Intelligence & Information Gathering
The point-of-view presented is the situation of information about who transited in/out of Grenada during a limited time period. Such a viewpoint centers on who went into and left Grenada from 11 October until midnight of 24 October 1983, focusing on Pearls airport in Grenville. Along the way, significant national events will be noted. Material is compiled from varying and multiple printed sources.
During the Days of Crisis
11 October 1983-24 October 1983
Information concerning the arrival and departure of diplomats from the American Embassy in Barbados by charter plane is confusing. Much information comes from secondary sources, and a primary first-hand account, for example, contradicts the secondary sources. Diplomats could have landed at Pearls and then flown back the same day as a one-way flight is about 45 minutes. Tasks performed were often confidential in that some diplomats did not want the Revolutionary Military Council to know about their activities.
There is confusion on reports of chartered airplanes taking people of multiple nationalities out of Grenada in those last days. Those exiting were internationalist workers for the PRG, OAS people, medical school-affiliated persons, tourists, children and people who lived on the island part of the year. When one reads the snippets of reports, one can appreciate the panic and concern of those leaving.
11 October, 1983, Tuesday
A Canadian couple leaves Grenada with no problems.
In Washington, DC, at the regular morning meeting of the Senior National Security Council Staff with President Reagan, Constantine Menges states in his book 'Inside the NSC' and published before his death, that at that meeting he
provided a short account of the events in Grenada, the actions of hostile governments, and the concerns being raised by the friendly Caribbean democracies.
After the meeting, Menges writes that he drafted a plan for civilian evacuation.
11-12 October, 1983, Tuesday-Wednesday
Sometime in the early morning hours of 12 October, the guard duty is changed on Maurice Bishop's house on Mt. Wheldale. From those hours, continuing for one week, until the morning of Wednesday, 19 October, the Prime Minister is under house arrest; ESSENTIALLY from the time the guard duty changed - not OFFICIALLY which was the next day.
12 October, 1983, Wednesday
The National Security Council [NSC] holds its first RIG [Restricted Interagency Group] meeting. At this meeting, Langhorne Motley, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, addresses an immediate evacuation situation with the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] representative Colonel James W. Connally, USAF, Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Plans and Policy Directorate.
Core members of that Restricted Agency Group (RIG) are (Tony) Langhorne Motley; Oliver North, National Security Council; Constantine Menges, National Security Council; Nestor Sanchez, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs; Art Moreau, Vice Admiral under John Vessey [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]; and Duane Clarridge, CIA Clandestine Services Officer Chief, Latin American Division.
12-13 October, 1983, Wednesday to Thursday
In the predawn hours Thursday, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop is known to be put under house arrest at Mount Wheldale by soldiers of the Peoples Revolutionary Army (PRA).
13 October, 1983, Thursday
14 October, 1983, Friday
According to Langhorne Motley:
On October 13, an inter-agency group [at the State Department] discusses the growing unrest in Grenada and the possible dangers it might pose to U.S. citizens, of whom roughly 'one thousand' were living or studying in Grenada.
Many meetings were held in the coming days concerning the situation in Grenada. Those noted above were the start of the focus on the island and its U.S. citizens by members of the U.S. government. These pre-planning meetings in Washington continue each day until the execution of 'Operation Urgent Fury.'
Tom Adams, Prime Minister of Barbados actively discusses the deteriorating situation in neighboring Grenada. It is on this day, Menges tries to get in touch with Grenadian exiles in the United States and Oliver North is working hard in the basement.
Maurice Bishop's house arrest is publicly announced.
Unison Whiteman, People's Revolutionary Government Minister of Foreign Affairs, is on way home to Grenada and passing, as customary, through Barbados. He is telephoned by Tom Adams who offers political asylum. Whiteman refuses and continues in transit to Grenada.
A presentation in the United States, NYC, by Whiteman is cancelled. Below is the text from the flyer:
GRENADA, CARIACOU (sic) AND PETIT MARTINIQUE - 'THE FUTURE COMING TOWARDS US' - Benefit Film Premier, Friday, October 14, 1983/8PM, Hunter College Student Auditorium, 69th Street Between Park & Lexington Aves., New York City - Special Guest Speaker: Unison Whiteman, Min. of Foreign Affairs, Tickets: $5.00/For information call (212) 279-0707
Milan Bish, American Ambassador to Grenada in Barbados and interested parties based in Barbados, start receiving informant reports from Grenada on the situation there. Information is also appearing about the Grenada crisis in regional media which is read and heard in Grenada. Voice of America (VOA) and the BBC short-wave station are broadcasting re: a military take-over in Grenada.
Commercial air flights out of Pearls are suspended on this day, according to one account. According to the flight log there is activity at Pearls Airport.
14-15 October, 1983, Friday to Saturday
Whiteman arrives at Pearls airport.
Barbadian reporter Neville Martindale from the Nation newspaper manages to slip into Grenada, and slips out to Barbados through St. Vincent just as surreptitiously. Photographers Charles Hackett, a Nation photographer, and Willie Alleyne, a Barbadian-based press photographer, manage to make their way into Grenada.
15 October, 1983, Saturday
Milan Bish, American Ambassador to Grenada in Barbados and interested parties based in Barbados, continue receiving informant reports from Grenada on the situation there. Information also appears about the Grenada crisis in regional media which is read and heard in Grenada.
Dwight Wylie is staying at the Spice Island Inn. A journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Whylie was the first full-time Black announcer at the Canadian Broadcasting Company [CBC]. Alister Hughes is reportedly seen with Whylie, according to a Daily Situation intelligence report to Major Keith Roberts. Whylie is almost arrested on this day, according to the Grenada Newsletter. Journalist Alister Hughes of that paper prints:
Three Security and Immigration officials approached and said they wanted to talk with him [Dwight Whylie]. The crowd took the journalist away within the demonstration for 500 yards and then he [Whylie] is put in a car by the Minister of Industrialisation [Kendrick Radix]. Mr. Whylie was in Grenada on a UNESCO assignment, training the staff of Radio Free Grenada [RFG].
Later, this Jamaican-born broadcaster reports on the crisis in Grenada on CBC-TV. Whylie is expelled from Grenada on 24 October 1983.
One UPI report out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, printed in the Bergen, NJ Record newspaper, states that a total of 10 journalists are expelled from Grenada.
Another report, not attributed, says that 'a four-member Trinidad & Tobago Television crew and two Barbadian photographers were expelled.' The Barbadian photographic people are named below.
Five non-Grenadian journalists are escorted from the Spice Island on this Saturday, 15 October, according to Alister Hughes' Caribbean Newsletter. They are taken to Pearls airport by people who identified themselves as Immigration officials. Those deported are Nat Carnes, AP Caribbean Desk Editor based in Puerto Rico; Willie Alleyne, Barbadian-born and based AP Press photographer; Charles Hackett, the photographer from the Barbados Nation and Sunday Sun; Albert Branford of CANA Barbados and UPI photographer Roso (sic) Sabalones. Part of the notes from two of the reporters, primarily about the [first] Radix march that morning, were confiscated.
One printed news story is that the Nation reporters have hidden notes in their shoes, and that a camera is handed over to authorities with blank film while several rolls were hidden. Another news story relates that in the case of photographers Hackett and Alleyne, film had been hidden in socks when they were told to leave the island and were placed on an airplane. Somewhere in this influx-outflux of journalists, according to O'Shaughnessy, is Linda Prout from Newsweek.
Commercial flights at Pearls airport.
Nine [or five] journalists are refused entry [or ordered to take the next plane out] at Pearls airport; some from the UK and the United States, including R.A. Zaldivar of the Miami Herald and Frank J. Prial of the New York Times. Prial was denied entry on Friday 14 October and also Saturday 25 October. Journalist Prial reports:
A Government spokesman at Grenada airport, in turning back several journalists, says only that what is taking place on the island is 'an internal affair,' and not worth the attention of foreign journalists.
PM Tom Adams speaks to the press about a specific plan to rescue one person, PM Maurice Bishop, from house arrest:
On this day also, Saturday, October 15, an official of the Ministry of Defence and Security reported to me that he had been tentatively approached by a United States official about the prospect of rescuing Maurice Bishop from his captors and had been made an offer of transport.
Reported hearsay is that the offer from the unidentified [by rank or name US officer] to fly Bishop out is made by way of Lt-Col Oliver North of the National Security Council. Hard substantiation of North's part in this is a challenge. That a single transport airplane is requested by Milan Bish, the U.S. Ambassador to Grenada resident in Barbados, to the Barbadian Permanent Secretary of Defense and Security Brigadier General Rudyard Lewis is confirmed. The 'flying Bishop' story out came to nothing.
16 October, 1983, Sunday
17 October, 1983, Monday
PM Tom Adams, Barbados, presents a Caribbean rescue plan, primarily of Bishop, which he thinks may be better accepted by the Revolutionary Military Council than any American or CARICOM evacuation plan. A draft of this Regional Security System (RSS) plan, partially crafted by Major Mark Adkin, British contract officer with Barbados Defence Force, is offered to Washington. Nobody is to be attacked even though it is a military plan.
Milan Bish, American Ambassador to Grenada in Barbados and interested parties based in Barbados, receive additional informant reports from Grenada on the situation there. Information is also appearing about the Grenada crisis in regional media which is read and heard in Grenada.
Andy Johnson, who had written a critical column in the Trinidad Express which is published that day is deported out of Grenada early that morning at 8 a.m. He is visited by two security officers and requested to go to Immigration; then he checks out of his hotel before leaving. Journalists continue to find their efforts to enter Grenada denied.
Second Lieutenant Alvin Quintyne and Lance Corporal Marita Browne of the Barbados Defence Force fly into Pearls airport from St. Vincent. They report on the situation to Brigadier Rudyard Lewis, a Barbadian commander of the Caribbean Security Force/Regional Security System [RSS].
Teacher and poet Michele Gibbs-Russell returns to her home in Grenada via Pearls airport from Detroit.
The Pearls Airport log is blank except for the statement 17th October "The radio is now in working condition. 1049."
US Secretary of State George P. Shultz states in his book "Turmoil and Triumph" that
An oral request had come in from Mrs. Charles on October 17 for help from the United States . . .
Milan Bish, American Ambassador to Grenada in Barbados and interested parties based in Barbados, still receive additional informant reports from Grenada on the situation there. Information continues to appear about the Grenada crisis in regional media which is read and heard in Grenada.
Robert 'Bud' McFarlane, a deputy in the National Security Council, is appointed President Reagan's National Security Advisor, replacing William Clark.
18 October, 1983, Tuesday
Mediation sessions continue, as well as meetings.
Quintyne and Browne of the Barbados Defence Force leave Pearls airport for Barbados or St. Vincent.
Americans and resident retirees of varying nationalities plus foreign workers for the Revolution, leave Grenada from Pearls airport. During their exit, at mid-morning, there is a student demonstration of Convent and SASS students in the airport administration building. Demonstrators get so close to one LIAT aircraft it is dangerous for the plane to lift-off, and the flight is delayed.
Unison Whiteman and Maurice Bishop's mother, Alimenta, get the word out to regional media. Among other matters, the communication is Whiteman's opposition to the Central Committee and Mrs. Bishop's protest of Bishop's detention. Whiteman said "Coard is running the show from his house."
19 October, 1983, Wednesday
The morning of this day brought crowds to Mt. Wheldale to free Maurice Bishop from house arrest. At the crossroad between going to the Market Square [where a speakers platform had been set up for him]; and the Army Headquarters at Fort Rupert, Maurice Bishop and those with him go to Fort Rupert, Army Headquarters. Speculation continues to this day why Bishop decided to go to Fort Rupert.
At Pearl's Airport in the northern part of Grenada, Joan Purcell left that morning on LIAT for Barbados. Barbados was the central point for the last air jog to Pearl's Airport. Joan Purcell flew to Barbados to thwart the onward flight of representatives from various countries to an international 'Save the Children' conference due to start the next day. As the LIAT flight took off, Joan Purcell could see from her window seat the gathering of people on the airfield tarmac. Purcell says, in her recently published memoir -
. . . they had descended on the airport - Pearl's Airport to shut it down to prevent outside forces coming to the aid of Maurice's enemies and at the same time to ensure a massive 'lock down' of the country until Bernard Coard and his followers stepped aside.
According to Kenneth Kurze, two out of the AmEmbassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, tried to fly into Pearls Airport in Grenada to make an on-the-ground assessment in a LIAT plane that left Barbados around 9:30 a.m. Halfway there, the pilot was told he had to turn back. The representatives were Kenneth Kurze who was Counsellor for Political and Economic Affair; then Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados and Linda Flohr, CIA case officer. They made a second, and successful, attempt on 22 October. Pearls airport is closed as regularly scheduled commercial air service is cancelled. The Pearls Airport log reads:
(1400) 10°°: no communication Power off and no stand by. LIAT not operating until further notice.
In the early afternoon, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, three of his cabinet members, one labor leader and three businessmen are executed at Fort Rupert.
After the tragedies at Fort Rupert, a small Cessna 402 aircraft took off from Grantley Adams International airport in Barbados and headed toward Grenada. On board the aircraft, which belongs to the Barbados Defence Force, are Peter Tomlin, the Regional Security System intelligence officer who knew Grenada. Accompanying him is Major Robin Keaney, a contract officer for the Barbados Defence Force, who recently retired from the Royal Air Force. With binoculars, they circle the island and return to Barbados without landing.
American Ambassador Bish sends a 'red-code' cable to Washington, D.C.:
There appears to be imminent danger to U.S. citizens resident on Grenada due to the current deteriorating situation, which includes reports of rioting, personnel casualties (possible deaths), automatic weapons being discharged, Soviet-built armored personnel carriers in the Grenadian streets, and some loss of water and electricity on the island . . . Embassy Bridgetown recommends that the United States should now be prepared to conduct an emergency evacuation of U.S. citizens residing in Grenada.
Journalist Alister Hughes, Grenada's Caribbean Area News Agency (CANA) representative, who has been getting reports out of Grenada, is arrested.
19-20 October, 1983, Wednesday to Thursday
General Austin's infamous 'curfew' speech is given this evening on Radio Free Grenada. The broadcast contains a 24-hour curfew to last until 6 a.m. Monday, 24 October. A curfew continues, though lessens, to the time U.S. troops land on 25 October; e.g. on Saturday, 22 October, the curfew hours are eased between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to allow people to obtain food only in local shops; supermarkets remain closed. Austin also announced that the Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) was formed at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 19 October.
20 October, 1983, Thursday
In the United States, Prime Minister Tom Adams is shown interviewed in Barbados, speaking of executions in a short segment on the ABC news program Nightline. Many foreign reports are blaming Cuba, but Adams says Cubans played no part in the 19 October crisis.
Grenada experiences outages of telephone and telex, plus electricity. The telex at St. George's University Medical School Administrative office is working, as well as the telex at the Cuban Embassy on Grenada. One can assume the telex from Amnesty International reached Butler House because it was sent on this day. There is also a telex at the Organization of American States (OAS) office in downtown St. George's near the Anglican Church.
On Long Island, New York, St. George's University Medical School President Charles Modica tells the Associated Press, Barbados, by telephone, that the medical school students and faculty are safe, that the school has 'received assurances,' that everyone is obeying the curfew and not seeing any military presence on either campus. Modica's telex communication with the State Department is not as assured - one copy going to Oliver North at the White House among a multiple of others.
The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) requests Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) imagery and intelligence reports. According to Adams, Secret Armies:
After the JCS meeting on 20 October, a message is sent to the CIA asking for any intelligence they have on the island. Despite the fact that they had been running a propaganda campaign against the Bishop government for nearly three years, the CIA did not have a single agent in place. Their only operative is a local businessman on a small retainer, who happened to be off the island when the crisis blew up. Then contacted by Langley, he refused to return. The CIA then claimed they had no agents available to put in to the island and, despite further entreaties from the JCS, throughout the operation they [the JCS] were unable to develop a single Humint [human intelligence] source.
After the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] were asked to provide information on the numbers, arms and whereabouts of troops on the islands, a number of overflights of the island by SR-71 [Surveillance/Reconnaissance Aircraft] or TR-1 [Training] reconnaissance aircraft were authorized. The data they brought back is analysed by the DIA, and the reports passed on to JSOC. But the information never reached the men who actually attacked the island.
Later in the evening, a Navy carrier and a Marine amphibious unit are ordered to move towards Grenada. This information is announce in the regional press and heard by Grenadians on radio, notably the Voice of Barbados.
The go-aheads of General Hudson Austin and Major Christopher Stroude to Dr. Geoffrey Bourne, Chancellor, lead to utilizing the telex in administrative offices at St. George's University School of Medicine, to communicate with Milan D. Bish of the American Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados about the students.
Austin, communicating through Gary Solin, administrator at the medical school, and Geoffrey Bourne, Chancellor, looked for cooperation and invited a U.S. State Department representative to meet with him on Grenada. Austin's request is determined genuine.
In a first-hand account, the diplomats came into Pearls late afternoon by chartered plane Thursday, 20 October, without incident. They had supper, visited Geoffrey Bourne at the Grand Anse campus of St. George's Medical School and decided to visit the True Blue campus the next day, Friday, 21 October, rather than travel during the curfew in the dark even with police escort.
The diplomatic team from Barbados included General David Montgomery, Deputy British High Commissioner in Barbados; Kenneth Kurze, State Department Officer, US Embassy Barbados; and Linda Flohr, Third Secretary, CIA Case Officer [or referred to as a State Department officer].
The avowed purpose of the agreed diplomatic visit is for all three of those on the chartered plane to establish the number of their citizens wishing to leave the island, and also to confer with Revolutionary Military Council [RMC] officials about evacuation of those citizens.
Word was out that the airport at Pearls, St. Andrews was closed. General Austin said the airport was not closed; only that LIAT air carrier stopped sending planes to Grenada.
21 October, 1983, Friday
Montgomery had met with the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon at his home during the day. The resident British diplomat in Grenada is diplomat John Philip Kelly who with his Canadian counterpart, Joseph Knockaert, is on the island, both attempt to aid students and have passes to move about from the Revolutionary Military Council (RMC).
In a morning meeting with General Montgomery, Scoon notes -
In reply to a question, Montgomery said that he is unaware of any imminent military action to restore the situation in Grenada, but it could not be ruled out that the outcome of the high level discussions currently taking place between Prime Minister Adams, Prime Minister Seaga and OECS Heads of Government on the one hand and the United States Government on the other might be agreement to take joint military action.
Scoon states in his book that Montgomery asked for an "unequivocal, written" request. Scoon and Montgomery worked out a verbal request to be regarded pro tem, as such a [verbal temporary] request with a formal written request from Scoon to follow as soon as a secure, practicable means of communication became available.
Clarridge states the text below, which conflicts with the first-hand account of 20 October above. The inference IS that Linda Flohr is still in Barbados:
Notwithstanding Clarridge's account above, a second plane of diplomats, according to the first-hand account, was waved away from Pearls on this Friday, 21 October.
On October 21, I told Linda Flohr, a case officer, to travel from Barbados to Grenada with State Department officer Ken Kurze and a British representative. Her purpose was to collect intelligence. The State Department handled routine consular matters on Grenada by sending three or four officers to the island from time to time from our embassy in Barbados. The embassy staff would charter a light [Aero Services] plane, leave Barbados in the morning, spend the day on Grenada, and return at night. Their private plane was turned back by the Grenadians on the twenty-first of October [but was allowed to land at Pearls Airport on Saturday, 22 October].
The plane flew on to Union Island about 15 minutes away flight time. The administrators at St. George's University Medical School were instrumental in notifying the control tower of the need to let the plane land at Pearls.
When the plane landed someone took a pot shot at it and soon the passengers were surrounded by soldiers. The diplomats, Gary Chafin and James Budeit, were directed to a waiting room where they remained for a couple hours.
Finally, to the rescue, up pulled a vehicle with Ken Kurze and David Montgomery, both to return on the chartered plane to Barbados.
Geoffrey Bourne talks with the diplomats on the phone through the evening. The diplomats Chafin and Budeit join Flohr at the Ross Point Inn. Most of the meetings with representatives of the Revolutionary Military Council take place at the Ross Point Inn.
James Budeit, a consular officer and former Navy man had come to Barbados from the National War College, and Gary Chafin, another special envoy from the American Embassy in Barbados. Budeit directed the evacuation of U.S. civilians from Beirut. Donald Cruz, a U.S. consular officer to Barbados is also along, according to another account.
According to Newsweek, "Donald Cruz, a US consular officer from Barbados, flew into Grenada. Cruz met with Major Leon Cornwall of the Revolutionary Military Council." A plane sent to retrieve Cruz is temporarily denied permission to land.
Kurze and Flohr had met with Leon Cornwall for 13 hours that Friday, according to one source, negotiating evacuation methods.
Flohr cannot get secure communications of any kind. She does not have SATCOM because the U.S. government had no suitable system for its use on the island. Flohr does the next best thing. She send out reports with State Department colleagues returning to Barbados. She also improvises.
Flohr is able to get out her initial gun placement information [the 12.7-mm heave machine guns, often in quad mounts]. This weaponry could not be seen by aerial reconnaissance photos.
Those remaining on Grenada are Flohr and Budeit, both of whom stay through the invasion. Budeit is active canvassing and talking with the approximately 500-600 students from St. George's Medical School.
In the evening, Major Christopher Stroude of the Revolutionary Military Council talks with 250 students on both campuses, Grand Anse and True Blue, of the St. George's University Medical School. In a press release the next day, the gist of Stroude's message was stated:
He told the students that the Revolutionary Military Council had taken the responsibility to secure their lives and property and ensure that their basic needs are met.
On behalf of the RMC, Major Stroude said that the situation in the country is now firmly under control and pointed out that a new civilian government will be appointed within the next week. He told the students that the military had no desire for power, their only duty being to maintain law and order and social peace.
Foreign journalists are expelled or prevented from entering Grenada when they arrive at Pearls airport on this day, Friday, 21 October 1983. Essentially, news from Grenada is blocked for the next four days.
Austin announces the legal formation of the 16-member Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) with himself as head, but members' names are not publicized and difficult to obtain, and often in error on Radio Free Grenada broadcasts.
The Central Committee [CC] meeting of this day decides, among other tasks at hand, that Keith Roberts and [John Ventour] Chalkie were to check William Otway [travel agency] to arrange for LIAT flights for Monday [24 October 1983]. Also a list is to be drawn up of those abroad "who have attacked the Revolution and ensure that they do not land at Pearls airport."
Two German students from St. George's Medical School leave Grenada on Friday, 21 October 1983, by boat. This is also reported in one declassified chronology as "Some students from the American medical school were able to leave Grenada on chartered boats." It is reported that foreigners slipped out of Grenada by boat.
The OECS meets after lunch and into the evening in Barbados. Adams' plan for a unanimous OECS request, plus the addition of aid from Jamaica, Barbados and the United States, is set on motion. This information is immediately passed to Washington, D.C.
The OECS Press Release, affecting the regional airline's use of Pearls airport, includes Item Six: "The OECS Governments will cease all sea and air communication links with Grenada until further notice." For Pearl arrivals, this means that regional airliner LIAT is to stop its flights to and from Grenada.
22 October, 1983 Saturday
In the pre-dawn hours of Washington, DC, the OECS made a verbal request to Washington, DC. The request is put into words by Prime Minister Tom Adams when he said that the OECS members sought " . . . the assistance of friendly countries to stabilise the situation and to establish a peacekeeping force." The message is transmitted through Charles Gillespie, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, from the US Embassy in Barbados. The matter is grave enough to awaken President Reagan at 5:15 a.m. in Augusta after U.S. government leaders in Washington, DC and Augusta had been conferring for several preceding hours.
Starting at 9 a.m. in Washington, DC, the National Security Council (NSC) Special Situation Group (SSG) meets with Chairman George Herbert Walker Bush, Vice President; Admiral John M. Poindexter, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Oliver North; Constantine Menges; Langhorne C. Motley; John McMahon - who had replaced Admiral Inman as deputy director of the CIA, substituting for Casey; an operations officer from CIA; Lawrence Eagleburger, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Fred Ikle, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning; Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense; and John Vessey, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff in attendance.
Ronald Reagan, George Shultz and Robert McFarlane are in Augusta, Georgia.
A secure conference call line is established. When the President became involved, within the NSC hierarchy, the group becomes a National Security Planning Group (NSPG). Reagan is said to have spoken these words:
Let's do it.
This highest NSPG order is authorized for a joint force military mission to evacuate US citizens; disarm hostile forces and restore 'orderly government to Grenada.' U.S. forces, along with those from several other Caribbean countries, would land in Grenada early Tuesday morning, October 25, 1983 - the date is set.
Meanwhile in Bridgetown, Barbados, UPI stringer Nick Madigan files an international report about Grenada's leaders warning of an imminent invasion, most likely picked up from Radio Free Grenada broadcasts received in Barbados, 150 miles northeast of Grenada. The two German students who had left Grenada by boat the day before talk with a United States Information Service representative on Barbados
Also on this day [or Sunday, per another source], Canadian authorities are granted permission from the Revolutionary Military Council to plan for a chartered plane to land at Pearls. Canadian officials, spear-headed by Allan Gotlieb, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. and Jacques Roy of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, are in the dark not only about the forthcoming invasion, but also how to get Canadian citizens off the island. Canadian authorities did charter a LIAT plane but it is stopped by Barbadian Prime Minister Tom Adams. Next they try by way of Trinidad, but plans are halted there also.
In the morning, General Austin meets with Sir Paul Scoon at the Governor-General's residence.
After noon, a chartered plane arrives at Pearls Airport from the American Embassy in Barbados with General David Montgomery, Deputy British High Commissioner in Barbados; Kenneth Kurze, Counselor (and Consul) of Embassy of the USA, State Department Officer, US Embassy Barbados; and Linda Flohr, Third Secretary and (Vice Consul), some say CIA Case Officer [or referred to as a State Department officer], the arrival having been preplanned with the RMC with an ETA of 1100 hours. The airplane was a Trilander owned by Aero Services.
Tentatively, according to the undated telex from Kurze, the 4th passenger was to be Jon C. Wood, Counselor of the Canadian High Commission. The telex information states that Kurze, Flohr and Wood are to stay on Grenada indefinitely. Montgomery was to stay about 5 hours. A tentative return of the plane to Bridgetown was to include passenger Joseph Knockaert, First Secretary (Development) Canadian High Commission. None of this paragraph of the telex information is corroborated.
In another telex, also undated, from CRM to an unknown Grenada representative close to Major Chris Stroude, two Americans were to arrive on a chartered plane [possibly James Budeit and Gary Chafin]. The air controller was a daughter of General Hudson Austin. The landing arrangements for the plane required tower to tower radio contact from Barbados to Grenada before the plane could take off from Barbados. The plane was to land in Grenada "at around 3:30 pm this afternoon".
[NOTE: if you notice Kurze, Flohr and Montgomery returning to Grenada on a chartered plane, you are paying attention. A first-hand, primary source document relating their arrival on 20 October appears contradicted by multiple secondary sources, PLUS A TELEX, having them arrive on Saturday 22 October WITH A HANDWRITTEN NOTE ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TELEX OF 'Postponed till 1100 Sunday on advise [sic] of 'GLASSES'.
A similar pattern of contradiction occurs with the arrival of James Budeit and Gary Chafin, with the emergence of a new name, Donald Cruz. And also with the meeting of David Montgomery with Sir Paul Scoon. One conclusion is everyone is confused. Another is that the secrecy of these diplomats meeting on Grenada was effective. Another is the diplomats were not hesitant to make the short flight to and from Barbados-Grenada.]
Most likely Flohr and Kurze with Geoffrey Bourne talked with students on both campuses of the Medical School. They had no authorization nor plans to meet with any 'Revolutionary Military Council' members and this was to be 'clearly understood'.
John Kelly and David Montgomery also met up and most likely they both together talked with British students at the Medical School. David Montgomery also visited Sir Paul Scoon, perhaps with John Kelly. Sir Paul Scoon and Leon Cornwall also met together in the afternoon at the GG's residence as Gen. Austin had a pressing appointment elsewhere. Montgomery had met up with Cornwall.
General Austin and Major Stroude told the students and administrators at the St. George's Medical School throughout this whole period that their security is assured, and the statement is announced in a short morning communique on Radio Free Grenada [RFG] that all foreigners are safe. That RFG communique did notify anyone who wanted to take heed that any armed intervention would be met with force.
23 October, 1983, Sunday
At 7:00 a.m. that Sunday morning, Linda Flohr meets with students at the home of Geoffrey Bourne on Lance aux Epines. Over coffee and biscuits, these off-campus students, most from the neighborhood, discuss moving on to the campus.
President Reagan is notified, in the predawn hours of this day, of the attack on U.S. Marines headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon.
Beirut Barracks Hezbollah Terror Attack Rescue Attempt
(AP/World Wide Photo)
According to the State Department [Legal Adviser Davis R. Robinson], Scoon makes a request on October 23 for our intervention. The request is not directly from Scoon, but via the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Later this day additional diplomats, James Budeit, Gary Chafin, and Donald Cruz join Linda Flohr. Montgomery and Kurze fly back to Barbados, Flohr is busy on Grenada. According to Clarridge, he received an intelligence report from Flohr late in the afternoon on Sunday, 23 October 1983. Cruz talks with Cornwall; Budeit and Chafin meet with students.
Flohr had sent out her intelligence report for Clarridge in a letter to her husband, who was on Barbados. She simply included her report within a letter to her husband and 'mailed' it with one of her fellow consular officers. No one at the NSPG had seen the report, including President Reagan, who read it out loud to the members of the NSPG [National Security Council Planning Group] at 4 p.m. that afternoon.
The OECS written request is received in Washington several hours after the 4 p.m. NSPG meeting of that day when the Presidential directive for the order approving 'Operation Urgent Fury' is actually signed by Reagan.
The CARICOM Heads of State meeting in Trinidad, which has gone on since the evening before, declares economic sanctions against Grenada and expulsion from the organization. Resistance to military aid received objections from Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, the Bahamas, and Guyana.
The Diplomatic Note from the Grenada Revolutionary Council to the Embassy of the United States in Barbados is sent on this day, and also broadcast on Radio Free Grenada. The communication makes clear Grenada is not looking for any military confrontation and states in part -
We reiterate that the lives, well-being and property of every American and other foreign citizens residing in Grenada are fully protected and guaranteed by our government.
The late Jamaican journalist Elean Thomas, then working for the Jamaican Information Service. arrives in Grenada on a personal mission to help her friend Phyllis Coard.
By Sunday night, Grantley Adams airport in Barbados is full of American C-130 transport planes and heavy helicopters. Nick Madigan, UPI reporter in Bridgetown reported that three helicopters and a U.S. Navy jet carrying Marines landed at Grantley Adams airport, though the date is not corroborated. Most likely this is the report sent to Newsweek Magazine for the forthcoming issue of October 24, 1983, printed on Sunday, October 23rd.
24 October, 1983, Monday
On this morning the curfew is partially lifted. No one is to be out and about from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Workers are to report to their places of employment at 8 a.m. on this day, but schools remain closed.
Late morning in Barbados, a British journalist Hugh O'Shaughnessy, a Newsweek reporter, plus Wally McNamee, Newsweek photographer and four others decide they are not arriving in Grenada by airplane from Grantley Adams International Airport. They decide to fly to Union Island which takes about an hour. After arrival, they boarded a vessel to the island of Carriacou. There they had a lobster dinner at the Silver Beach hotel where they spent the night. Next day, they boarded a vessel which landed them on the Carenage around mid-day 25 October 1983. Their story continues below.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Dwight Whylie is expelled from Grenada. How he left the island is unclear.
Back at Headquarters after the NSPG meeting, I notified Flohr [in Grenada] of the assault date and that she should be at the governor general's residence on the morning we went into Grenada, to be evacuated by the helicopter bringing in the team with the legal document for the governor general to sign.
We [CIA-NSC] also sent her [perhaps by diplomatic pouch] a Motorola handheld radio of limited range, for passing intelligence to a CIA-controlled yacht that we were positioning off Grenada specifically to receive her transmissions.
However, the U.S. Navy shooed all the private yachts out of the area, and we were unable to coordinate quickly enough with the Navy to allow our yacht to remain in place.
Flohr receives the message of the assault date and instructions for her on the morning of the 24th.
Budeit and Flohr meet again with students and with RMC representative Leon Cornwall. Regional news reports say that the island is going to be invaded. Students are scared and the number who want to leave increase. Evacuation discussions and possibilities continue with Cornwall.
A senior Reagan Administration official reports, according to Hedrick Smith, New York Times, that -
a high-level Cuban delegation had arrived in Grenada Monday similar to those Cuba sent to Angola several years ago before its military buildup there. The official said this had raised concerns in Washington that major Cuban deployments were imminent in Grenada, this official said.
This occurs at mid-day when a Cubana Airlines AN-26 landed at Pearls airport. On board is Colonel Pedro Tortolo Comas who had been head of the Cuban military mission on Grenada until May 1983. Accompanying him is a small staff including Carlos Andres Diaz, the Caribbean Section Chief in the American Department of the Central Committee of the Party. Diaz later died close to the Pt. Salines airport site.
In the afternoon, Flohr makes a short visit with Sir Paul Scoon at the Governor General's house. Clarridge says:
Noting no proper landing site for our helicopter within two miles of the governor general's residence, except perhaps for its tennis court, she said goodbye to Sir Paul, adding that she was sure the United States would do everything to free his country, and went back to her hotel.
She telephones Barbados reporting on the lack of landing surfaces and
the gun positions she had observed on the beaches in front of the medical school on her way to her hotel.
NOTE: The observation Clarridge describes above is a bit tricky because Linda Flohr is staying at the Ross Point Inn, then located in the Belmont area.
A journalist of 13 years, including employment for the Jamaica Gleaner, Elean Thomas meets up with long-time friend Phyllis Coard on this day. Ms. Thomas was a founding member in 1978 of the Workers Party of Jamaica [WPJ]. The three Coard children and Ms. Thomas will arrive in Barbados on Thursday 10 November 1983 on their way to Jamaica.
According to Hedrick Smith, in a special report to the New York Times, date-lined Oct. 28,
. . . Robert J. Myers, the retired chief actuary of the American Social Security system, who went to Grenada on a technical mission for the Organization of American States (OAS) on Oct. 13 [Thursday], said he flew out of Pearls Airport on Monday [Oct. 24] on one of four small charter flights carrying about 30 people [between 2 and 6 p.m.].
The above evacuation success is described [and not attributed to any source] in the chronology of editor Francois Dominique's "Grenada: Intervention, Invasion, Rescue Mission?":
Former director of President Reagan's national commission on Social Security:
My wife and I and six other people flew out of Grenada on a chartered plane last Monday [24 October], the day on which the White House contended that it could not evacuate Americans because the Grenadian airport was closed. We went through the usual customs formalities and paid the airport tax. There were no armed guards at the airport. There were just the usual customs officials. Nobody with a rifle.
The chartered plane with Myers and his wife flew to St. Lucia. This departing aircraft was a two engine, nine-seat white Islander planes originally chartered by the local office of Scotia Bank. The plane held Robert and Ruth Myers, a Caribbean banker with his family, and two others in Grenada on OAS business.
Pearls airport is open to general traffic by way of Revolutionary Military Council authorization. It is reported that four or five chartered airplanes were allowed to leave from Pearl's on that Monday, 24 October. These were small airplanes, holding about 30 people total, most medical students. One printed report has a "diplomatic" plane taking out Greg and Joan Kleve, who were Peace Corps volunteers in St. Vincent who were vacationing in Grenada; also Jody Renner, wife of a medical school student. Internationalist worker, Guyanese national Carol Davis, Education Planner in Ministry of Education, left on this day. A couple of airplanes took out British citizens around 1 p.m. for St. Lucia, approximately 16 hours before US troops landed on Grenada. Printed matter determines those who left were American, Caribbean, South American, British and Canadian persons.
Unfortunately, many took the long road trip to Pearls to try for a plane to Barbados, only to be stranded. Among others, Angela and Ernest Chiu, a British couple, got to Pearls without incident only to be held up by the lack of transport to Bridgetown. Some tried to leave by boat. A print source says staff from the United Nations on Grenadian soil were evacuated by boat.
A 45-seat chartered Canadian airliner is scheduled to land in Grenada Monday [October 24 at 2:30 p.m.] and is not given permission to leave Barbados being prevented from taking off, even though it has RMC permission to land. The airliner was charted from the Leeward Island Air Transport [LIAT] Company, owned by the governments of CARICOM. The decision of the CARICOM governments to cut ties, including air links, with Grenada stops all LIAT traffic. Private charter planes, not affiliated with LIAT, were discouraged from flying into Grenada.
During late Monday afternoon, reports are that the heads of government of Antigua, Montserrat and St. Kitts, who were were part of the sanctions to suspend LIAT flights, dropped their objections in light of the emergency, but it was too late for a plane to land and fly out of Pearls before dark.
A number of parents of medical school students were in Barbados trying to fly to Grenada. Grantley Adams International Airport held journalists hoping to get their story in Grenada. Around them was the arrival of military equipment and personnel. General Norman Schwarzkopf, plus Navy and Marine officers landed in Bridgetown, but went straight to helicopters taking them to vessels off the shores of Grenada.
Late in the afternoon, Milan Bish at the American Embassy in Barbados is offering the Secretary of State, by way of telex, suggestions for possible evacuations which included a military one, through U.S. Marine Corps General George Crist, and a seaborne evacuation on the Cunard cruise liner 'Countess' due to dock at noon for its regular stop at St. George's the next day, Tuesday, October 25. The American Embassy in Barbados is besieged by inquiries from the media, and concerned parents and relatives, especially since they have learned of the evacuations from Grenada of non-U.S. citizens. Scramble time.
At 6 p.m., the White House sends a cable to eastern Caribbean leaders with the final and official order for the joint military action.
24-25 October 1983, Monday to Tuesday
Canadian officials are given permission to fly out of Barbados to Pearls Airport, but it is too close to nightfall and Pearls shuts down after dark.
Michael Sharpe, Jamaican journalist, works his way onto a U.S. military plane. He flies into Grenada without permission, beyond the authorization of the 'official' embedded journalists - Tony Abrahams of Jamaica, former Jamaican Labour Party member; Press Chargé Sabo of Barbados, and others also entered Grenada.
According to authors David C. Martin, then CBS News national security correspondent, and John Walcott, correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, in their 1988 book "Best Laid Plans: the Inside Story of America's War Against Terrorism" is this passage taken from pages 134-135:
The CIA had only one agent on the island. In the hours before the invasion, the Army's Office of Special Operations had tried desperately to infiltrate another one. Col. James Longhofer, the same officer who had stood on the roof of the American Embassy in Cairo and monitored the secret journey home of Bashir Gemayel, flew to Barbados carrying a briefcase filled with $100,000 in cash to pay the agent. A civilian transport plane brought in a small Hughes 500D helicopter to airlift the agent to Grenada, but at the last moment the spy got cold feet.
In the book's preface, authors Martin and Walcott state their sources start from the public record with expansion through interviews. They write this:
There are many reconstructed conversations in this book. all of them based on the recollections, and in some cases the notes, of participants."
In the case of the quotation above, there is no indication anywhere in the book of the source.
25 October, 1983, Tuesday
At dawn, U.S. troops, many leaving from Barbados, land on Grenadian soil. The first U.S. correspondents from major news outlets - 6 reporters and 1 photographer - were in-transit; on their way island-to-island to Carriacou where they rented a small wooden fishing boat . . .
From the nature of their photographs, it appears Magnum photographers Alex Webb and Philip Jones Griffiths may have entered Grenada during this time, followed by their fellow photographic service photographer named Abbas. In one story, Griffiths, and a Life magazine correspondent, and TIME magazine journalist Michael Ryan took a plane to Union island, rented a chartered boat, but were halted by the Navy blockade. Eventually the Navy let them into Grenada. The challenges met by the press began another long story with the reasoning for not allowing the media into Grenada best expressed by the late Vice Admiral J. Metcalf III, USN, retired, on "The Press and Grenada 1983".
Another attempt for Canadians to extricate their citizens who wanted to leave Grenada is interrupted by the troop landing on 25 October. The official word on the U.S. invasion is given to Canadian authorities at 7 a.m., a couple hours after Operation Urgent Fury.
Evidently about six Canadians from the group Canadian University Students Overseas (CUSO) were in a private home and between 25-50 were at the Ross Point Inn awaiting evacuation which eventually occurred. Joseph Knockaert is the Canadian official on Grenada 26 October who aided facilitation of the evacuees.