He's known as the "Real American James Bond" and now he's at the center of a new book. The man with ties to the Bay of Pigs, Watergate and possibly even the assasination of JFK also has ties to South Florida.
Everybody up and down Miami’s Calle Ocho knew Frank Sturgis. He was the go-to guy if you wanted to sneak anti-Castro guerillas into Cuba. Need a Cuban sugar plantation firebombed? How about military training for African rebels?
Sturgis had 30 different fake names, would often disappear for weeks if not months on CIA-sanctioned missions that took him to Cuba, Panama, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and several countries in Africa. Miami’s Cubans called Sturgis the "American James Bond."
In the late 50s through the late 80s, Frank, a World War II Marine Raider, was everywhere there was trouble. When President John Kennedy was shot, federal agents questioned Sturgis.
Sturgis is the subject of the book “Warrior Frank Sturgis—The CIA’s #1 Assassin-Spy, Who Nearly Killed Castro but Was Ambushed by Watergate.”
“If anybody knows anything about Frank they usually know he was a Watergate burglar, but he was so much more than that,” said co-author Bob Risch.
A man who knew plenty about Sturgis was his nephew, Jim Hunt, who teamed up with Risch to write the book.
“Because of his extensive experience in dealing with things like assassinating leaders and running guns and covert things…he was very much in demand.” As a high school kid, Hunt spent several summers hanging out with “Uncle Frank.” According to Hunt, as far as being a suspect in the JFK shooting, “….Frank has to be considered a suspect, but a suspect of what?”
No question Sturgis tried to kill Fidel Castro. He was in on a number of plots. None worked but it did not mean Sturgis ever gave up doing whatever damage he could to the Castro regime.
Sturgis was busted in the Watergate break-in. He, along with fellow Miami residents Macho Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, and Rolando Martinez, were lead to believe they were tracking down evidence of a national security nature. They assumed their attempt was given the green light by the CIA. But the operation came right out of the Nixon White House. Nixon’s operatives were trying to determine if Fidel Castro was funneling money to the Democratic Party.
Sturgis did time for the Watergate event. Out of jail he traveled to Angola to teach guerrilla warfare to anti-communist rebels, later to Honduras to train Contras and Honduran death squads.
“He loved it, he was everywhere,” said fellow Watergate operative Rolando Martinez. All who knew Sturgis said he was a devoted family man, loyal to his wife, Janet, and his children. Hunt remembers Sturgis as having a great sense of humor and who enjoyed cooking Sunday Italian dinners. And yet Risch can easily say, “Frank was a killer. So what do you do when you are a killer and the war is over? There were few uses but the CIA had one. He could be used for those kinds of things.”
Sturgis is buried in Miami. There is no headstone. His death is, according to the authors, “a mystery.” There was no autopsy.