Category Archives: Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

We know that nothing historic happens by itself. We just forget.

Boomers remember the Cuban missile crisis  as an  October 1962 event, an event that grew from a simple announcement to the shuddering fear of nuclear apocalypse.

What follows is a chronologically simplified list of the various events that preceded the crisis, the crisis itself, and its aftermath.

Bay of Pigs & aftermath

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

April 24, 1961: President Kennedy accepted "sole responsibility" following failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and on November he authorized an aggressive covert operations (code name Operation Mongoose) against Fidel Castro. Air Force General Edward Lansdale led the operation.

Operation Mongoose's goal was to remove the communists from power to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime," including its leader Fidel Castro. It aimed "for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962". US policy makers also wanted to see "a new government with which the United States can live in peace". 

February 3, 1962: President Kennedy banned all trade with Cuba. 

US missiles in Turkey

In April 1962: U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey became operational. US personnel reported all positions "ready and manned." 

USSR missiles in Cuba

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

May 30, 1962: Fidel Castro informed visiting Soviet officials that Cuba would accept the deployment of nuclear weapons. 

August 17, 1962: US Central Intelligence Agency Director John McCone stated at a high-level meeting that circumstantial evidence suggested that the Soviet Union was constructing offensive missile installations in Cuba. Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara disagreed with McCone, arguing that the build-up is purely defensive.

Twelve days later, on August 29, a high-altitude U-2 surveillance flight provided conclusive evidence of the existence of missile sites at eight different locations in Cuba. 

September 19, 1962:  the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) approved a report on the Soviet arms buildup in Cuba. Its assessment, stated that some intelligence indicates the ongoing deployment of nuclear missiles to Cuba. 

That same day, the Soviet Union conducted an above ground nuclear test of 1.5 - 10 megatons.

Cuba at the UN

October 7, 1962: Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticós spoke at the UN General Assembly: "If ... we are attacked, we will defend ourselves. I repeat, we have sufficient means with which to defend ourselves; we have indeed our inevitable weapons, the weapons, which we would have preferred not to acquire, and which we do not wish to employ." 
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 14, 1962: a US Air Force U-2 plane on a photo-reconnaissance mission captured proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. Four days later, on October 18, President Kennedy met with Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko, who claimed the weapons were for defensive purposes only. Not wanting to expose what he already knew, and wanting to avoid panicking the American public, Kennedy did not reveal that he was already aware of the missile build-up.

Public announcement

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 22, 1962: President Kennedy announced the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba and ordered a naval blockade. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution.

October 23, 1962: evidence presented by the U.S. Department of Defense of Soviet missiles in Cuba. This low level photo of the medium range ballistic missile site under construction at Cuba's San Cristobal area. A line of oxidizer trailers is at center. 

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Added since October 14, were fuel trailers, a missile shelter tent, and equipment. The missile erector now lies under canvas cover. Evident also is extensive vehicle trackage and the construction of cable lines to control areas

October 24, 1962: the Soviet news agency Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza (TASS) broadcast a telegram from Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, in which Khrushchev warned that the United States' "pirate action" would lead to war. President John F. Kennedy spoke before reporters during a televised speech to the nation about the strategic blockade of Cuba, and his warning to the Soviet Union about missile sanctions.

October 25, 1962

The Chinese People's Daily announced that "650,000,000 Chinese men and women were standing by the Cuban people". 

At the United Nations, ambassador Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin in an emergency meeting challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles.

The Soviets responded to the blockade by turning back 14 ships presumably carrying offensive weapons.

UN confrontation

October 26, 1962: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped. 

Rudolf Anderson shot down

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27, 1962: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.  Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolf Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida.

Detente

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 28, 1962: after much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy's cabinet, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in southern Italy and in Turkey, the latter on the border of the Soviet Union, in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev announced that he had ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. 
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

November 6, 1962: Rudolph Anderson's body interred in Greenville, South Carolina at Woodlawn Memorial Park.
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Hot line

June 20, 1963: to lessen the threat of an accidental nuclear war, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a "hot line" communication system between the two nations. 

August 30, 1963: the "Hot Line" communications link between the White House, Washington D.C. and the Kremlin, Moscow, went into operation to provide a direct two-way communications channel between the American and Soviet governments in the event of an international crisis. 

It consisted of one full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit, routed Washington- London- Copenhagen- Stockholm- Helsinki- Moscow, used for the transmission of messages and one full-time duplex radiotelegraph circuit, routed Washington- Tangier- Moscow used for service communications and for coordination of operations between the two terminal points. Note, this was not a telephone voice link.

Nuclear test ban

October 7, 1963: President John F. Kennedy signed the documents of ratification for a nuclear test ban treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union.
JFK attempts to ease Cuban/US relations
Castro was furious that Khrushchev had not consulted him before making his bargain with Kennedy to end the crisis — and furious as well that U.S. covert action against him had not ceased. In September 1963, Castro appeared at a Brazilian Embassy reception in Havana and warned, “American leaders should know that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, then they themselves will not be safe.”

November 18, 1963: at the Americana Hotel in Miami President John F. Kennedy told the Inter-American Press Association that only one issue separated the United States from Fidel Castro’s Cuba: Castro’s “conspirators” had handed Cuban sovereignty to “forces beyond the hemisphere” (meaning the Soviet Union), which were using Cuba “to subvert the other American republics.” Kennedy said, “As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible.”

That same day, Ambassador William Attwood, a Kennedy delegate to the United Nations, secretly called Castro’s aide and physician, Rene Vallejo, to discuss a possible secret meeting in Havana between Attwood and Castro that might improve the Cuban-American relationship. Attwood had been told by Castro’s U.N. ambassador, Carlos Lechuga, in September 1963, that the Cuban leader wished to establish back-channel communications with Washington.

Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, told Attwood that J.F.K. wanted to “know more about what is on Castro’s mind before committing ourselves to further talks on Cuba.” He said that as soon as Attwood and Lechuga could agree on an agenda, the president would tell him what to say to Castro. 

November 19, 1963: Kennedy had settled the Cuban crisis, in part, by pledging that the US would not invade Cuba; however that pledge was conditioned on the presumption that Castro would stop trying to encourage other revolutions like his own throughout Latin America. 

Tuesday 19 November 1963: the evening before President Kennedy’s final full day at the White House — the C.I.A.'s covert action chief, Richard Helms, brought J.F.K. what he termed “hard evidence” that Castro was still trying to foment revolution throughout Latin America.

Helms (who later served as C.I.A. director from 1966 to 1973) and an aide, Hershel Peake, told Kennedy about their agency’s discovery: a three-ton arms cache left by Cuban terrorists on a beach in Venezuela, along with blueprints for a plan to seize control of that country by stopping Venezuelan elections scheduled for 12 days hence.

Standing in the Cabinet Room near windows overlooking the darkened Rose Garden, Helms brandished what he called a “vicious-looking” rifle and told the president how its identifying Cuban seal had been sanded off. 

Elie Abel wrote The Missile Crisis in 1966. In it Kennedy is quoted as saying after the crisis: "Any historian who walks through this minefield of charges and countercharges," 

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September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19 Peace Love Activism

Anarchism in the US

September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19, 1892: Andrew Berkman is sentenced to twenty-two years in prison for the attempt on steel magnate Henry Clay Frick's life on July 23, 1892. (see June 1893)

 

BLACK HISTORY

September 19, 1955:  the kidnapping (only) trial of J W Milam and Roy Bryant opened in Sumner, Mississippi, the county seat of Tallahatchie County. Jury selection begins and, with blacks and white women banned from serving, an all-white, 12-man jury made up of nine farmers, two carpenters and one insurance agent was selected.

Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, departed from Chicago's Midway Airport to attend the trial. (see Emmett Till)

Nuclear/Chemical News

Operation Plumbbob
September 19, 1957: the US detonated a 1.7 kiloton nuclear weapon in an underground tunnel at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), a 1,375 square mile research center located 65 miles north of Las Vegas. The test, known as Rainier, was the first fully contained underground detonation and produced no radioactive fallout. A modified W-25 warhead weighing 218 pounds and measuring 25.7 inches in diameter and 17.4 inches in length was used for the test. Rainier was part of a series of 29 nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons safety tests known as Operation Plumbbob that were conducted at the NTS between May 28, 1957, and October 7, 1957. (related NYT article) (see Sept 29) 
Cuban Missile Crisis
September 19, 1962:  the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) approved a report on the Soviet arms buildup in Cuba. Its assessment, stated that some intelligence indicates the ongoing deployment of nuclear missiles to Cuba. The Soviet Union above ground nuclear test. 1.5 - 10 megaton. (CW/NN, see Sept 25; Cuban Missile Crisis, see Oct 7)

The Cold War

see No Disneyland for Krushchev for more

September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19, 1959: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had arrived in the US on September 15 for a summit meeting with President Eisenhower. The Soviet leader indicated a desire to see Hollywood. September 19 began pleasantly enough, with a tour of the Twentieth Century Fox Studios. Khrushchev was taken to the sound stage for the movie "Can-Can" and was immediately surrounded by the cast of the film, including Shirley MacLaine and Juliet Prowse. The cast members performed a number from the film. Frank Sinatra was brought in to serve as an unofficial master of ceremonies later lunched with an obviously delighted Khrushchev.

Later Twentieth Century Fox President Spyros P. Skouras introduced Khrushchev at Los Angeles Town Hall. Skouras, an ardent anticommunist, irritated Khrushchev by referring to the premier's famous statement that Russia would "bury" capitalism. Skouras declared that Los Angeles was not particularly interested in "burying" anyone, but would meet the challenge if posed. Khrushchev's famous temper quickly flared. He charged that Skouras's remarks were part of a campaign to heckle him during his trip to America.

Khrushchev's anger increased when he learned that he would not be allowed to visit Disneyland. Government authorities feared that the crowds would pose a safety hazard for the premier. 

Khrushchev, still fuming about the debate with Skouras, exploded. "And I say, I would very much like to go and see Disneyland. But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide? What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me?" (see Sept 25)

Teenage Culture

September 19 – 25, 1960: “The Twist” by 18-year-old Chubby Checker #1 Billboard Hot 100 (see January 1962). The song was written by Hank Ballard and originally the B-side of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters’ “Teardrops on Your Letter” in 1959. 
 Checker was born Ernest Evans. His boss nicknamed him Chubby. He made a private recording, “The Class,” on which he imitated many singers of the time including Fats Domino. The record was given to Dick Clark whose wife, after Ernest Evans said his nickname was Chubby, asked, “As in Checker?” referring to Fats Domino. The name stuck. (see “in March 1963”)  
September 19 Peace Love Activism

Vietnam

September 19, 1969: President Nixon announced the cancellation of the draft calls for November and December. He reduced the draft call by 50,000 (32,000 in November and 18,000 in December). This move accompanied his twin program of turning the war over to the South Vietnamese concurrent with U.S. troop withdrawals and was calculated to quell antiwar protests by students returning to college campuses after the summer. (see Sept 23)

US Labor History

September 19, 1973: a judge sentenced Aubran W Martin, one of the three gunmen convicted  in the 1969 Yablonski family murders, to die in the electric chair. (Yablonski, see April 8, 1974; Labor, see Nov 12)

INDEPENDENCE DAY

September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19, 1983: Saint Kitts and Nevis independent of the United Kingdom. (see January 1, 1984)

Sexual Abuse of Children

September 19, 2002: the Boston Archdiocese reached a $10m settlement with victims of John Geoghan, retracting a previous settlement of $30m which the Church said would have bankrupted the archdiocese. (NYT article) (see Oct 7)

Hurricane Katrina

September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19, 2005: Louisiana’s official death toll stood at 973. (see Sept 21)

LGBTQ

Don’t ask, don’t tell

September 19 Peace Love Activism

September 19, 2011: the US military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy officially ended.  (see Sept 20, 2011)

September 19, 2012: the one-year anniversary of the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy passed with little notice because the policy had been so quickly implemented with so little disruption. Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members were thought to make up at least 2 percent of the military’s 2.2 million forces on active duty, in the reserves, and the National Guard. (see October 18, 2012)

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