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Do you remember the Cuban missile crisis?

Updated on April 8, 2012
Drtruthman profile image

Dr. Lee Outlaw is a both a pastor and PhD Psychologist as well as an epileptic with years of experience counseling epileptics.

President Kennedy Addresses Nation


The following information is not specific but rather generalities about one of the most serious events in history.

Florida and Cuba Map
Florida and Cuba Map
Atomic Bomb
Atomic Bomb

Communism pushed forward

I will soon be sixty one years old.

I was fortunate enough to be born in the “fun and sun” state of Florida; Miami, Florida.

These two facts will become relevant as this article develops.

Like most “baby boomers” I was born into a world which had just cleaned up fascism in World War II and had made numerous deals with the devil of communism to do so.

German scientist were forced into sort of a “scientific slavery” in what was called, “Operation Paper Clip”. They were brought to the United States in order to help the U.S. conclude the development of the Atomic Bomb which was ultimately used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan and ended the Pacific portion of World War II and the Japanese Empire’s surge throughout the region.

As a result, Communism reared its ugly head throughout the world as the Soviet Union pushed forward to compete for the world’s mind, soul and physical territory.

I grew up in a time without microwave ovens, no color television, the transistor had not yet been invented, most areas only had two or three television channels and it was a rarity for a home to even have a telephone. If you were fortunate enough to have a telephone (and that’s what we called them in those days) most folks could only afford or even get access to what was known as a “party line”. Your house had a phone number which might be yours but you could only answer the phone if you knew “what ring” was yours. You had to know which ring to pick up; usually one to five rings (and there were were no ring tones). If you picked up on a ring that wasn’t yours, you would intrude on someone else’s conversation or they, yours. You never spoke of anything private on the phone in those days. Only the more affluent people actually had “private” lines. I remember when we got ours when I was about fifteen, WOW, what a day!

Air conditioning was also rare. If your church had A/C you usually went just to stay cool; especially in South Florida. Of course, this obviously helped with church attendance.

I also grew up in a time when Wal-mart had never been heard of, Sears was Sears-Roebuck, we had Winn-Dixie, Piggly-Wiggly, A&P and eventually Publix “grocery stores” to purchase our food; which of the many things we eagerly purchased was the new “instant coffee” and “TV dinners”. And in Miami, the home and birth of Burger King (originally called Steak King), we didn’t even know what McDonalds was.

There were no video games, DVDs, DVRs, VCR’s or personal computers. Drive-in movies were the entire craze and many wondered if the normal inside movie theater would even survive.

It was an entirely different day.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

R-12 (SS-4 Sandal) Russian Medium Range Ballistic Missile

In 1962 Sandal was the missile at the heart of the Cuban crisis
In 1962 Sandal was the missile at the heart of the Cuban crisis


The Cold War

Even though we didn’t have all that we have today, we knew we still had allot compared to most people in the world. We knew we were blessed to have what we had, thanked God for our freedom and valued our American citizenship.

We were also aware of the dangers of communism and didn’t want anything to do with it. As Americans we fought united the silent war against communism called, “The Cold War”.

My home where I grew up in Miami, Florida was only three blocks from the Opa Locka Naval Air Station and just thirty three miles north of the Homestead Air Force Base which was part of the Strategic Air Command and home to the mighty B-52 Bomber.

I lived one hundred and seventy four miles north of Havana, Cuba; less than five minutes for a Soviet made medium-range ballistic missile.

Cuba had always been intertwined into the South Florida culture. There were Ferries from Miami and Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba which ran twice daily. You could drive your car onto the Ferry and then drive off and all over the island of Cuba. If you were an American, you didn’t even need a passport; just a U.S. driver’s license. This positive relationship continued until about 1958.

When Fidel Castro started the “People’s Revolution”, he promised to bring real democracy to the Cuban people; which ironically they already had. Just a note and as frightening as this may seem, part of Castro’s campaign included the words of bringing “hope and change” to the Cuban people. Sound familiar?

Castro rose to power and revealed himself to be a true communist. He took over factories, the sugar cane fields, personal property and the entire financial structure and institutions; all American and Western Oil Company and industrial corporations were nationalized.

He then aligned himself with Russia and the Soviet Union and for all intent and purpose became a Soviet State.

At the request of Castro, the Soviet Union began to install missiles aimed directly at the United States and lesser known to most, is the buzzing by Soviet Mig Fighters of the South Florida coast line; so close in fact that many beach goers often reported in detail the jet’s markings. Those with binoculars reported pilots actually waving or in some cases giving them the finger. On several occasions, Soviet and/or Cuban Mig fighter pilots defected and landed at Homestead Air Force Base.

Communism was and remains a horrible and unrealistic philosophy and form of government.

The Cuban people had been fooled by a young, idealistic demagogue seeking power and popularity. Thousands who realized their dilemma, began coming to America anyway they could. Rafts or large inner tubes were the most common means of transport with hopes that an American ship or boat would pick them up and take them to the safety of America.

U-2 View of Missile Site
U-2 View of Missile Site
Khrushchev backs down
Khrushchev backs down

Cuban Missile Crisis Poll

Do you remember the Cuban missile crisis?

See results

Thirteen Dangerous Days

The Cuban Missile crisis resulted from the Soviet Union eying the United States as its next prize in its ultimate goal of world domination and Cuba simply being a stopping off point on the way to that prize.

The Cuban Missile Crisis began on July 27, 1962 when Fidel Castro announced that Cuba, with help from the Soviet Union would defend itself from any attempt by the United States to invade Cuba. The irony of course, was that the United States was already there.

The relationship with the United States continued with the blessing of Castro (not wanting to lose American dollars) in allowing the U.S.A. to maintain a Caribbean presence with Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. This was despite the dissatisfaction of the Soviet Union. This alone was a demonstration to the Soviet Union that Fidel Castro was his own person and not necessarily a “Soviet team player”. This would later become beneficial in American diplomacy.

On October 14, 1962, a U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft confirmed six short range missile bases. This was followed on October 21, by President John F. Kennedy issuing a naval quarantine of the entire nation of Cuba to guard against further military buildup or delivery of more missiles by the Soviet Union.

After some of the most serious posturing in the cold war and nearly starting a nuclear World War III, the Cuban missile crisis came to an end on October 28, 1962 with Premier Nikita Khrushchev announcing removal of their missiles from Cuba and the United States removing missiles from Turkey.

As an eleven year old boy, it was one of the scariest times of my life. I remember my Dad and I standing out in the front yard of our Miami home looking up at the sky as we watched the B-52’s fly over getting ready to land. We saw thousands of troops in convoys moving throughout our area. Portable missile launchers were rolling into vacant land around the two large air bases and it was evident that something was about to happen. We apparently were getting ready for war.

Nuclear blast drills at school increased from weekly to daily and as we left for school each morning for those “thirteen days the world stood still”, we wondered if we would be coming home in the afternoon to see our families.

That’s my memory; what is yours or were you even around for “the thirteen days the world stood still?”


©Copyright 2012 by Dr. Lee Outlaw, Lee W. Outlaw III and Drtruthman. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used for re-distribution, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dr. Lee Outlaw, Lee W. Outlaw III and Drtruthman with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All rights reserved. Any violation or infringement of this copyright notice will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


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    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Thanks Debbie, I appreciate the read and the comment. Yes indeed it was a scary time for all of us, especially those of us who were children. Thanks for voting up also,God bless, Lee

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I was eleven years old at the time my father was stationed in Germany. I remember my father talking about it. I was a very scary time. this is very good Lee. i am sharing every where and pinning it

      voted way up


    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Not a problem, that you you for helping me realize I didn't quite make the point properly. Lee

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      I see what you mean now that communism is what motivated the Soviets toward world domination. Thanks for helping my understanding. Yes, and the U.S. A-bomb spurred further this aspiration. I'm following the line of events better now, thanks! Right, you are just giving us an overview so some of these specifics were not mentioned, but thanks for helping me understand better. :)

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Thanks for stopping by Ms Dee. Communism was not a result but rather a motivating factor for the Soviets as they pressed forward to compete for world domination. I might not have used the correct terminology there. Communism was already long in process and the USA was in bed with the Communist in order to fight Germany in WWII. But following the Marshall plan to split up Europe for reconstruction, the Soviet Union saw their opportunity to cash in on territorial expansion which they did. Our bombing of Japan, simply added fuel to their fire of determination as they did not as yet have the A-Bomb and would not until I believe 1951, four years after us. Hope this better explains. Although I minored in History in College, like I said in my disclaimer at the top this was more generality than specific; although I tried to be as precise as possible.

      Thanks for the read and the comment. Lee

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      I have the movie "Thirteen Days" and have watched it several times, and will again, I'm sure. It is amazing to me how fear of what the other side will do drives us to crisis. I did not know that German scientists (in a sense captured) were needed to finish development of the A Bomb. I'm not sure I follow how communism was the result of America's use of it on Japan. Help me fill in my ignorance on that gap. I like how you weave your experience into these events. Enjoyable read! (I'm almost 60 too and can sooo relate.)

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Thanks teaches12345. I appreciate the feedback. I too have met others now retired just now revealing things from back then. A very dangerous mission indeed for our military as well as all Americans. As usual, thank you for taking the time to read and your thoughtful comment. Lee

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      My brother was on this mission. He said everyone on the plane was praying and making their last requests known. There were no aethiests on board that day. We never knew until after he retired from service. Great coverage of this important event in history.

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Thanks for your service to your country and to freedom Kieran as well as your read and comments here. JFK was one of the great leaders for sure in the stand he took and thank God,he was both firm and yet not afraid to compromise to bring that whole ordeal to an end. I sincerely appreciate your stopping by. Lee

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      This is part of why I wrote this, Alastar, I wanted to see just how many of us out there were actually around and remember. I mean I was around for the Korean war but don't really remember either. I hear the other day that there was less than 40% of the population left that remembers those 13 days so I thought I'd take the trip down memory lane. thanks for indulging me. I do think JFK literally saved the world back then and we have allot to be thankful for. thanks for your read and comment. I appreciate you stopping by. Lee

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Thanks Michele, I appreciate the read and the comment. As always thanks for stopping by. Lee

    • Drtruthman profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Right you are clairemy but there have always been and always will be WMDs and as such the Super Power without will cease to be a power at all. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and stopping by. Lee

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 

      7 years ago

      I was a young Royal Air Force officer cadet at the time, so had at least some idea of the seriousness of a potential war because of the 'insider' information being fed to us. At the same time it was all very exciting, and we admired JFK a great deal for taking the stand against the Soviets that he did.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Too young to remember but all of us owe a deep gratitude to JFK. He was being heavily pressured to launch a first strike but stood his ground and said no. If that had happened there's a very good chance not many of us, if any, would be on HubPages right now. Very fine article Drtruthman.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      7 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Like clairemy wrote I remember it being taught to me at school, but do not remember when it was happening. Still a very good hub. Well written. As always.

    • clairemy profile image


      7 years ago

      I have no realtime memories of it, but we were taught about it in History at school.

      It chills me to know that we still have these dreadful weapons around the world and ready for use. It chills me because I am afraid that oneday there will be one "leader" who will push THAT button


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