William Morgan

Born 18th April 1928, in Cleveland Ohio USA. He had a troubled early up bringing, always running away from home and getting into trouble with the police. Finally he ran away from school at the age of 15. At 18 he joined the Army and after training was sent to serve with the Occupations Forces in Japan. He picked up the nickname of  “Gabby”, because he talked a lot. In November 1947 he was arrested for being AWOL and was sentenced to three months of hard labour with forfeited of pay. He then escaped over powering a guard, taking his pistol and uniform. But was recaptured and court marshalled and found guilty of escape and armed robbery. For this he was dishonourably discharged from the Army and received five years hard labour. In 1957 Morgan made contact with the, “Directorio Revolucionario” leader, Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, a rival group to Castro’s 26th July Movement, in the Escambray Mountains bisecting central Cuba. After a short time his military experience began to show. Remembering his army training he taught the troops discipline. While in these early days with a small section of men, they encountered and ambushed a five-man Cuban army patrol killing all five. This was believed to have been Morgans first combat. He steadily worked his way through the ranks of the local Guerrillas, training more and more revolutionaries in the light infantry, weapons, tactics, unarmed combat and knife fighting, to become commander of a column and later on to a commander of a zone. By now he was speaking Spanish fluently.

There was friction between the D.R and Castro’s 26 July Movement. But the move was always on to join the two forces. Castro dispatched Ernesto “Che” Guevara with a column of 200 men, ostensibly to join Morgan’s forces in the Escambray Mountain area. Morgan caught and disarmed the whole Column and sent them back. Castro never forgave him for this. By now there was a $20.000 price on his head dead or alive by the Batista Government. On December 22nd 1958 Morgan planned and led an attack on a fortified area protecting one of Cuba’s largest cities. After six days it fell. This was to signal the end of Bastisa’s reign. At 8am on January 2nd 1959 Morgan led a column of 3000 men into the city. Bastista had fled the country the night before. Morgan was proclaimed “Mayor”. Castro soon emerged as the dominant figure of all the revolutionaries. All the guerrilla units joined forces the struggle was over. But Morgan knew that Castro intended to run a communist state and publicly announced that he wanted no part of it and retired to the Escambray Mountains to run a fish and frog farm. But he and Menoyo kept in contact. It was around this time he contacted the CIA in America, claiming he could get rid of Castro in three days if he was given arms. Unfortunately once again the CIA read the wrong signs and thinking Castro would be sympathetic turned him down. Morgan and Menoyo joined up with Arturo Hernandez Tellaheche a former Cuban Senator to over throw Castro, with Tellaheche to become President upon success. But for some reason Morgan and Menoyo changed sides and reported them to Castro. Some say that Castro was already onto them. By now Castro could not trust Morgan not knowing what he might do next. By March 1960 Morgan concentrated on his frog farm and was earning valuable foreign exchange for Cuba. Finally after the “Bay of Pigs Raid”, Morgan was arrested and sent to the dreaded La Cabafia prison across the bay from Havana. Morgan was found guilty of being involved with the Bay of Pigs raid and sentenced to death. Even in prison Castro was scared of Morgan and would not enter his cell to talk to him, but exchanged conversation through his door. At a later date a raid on the cell found a pistol. Many say Morgan tried to goad Castro to enter his cell to kill him. On March 11th 1960 Morgan was marched out of his cell at La Cabana and stood against a dry moat. Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro were present. At 2.30am, lights were beamed on and a voice shouted out. “Kneel and beg for your life”. Morgan replied, “I kneel and beg for no man”. A single marksman was used. First he shot away one knee, then the other. “There, we can make you kneel”. The rifleman then shot out one shoulder, then the other. Finally a merciful Captain walked up and emptied a Tommy gun into the Americans chest. He was only 32.

“Merc” 'American Soldiers of Fortune' by Jay Mallin and Robert K Brown, Copyright 1979. Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc. later First Signet Printing 1980.