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Thread: The Cuban Missile Crisis

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    Semper infra dignitatem PaloAltoCougar's Avatar
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    Default The Cuban Missile Crisis

    Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although few here were sentient at that time, I still remember it very well, despite being only 10. I could tell my mom was very worried, but I was more excited than scared, as the prospect of the U.S. unleashing its armed forces on the commies seemed very cool at the time. This article in USA Today provides some interesting tidbits about how close we came to war (we reached Defcon 2--the next level is all out war), including having all of our ICBM silos open and lots of bombers flying close to the Soviet borders.

    Years later, Prof. Ed Firmage taught a great seminar on the crisis in which I learned details that weren't widely known in '62, including how despite his bluster, Kruschev really wanted to avoid war but needed to save face with his party. JFK, despite looking like he was tough and unyielding, secretly agreed to remove US missiles from Turkey at the same time USSR was pulling out of Cuba, thus giving Kruschev the face-saving chip he needed to appease the Politburo.

    The article also includes details about the U-2 flights over Cuba and how difficult it was to fly those supersecret aircraft. Flying them at >70,000 feet, the pilots had to be ultra-careful when turning, climbing or descending, keeping the speed within a range of only 7 mph lest the wings or tail snap off. I had dinner once with a U-2 pilot who said that a pilot had to use the stick the way one would caress a woman's breast--very gently, lovingly, etc. A drunken dinner companion quipped, "Oh shit, I'd snap those wings off for sure."

    Back on point, in 1962 we lived over the hill from an antiaircraft base equipped with Nike missles. One night, I was awakened by the sound of sirens at the base. Thinking this was it, I got up and stood by our door, waiting for the sound of missiles launching. My dad eventually got up, told me it was only a test and that I could go back to bed. He'd wake me when and if the war started. Thankfully, he never had to.

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    Board Bookworm happyone's Avatar
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    My one memory of the Cuban Missle Crisis and a couple of stories from my father.

    I was 5 and we were living at Ft. Hood. My father was in the Intel section(G-2) of III Corps. My one memory is the 2nd AD's tanks rolling out of Ft. Hood on long trains.

    The first story is mildly amusing - I personally don't remember this, but it is often told when dad starts talking about his army/church experiences.

    The missionaries were taking pictures of the trains rolling by with all of the tanks on them. They were arrested as spies and took the better part of a day to spring them. The mission pres had to come down and get them out. The powers that be wouldn't let the local members get them out of jail.

    The second story - the 2nd AD was in the field when it went down. They canceled the field problem, pulled them in from the field and started rail loading the tanks with the Texas mud still on them. If you know anything about the military, you don't rail load anything unless it is spotless. I would've hated to be the guy who had to clean them when they got to FLA.
    Last edited by happyone; 10-15-2012 at 06:20 PM.

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    Basketball Diplomat San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    I recently read a book called When Angels Wept. It's an alternate history about the CMC, going from the story behind the Bay of Pigs, all the way to Kennedy ordering the invasion. They go through the scenarios of how nuclear war progressed with early 1960s technology (i.e.bombers > ICBMs), and the effects on the world. It's a pretty cheap and interesting read, from Amazon Kindle.

    Growing up in the early 1980s, I was terrified of thermonuclear war. I had nightmares about it. It still intrigues me to this day.
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    My favorite class I took at BYU was a National Security class taught by Valerie Hudson. Over half the semester was spent on Cold War strategies and technologies. Of course, we talked a lot about the CMC. Fascinating stuff.

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    Thirteen Days was a cool movie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by venkman View Post
    Thirteen Days was a cool movie.
    At the parts where Kevin Costner wasn't butchering a Boston accent, I agree.

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    Senior Member il Padrino Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaloAltoCougar View Post
    Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although few here were sentient at that time, I still remember it very well, despite being only 10. I could tell my mom was very worried, but I was more excited than scared, as the prospect of the U.S. unleashing its armed forces on the commies seemed very cool at the time. This article in USA Today provides some interesting tidbits about how close we came to war (we reached Defcon 2--the next level is all out war), including having all of our ICBM silos open and lots of bombers flying close to the Soviet borders.

    Years later, Prof. Ed Firmage taught a great seminar on the crisis in which I learned details that weren't widely known in '62, including how despite his bluster, Kruschev really wanted to avoid war but needed to save face with his party. JFK, despite looking like he was tough and unyielding, secretly agreed to remove US missiles from Turkey at the same time USSR was pulling out of Cuba, thus giving Kruschev the face-saving chip he needed to appease the Politburo.

    The article also includes details about the U-2 flights over Cuba and how difficult it was to fly those supersecret aircraft. Flying them at >70,000 feet, the pilots had to be ultra-careful when turning, climbing or descending, keeping the speed within a range of only 7 mph lest the wings or tail snap off. I had dinner once with a U-2 pilot who said that a pilot had to use the stick the way one would caress a woman's breast--very gently, lovingly, etc. A drunken dinner companion quipped, "Oh shit, I'd snap those wings off for sure."

    Back on point, in 1962 we lived over the hill from an antiaircraft base equipped with Nike missles. One night, I was awakened by the sound of sirens at the base. Thinking this was it, I got up and stood by our door, waiting for the sound of missiles launching. My dad eventually got up, told me it was only a test and that I could go back to bed. He'd wake me when and if the war started. Thankfully, he never had to.
    What?! JFK appeased the commies? What a pussy.
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