Day 13, Final Day of 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 13, the final day of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother, personally delivered the President’s letter to the Russian ambassador in Washington.  The formal agreement was to refrain from attacking or invading Cuba, and the US nuclear weapons in Turkey were quietly dismantled in the following months.  In response, the Russians began dismantling and packing up their nuclear weapons to return home.  The crisis was finally resolved on October 28, 1962.  Both the Russians and the Americans were shaken by the experience, and the following year, a direct “hot line” communication link was installed between Washington and Moscow to help defuse similar situations.  For a detailed day-by-day account of the crisis from the American perspective, please visit www. JFKLibrary.org.   (Image of an amiable meeting between Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F. Kennedy.)

Day 12, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27, Day 12 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  As the world continued to wait and worry, American planes and ships continued to fly into Cuban skies and seas.  On October 27, a US Air Force spy plane was shot down over Cuba, and the pilot was killed.  As then US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara recalled later, “I thought it was the last Saturday I would ever see.”  Behind the scenes, however, the feverish diplomatic bargaining continued, with Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev again proposing peace if the US would promise not to invade Cuba and to dismantle US missiles in Turkey. The image shows the predicted range that the Russian nuclear weapons could reach if fired from Cuba.  (Image from John F. Kennedy Library, www.jfklibrary.org)

Day 9, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 9 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The Russian leader during the Crisis was Nikita Khrushchev, and he responded directly to President Kennedy’s ultimatum to remove the Russian missiles in a letter of October 24, 1962.  Khrushchev had a much different perspective than Kennedy as to the rights of sovereign nations, including the rights of Cuba.  Perhaps thinking of the US nuclear missiles near his Russian homeland, he wrote “Imagine, Mr. President, what if we were to present to you such an ultimatum as you have presented to us by your actions.  How would you react to it?  I think you would be outraged at such a move on our part.  And this we would understand.”  The Americans and the Russians continued their dangerously close and aggressive maneuvers in the skies and seas of Cuba.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, American and Russian officials worked feverishly to end the frighteningly dangerous escalation.  (Getty Images of a US warplane flying perilously close to a Russian freighter.)

Day 8, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 8 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The US and Russian governmental delegations argued over the crisis at the United Nations.  The blockade of Cuba had started, with US ships and planes encircling the island. President Fidel Castro of Cuba responded on television to Kennedy’s broadcast from the previous day. Many voices called for sanity, including an organization called the “Women Strike for Peace” (the spiritual precursors of Code Pink), who carried placards outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Day 7, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 7 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  In a dramatic televised address to the nation, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the American people about the crisis.  Kennedy and his advisors had decided to blockade Cuba until the Russians removed the nuclear missiles that they had positioned in Cuba.   People feared for the worst, and churches and schools began to stockpile canned food and children practiced air raid drills.  The world seemed to be on the verge of fiery nuclear destruction.  The US negotiators waited for the response from the Russian premier, Nikita Khrushchev. (Please see October 16 for Day 1 of the Crisis).

Day 1 of 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 1 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The US CIA had invaded Cuba in 1961, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.  The following year, the Russian government, which was an ally of the Cubans, decided to place nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter further US invasions.  The fact that the US had placed nuclear missiles in Turkey within firing range of Russia was another rather important incentive.  A US spy plane flying over Cuba photographed the Russian missile placement, and President John F. Kennedy was briefed on this activity on October 16, 1962.  This started the diplomatic battle and potential nuclear catastrophe that became known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”  Please keep reading for day-by-day updates on the crisis through its resolution on October 28, 1962.