Warrior Wednesday: Riley Shamburger, Jr. #NeverForgotten


Riley Shamburger, Jr.
1925 to Apr. 19, 1961

Riley Shamburger, Jr.

Riley Shamburger, Jr.

Riley Shamburger was one of eight Alabama Air National Guard members who volunteered to fly a covert bombing mission during the Bay of Pigs assault on Cuba in April 1961. He and Flight Engineer, Wade Gray, were were shot down and crashed into the water near Cuba. Both men’s bodies were not recovered.

Planes flown by Joe Shannon and Shamburger reached land about 6 a.m. They spied a column of Cuban army trucks near the beach and began their descent to attack. Neither pilot noticed a T-33 sneaking up from behind and shielded by the glare of the morning sun, Shannon said.

“Shamburger moved over to my left wing, and then I heard him yell in the radio, `I’m hit,’ ” Shannon said. “I looked over and saw Shamburger headed into the water in a shallow dive, with a T-33 right behind him.”

Shamburger received the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, The Central Intelligence Agency’s highest award for Heroism.

War isn’t pretty, even the ones that supposedly never happened. For further information about the Bay of Pigs invasion read these two articles: The Good Fight and Story Of American Fliers Who Died At Bay Of Pigs.


The protagonist of my WID is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.
  • Michele Jones

    The sacrifices of a few have provided a safe free country for the many. So glad to learn about these men. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m happy to introduce these men to you. It’s been a labor of love to research the heroes.