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Abner "Butch" Stokes


John Simkin
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My name is Abner "Butch" Stokes. I have lived in South Florida all my life. I have been married for over 41 years and have one daughter and grand daughter. I have owned a Porsche independent garage for over 30 years. Before that I was a marine mechanic. My main interest in the forums is the connection with the Bay of Pigs era and Kennedy's assassination. When I graduated from high school I worked on outboard motors, namely Mercury's. I was a top mechanic very early in my life, I also won a lot of races for Mercury. A large portion of my work was maintaining boats for Rip Robertson. I worked for and with him, Mickey Kappes, Bob "Burke",Tony Cuesta, and the frogmen they worked with. Gray Lynch was the boss, but seemed to let Rip handle the boats. Rips initials were WAR, which he had on a front license plate on the Rambler he drove. He was known as the Alligator man because being in the sun so much his skin had suffered. He was getting me a "secret clearance" to go to the farm and work there full time, when Kennedy was killed.

In Oct 63 I was about to be drafted. I was 21 at the time. I told Rip and he said "this is not good". He told me to join the Marines right away,which were my plans, and he could get me on a TAD to keep working with him after basic training.He stressed this training would be very good for me. I joined on Oct 31 and three weeks later Kennedy was killed. I heard a few days later Rip had gone to the Congo. This from his wife. I went to Chu Lai, Vietnam in early 66 with the 11th Marines as a Counter Mortar Radar operator, then went to Fire Direction Control and served as Op Chief with Golf 3/11, 1st Mar Div. I received a Purple Heart in Sept 66 resulting from mine shrapnel. I spoke with Gray at his book signing in Coral Gables and asked him if he was going to write about the operations after Bay of Pigs. He said that's another story completely, and "I'm working on it."

Welcome to the Forum. Would be very interesting in reading your views on Rip Robertson, Tony Cuesta, and Gray Lynch. Did you ever hear any of these three people talking about JFK? Did they blame him for the Bay of Pigs failure?

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Hi Butch, welcome!

A few questions jump to mind:

1) I was wondering if you ever heard Rip call himself or anyone else call him "Carlos", that's the name he used when he got to the Congo and I've always sort of wondered if it was something he used as a nick name?

2) Could you give any further details about the time frame in which you knew Cuesta, was it before the Bay of Pigs, any details of what he was doing or doing with Rip would be very interesting.

3) You used the term "farm", there have been many references to "farms" and I was wondering if you could tie down were this one was and what went on there?

Thanks in advance? Larry

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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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Thanks, Butch, that is terrific information.

One more question if you don't mind. Did Rip ever talk about a mission into Cuba in the summer of 1963 that involved a Cuban by the name of Eddie Perez aka Eddie Bayo?

Cheers,

James

I don't remember anything about that, although I had read about it with interest.

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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

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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

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

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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

Butch,

Some researchers including me believe that the man shown below in Dealey Plaza was Rip Robertson. Based on the photo, what do you think?

robertson.jpg

Thanks,

Ron

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

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Butch,

Thanks. The man on the left below is the same man. It shows his profile and gives an idea of his build. Does he look like Rip here?

elmcrossingcrop.jpg

Ron

[/quote

Not really. Rip was tall and lanky. I can't tell the height of this guy, but I would never suspect that was Rip. Rip looked like a person that was outside all his working life. Sort of a construction worker type. He also carried himself differently. Remember that he was a Marine Officer. I was told he retired a Colonel

Butch

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Butch,

Thanks for your comments. (Please ignore Mark's ripping off of an actor's name for a laugh.) The thing about the Rip lookalike (as has been previously discussed here) is that he is not the only covert operative lookalike on that same street corner. Most notably there is a lookalike of CIA agent Lucien Conein, as seen here:

coneincomp.jpg

There is also Lamppost Man, so-called because he looks just like a CIA agent (Pakse Base Man) photographed later in Laos (ignore the man shown here on the upper left, who is David Morales and was not Lamppost Man, seen on the right):

pbm.jpg

One lookalike on the corner could of course be coincidence. But three or more lookalikes of members of the same intelligence agency on the same corner would seem to defy the odds.

While the Rip lookalike may not look that much like Rip to you as you remember him, to someone who never knew Rip the facial resemblance in the photos is remarkable. And it has to be judged in the context of this not being the only agency-related lookalike. I therefore still have to believe there is a very good chance (bordering on near certainty) that it’s Rip, Conein, and company.

What would falsify this belief is documentary evidence that these individuals were somewhere else on that day.

Ron

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Butch,

Thanks for your comments. (Please ignore Mark's ripping off of an actor's name for a laugh.) The thing about the Rip lookalike (as has been previously discussed here) is that he is not the only covert operative lookalike on that same street corner. Most notably there is a lookalike of CIA agent Lucien Conein, as seen here:

coneincomp.jpg

There is also Lamppost Man, so-called because he looks just like a CIA agent (Pakse Base Man) photographed later in Laos (ignore the man shown here on the upper left, who is David Morales and was not Lamppost Man, seen on the right):

pbm.jpg

One lookalike on the corner could of course be coincidence. But three or more lookalikes of members of the same intelligence agency on the same corner would seem to defy the odds.

While the Rip lookalike may not look that much like Rip to you as you remember him, to someone who never knew Rip the facial resemblance in the photos is remarkable. And it has to be judged in the context of this not being the only agency-related lookalike. I therefore still have to believe there is a very good chance (bordering on near certainty) that it’s Rip, Conein, and company.

What would falsify this belief is documentary evidence that these individuals were somewhere else on that day.

Ron

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

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