Cuban Missile Crisis

Missile launch sites in Cuba

Missile launch sites in Cuba

 

16 October is the 52nd anniversary of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  For 13 days –  I felt I was holding my breath.  My uncle, MSgt. James O’Leary, already stationed on Cuba was flown back to the island from his leave; my cousin, Arthur Mulroy set sail from Norfolk, VA; and my aunt, Mabel O’Leary, a civilian employee of the Marines, were at stake here.

missiles involved

missiles involved

EVENTS –

– A U-2 spy-plane took pictures of missile bases in Cuba – Pres. Kennedy is notified that within 10 days, they will be operational.
– Kennedy set up a Committee of the National Security Council to advise him.  Their options: (1) Nuclear Strike? would probably cause a nuclear war; (2) Conventional Attack? Would probably cause war with Russia; (3) Use the UN? Too slow; (4) The bases were too close to ignore; (5) Blockade? might halt the missiles and was not a direct act of war.
– Blockade was announced.
– Khrushchev said missiles were solely for defense. (20 Russian ships were en-route to Cuba), accuses the US of piracy.
– Kennedy started planning a military attack on Cuba.
– Khrushchev’s telegram offers to dismantle bases if US will lift the blockade and promise not to invade the island.  A letter follows demanding Kennedy dismantle US missile bases in Turkey.  The same day, a U-@ plane was shot down over Cuba.
– Publicly – Kennedy agreed to lift the blockade and not invade Cuba.  Privately – Kennedy, in a secret phone call, told Russia the Turkey bases would be dismantled.  The president ignored the plane incident.
– Khrushchev agreed to the conditions and everybody went home.
US Navy P-24 Neptune of VP-18 over Russian ship w/ II-28s crated on deck

US Navy P-24 Neptune of VP-18 over Russian ship w/ II-28s crated on deck

 
RESULTS – 
 
– Khrushchev lost prestige and China broke from Russia.
– Kennedy was seen as the man who faced down the Russians.
– Both sides were hereafter more careful in their actions and the “hotline” phone system was set up.
– In 1963, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed.

 

For a list of ships and units credited with participation in this incident – CLICK HERE!

I wasn't the only person holding their breath!

I wasn’t the only person holding their breath!

Click on images to enlarge!

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Current WWII news – 

Capt. David McCampbell

Capt. David McCampbell

Capt. David McCampbell, WWII

Capt. David McCampbell, WWII

 
  WWII pilot, Captain David McCampbell downed 34 Japanese warplanes in 6½ months and received a Medal of Honor for his actions.    McCampbell flew with Fighting Squadron 4 off the USS Wasp until she was sunk and then led the VF-15 off the USS Essex.  Tuesday, in a ceremony at Palm Beach International Airport, a bust of the pilot donated by the Kiwanis Club was unveiled.  Locally, we were able to watch the emotional ceremony on the 12pm news live.  The sculpture will remain on display at the east end of the 3rd floor of the airport.  Capt. McCampbell passed away in Riviera Beach, Florida in 1996.
 
For his complete story – Click HERE!

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Military Humor – 

Military protocol

Military protocol

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Crispell – Williamsburg, VA; US Army, WWII, Vietnam, Bronze Star

Thomas Hammel – Natick, MA – US Army, Cpl., WWII, ETO, 87th Mortar Battalion

Marie Kwasigroch – Wisconsin Rapids, WI; USWMC, WWIIhonor (1)

Robert McNamara – Palm Coast, FL; US Army, Korea

James Murray – Born: Scotland, Andrewsville, CAN; British Army, Capt., No. Africa & ETO

Maurice Provaznik – Minden, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 187th Reg/11th A/B Div.

Douglas Rayburn – Taupo, NZ; RNZ Navy  # 11326

John Rowe – Royal Palm Bch, FL; US Navy, Cmdr. (Ret.), Korea

Raymond Vance – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII 503rd Regiment

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 16, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 100 Comments.

  1. Great synopsis of what happened in such a short time. Lucky someone made a quick and correct approach to the situation.

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    • Did I happen to mention that the final answer to calm both sides (the removal of rockets from Turkey) was the idea of a journalist? JFK didn’t have one answer, it was all from 5 other men.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Very interesting that a journalist had the great idea. Makes me want to go on writing and expressing my opinions!

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        • Of course you should! What makes you think your opinion is any less than the next person? The veterans of WWII thought their stories didn’t matter and now we’re scrambling to try and collect them. Don’t EVER cut yourself short!!

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  2. Wow. I was in Catholic school. This was the beginning of the nuclear war drills. Sitting with our head under the wooden desk. As if that would have made a difference. I remember the fear…it was everywhere. Great synopsis post !

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  3. A great synopsis of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I have not read much about that event in our history, but you have “wet my whistle” to study more. (That is how we say it in Kentucky)

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  4. One of the publicized times in history that the globe came very close to WWIII.

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  5. Those of us who were due to be discharged, weren’t. I was stuck doing hundreds of travel vouchers and waiting months for my discharge. Now I really appreciate what he did.

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    • If you mean that you appreciate what JFK did, I’m afraid he didn’t really know what to do – it was the Committee that weighed all possibilities and told him what to do. But, I appreciate what you’re saying and thank you for your service!!

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  6. I was five at that time, but a few years later I already knew something about that crisis from my granddad: that we barely escaped a new war. Khrushchev had more common sense than the current leader.

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  7. Great post – I have no personal memory of this but the shadow of nuclear destruction hung over so much of our collective childhoods…the possible ‘eve of destruction’. I agree that it seems to be a possibility yet again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was in community college at the time and sat in the campus center glued to the radio. (There was no TV on campus.) We had been raised with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over our heads. In elementary school we were taught to hide under our desks when the A-bomb hit and cover our eyes to avoid flying glass. We were shown movies to teach us how terrible things might be. What the Cuban Missile crisis taught me was that there must be a better way to resolve our differences. –Curt

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    • I believe (until recently) that that event taught most everyone the same lesson. Now you have people in control that were too young to experience the threat, or uninformed. Just as you did not have TV on campus – many people in other countries and outer locations did not have it as well. The threat may well be back.
      Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts, Curt.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for that great pocket version of the Cuban missile confrontation, I never really understood the whole scenario and a few things are still vague. What caused the need for Cuba to request Russia place nuclear in Cuba in the first place ?
    Emu

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  10. I remember my Grandfather had a factory in New York. One of his employees explained he had to go to the Everglades. He would not tell my Grandfather why. Later we learned he was killed at the Bay of Pigs. He was Cuban and wanted his country free. I wondered what he would have thought of the Crisis. I wonder what he would think that Castro is still alive and maybe well and still in control of his homeland. Did he die for nothing?

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    • At the Bay of Pigs – most certainly. I hate to be so blunt about the man’s fate, but it was a well-planned operation – including air cover – and JFK backed out at the last minute – leaving those men on the beach to be mauled down. – and Cuba stayed the same…..
      I am very sorry for your grandfather’s employee, Barry.

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  11. I was born around the time of the crises and Therefore too young to know what it was actually like. I do recall seeing information films since and thinking if we merely hide behind a mattress, as we were instructed, we would certainly have been incinerated.

    There was a realistically frightening film shown here in the uk post the crisis, it certainly scared me into the realisation of how close we came as political pawns in a game of total and all out war. Let’s hope we never get that close again.

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    • If we ever get that close again – I don’t think we’ll have much time to be aware of it. The next time atomic bombs are used, you can be sure it will be an all-out destruction by every country that has them. And these are the the thoughts we had back then – the one sure way to scare kids just before Halloween!! Sad but true.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Reading this is better than listening to most, if not all, high school history teachers…..

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    • I thank you very much, that is quite the compliment. If history lessons in school are still about the same as when I went, I know it was a lot of memorizing names and dates and not really getting into the personal aspect of the events. That’s pretty much why I try to intercede the fact posts with some eye witness accounts. Thanks for reading and commenting today!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I was another child who was afraid. 😦

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  14. I remember it well! I think it was the first occasion when the prospect of nuclear war seemed real to us in UK, though we had a very active anti-nuclear lobby before that, of course. I’m not certain it spawned an anti-US atmosphere at the time because Kennedy was very much the white knight of my generation: that came with the Kennedy assassination and all that followed. We did become extraordinarily suspicious of US airbases on our soil, however.

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    • With every right. I’m afraid the JFK aura of an era of Camelot was as fictional as your Camelot. Looking at the facts tends to erase any romantic or fantasy ideals of the administration.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi G – cool about the bust for McCampbell – and thanks for the lightbulb joke! 🙂

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  16. Somewhere in the former comments it was stated that Khrushchev and his advisers blinked. I don’t think so. I think they stared Kennedy down because, even though PR never admitted it, the facts show that Kennedy let Khrushchev know that, if he would remove the missiles, he could have Cuba free and clear. Something that the Cubans suffered for over several generations and still are a long way from recovery. The Cuban people paid dearly for Kennedy’s popularity.

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    • They paid for it at the Bay of Pigs too when JFK pulled out the air support and left those men on the beach. They “say” the Russians blinked first because they offered the first compromise – will any of us know what really went on behind those closed doors?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Frightening times. It’s so much easier to stick our head in the sand, isn’t it?

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    • Wow – talk about memories of the Cold War!! This brochure was printed in 1959 – that ever present threat of the A-bomb!! All I need now is that alarm to go off (used to be at the end of my street growing up) at 12 pm and 6pm every day – I’ll be all set and ready to hide out in the cellar!! Thanks Pierre, this link is great.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. It seems we humans or rather our governments like to keep us living in fear of each other.

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    • Having a common enemy is what they feel will hold the people together and unite national allies – it’s a shame. I’m certain you can see that very thing being expressed in the history depicted by the operas you sing. Thank you for coming by, Charlotte.

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  19. Being in the U.K….referred to by us as America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier…the danger seemed very real, but my father – who had his ear to the ground – dismissed it all as a power play to get the U.S. bases out of Turkey. I do remember that it led to an increase in anti American feeling, though, in my generation and social grouping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember the hub-bub about the Turkish bases, claiming they helped to protect Europe. I’ll lay odds, a lot of deals were made during the Cold War that we are still unaware of. Thank you for coming by to give us the UK point of view, Helen.

      Like

  20. Here in Miami we were so frightened. Watched the jets flying, bombers being loaded up with ordnance, and flat cars hauling vehicles. We practiced crawling under our desks in school instead of fire drills. There were so many private planes(and restored WW2) and private loaded boats ready to cross that 90 miles. The remaing Alpha 66 brigade still have parades.

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    • You had a right to be frightened!! You would have been the first target I would imagine. (I didn’t move here until ’70. Before that, we came down for a month at a time). Thanks for adding to the post, Carl.

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  21. It seems like ancient history; I was still in HS when this happened. I did the duck ‘n cover like Weggieboy mentioned. As a kid I believed them. When I got older and realized it wouldn’t help, I wondered why they taught us something so stupid.
    Loved the Bailey cartoon. He will always be one of my favorites.

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    • The under-the-desk routine gave kids a sense of being safe, to avoid panic, nightmares, etc. Beetle – you can always count on to give you the “poop” about the army.

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  22. This indeed was a defining moment in JFK’s presidency. However, I’ve always been befuddled as to how a young man with an even less experienced brother could “out-politic” Khruschev. Regardless, we are still the only country prohibiting the sale of Cuban cigars (except for Clinton, of course). 🙂

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  23. I sure remember the under the desk for protection in the early 60′ but wasn’t born till 56′.

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  24. I was in hospital about a year ago and met an old gentleman from the British Merchant Navy. He was anchored in Bermuda in 1962, Suddenly vast numbers of American warships arrived in the harbour. Indeed, he said they stretched up to the horizon there were so many of them. The next morning they had all gone, as if by magic. He didn’t know where, but found out a few days later.

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    • Oh, wasn’t he the lucky gentleman. I was in Bermuda in ’68 – extremely beautiful island!! Did this fellow say how he felt about the situation? He was sitting out in the Atlantic during this.

      Like

  25. In three languages…

    http://www.cubacrisis.net/

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  26. Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    About the Cuban crisis…

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    • Excerpt…

      Much to Kennedy’s annoyance, Diefenbaker recommended that independent United Nations inspectors should go into Cuba and survey the nuclear sites.

      Diefenbaker refused to put Canadian troops on alert, and deliberated for several days over raising the military awareness level to DEFCON 3 as Kennedy had requested. Personal animosity may have influenced Diefenbaker’s delay during the crisis, as relations between the Canadian leader and American President were particularly uneasy.

      Following a meeting with Kennedy in May 1961, the Prime Minister discovered a paper left behind by an American advisor. The infamous “Rostow Memo” outlined several desired results that the United States hoped to “push” Canada toward during the meeting. Diefenbaker was livid, as this incident reaffirmed his nagging belief that the United States wished to dominate Canada. The Kennedy camp was equally enraged: Diefenbaker refused to return the memo even though proper diplomatic decorum required him to do so. Their relationship would never fully recover from this incident.

      Eventually Diefenbaker did agree to put Canadian troops on alert, as all other NATO members supported a proposed blockade and agreed to aid the United States if an attack occurred. However, due to his reluctance to respond to the situation, Diefenbaker acted only after the crisis’ climax had passed. Also, under the guidance of the Department of Defence, the Canadian military had taken informal steps to put itself on alert. Ultimately, Diefenbaker believed that Kennedy’s “arrogance” had endangered North America and could have resulted in nuclear war.

      Like

    • JFK was a rich man and from his family was quite used to getting his way, mostly because of his father, Joe’s influence. I can fully understand why Canada did not wish to rush into supporting him. Diefenbaker was standing up for his own people and his troops in his recommendations. (I wish that would occur to our pres. now).

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  28. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Very close ….. even closer, I was in Puerto Rico!!

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  29. I was about 3 weeks shy of 8 years old and the drills they had us running in school made me wonder if I would be spending my birthday in a shelter. I’ve always wondered how close we came to someone making a mistake and starting something. Communication was slow by comparison to today, but I wonder if rapid communication is a benefit or a curse? In any case, it was too close.

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    • Yes, it was too close, but if Khrushchev and his advisers did NOT blink first, I believe our advisers would have. JFK would not have been allowed to start WWIII or a nuclear war. It’s amazing how certain events stick in our minds no matter how young we were.

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  30. That crisis may be one of the reasons Kennedy had such a good image here – I remember my parents and their friends holding him in as high regard as the Queen – and they were ardent royalists.
    The MacCampbell story is another of those one would be reluctant to write as fiction, for fear of it not being credible. Talk about invincible! And, as a leader, he obviously inspired the high achievement of those with him.

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    • Yes, Kennedy’s image was the creation of a mighty PR man and it seems to survive today, despite truths being revealed. Our true heroes are men like McCampbell!! Thanks a lot for reading.

      Like

  31. I remember this like it was yesterday. I truly believed that I would go to bed and not wake up because they dropped the bomb while I was asleep those few days and for many months after that crisis. “Fire” drills at school hiding under my desk didn’t help either.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I was in the eighth grade and remember discussing this in social studies. I was scared that we would have a nuclear war.

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  33. I was 13, 10 months and 17 days…

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    • What did people think about all this up in Canada? Do you remember?

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      • I guess people were as informed and as scared by all this.

        I remember watching the TV news at that time and I could understand this was kind of an O.K. Coral stand-off thing.

        I have to say I was not scared because I knew someone would back off.

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        • So, the Canadians trusted the US enough to NOT cause a nuclear war? Wow – I’m afraid I didn’t have that trust – not with how JFK was dealing with Vietnam.

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          • To paraphrase something…

            In U.S. We Trust

            Canada is not that well considered that much anymore. We had a great reputation with the role we played as a peace keeping force within the U.N.

            Nowadays our beloved Prime Minister Harper is more the warmongering type.

            Needless to say I never voted for him.

            Big oil companies are backing that government.

            Liked by 1 person

  34. One of the first moments I understood danger. We had drills at school, and prople everywhere were digging bomb shelters. I remember asking why this was happening, and no one could really answer. Perilous times.

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  35. I was in junior high at the time, and the Cuban missile crisis was pretty scary to a kid. We grew up with the “duck and cover” cartoon, and it made no sense as a way to save oneself from an atomic bomb!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I was in Moscow at that time. Elite started to leave the city to secret locations. All others could do nothing and were preparing to die. After the end of the crisis majority of people secretly loved Kennedy. When he was assassinated thousands of Soviet people cried.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. So close, luckily no cigar..

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  38. When facts finally emerge, a whole new image of the handling here develops. But, at least a war was diverted.

    Like

  1. Pingback: When a nuclear war was averted – the Cuban Missile Crisis | Diplomacy Old and New 2015b

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