. it lies at the end/beginning of Firetower Rd. and adjacent to a long field. Until I can find a 60's photo I can't say for certain it's there in 1963.

- Chris

edit grammar and corrected

Chris,

Yes, I see the tower on GE.

I guess the Dixie Ranch is now the "Dixie Ranch Hunting Club."

It's interesting that it's only about 3.5 miles from the Slidell Airport which has a 5000' runway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slidell_Airport

I did a little snooping around on the Internet an found out that an Allen S. Clark, Jr. (b. 1925, d. 2003) was a WWII marine who later on was on the board of directors of the hunting club.

That tower might have been a good place to train for an upper floor TSBD or a DalTex shot.

Keep up the good work.

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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This is all of great interest to me! Thanks so much Mr. Newton and Mr. Graves. I am interviewing some local people and wanted to add a piece of trivia and ask a question about all this. It seems that many of the Right-Wingers in Dallas also knew of Mclaney, in fact, Colonel Castorr asked if Mclaney was ever interviewed along with someone named Lefty Allen in regards to the Lacombe Training Camp. I don't know if this is of help to you two, but if you know anything about it, it would be a great help to me! :help

Great work!

Gayle

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This is all of great interest to me! Thanks so much Mr. Newton and Mr. Graves. I am interviewing some local people and wanted to add a piece of trivia and ask a question about all this. It seems that many of the Right-Wingers in Dallas also knew of Mclaney, in fact, Colonel Castorr asked if Mclaney was ever interviewed along with someone named Lefty Allen in regards to the Lacombe Training Camp. I don't know if this is of help to you two, but if you know anything about it, it would be a great help to me! :help

Great work!

Gayle

Hi Gayle,

Who was Lefty Allen?

--Tommy :sun

Edit: I did a little more "research" and came up with this part of a 1967 Harold Weisberg interview of Colonel and Mrs. L. Robert Castorr which Tom Scully posted on an EF thread called "Kennedy Ripples" back in 2012:

W: When you were briefed on [John] Martino's background, were you told

anything about him prior to the months he spent in the Castro

prison. What did he do in Havana before Castro?.

Mrs. C: No.

Mr. C.: Subsequently, the terminology which was used I believe that

he was an electronic engineer but let's get down to specifics

now and... I think he was a gambler, a syndicate operator, I imagine.

W: He was protecting the house against cheaters.

Mr. C: Did you ever hear where he might have worked. You know I'm

quite curious to know whether it might have been Lefty Allen or Mike McLaney???

Mrs. C: I have no idea.

W: Never heard of them.

[ http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/C%20Disk/Castorr%20L%20Robert%20Colonel/Item%2012.pdf

TAPE #1 (SIDE 1) Subject Index Files/C Disk/Castorr L Robert Colonel

Weissberg -- questioning (Dick Billings is also present) (7 May, 1967)

(Col. and Mrs.) Castorr-- answering ]

I wonder if Col. Castorr meant to say Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, whom some researchers believe was associated with Operation 40 member Luis Clemente Posada Carriles?

My intuition tells me that when Colonel Castorr said "Lefty Allen," he was confusing and combining the names of mobbed-up Las Vegas casino boss Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and his "employer" / front man Allen R. Glick, both of whom were memorialized in the film Casino.

Edit: That doesn't make sense, though, because the interview of Colonel Castorr was in 1967, and Rosenthal and Glick didn't start working together until the mid 1970's. Still, Castorr could have meant Lefty Rosenthal when he said "Lefty Allen."

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal testifying in 1961 to the Senate Investigations Committee on organized gambling.

scaled.Obit_Rosenthal_NY130_t653.jpg?214

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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From a previous post -

FEBRUARY 5, 1967


TO: JIM GARRSION, DISTRICT ATTORNEY


FROM: JIM ALCOCK, ASSISTANT DISCTRICT ATTORNEY


RE: ANGEL VEGA


At 10:00 PM on January 31, 1967, CHARLES JONAU and I spoke to
ANGEL VEGA. This meeting, arranged by LAUREANO BATISTA,
Took place at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Movement
located at 1732 N.W. 7th Street, Miami, Florida….


ANGEL VEGA is a slightly built Cuban male appearing to be in his
late twenties. He was one of the twenty Cubans who trained at a camp
in the New Orleans area. VEGA arrived at eth camp sometime near
the middle or end of June, 1963. When he arrived, there were only
four or five others at the camp site. The house and grounds where they
stayed were completely run down, giving the appearance they had not
been inhabited for quite a while. Their first task was to refurbish the
house and its conveniences.


All personnel stayed in the house which consisted of three rooms, a
kitchen and two baths. In addition to this, there was a screened porch
on the front and back of the house. The grounds had a swimming pool
which was constantly fed by an underground spring. Also, there was a
stream or bayou running through the property. Within sight of the property
was another house. The camp was served by a dirt road which VEGA recalls
was never used by vehicular traffic during his entire stay at the camp. ANGEL VEGA is positive he could find this camp site today, and would be willing to come to
New Orleans on a weekend for that purpose.


Training at the camp was principally limited to a physical fitness program. Daily exercises were taken along with swimming lessons. The men at the camp also practiced fording the stream that ran through the property. At no time did the men stray farther than about 200 yards from the house. No shooting whatsoever took place at the camp. They had two or three old Springfield rifles and M-1 carbine. These weapons were never fired. The M-1 carbine was used to show the men how to disassemble and assemble the weapon. During the course of many of the exercises, the men would carry small logs to simulate the weight of a weapon. Also, these logs were used in mock hand-to-hand combat training.


About two days before the cache of explosives was found at the other camp, ANGEL VEGA and two other camp members left for Miami with the Castro agent, FERNANDO FERNANDEZ. Shortly thereafter all Cubans at the camp returned to Miami. This was about August 1, 1963. Therefore, the camp was in operation for about five or six weeks.


While at the camp, ANGEL heard rifle shots and explosions from the direction of the other camp. However, at no time did VEGA and his fellow Cubans know of the existence of the other camp. This came to their knowledge only after the explosives were found.


As ANGEL recalls, the camp site was owned by two American males in their fifties or sixties. He feels they were in the insurance business. All contacts with them were made by RICARDO (DICKEY) DAVIS. They came to the camp occasionally to see if the men needed any food. DAVIS came to the camp about 8 to 10 time, mostly bringing food when he came. On one occasion, he brought his wife and he did some target shooting with a 22 caliber pistol.


ANGEL VEGA never heard the name of SERGIO ARCACHA SMITH or LINDBERGH mentioned and never saw any other Americans at the camp with the exception of the two previously mentioned. Angel remembers the following men to have been at the camp with him:


VICTOR PANEQUE 2ND in Command
FIDEL ZALDIVAR 1st in Command
……PERIU VICTORIA
MIGUEL CARBALLIDO
HENRY INFANTE
RAUL FANTONE
FERNANDO FERNANDEZ
SERGIO (NOT ARCACHA SMITH)


As you can see, ANGEL could only remember the first name of one man and only the last name of another. LAUREANO BATISTA, however, is still trying to locate a complete camp roster for us. He is also trying to locate the names if the Americans who owned the camp. If he is successful, he has promised to mail the information to me in New Orleans.


I feel that ANGEL VEGA was completely candid and cooperative throughout the interview. However, as far as the movement and its key personnel are concerned, we should expect some hedging.


JIM ALCOCK


..............----


This is the Slidell camp that was financed by "a group of very wealthy Texans and Louisianeans (Oil men) who had a lot of money and were willing to back any anti-Castro plan that would give them land were they could have a camp to train."


Most of the men were recruited by Victor "Diego" Panique who was then in New Jersey. They were to train for Somoza's "Nicaraguan Operation." Somoza had actually gone to Miami to do some personal recruiting.

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Interesting. If the date is correct, this story came out long before the FBI Raid:

The Miami Herald

July 22, 1962
Anti-Castro War Camp Ruled Out by Exiles
By James BUCHANAN Herald Staff Writer
Anti‑Castro Cubans and their American supporters have been forced to drop plans for a large guerrilla warfare training camp near New Orleans, The Herald learned Saturday.
The site, on the north edge of Lake Pontchartrain 40 miles north of New Orleans, was donated this spring by an anonymous U.S. businessman.
The training of anti‑Castro Cubans and the camp itself ,were to have been commanded by Gerald Patrick Heming, a 25-year-old soldier of fortune well known to Cubans here.
The "stop order" came from the Cuban Revolutionary Council's Miami headquarters, which advised its New Orleans associates they could not support any clandestine training sites in the United States.
Preparations for activating the guerrilla warfare school were begun last February as New Orleans' Cuban colony began rounding up arms, ammunition and money for the Venture.
Reportedly, they were successful in raising large sums of money and acquiring large stocks of late model weapons.
Patrick made Innumerable trips between Miami and New Orleans during the past four months preparing the site, which is complete with an airstrip, for July occupancy.
Plans had called for the training of 50 to 75 Cubans in classes lasting from six to eight weeks. •
At the completion of, the "courses," the guerrilla fighters would have been ready to infiltrate Cuba where they would work with local underground leaders in sabotage and operations against Castro's army and militia.
Louis Rabell, the New Orleans representative of the Cuban Revolutionary Council headed by Dr. Miro Cardona, confirmed the Council had ordered the camp closed before it opened.
In Miami it was said that public knowledge of the proposed camp became too widespread and the Council wanted, to dodge any connection with a large scale operation on which the U.S. State Department and Central Intelligence Agency would frown.
Hemming who operates under the name Jerry Patrick, has been active in anti‑Castro activities here since late 1960. He had been active in Cuba since 1958 with Castro's forces and defected.
Leading first one group and then another, Patrick' finally settled upon the name International Penetration Force" for his organization and began guerrilla training of Cuban refugees here with money supplied by the Cuban colony.
A 6‑foot, 5‑inch, 231 pounder, Patrick has abandoned the long hair, pointed beard, and Australian bush hat he wore for more than a year during his early activities here.
A veteran of four years with the Marine Corps, he now dresses as unobtrusively as possible and is still considered one of the most ardent and effective Americans working with the anti‑Castro forces.
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Hey Gayle!

I don't know enough about the political agendas of all the people involved with these training camps yet. It seems like a there were like ten hands in the "cookie jar", if that's possible.

Mike McLaney certainly had connections everywhere from the Kennedy brothers and the Mob to John Birchers and Minutemen. It was his brother, William McLaney, whose cottage was raided for the explosives cache. I don't think that implicates Mike McLaney of anything on it's own.

Good luck with your search! - Chris

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From a previous post -

FEBRUARY 5, 1967

TO: JIM GARRSION, DISTRICT ATTORNEY

FROM: JIM ALCOCK, ASSISTANT DISCTRICT ATTORNEY

RE: ANGEL VEGA

At 10:00 PM on January 31, 1967, CHARLES JONAU and I spoke to

ANGEL VEGA. This meeting, arranged by LAUREANO BATISTA,

Took place at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Movement

located at 1732 N.W. 7th Street, Miami, Florida….

ANGEL VEGA is a slightly built Cuban male appearing to be in his

late twenties. He was one of the twenty Cubans who trained at a camp

in the New Orleans area. VEGA arrived at the camp sometime near

the middle or end of June, 1963. When he arrived, there were only

four or five others at the camp site. The house and grounds where they

stayed were completely run down, giving the appearance they had not

been inhabited for quite a while. Their first task was to refurbish the

house and its conveniences.

All personnel stayed in the house which consisted of three rooms, a

kitchen and two baths. In addition to this, there was a screened porch

on the front and back of the house. The grounds had a swimming pool

which was constantly fed by an underground spring. Also, there was a

stream or bayou running through the property. Within sight of the property

was another house. The camp was served by a dirt road which VEGA recalls

was never used by vehicular traffic during his entire stay at the camp.

ANGEL VEGA is positive he could find this camp site today, and would be

willing to come to New Orleans on a weekend for that purpose.

Training at the camp was principally limited to a physical fitness program. Daily exercises were taken along with swimming lessons. The men at the camp also practiced fording the stream that ran through the property. At no time did the men stray farther than about 200 yards from the house. No shooting whatsoever took place at the camp. They had two or three old Springfield rifles and M-1 carbine. These weapons were never fired. The M-1 carbine was used to show the men how to disassemble and assemble the weapon. During the course of many of the exercises, the men would carry small logs to simulate the weight of a weapon. Also, these logs were used in mock hand-to-hand combat training.

About two days before the cache of explosives was found at the other camp, ANGEL VEGA and two other camp members left for Miami with the Castro agent, FERNANDO FERNANDEZ. Shortly thereafter all Cubans at the camp returned to Miami. This was about August 1, 1963. Therefore, the camp was in operation for about five or six weeks.

While at the camp, ANGEL heard rifle shots and explosions from the direction of the other camp. However, at no time did VEGA and his fellow Cubans know of the existence of the other camp. This came to their knowledge only after the explosives were found.

As ANGEL recalls, the camp site was owned by two American males in their fifties or sixties. He feels they were in the insurance business. All contacts with them were made by RICARDO (DICKEY) DAVIS. They came to the camp occasionally to see if the men needed any food. DAVIS came to the camp about 8 to 10 times, mostly bringing food when he came. On one occasion, he brought his wife and he did some target shooting with a 22 caliber pistol.

ANGEL VEGA never heard the name of SERGIO ARCACHA SMITH or LINDBERGH mentioned and never saw any other Americans at the camp with the exception of the two previously mentioned. Angel remembers the following men to have been at the camp with him:

VICTOR PANEQUE 2ND in Command

FIDEL ZALDIVAR 1st in Command

……PERIU VICTORIA

MIGUEL CARBALLIDO

HENRY INFANTE

RAUL FANTONE

FERNANDO FERNANDEZ

SERGIO (NOT ARCACHA SMITH)

As you can see, ANGEL could only remember the first name of one man and only the last name of another. LAUREANO BATISTA, however, is still trying to locate a complete camp roster for us. He is also trying to locate the names if the Americans who owned the camp. If he is successful, he has promised to mail the information to me in New Orleans.

I feel that ANGEL VEGA was completely candid and cooperative throughout the interview. However, as far as the movement and its key personnel are concerned, we should expect some hedging.

JIM ALCOCK

..............----

This is the Slidell camp that was financed by "a group of very wealthy Texans and Louisianeans (Oil men) who had a lot of money and were willing to back any anti-Castro plan that would give them land were they could have a camp to train."

Most of the men were recruited by Victor "Diego" Panique who was then in New Jersey. They were to train for Somoza's "Nicaraguan Operation." Somoza had actually gone to Miami to do some personal recruiting.

Thanks, David!

Two comments and a question:

1 ) The camp in red sounds like the camp on Big 7 Road near Lacombe. The clincher for me is that the "Lacombe Bayou" (or stream) is only 160 feet from the house, according to Google Earth. (I have the free NGS topo map "overlays" on my GE.)

2 ) The camp in green must have been fairly close to if they could hear gun shots from it. If the camp in green was situated where the Dixie Ranch Hunting Club (and fire watch tower) are today, then, according to GE, they were 3.9 miles apart, as the crow flies. With 3.9 miles of flat but, densely forested, land in between.

Question: Would it have been possible to hear M-1 shots from that far away, over that kind of terrain, in humid conditions?

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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Hey Tommie,

I read this one too. It's a summary of what Angel told Alcock in Miami. Arrangements were made and Angel was flown up to N.O. where Al Olas picked him up and drove him up to Lacombe. In another memo to Garrison, Al Olas describes asking Angel about gunfire and Angel pointing his finger in a general direction of the McLaney Cottage and Pontchartrain Road. This is partially what prompted these guys to bushwhack all over the Big Branch subdivision looking for a camp. I don't think this camp (our camp A) was sufficiently within audible range of Dixie Ranch to hear much gunfire.

I agree 100% abut the close proximity to the airport and that's one of the reasons I posted the news article above. I'm holding off judgement for now about the explosives cache and a possible airstrike operation - so many people seem to "know" about it that I wonder if it's a red herring.

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Hey Tommie,

I read this one too. It's a summary of what Angel told Alcock in Miami. Arrangements were made and Angel was flown up to N.O. where Al Olas picked him up and drove him up to Lacombe. In another memo to Garrison, Al Olas describes asking Angel about gunfire and Angel pointing his finger in a general direction of the McLaney Cottage and Pontchartrain Road. This is partially what prompted these guys to bushwhack all over the Big Branch subdivision looking for a camp. I don't think this camp (our camp A) was sufficiently within audible range of Dixie Ranch to hear much gunfire.

I agree 100% abut the close proximity to the airport and that's one of the reasons I posted the news article above. I'm holding off judgement for now about the explosives cache and a possible airstrike operation - so many people seem to "know" about it that I wonder if it's a red herring.

Chris,

The camp "with a stream or bayou running through it" sure sounds like the camp at the end of Big 7 Road to me. My topo map overlay on GE shows that the "Lacombe Bayou" (stream) is only 160 feet from the house. What Angel said about the no firing of guns at that camp makes sense, too, as does the swimming pool, the house, the (dead end?) dirt road with no traffic, the other house visible from the property, etc.

Stupid question: Where was the (Bill?) McLaney cottage?

Edit: Or is that what we're trying to find out? LOL

--Tommy :sun

PS It sure would be interesting to check the historical records for the Big 7 Road property at the St. Tammany Parish "Recorder's Office" (?) in Mandeville, LA.. http://www.stpgov.org/

When I google "big 7 road" in quotation marks, the only address I come up with is 28539 Big 7 Road ...

Edited by Thomas Graves
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Tommie,

Yes. The property you described is the Big 7 Rd. Camp in my opinion.

The Mclaney Cottage is at approximately 61027 31st St. Lacombe, la., in my opinion.

PS to cut down on confusion lets agree to call camp A the "Big 7 Camp" and the camp B the "Dixie Ranch Camp"

Edited by Chris Newton
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