The Cuban Missile Crisis
It was a day like any other day. My ship, the Robert H. McCard DD822 was in Fram in Boston, Massachusetts. Fram is a shipyard where overhauls and repairs are made to our naval ships. My job was Gunnery Yeoman, Petty Officer 2nd Class (E-5). We had just returned the previous year from an eight month tour of the Red Sea, Meditteranean Sea and most of the African and European ports where tensions were mounting with the Soviets in the Cold War.
We had been designated on our return for a complete overhaul. We were dismantling our big guns and replacing them with an ASROC Missile Launcher and a heliport for helicopter landing. The ASROC (stands for anti-submarine rocket) could carry a 10 kiloton nuclear warhead.
Here is a photo of BEFORE with 5 inch 38 gun mounts fore and aft of the destroyer.
Here are the AFTER photos of the ASROC missile system.
Here is a photo of the heliport.
On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy announced to the world that he was sending a battery of ships to blockade Cuba from the intended arrival of Russian ships carrying nuclear missiles. I remember my reaction was to instantly call my wife and tell her how much I loved her. She could tell by my quivering voice that I was scared as we all were. If the Russians did not beckon to our request for a turn around, some fear that the world as we knew it could have ended the day of our confrontation.
My ship was one of the ships in the blockade. Funny thing was, we had removed all our big guns and had not yet installed the ASROC missile launcher. The Robert H. McCard was manned and loaded with Browning Automatic Rifles! That was it! The ship was simply a dummy in the water used as a barrier to defy the enemy.
God bless President Kennedy and the men behind the scenes that persuaded Premier Khrushchev to turn back his ships. This was One Day That Could Have Been Our Last.
Below is an actual picture I found of my ship in the Mediterranean Sea in 1961. I am one of those sailors standing topside. It still gives me goosebumps when I see it.