Hunting Che: How a U.S. Special Forces Team Helped Capture the World's Most Famous Revolutionary
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The hunt for Ernesto “Che” Guevera was one of the first successful U.S. Special Forces missions in history. Using government reports and documents, as well as eyewitness accounts, Hunting Che tells the untold story of how the infamous revolutionary was captured—a mission later duplicated in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As one of the architects of the Cuban Revolution, Guevera had become famous for supporting and organizing similar insurgencies in Africa and Latin America. When he turned his attention to Bolivia in 1967, the Pentagon made a decision: Che had to be stopped.
Major Ralph “Pappy” Shelton was called upon to lead the mission. Much was unknown about Che’s force in Bolivia, and the stakes were high. With a handpicked team of Green Berets, Shelton turned Bolivian peasants into a trained fighting and intelligence-gathering force.
Hunting Che follows Shelton’s American team and the newly formed Bolivian Rangers through the hunt to Che’s eventual capture and execution. With the White House and the Pentagon monitoring every move, Shelton and his team helped prevent another Communist threat from taking root in the West.
some bandages, alcohol, and aspirin. They demanded that the druggist get them asthma medicine, but the pharmacy carried only common remedies, no asthma drugs. The men paid and headed back to the pickup truck. Vacaflor heard one of the guerrillas urge his comrades to hurry up, an army patrol might arrive and they didn’t want to get caught in town. Vacaflor knew there were no patrols in the area, but he wasn’t about to tell the guerrillas. The men threw the supplies into the truck and then
was feeling. He looked so demoralized. Che knew his war was over, his hopes and illusions destroyed. So many people had died in this failed campaign. Now Che himself faced an uncertain future. And for once, Che had nothing to say. * * * Leaving the prisoners under guard at the command post, Prado radioed Totti at the base. He told him to transmit the following message to Vallegrande: “I have Papa Cansado and Willy. Papa slightly wounded. Combat goes on. Captain Prado.” “Papa” was the code
Guzman set a course for La Higuera. No one spoke as the helicopter flew over the mountains and jungles. Rodríguez was lost in his own thoughts. He checked his watch as the helicopter started its approach. It was 7:30 A.M. Several Bolivian soldiers stood waiting for their arrival. As the whine of the engine faded, Rodríguez heard mortar and gunfire nearby. He knew the Bolivian soldiers were still pursuing members of Che’s guerrilla band. Maybe they were having some luck. Prado was among the
inside and saw the body. He knew Che was dead, but nothing could have prepared him for this. The body was riddled with bullets. Blood was spattered on the floor and walls. The schoolroom was a slaughterhouse, and it now was filling up with spectators. Prado examined Che’s face. His eyes were open, staring into his own. Prado shook his head in disgust. Just hours ago, Che was here, discussing imperialism and Bolivia. Now this was all that remained of him, a face gray and distorted. Prado was
The guerrillas had set up a camp at a farmhouse in Nancahuazu. Barrientos read transcripts of the interrogation: Q: Tell us who is in command of those guerrillas where you were. A: The main leaders of this guerrilla war are Che Guevara at the top, whom I didn’t have a chance to see because he had gone exploring at the head of twenty-five other men. The other man said the same thing. The investigators, though, said they doubted Che was in Nancahuazu, but the prospect was disturbing. A few