Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sharing Memories - Cuban Missile Crisis - October 1962

Sharing Memories - Cuban Missile Crisis - October 1962

Last Sunday, I shared a few memories of the "Bay of Pigs" event of 50 years ago during my first year on active duty in the U. S. Air Force. On Thursday, I shared a photo of my working environment and a little about the mission of our SAC Detachment on the mesa west of Winslow, Arizona.

Today, I want to move forward to October 1962 when we were on the brink of a real potential national and military turning point: "The Cuban Missile Crisis." You can read the story at the link, but today I want to share a few of the specific memories I still carry with me from those couple of weeks:

1) Probably the most common story I tell (have told) about this time period was that for several days (a week or more) there was never a moment, day or night, when there were not military aircraft in the air, moving east and west, flying over our mesa and house in Winslow, Arizona, in preparation for eventualities 'if' the Cuban missile crisis was not settled peacefully.

2) As the third ranking of the three officers in our Detachment, when we went on 24-hour alert, I got the 'graveyard' shift. I also was responsible to carry (wear) 'the sidearm.' Guns and I have never had a positive relationship. I did fine in handgun training in my summer camp experience, but I  was still scared I'd 'shoot my toe off,' wearing that sidearm each night. Fortunately, President Kennedy had learned a lot, by that time, and 'solved' the crisis with a cool head and calm diplomacy that limited the crisis period to a couple of weeks.

3) How did we 'really feel' out there on the mesa? Were Cubans really going to attack us from Mexico or otherwise? Probably not, but, we really didn't know. The uncertainty is actually the tough part, of course.

It wasn't until 1984 when the movie, "Red Dawn," came out that all those feeling REALLY came back. That was exactly our fear. It was very well portrayed. I still rewatch that movie with trepidation - although, knowing it is only fiction, I do like the movie.

Families are Forever!  ;-)


  1. Red Dawn is one of my favorites... it seems more "real" that most of the fiction about invasion.

  2. Yes, that is why I mention it. Early on, for years, it was kind of hard to articulate the feelings... and, of course, it ended, peacefully, fairly quickly. But the feelings lingered. The movie brought them all back, and put 'some meat on the bones' of those feeling. It seems. ;-)