Interpen (Intercontinental Penetration Force)
Interpen (Intercontinental Penetration Force) was established in 1961 by Gerry P. Hemming. Other members included Loran Hall, Roy Hargraves, William Seymour, Lawrence Howard, Steve Wilson, Howard K. Davis, Edwin Collins, James Arthur Lewis, Dennis Harber, Bill Dempsey, Dick Whatley, Ramigo Arce, Ronald Augustinovich, Joe Garman, Edmund Kolby, Ralph Schlafter, Manuel Aguilar and Oscar Del Pinto.
A recently declassified document says that in 1962, Robert Emmett Johnson was a member of Interpen. Later that year Johnson invited Robert K. Brown (USAR/CounterIntelligence Corps) to a meeting in Miami. Brown was the publisher of Alberto Bayo's 100 Questions for a Guerrilla. This book included an article written by Ulius Amoss called Leaderless Resistance which "referred to the proper strategy for conducting resistance operations against Castro and inside/outside of Cuba". The document also goes onto say: "Also included were numerous fotos of the G/W instructor cadre of InterPen which were taken by Brown at the Everglades training camp."
Interpen was also involved in training members of the anti-Castro groups funded by people like Roland Masferrer, Carlos Prio and Santos Trafficante. When the government began to crack down on raids from Florida in 1962, Interpen set up a new training camp in New Orleans. The group carried out a series of raids on Cuba in an attempt to undermine the government of Fidel Castro. These stories were reported by the photo-journalist, Tom Dunkin, for Life Magazine.
Photomontage supplied by James Richards
Roy Hargraves working closely with Felipe Vidal Santiago, carried out a series of raids on Cuba in the 1960s (23 in 1962). This involved a plan to create a war by simulating an attack on Guantanamo Naval Base. In 1963 Hargraves led a team of exiles in a successful raid on Cuba. After capturing two Cuban fishing boats Hargraves took them to the Bahamas. Some members such as William Seymour and Edwin Collins, worked with Bernardo De Torres on non-Interpen operations in 1963.
Declassified FBI files show that the agency had an informer within Interpen. His code name was MM T-1. In one document dated 16th June, 1961, it said that MM T-1 had “been connected with Cuban revolutionary activities for the past three years”. One document dated 12th May, 1961, claims that Allen Lushane of Miami “had made a trip to Texas to recruit Americans for some future military action against the Government of Cuba”. The document adds that the “first training camp was established by Gerald Patrick Hemming with Dick Watley and Ed Colby running the camp.” In an interview that he gave to John M. Newman on 6th January, 1995, Hemming claims that the FBI informer was Steve Wilson.
Some researchers believe that a combination of Interpen members, CIA agents and anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This included James Arthur Lewis, Roy Hargraves, Edwin Collins, Steve Wilson, Gerry P. Hemming, David Morales, Herminio Diaz Garcia, Tony Cuesta, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, Felipe Vidal Santiago, Robert Emmett Johnson, Carl E. Jenkins, Chi Chi Quintero and William (Rip) Robertson..
(1) Anthony Summers, Conspiracy (1980)
Gerry Hemming was to become well known in the Sixties for his links with ClA-backed anti-Castro exiles; but in January 1959, as American policy hung in the balance, he was still working with Castro's people.... Hemming explained that he believed Oswald's service at the Atsugi base made him a likely recruit for intelligence... Hemming offers only his personal opinion, based on a gut feeling at the time, that Oswald was involved with one of the intelligence services when he met him in 1959.
(2) Gerry Hemming interviewed by Anthony Summers in 1979.
He (Lee Harvey Oswald) was attempting to get in with the representatives of Castro's new government, the consular officials in Los Angeles. And at that point in time I felt that he was a threat to me and to those Castro people, that he was an informant or some type of agent working for somebody. He was rather young, but I felt that he was too knowledgeable in certain things not to be an agent of law enforcement or of Military Intelligence, or Naval Intelligence.
As a radar operator living in a highly restricted area, he would have been fraternizing with CIA contract employees. Sooner or later he would fraternize with a case officer, one or more, that handled these contract employees. He would be a prime candidate for recruitment because of job skills, and expertise, and the fact that they could personally vouch for him and give him a security clearance.
(3) Thomas Bethall, letter to Edward Jay Epstein (25th July, 1967)
We were recently paid an unannounced visit by two Americans who were intimately connected with Cuban exile groups in the summer of 1963. One, Gerry Patrick Hemming, was even dressed in fatigues. The main purpose of their visit seemed to be to point an authoritative finger of suspicion at Hall, Howard and Seymour, (to an extent that we began to wonder if they knew that others were involved and were trying to protect them.) Gerry Patrick told me the following story which I thought might interest you.
According to Gerry Patrick, (he usually drops the Hemming) there were in 1963 numerous "teams" with paramilitary inclinations out to "get" Kennedy. Some of these teams had been approached by wealthy entrepreneurs of the H.L. Hunt type, (though not, I think, in fact H.L. Hunt) who were interested in seeing the job done and even provided financial assistance. Then, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy is shot down on the streets, ("Maybe Oswald got there ahead of them," Patrick commented) and then for 2 years or so, there the story rests.
However, since all the mounting controversy of the last 12 months, a startling new development has occurred, according to Patrick. Recently, members of the "teams" have been returning to their sponsors, taking credit for the assassination, and at the same time requesting large additional sums of money so that they won't be tempted to talk about it to anyone. In turn, the sponsors have apparently been hiring Mafia figures to rid themselves of these blackmailers.
Gerry Patrick admitted that his own association with some of these extremist groups in 1963 has recently been causing him some concern. Incidentally, this may very well be the true story behind the Del Valle murder in Miami, reported this spring in the National Enquirer.
(4) John Kelin, review of Noel Twyman's book, Bloody Treason (1998)
Chapter 27 (is) a long account of the author's interviews with and analysis of Gerry Patrick Hemming. Hemming is a figure whose exact ties to the case have always been unclear to me. But this is a fine example of Bloody Treason being loaded with, if not new evidence, at least a lot of information that has not been brought together like this before, as far as I know.
Twyman says that unnamed "prominent researchers" had warned him not to take Hemming seriously or Bloody Treason would be "completely discredited." But I am glad he did take him seriously, going so far as to meet with him on a number of occasions and probe his story in depth. Hemming is mentioned throughout the assassination literature. The author fills in much of Hemming's background (he formed a paramilitary group as a teenager) and demonstrates how his later activities, specifically Hemming's group Interpen, may have involved him in the JFK assassination plot(s). Hemming comes across as very credible in these pages.
(5) Tom Dunkin, letter to Richard Billings (June, 1967)
First contact with No Name Key group was in July or August, 1962, when small group was camping on south shorts of Lake Okeechobee, near Pahokee-Belle Glade.
Among those present were Howard K. Davis, identified as "car leader", Gerald Patrick Hemming, aka "Jerry Patrick", Joe Garman, and Steve Wilson.
Group a bit publicity shy, but in September, at request of WFLA-TV Tampa friend, Don Starr, tried for footage on their activities. Met with Davis and Patrick in Miami on Sat. Sept. 15, finally, around 2 a.m. Sunday Sept. 16, got approval.
Two carloads departed Miami for No Name Key, including Davis, Patrick, Cuban known only as Pino, among others. At the camp on No Name Key, Steve Wilson was in charge. Other Americans there included Ed Collins, Bill Seymour, Canadian Bill Dempsey, one individual identified as Finnish and in doubtful status with Immigration, named Edmund Kolbe, also Roy Hargraves.
Number of men transported by boat from No Name Sunday, Sept 16, for a demonstration which was filmed on Big Pine Key, near No Name, by WFLA-TV sound crew, by myself with film going to WTVT Tampa, plus stills which were used in Miami Herald story on 20 September and in Glades County Democrat 21 September 1962.
Democrat article read by a friend Larry Newman Jr., managing editor of Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, resulting in request for a feature with fresh art, dated 15 October.
Returned to Miami on Saturday 20 October, or possibly Friday. At any rate, after beer-drinking session in bar of Hotel Flagler, at which time Dennis Harber first encountered, accompanied Roy Hargraves to tourist court on Flagler where he was living with female know only as "Betty" whom he later reportedly married.
Arrival at 2 a.m. brought protest from Betty, who rather profanely instructed Hargraves to "get the hell out of here and take your queer friend with you." Later gratifyingly learned she had thought Harber was outside instead of me.
She protested to Hargraves that he was wasting his time with a revolution. He advised her he had too much time invested to quit. We slept in my car outside Patrick's headquarters, Federico's Guest House, 220 NW 8th Ave.
Howard K. Davis at that time lived at 3350 NW 18th Terrace. He accompanied both trips to No Name Key, and was reported leader of group. (Davis, interestingly, was listed in Associated Press Florida wire story F56MH ( believed to be March 24, 1960, but could have been 1959) as among 29 persons whom the Miami News listed as banned from aircraft rental on Border Patrol orders. Davis, and another American known only as "Art", later identified as Arthur Gerteit, were check pilots for CBS-Rolando Masferrer Haitian invasion "air Force" in November, 1966. Gerteit was later identified in United Press International dispatch from Tifton, Cal, early 1967 (Apr. 11) where Cuban arrested with bombs as he rented an airplane, as "an FBI Decoy")
On second trip to No Name on behalf of Dayton Daily News, Harber accompanied group, which included Cuban known to me only by last name of Pino, who also had been present at first filming session. Pino reportedly head of an exile group called Christian Army of Anti-Communist Liberation (ECLA), and not quotable by name at that time.
Harber was drunk on departure from Miami, and took one pint of whisky with him, which he asked be rationed to him slowly. I performed this task. Pino much amused at Harber, whom he called "el profesor."
Harber at that time was night clerk for the Flagler Hotel, 637 West Flagler, and also taught English (to Cuban exile students) at a language school next door to the hotel.
Harber was described by Patrick at that time as having terminal cancer. At present, according to last report from Patrick, Harber was serving sentenced in Mexico for murder, undocumented to me.
Harber lived in a small apartment behind Flagler Hotel, and shared it with various of the Americans occasionally, including Seymour, Collins, and a Czeck lad known as Karl Novak, who I don't recall seeing on No Name.
(6) James Richards, JFK Assassination Forum (15th July, 2004)
Interpen were a pretty loose group. Their personnel changed regularly, in fact at one low point, there was only about 6 men. The time they spent training on No Name Key was an interesting period as the island was leased by Rolando Masferrer and Lawrence Howard. I would have thought that some funding would have come via Masferrer himself, maybe Carlos Prio. There was also some money filtered in by some right wing groups and Hemming was constantly campaigning for funds which were always tight. His letters to General Walker are an example of that.
As Interpen, these guys didn't actually do much in the way of covert activity but as individuals, they were very active. Felipe Vidal Santiago recruited Interpen guys for missions into Cuba (23 in 1962), men like Roy Hargraves, Ed Collins and William Seymour. Collins and Seymour also worked with Bernardo De Torres and Dennis Harber on non Interpen organized outings. Steve Wilson ran guns down from Chicago to Florida for Paulino Sierra, James Arthur Lewis participated on the Bayo-Pawley Raid and Dick Whatley (in partnership with James Arthur Lewis and Bobby Willis) was very active within the covert world.
I have always viewed this by concentrating on the individuals rather than the group. For example, Roy Hargraves was one of the more active soldier of fortunes at the time and his exploits were daring. He just happened to be a member of Interpen for a short period of time.
I agree that Interpen itself was not funded by the CIA, but individuals within splinter groups may have been. I am also not counting anything rogue that may have originated out of JM/WAVE but that can hardly be called official Agency funding.
(7) Tom Dunkin, Intrigue at "No Name" Key, Back Channels (Spring 1992)
Oliver Stone's JFK seems to have achieved a double objective of being a moneymaker and a political activity stimulus, one of the movie's directors avers.
Although he denies any spooky associations, it's going to be interesting to see if future release of classified files on the Kennedy assassination pinpoints new intelligence community involvement, Roy Hargraves, a man with some shadowy past connections, acknowledges.
Hargraves denies any "contract CIA agent" links, although he was involved in military training of Cuban exiles in Florida and Louisiana. British author Anthony Summers hung the contract agent tag on members of the International Penetration Force in his book, Conspiracy.
Summer's book on the JFK assassination cites an FBI raid and the closing of a training site near Lake Ponchatrain several months before Kennedy's death as a possible contributing factor in the assassination.
Hargraves recalls there are many unanswered questions in the Cuban exile aspect of the Kennedy case. Early in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's probe, "Garrison accused us of training the triangulation team' of three alleged snipers at No Name Key."
No Name Key was the principal Florida training site for the IPF freelance volunteer instructors. "We testified before Garrison and convinced him he was wrong," Hargraves recalls, "and we went to work for him for about a month" early in Garrison's late 1966 and early 1967 investigation.
Garrison's, whose two non-fiction books, A Heritage of Stone, and On the Trail of The Assassins, were the basis of Stone's JFK said in them that Kennedy's "ordering an end to the CIA's continued training of anti-Castro guerrillas at the small, scattered camps in Florida and north of Lake Ponchatrain "added to the disenchantment which contributed to the President's murder.
Another interesting aspect of the Garrison investigation, is that, according to Hargraves, a Cuban exile investigator hired by Garrison" ripped off half the budget" to handicap the probe. Bernardo de Torres, a Bay of Pigs veteran, "was working for the CIA", Hargraves said, during the Garrison investigation.
De Torres, who has since disappeared from his former Miami haunts, also served as a security consultant to local and federal law enforcement units during President Kennedy's visit to Miami after Fidel Castro's release of the prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion.