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1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Updated on July 12, 2011


In the fall of 1962 the country was abuzz with talk of impending world destruction as Cuba began constructing missile bases and acquiring a massive nuclear arsenal. President John F. Kennedy had not been in office long and already the fate of the free world rested upon his shoulders.

I vividly recall this critical period in history because I was living in Gulfport, MS at the time. The Gulf of Mexico and ocean beaches were less than a football fields’ distance from my house. I was 11 years old and my siblings and I frequently walked the short distance to the sandy beaches to swim when the weather was warm enough.

My Dad was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi not far away. Our house sat right next to a set of rail road tracks and I recollect the large number of trains that began thundering by our house and shaking windows. Normally, the rail road conducted very little traffic there. But now, there was almost a continuous line of trains coming by. The trains were long and all carrying military jeeps, tanks, trucks, bull dozers and other combat equipment. My siblings and I watched in awe as we witnessed our country’s military might rumbling past our front windows and waved at soldiers on the flat cars.

As tensions grew I don’t know why public schools were kept open. Maybe they thought if there was a nuclear attack it wouldn’t matter where we were anyway.


Thus, the day of the standoff I was in school. Teachers and faculty tried hard to act as if it was “business as usual” but weren’t having much success. They were giving us the useless emergency drill of what to do in case of a nuclear attack. Basically, it amounted to, getting under your desk, bending over, and kissing your butt goodbye.

It was hard for them to pretend nothing was wrong. You could see the worry etched into their faces. On top of that, we could actually see the grey colored U.S. war ships out in the gulf from our classroom windows. Some were so close, if you looked hard enough you could see men standing on the decks. Some were further out. But at any rate there were lots of them. Military jets and bombers also occasionally flew over so low one could read the planes’ designated numbers and see the pilots. It was a frightening experience to say the least.

So, the world held its’ collective breath and waited to see if Cuba would ignore President Kennedy’s ultimatum and attack. The world was just seconds away from nuclear annihilation.

Fortunately, the enemy realized the United States was not bluffing and would be signing their own death warrants. They began a withdrawal.

I wonder what would happen today if President Obama faced a similar scenario.  Or aren't we actually facing the same thing today?  Would he apologize for our country having the gall to defend ourselves? Aren’t we actually looking at a few violent countries today who claim will shortly have nuclear strike capabilities? And aren’t they also declaring their intent to destroy us with them?

What, if anything, will our


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